Saturday, 11 April 2009

Hubble, bubble, soil and trouble

Ah, spring. Flowers are blooming, leaves are unfurling, and bank holidays are in the air. And what do we do on fine, sunny bank holidays in spring? Sensible people go to the beach or for a lovely country walk. I quite often manage to fit in a bike ride, which usually involves tea and cake. But this time the garden called.

If you are imagining me wafting around the garden with a trug and a big floppy hat, doing a little light pruning, then stop. Our garden is not big enough to waft around, for a start, and far from in need of light pruning. Industrial lopping, maybe. But what was calling me was the conglomeration of pots and planters from previous years, now mostly sporting weeds and moss. They looked a mess, and were depressing me every time I looked out of the kitchen window. Time for a spring clean!

We grabbed some rubble sacks from the garage, and set to emptying the pots. I didn't want to reuse the soil, for various reasons. It's full of weeds, not to mention stones and crocks used for drainage, and we have nowhere to put it except the veg patch (which is not in need of more stones or weeds!). As we stopped for lunch, I quickly checked the excellent online recycling centre info and found that soil is not permitted with garden waste - it counts as DIY waste and is limited to one 80 litre sack per week unless you pay.


I didn't really want my soil going to landfill anyway - I just wanted it out of the pots. It could be reused but I think it needs revitalising first, e.g. mixing with some of the compost from my bin, not to mention sieving to get rid of the stones. Where to put it in the meantime? Well, we have had a couple of pallets lurking in the garage for a while, with the idea we could make a compost heap enclosure when we fond another couple. You know what? No time like the present!

By 3pm we had decided to go ahead and make an enclosure. By 3:05 I had found some instructions online and by 3:15 we had dug out the pallets and a leftover chunk of kitchen worktop about the same size. By 4:20pm we had fenced off an area for our heap :)

Two pallets make the sides, and the worktop supports at the back. Old canes keep some cardboard pressed up against the pallets to keep things inside. We had to cut one of the pallets down, and the extra struts form a mini fence at the front. Garden wire helps keep things together.

It's not really a fully-functioning compost heap - the green bin will continue to take a mix of kitchen waste and paper/cardboard, plus some of the less-woody garden trimmings, and produce lovely compost. The enclosure is more for the tougher, woodier garden waste, and the soil from the pots. We also put in some bags of garden waste from a while back that didn't fit in the green bin but which we hadn't managed to take to the waste centre yet.

After all this we still took a tip to the recycling centre. In clearing for the enclosure we grubbed up a lot of ivy that had crept in, and knew that if we put that in either bin it would just grow and grow. So we took that, and also grabbed up any tetra packs, metal, foil and other things that don't get collected. Previously we have always gone to the waste centre in the city (Mile Cross), but this time we took a short journey south to Ketteringham. What a revelation. There was no queue of cars, and the skips were out in the open air, nothing was overfull, and there was no hint of that lovely "dump smell". The two workers there were very friendly and even the welcome/info signs were brightened up with flowers. It was 5:15pm on Good Friday and they were open for another 45 minutes. Overall we were in and out in a flash and everything was super-easy and very impressive.

The only thing that made me sad was a cooker fly-tipped at the entrance... *sigh*

So, our garden is now a bit tidier, and I think something like about 50kg of soil and stones have been kept out of landfill. Not bad for a day's work - just about worth missing a bike ride for :)

Note - the wooden box with the rope handle is a repurposed ammunition box now growing herbs :)