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Garden Smallholding Blog

Blogging about growing fruit, vegetables and herbs and keeping chickens and ducks.
Tags >> Compost

How The Fence Caught Fire - we think!

Posted by: admin

Tagged in: Garden , Fire , Compost

Earlier this morning, I went for a walk with the dog, and got back just before 7am. Just afterwards I heard a knocking at my front door - it was our neighbour whose back garden backs onto ours. He was quite panicked and stated that our fence was on fire. My jaw dropped, we had not burnt anything in the garden since Saturday evening see Burning Garden Waste  and that fire was very sedate, and here I am on Tuesday morning being told that my fence is on fire.

I went running down the garden and the whole fence panel was ablaze, along with a chunk of one of the compost bins. I grabbed a hosepipe (sorry Southern Water, but I think firefighting is exempted from the hosepipe ban - try spending less on director remuneration and actually something on leak fixing and bans will not be required), Gem turned it on, and I spent several minutes dousing the flames, with the neighbours wife doing the same with their hosepipe.

The amount of heat generated was shocking, as was the damage caused. Looking at the potential causes, the only one worthy of any consideration was the bonfire on Saturday 14th April evening that was finished by about 9:30pm. The fire was contained in small stainless steel pit approximately a half a metre in diameter. The sickening thing was that there was no clue that an ember had somehow embedded itself at the back of the compost bin. We had worked in the garden on Sunday, putting things in the compost bin. On Monday, Gem had spent the entire afternoon cleaning up around the compost bins, and covering one of them up with spare bits of plywood, an old PVC garden table minus the legs, and weighing the whole thing down with a disused wheelbarrow. She finished at around 6pm in the evening on Monday after about four hours work, and I returned from work shortly afterwards and surveyed the work at around 6:30pm and it looked great. At no point could I smell anything burning. On the Tuesday morning, the morning of the fire, I could not smell anything when I left to walk the dog around 6:00am, nor when I returned around 6:45am. Yet, as soon as I entered the garden after the neighbour calling, I could smell the fire immediately.

A lesson has been learned - there is a six inch gap between the back of the compost bins and the fence panels. There were a few sheets of roofing polycarbonate and a couple of fence panels stuffed into this gap. We think an ember from our fire on Saturday somehow fell down there and was held against the wooden compost bin. If you look at the second image below, you can see where the fire originated - about halfway up the fence side of the compost bin.

This is the sight that greets as soon as you walk up into where the compost bins are:

Burnt out compost bin and fence panel

Below is the view from the neighbours garden;

Burnt out compost bin and fence panel viewed from neighbours garden

Burnt out compost bin and fence panel viewed from neighbours garden


Blueberry Bush With Loads Of Flowers

Posted by: admin

Tagged in: Compost , Blueberries

I have five varieties of Blueberry - all of them different. If you google back on this site, you will see that I first got them about three years ago.

I have been feeding them compost from our compost heap - I have been stacking stuff up on the three compost bins since we moved here five years ago - The compost bins

One of the varieties has responded to the feeding and has flowers all over it; 

Bluenberries in flower

Blueberries in flower

The other varieties have yet to flower, I will post pictures when they eventually do....


Doing Something!

Posted by: admin

Right, I have updated the software on this site, and am now aiming to keep you updated. I am going to touch on what we have been up to this year, and will cover it in more detail over the coming weeks/months. The reason that we have been slow off the blocks is that the weather has been terrible - not really the sort of weather for gardening. That's my excuses done with!

We have already planted loads of stuff - shed loads of onions which are going great guns. They are going to be huge! We still have a few left over from last years harvest and because of these, have not had to buy any from the supermarket, which is good going.

The courgettes (kindly donated by the inlaws again) have been planted in the polytunnel, and have been growing for a few weeks. These are starting to go a bit mildewy, so a couple have been replanted in the outdoor vegetable patch. The remainder have been fed with some of our compost and left to their own devices. We have been told that they can get mildewy because there is insufficient calcium in the soil. How true this is, I don't know, I need to find some time to google and check it out.

The herbs are growing crazily - chives, parsley, and now rosemary. We need to get some basil out there to compliment the recently planted tomatoes - all of these are in the polytunnel along with some courgettes and the nectarine tree. We have a number of varieties of tomatoes this year, not mostly cherry like last year. They tasted fantastic, but were a pain to use in some dishes and took an absolute age to pick.

The blueberries are looking good, whether the yield is up to last years standards, I don't know - lets wait and see.

Goji berries - the bush is flourishing, again, more information and pictures to follow shortly.

Raspberries - despite some getting damaged when we replaced a couple of fence panels and cut back overhanging trees and bushes, they have bounced back, and there are lots of new plants growing all over the place, filling in any gaps. The cutting back of the overhanging trees etc seem to have really made a difference to the way they grown. Hopefully, with the extra light and rain, the raspberries on this bed will be bigger, juicier and less woody.

Elsewhere, we have some redcurrants - the yield is a little disappointing, but hopefully will get better as the bush gets bigger during forthcoming years. The blackberries and blackcurrants are looking like they will be off the scale again this year.

Gooseberries - the bush that we planted last year is finally starting to get established and even has some fruit on it this year.

Will be back soon.....


The compost bins

Posted by: admin

Tagged in: Compost

Gemma took a picture of our 3 compost bins earlier - we have not shown them before, so I figured now would be a good time to upload some details.

They have looked a state up until today, they were overflowing, had loads of branches etc in them that were just not breaking down. As mentioned previously, we have just cut the raspberry canes, and burnt them, so took the opportunity to grab a load of the denser stuff from the bins and burn that also.

The wooden slats at the front can be slid up, and periodically we lift them and stuff bits of wood in between to allow the compost to air. There are loads of worms working their way around in there, and also loads of potatoes growing in the left-hand side one.

Apparently urea is a great composting accelerant. Yes - pee! I am just imagining my neighbours reactions if they caught me peeing in them. If you add too much urea, you may end up with a spontaneous combustion scenario which could be amusing! Chicken pooh is a good accelerant too. We have a fair bit of that from our chooks, so it gets shovelled on regularly and spread around evenly. Apparently, too low a ph slows down the composting reaction, I have not tested ours yet, but I am sure it will only be a matter of time.

We try to rotate each bin in turn, and shovel out the oldest compost and spread that around the garden, so it should be no younger than 3 years. 

Compost bins


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