Posts Tagged ‘composting’

If your school garden lacks space, or if there are lots of competing demands on it, small scale school gardening can be important. 

The Compact Wooden Compost Bin is perfect for composting in a smaller space.  Measuring 60cm by 60cm but 75cm tall, it will easily fit into a small corner, but is large enough to make a good amount of compost.

For a limited period only, take advantage of this Compact Wooden Compost Bin Value Bundle.  Included are the compost bin, a wooden lid, a composting pitchfork and a bottle of compost magic.  Click here for all the details.

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As I cycled up the road this morning the autumn leaves were a spectacular sight, and in just a few weeks only bare branches and twigs will remain as we move into winter.  …The wonderfully changing nature of the seasons.

So for this months competitions we would like to know about yours and the childrens experiences of autumn captured in a few words, a poem, a photo, a leaf picture, a drawing…whatever grabs the imagination!  For all the details go here for schools and here for families.

As always we have some great prizes to give away to the winners including an FSC wooden bird table, a hanging bird bath, high quality bird food, a leaf mould composter and a Recycling DVD which is a brilliant educational resource for schools. 

…And remember the closing date is 30 November 2010.  Good Luck!

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This week we received an enquiry from Debra about composting fruit waste in schools, and we thought a few of you might find our advice useful….

For an excellent range of well designed compost bins visit http://www.recycleworks.co.uk.

School fruit waste is suitable to put in a compost bin, and if included with other green waste and then mixed with  50% brown waste such as thin cardboard or shredded paper, it will make compost that is suitable for use in the school garden. 
However the general advice is it’s often not achievable to compost all of the fruit waste generated in school, due to the quantities involved. 
As a general guide if the school is generating large volumes of fruit waste it is better to compost only what you can and have a well balanced compost bin that is working well.  That way everyone has a positive experience of composting, the children find it a useful learning exercise and everyone involved is then more likely to begin composting at home. 
Some people also worry about the fruit flies associated with this type of waste, but if the lid is left off the compost bin on a windy day, they will disperse quite easily. 
It’s also worth bearing in mind that because fruit waste is acidic it is particularly important to balance it with the shredded cardboard and maintain a good air circulation. 
The soil around a compost bin can be affected by the contents of the bin.  For example, the grass may grow quicker and be greener due to the leaching out of nutrients. 
For more information on composting take a look at our fact sheet – How to Make Compost.

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With autumn in the air, now is the perfect time to get composting. So for this months school competition we thought it would be fun to have a Mini Composting Quiz.

Why not have a go, it will only take a few minutes and it’s a fun way to learn more about composting. …And the first lucky school out of the hat will win one of these brilliant Children’s Twin Wooden Compost. Made from FSC wood and treated with non-toxic preservative it’s a perfect way to get kids excited about composting.  …But the closing date is 30th September 2010 so enter today! 


So here are the questions

Which one of the following helps to make compost in the compost bin? (a)Birds, (b)Worms or (c)Squirrels

List 3 things you can put on the compost heap

List 3 things you should avoid putting on the compost heap

True or False? – Some moisture is important for composting and helps the vegetation to break down but too much water makes the compost smelly and sloppy

Why do you think it’s important to compost kitchen and garden waste?

Send you entries by email to competitions@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk or fill in the form here and send by post to Gardening With Children, Unit 1, Bee Mill, Ribchester, PR3 3XJ.

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The harvesting season is now in full swing and the winning and loosing crops of the year begin to make themselves know. 

In the feast and famine world that is our allotment, now is definitely a time of feasting with gluts of runner beans, courgettes and soft fruits.  We returned this week after two weeks away, and found that we barely recognised our beautifully tended plot, which seemed to have run rampant and wild almost overnight. 

To make the best of your harvest here are some helpful tips.

  • Always harvest crops when they are at their best.  Don’t be tempted to just pick what you want for your immediate needs and then leave the rest, as crops will quickly go over, with lettuces bolting, runner beans going stringy and broad beans turning into bullets. And that’s to say nothing of the pests that will be eyeing things up ready to pounce. 
  • If you have a surplus try setting up a bit of an exchange scheme with fellow gardeners.  That way you get to taste crops that you haven’t grown, in exchange for things you have too much of – a real win win!
  • For crops that store well such as onions and garlic clean off, and dry out in a cool dark space.  If kept correctly these can last very well for many months.  Take a look at these great wooden storage boxes, perfectly designed for storing fruit, vegetables and bulbs.


  • If you are getting a bit bored of the same vegetables get adventurous and check our blog regularly for recipe ideas.  There are lots of recipes available for soups, chutneys and jams and we will be featuring our favourites over the coming weeks.


  • As each crop comes to an end don’t forget to recycle all of your plant waste in a compost bin.  That way you will have some lovely soil conditioner all ready for the next gardening year.


  • Don’t forget to involve the children in the harvesting activities.  My children love it and although they seem to want to eat most of it, guzzling raw beans and peas like no tomorrow, I do get a sense of satisfaction at getting them to eat their greens so easily at this time of year.  The children’s trug and wheelbarrow are designed with children in mind and are perfect for harvesting activities.

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My girls have a fascination with wiggly worms.  When I’m gardening they regularly get a bucket and collect a few for closer inspection.  For worm lovers and also for those who need a bit of convincing a wormery is a perfect environmental project. 


It will recycle all of your fruit and vegetable kitchen waste into great soil conditioner for the garden, and a handy liquid fertiliser, which my children like to call worm juice.  Rich in nutrients, I have to say that our worm juice gave what can only be described as spectacular results in our school garden this year!


The Waste Buster wormeries designed and hand-made by the Recycleworks Ltd are designed to last.  Made from FSC wood they need only a little maintenance and can be kept indoors or outdoors if protected from extremes in temperature.

The children will eagerly collect up peelings and scraps and take them to the wormery each day….a great hands on lesson in recycling.  And the educational wormery with its great viewing window allows easy viewing of the activity going on inside, which children find completely fascinating.

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Eventually everything nature produces returns naturally to the earth and is recycled.   By following a few simple steps, composting in school is a great way to produce good compost for the garden and will also reduce the need for chemical fertilisers.  It also helps to reduce waste and provides children with a great lesson in recycling.  For an excellent selection of wooden compost bins and accessories take a look at the Recycleworks range here.

The Recycleworks Quadruple Compost Bin

The Recycleworks Quadruple Compost Bin

But composting in school can have its challenges, like too much fruit and excess paper and hand towels.  In our Composting in Schools fact sheet we give you lots of handy guidance – from selecting a good location, to handling different types of waste material.  Why not take a look for more information at www.gardeningwithchildren.co.uk

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Here in Ribchester we have quite a community of gardeners with a wide range of expertise, and some of them have very kindly offered to share their experiences with us.  This week we have an interesting insight into making your own compost, written by local gardener and allotment holder Julie Cunliffe.  If you feel inspired why not take a look at our excellent range of compost bins.


“In my experience children are usually fascinated by the mini beasts to be found in the garden, particularly the earth worms.  Throughtout the generations their beneficial effects in the soil have been acknowledged and for a year or two now, we have been learning about the value of composting in converting organic waste from the kitchen and garden into a rich, dark growing media and liquid feed.”

“Worms benefit from a wide and varied diet, which can include cooked food scraps, vegetable peelings, shredded and scrunched paper and cardboard, tea leaves and coffee grounds, vacuum cleaner dust and hair, bread, pasta and rice, wool and cotton and dried and crushed egg shells (these help the worms digestion!).  As our local school pursues its ECO awards they too have been learning all about composting worms.”

“The compost produced is very rich in nutrients and organic matter and can be used as an excellent medium for growing plants.  It is rich in soluble plant foods and its fine and crumbly texture will greatly improve soil structure.  It can be used in all situations where compost is normally used, for example when planting seeds and shrubs; or as a top dressing for fast growing plants.”


“The micro-organisms present in worm compost are also useful in maintaining soil structure.  Used as a mulch around the plants base, it will both feed the plant and retain moisture for the roots.  When planting out seedlings, sprinkle a little along the bottom of the trench to give them the best start in life.”

“House plants in pots eventually use up the supply of fertilisers in their compost.  A top dressing with worm compost is an ideal way to replenishg the nutrients.

And when making compost, not only are you helping yourself, you will of course also be helping the environment by reducing the volume of organic waste being added to the nations landfill sites.  Organic waste in such tips is simply left to rot away, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere as it does so.

Setting up a composting system does involve an initial outlay but ours has proved to be low maintenance and very productive.”

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