Finally got on the allotment on Friday in the early evening sunshine. Soil is still very damp but most of the standing pools of water seem to have disappeared. The day’s task was to build my first compost bin. I’d intended to build a suite of bins from pallets – and think I have found a source of these for about £2 each. However, I jumped the gun and bought a kit online at ManoMano which I managed to get for £18.99 (allegedly reduced from £50.99 although definitely not worth anything like that). It slotted together fairly easily – a rubber mallet might have helped but tapping each board down to ensure it was properly slotted together was easily done with another board. (Although have to confess I did break one slightly when I leaned on it too heavily!)
I wasn’t entirely sure where to site it – it’s not quite where it appears on my allotment plan. There are still some brambles to remove at the back of the plot – and contractors may need access across my plot to rotavate a vacant half-plot next to mine. So I just plumped for a spot near where I think the right hand edge of my plot is adjacent to what may be a path!
Once built I started to add some content – started with some brown material (cardboard & dried twigs) followed by green (grass clippings from my neighbours) and then more brown (a bag of partially decomposed compost – actually this looked like it might have been from my worm bin and could have gone straight into one of my beds). Now I need to find more material to add – not sure how much I will find on my plot itself as I’m building my beds on top of weeds etc. So will be reliant on kitchen waste (via my bokashi bin or worm bin) & anything I can scrounge or find locally.
Both my front and back gardens are hard-landscaped – and lawn mowing was never one of my favourite occupations so I’ve no intention to install any turf anytime soon. But it does mean that I don’t generate any grass clippings to add to my composting process. But a couple of my neighbours do have lawns, so when I spotted one mowing in the sunshine on Friday after first sympathising about the hot and sweaty task I asked what she did with the clippings. They usually ended up at the tip so she was more than happy to let me have hers and her neighbours – a bag full was left in my garden when I got home. Next time I walked down the road I suddenly heard my name being called and there was my neighbour hanging out the window so she could offer me her vegetable peelings too!
So I’m now having hers, her sister’s (whom I’ve never met) and another neighbour’s too. I have a bokashi bin in my kitchen and a worm bin out in my shed but it takes me a while to fill either as I don’t generate much waste – I don’t peel most of my veg and my dog eats any meat or fish scraps. So having some extra ingredients will help me fill my bucket quicker. But I am slightly shocked at what my neighbours are throwing away – a perfectly good head of celery, half a white cabbage and lots of broccoli stalks (the best bit!) in addition to peelings of parsnips, carrots and potatoes. I’ll see how it goes before I ask any other neighbours for their contributions…..
And to help in my composting I found this Urban Composter bucket and a full compost accelerator sitting on a wall nearby. Having just filled a bokashi bucket (with the help of my neighbour’s leftovers) I’m going to start using this bucket and spray and see how it compares with using the bokashi bran.
My main quest though for the past two weeks has been to find a source of manure – the allotment holders all use a guy called Ron who has stables but he appears to be very elusive. I’d left two messages and phoned innumerable times. I was advised he ‘was a bugger to get hold of’. But to my surprise he answered the phone the other day – appararently due to the bad weather he hadn’t been able to move his horses or get at his manure but the weekend weather should enable him to do this. He knew I’d left messages – as had several other allotment holders – but as he said about himself he’s ‘a bugger to get hold of!’
So I’m still not sure when I’m getting my delivery but hopefully sometime this week – I’ve no idea how much a trailer load of well rotted horse manure looks like or how many of my beds it will fill.
I have been searching Gumtree & Freecycle for manure (& other allotment requisites) but not found anything as cheap as Ron’s – £25 per trailer load delivered. I did however respond to an ad for 35kg of chicken manure for £10. I collected it yesterday and not sure I’ll make a regular habit of it! It’s very smelly (so slightly uncertain about transporting it in a car club car!) and its also not very well rotted so will need to be very careful how I use it. I put a little bit on the compost heap but think I will leave the rest in a heap until its broken down – and even then will use sparingly.
And that’s it on the compost/manure front for now – will write more when I finally get some manure and can start filling my beds……