Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Heart Of The Allotment

We didn't get to the allotment this weekend, but Mick spent lots of time there the weekend before, clearing out the compost bins. The heart of any allotment is good compost so this was a job we wanted to get done as soon as possible.


We've inherited two bins with our new plot, both made out of pallets and quite roomy. Unfortunately, one of them was filled with lots of rubbish, so we wanted to get it all sorted out before the new growing season starts. Mick filled lots of rubbish bags and made numerous trips to the tip. Our local tip has closed down so we've got a fair old trek to dump anything now, but at least all the rubbish has now been cleared.


The second bin was filled to the brim with good quality compost, so that's now been half emptied and the contents spread on one of the beds. The remaining compost will be used in due course and then we'll be able to perform some maintenance on the bins themselves.


I'm always very cautious when it comes to putting anything in the compost bin, over cautious actually. I don't like to put weeds in there in case there's seeds and they end up spreading all over the plot and I don't like to compost potato or tomato foliage in case there's any blight spores. I wonder if anyone else is as cautious as I am. I think I'm going to have to throw caution to the wind though and start composting at least some of these things, I don't want to have to be making lots of unnecessary trips to the tip.

Whilst Mick was clearing out the compost bins, he also had a bit of a clear out in the shed. The previous owners have left lots of things in there, some useful, some not so useful, so that's also had a bit of a tidy up.


Eleanor has decided that she's going to give the shed a lick of paint when the warmer weather arrives. She hasn't had any interest in the allotment at all for the last few years, but I think a bit of painting appeals to her artistic side. I hope she keeps her promise.

Don't forget, if you haven't yet entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Friday the 24th of January 2014 to do so. Just leave a comment on my Charles Dowding's Veg Journal post.

36 comments:

  1. Lots of lovely compost. I compost everything, weeds, potatoes & tomato leaves the lot.It does throw up some interesting things in the garden though, I discovered some pak choi growing last year after I topped up the veg beds with compost. At least my plot is small enough to keep on top of new weed seedlings.

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    1. I wouldn't mind things like pak choi growing, that would be a bonus, it's just the weeds I'm not so keen on.

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  2. lovely post and thank you for sharing

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    1. Thank you and you're welcome.

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  3. I don't put anything diseased in the compost, or things like bindweed in case the roots don't rot down fully, but annual weeds all go in. Sounds like you're getting off to a really good start!

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    1. I think I'm going to have to start putting the annual weeds in there, just so long as they haven't gone to seed. I'm going to be inundated with things to take to the tip otherwise.

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  4. We inherited some pallet-compost-bins when we moved into our house too. The previous owned seemed to have none of the caution you mention and, while also making some good compost, had put everything from rather thick tree prunings to old shirts on there which, needless to say, hadn't composted!

    We've used most of the compost in setting up our veg patches and are now starting from scratch with empty bins.

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    1. It can be a big job having to clear out non compostable compost. Mick was at the one pallet for the best part of a day with trips to and from the tip. It's great to be starting off from scratch again though now, I bet it is for you too.

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  5. Lucky you with the compost bins and some ready compost. Throw caution to the wind and compost all you can, and see the book you mention re potato/tomato foliage.
    I look forward to seeing what the shed looks like after Eleanor has painted it. Flighty xx

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    1. It's good to have some ready made compost to use this year. I think I'll definitely be composting more than I have previously, though I'm very dubious about composting potato and tomato foliage from plants which have suffered from blight, no matter what the experts say. Let's hope that blight isn't a problem and then it doesn't matter. Eleanor's got some ideas of how she wants to paint the shed, that doesn't mean that she'll get to do it the way she wants.

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  6. Can't beat home made compost bins. I made mine out of pallets on the allotment and have ones made out of old bits of fence here at home. i don't put perennial weeds in but I do put annuals in providing they've not gone to seed.
    You got a shed too - joy of joys :-)

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    1. I'm definitely going to take a leap of faith this year and start composting annual weeds and lots of other things I don't already. We didn't have a shed on the old plot so it's a real bonus to have one now, though I think it needs prettying up a bit.

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  7. Great to have a good supply of homegrown compost. I put everything in bar obviously diseased plant material such as you've mentioned with the blighted potatoes/tomatoes.

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    1. I'm always amazed when I turn out the compost bins and there's gorgeous stuff ready to add back to the ground. I'm sure the plants appreciate it too.

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  8. No we're not really cautious when it comes to composting. We have a weed bin that is covered by weed control fabric and it will be spread when it has been composting enough. There always will be lots of weeds on the plot so not composting weeds won't really make that much difference and with our use of weed control on the beds the seeds shouldn't get enough light to cause too mush of a problem.

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    1. I think I've been over cautious when it comes to weeds. I'll definitely be composting annual weeds from now on, I don't want too many trips to the tip this year.

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  9. Oh it's a bonus to inherit a shed on an allotment plot Jo. As a non driver mine proved to be the ideal place to store tools, shelter when there was a downpour and to answer the call of nature before we got the composting toilet on site. Maybe Eleanor could paint a fruit and veg themed mural on one side? :)

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    1. I know the shed is going to be a godsend. I am a driver, but the plot isn't within walking distance so it's been a bit of a bind having to cart everything to and fro every time we visit the plot. It will be handy to be able to leave some things down there. I think Eleanor's got an idea of painting some flowers on the shed, but a fruit and veg themed mural sounds wonderful, I shall have to have words with her.

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  10. Emptying the compost bin is Tony's job because I am petrified of spiders and they usually lurk in there!

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    1. I've heard of more things than spiders being found in compost bins so I don't blame you leaving that job to Tony.

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  11. It looks as though you are making lots of progress with the new plot!! Well done you. xx

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    1. I'm happy with how it's going so far. There's plenty of digging to do yet before spring, and it won't be long until another season gets underway.

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  12. How satisfying to get rid of the rubbish and get the plot infrastructure in order. I'm quite cautious with the compost heap as well; when I took over my plot there were so many seeding and pernicious weeds, I took a lot to the recycling centre. They apparently compost at a high enough temperature to kill things. When I only have a small amount to add, the heat doesn't build up enough though. At home I always put bindweed and seedy things in the council's green bin. Also onion skins - I worry about the mould and fungal problems.

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    1. I'm glad it isn't just me who's very cautious. I think I'm going to have to brave it and add some things which I don't at the moment though, especially annual weeds and tomato and potato foliage which doesn't look to be bothered by blight. I suppose there's lots of things I could be composting which I don't at the moment.

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  13. Your compost bin look so interesting. I only use a concrete base as compost bin. I think yours have a good aeration, so the composting process will faster

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    1. The compost bins are made from old pallets. Many people on allotment sites get hold of these pallets and construct lots of different things from them, I've even heard of sheds being made from them.

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  14. What a treat to inherit some compost. I probably should be a bit more cautious about some material that goes on the compost heap. Some weeds to sneak in there.

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    1. It was good to inherit some compost, not so good to inherit the rubbish in the other bin though. At least it's all been moved though now so we've got a clear start.

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  15. That's a good job to have sorted, compost bins. I have three huge green ones that need turning, the probelm is they have ivy growing in them. I used to worry about what I composted but obviously I don't now which is why they have ivy in them. I'll have to be more careful! I really wanted to see what you found useful in the shed....but the mystery remains! I love peering in other people's sheds....lol...xxx

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    1. At least you can see the ivy so you know not to spread that on the garden, it would take over. I've got ivy popping through the fence from next door's garden, it gets everywhere. I never thought to open the door and take a photo of inside the shed. The previous owners left all sorts of things, pots, netting, canes, and even a couple of chairs. They'll come in very handy when I'm ready for a sit down.

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  16. I only have a small compost bin so have been cautious in the past but chucked some woody-ish stems in last year and they don't seem to have rotted down at all - also I've been seeing lots of snail (slug?) trails over my compost so the whole thing needs a good sort out. Interesting to read the comments above - I definitely err on the side of caution and don't put in any weeds. I think I need to review how I do things!

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    1. It sounds like we're very similar when it comes to composting. I'm definitely going to start putting more things in there, though I've inherited lots of soft fruit bushes and canes, I don't think their prunings will rot down so well so I won't bother putting things like that in.

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  17. You certainly can't get too much good homemade compost! I put pretty much everything into my bins - and that includes weeds (I sometimes leave them to shrivel in the sun before adding them, just in case they revive), potato peelings etc. I try to chop things up fairly small to speed decomposition. The only stuff I avoid is diseased material, like tomatoes with blight.

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    1. I'm glad you've mentioned potato peelings as this is something else which I don't compost. I add all the other veg peelings to the bins but have been unsure about potatoes. It's a good idea to leave weeds to shrivel before adding them, that's another tip I'll probably use.

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  18. I never compost weeds or potato or tomatoes either Jo. We do have a green bin collection service which I pay for though so I don't have to go to the tip!!

    So are you going to let Eleanor paint the shed all different colours?? It would be a lovely conversation point on your plot!!

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    1. It sounds like we compost similar things. Your green bin collection sounds better than having to trail to the tip like we do. I don't think Eleanor will be painting the shed different colours, but she's after paining flowers on it, we'll see.

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