Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Mesmerising video of composting worms at work

This mesmerising time-lapse video shows composting worms, Eisenia fetida, working their way through layers of compost and sawdust over 20 days. Photos were taken every 10 minutes and video is played at 24 fps.

You can read more about the making of the video, and worm composting, at Rodale's Organic Life website.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Volunteer success at the Oxfordshire County Council CHOICE Awards

I’m very pleased to report that the Oxfordshire Master Composters got through the first round of the Oxfordshire County Council CHOICE awards. The CHOICE awards (C = customer focus, H = honesty, O = one team, I = innovation, C = commercial, and E = enthusiasm) are to recognise the contribution of council staff.

We won the Environment & Economy directorate award for Enthusiasm! This is great news in terms of recognition for all the hard work our volunteer Master Composters have brought to the scheme. Especially notable is the fact that this is the first time volunteers have been part of these council internal staff awards.

Many thanks to Ailsa Barber and Janet Witcomb attending the ceremony to represent the MCs.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Sow Grow Repeat: Compost on the Guardian gardening podcast

Cold composting
Cardboard tubes and corrugated cardboard adding carbon, and air, to the heap

Oxfordshire Master Composter Emma Cooper has been chatting about compose with Alys Fowler and Jane Perrone on the latest episode of the Guardian gardening podcast.

From the Sow, Grow, Repeat website, you can listen to the show online, download an mp3 or subscribe via iTunes.

Find out what unusual items Alys likes to add to her heap, Emma's top tip for healthy compost, and all about the microbes helping it to rot down.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Extra-large garden waste collection

Brown bin
This looks like a job for Brown Bin!

Getting stuck in to the gardening this month? If you're producing more garden waste than you can compost, then take advantage of the local council's offer this month, and have it collected with your brown bin.

If you're in South Oxfordshire, then you can put out one extra bin's worth of garden waste on your normal collection day between 11 and 15 May 2015. In the Vale of the White Horse, the extra large collection is during the week 18 and 22 May.

In either case, extra waste should be put out in a cardboard box or a clear bag - Biffa can't collect waste in industrial sacks, and they need to be able to tell that the contents is garden waste.

If you're not already a brown bin customer, there will be a special promotional period in June and July when you can save 10% on the price of this annual service. And existing customers can sign up for an extra bin during the promotion period and receive a 10% discount on their new bin for a year.

Monday, 27 April 2015

COMPOST AWARENESS WEEK – 4th to 9th May 2015

Worm compostera> Dedicated Oxfordshire Master Composters examining a homemade worm compost bin

As part of International Compost Awareness Week, Oxfordshire County Council is encouraging more residents to get composting with a fantastic offer promoted in partnership with getcomposting.com. Residents can purchase discounted compost converters from as little as £17.98 (down from £19.98 last year) and a second compost converter from only £8.99 (RRP £39), a massive saving! (A one-off delivery charge of £5.99 applies.)

More than 30% of the average household waste can be composted, and home composting is a great way to reduce the amount of organic kitchen waste that goes into your household bin. It’s also a cheaper alternative to chargeable garden waste collections and has the added benefit of producing a FREE supply of top quality compost that will not only improve the quality of home grown fruit and vegetables but also increase their yield.

And to get you in the composting mood, we have some top composting tips from Oxfordshire Master Composters:

  • I "cook" my compost, to sterilise it and kill off any hardy weed seeds. I stick it in the oven for 10 minutes, or nuke it in the microwave - MC Ailsa Barber.
  • My favourite tip is saving up coffee grounds from my cafetiere mixed with water in an old plastic bottle and, when full, poured into the composter – MC Angela Hoy.
  • Most people know that leaf mould can take a long time to rot down as do shredded prunings. The process can be speeded up by mixing them both with lawn cuttings which, during the summer can be too much to add to a compost bin. I keep leaves and shreddings in a brick enclosure and then add the grass to the top of the heap and fork it in - you end up with a large heap of a black crumbly mix heaving with worms which is the basis of my tomato trench – MC Colin Fox.
  • Remember that compost is much better on the garden than stored in a compost bin, so start using it and make space for the new season’s contributions – MC Lynda Smith.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

How worms can reduce our waste

Nearly a third of the world's food ends up in the bin. There is hope, however, in the form of worms, which naturally convert organic waste into fertilizer. In this TedEd video, American Matthew Ross details the steps we can all take to vermicompost at home - and why it makes good business sense to do so.

To find out more about food waste in the UK, and how you can reduce the amount of food you throw away, check out Love Food Hate Waste. And to learn more about worm composting, read Eco Garden: Worm Composting, by Master Composter Emma Cooper.