LETTER: How we recycle in our garden

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Ribble Valley Borough Council announced the introduction of the new larger 240 litre-sized green bins which will also be usable for fruit and vegetable peeling, seeds, apple cores, tea bags, coffee grounds and filter papers, paper towels or tissues (untouched by meat) and egg shells as well as normal green garden waste.

Surely there must be many gardeners out there in the Ribble Valley, who like ourselves here at Waddow Lodge, have no need for a larger bin and already compost all of these additional items in our compost bins or heaps. Some years ago we installed the “Green Johanna” bin which is of robust construction and accelerates the composting process and is totally rodent proof. We use this for all of the items listed in the council’s additional items list and it soon breaks down into good, friable compost to be spread onto the garden.

In addition we also installed a very sturdy “Green Cone” food digester bin which is smaller, has a mesh basket dug into the ground with the cone firmly attached on top, into which we tip all cooked food waste, meat bones, cooking fat, stale bread, plus any out-of-date food (which is rare!). When initially started, a small amount of activator powder is added to the waste and the process is then automatically ongoing. The mesh basket allows organisms and bacteria to pass freely between soil and waste, there is absolutely no smell and certainly no way rodents can access the waste contents. After two or three years there is a very small amount of compost, as up to 90% of the waste turns into water which is absorbed into the soil.

All in all, these two bins make a very satisfying and environmentally sound way of dealing safely with household and garden waste and saving the local authority considerable sums on cartage and recycling and we only use the smaller dark green 140 litre bin for weed roots such as dandelion, weed seeds, etc.

In addition to these compost bins we do have a traditional compost heap where weeds, plant prunings, lawn mowings, etc. are composted in mixed layers in an ‘open heap’ and in two years this provides excellent compost for topdressing flower beds. All of the leaves gathered in the autumn go into a separate “Leaf Mould Heap” because if placed in the general compost heap they can slow down the composting process. Placed by themselves in a separate heap, they soon rot down if covered with a permeable black membrane sheet or enclosed by chicken wire mesh allowing rainwater to penetrate.

The resulting fine, dark powdery leafmould in 12 to 18 months’ time is a joy to handle and worth its weight in gold, and something you cannot buy at your local garden centre. It is marvellous for soil incorporation, especially if growing woodland plants such as Trillium, Erythronium, Ferns, as well as heathers, thus avoiding the need for the purchase of peat.

Visitors to our NGS Yellow Book garden are welcome to see these methods in action and dates for this year are Sundays, May 26th and July 21st, plus Wednesday, August 7th, for Festival Bowland, all from 1 to 5 p.m. with proceeds going to national charities.

PETER FOLEY,

Waddow Lodge Garden, Waddington