Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Weds 28th March 07

A good day, as I was able to do some essential compost management and have a good meeting after lunch.

I got up at a reasonable time, as Gill got back from taking the kids to school and after spending some time with her, went down to a 'New Zealand Bin' pallet-based composter in the corner of the garden, constructed last autumn as a 'sit and wait' compost heap. I had been given a broken cane and wicker chair to recycle so I put it in this container and put biodegradables all around it. Today I dug this out and put the mostly rotted materials in the octagonal composter put up a few days ago. The chair had rotted apart and was now more manageable, all the wickerwork had rotted off and the legs and framework was easy to pull apart. I'll dry these off and use them to heat bathwater on the stove.

Some of the sit and wait fruit and cardboard had 'mummified' in the bottom of the pile, and was still recognisable as oranges, pineapples and grapes. This is because of its acidity and the fact that it had become rapidly anaerobic under the other materials piled on top. However this is why the compost pile must be turned at least once, as the mixing with other materials, addition of air and breaking apart of compressed layers results in a complete composting. The heap had lots of worms in some of the materials, and the turning and mixing will allow them to work the rest of the heap. Digging out a compost heap is a bit like archaeology, as items can still be recognisable. This one also had an old wooly jumper not yet gone, and of course I remove the inevitable non-biodegradable items, mainly plastic milk bottle tops, which had got in with coffee grounds from Starbucks who give me sacks full of spent grounds and tissue paper towels... with some plastic lids.

All the time I was doing this (about 90 minutes) I had the company of robins, who love the little beasties that I uncover. I expect they have young in the nest somewhere.

I also did some riddling of finished compost, using a sheet of chicken wire mounted on a wooden frame. This seperates the fine crumb from the larger sticks and materials for recomposting. This fine material is used as part of my container compost, mixed with loam and leafmold, and the larger materials are a good mulch for putting on top of soil that Im going to plant vegetables in, or for around permanent plantings like raspberries and fruit trees.

When I wash my hands back at the house, I run perhaps a litre of tap water and use a scrubbing brush to get off most of the garden soil/compost. This composty water I scoop up with a pair of tin cans I keep for this purpose and I water the houseplants with it. This means I don't need to purchase pot-plant feed as this water is nutrient-rich.

Lunch was the usual pile of sandwiches and then a zoom down to the centre of York to meet up with Tim Waudby from the Council's children's services department, regarding the Green Festival and the provision of activities for children and families. He was so helpful, and offered to let all the Out Of School Clubs know about the event, invite them to provide activities and co-ordinate that side of the event. This is excellent news. They also have a marquee, and he is fully up to date with police checks, risk assessments and public liability needs. I'm very happy about this. He seemed to be too as he has to provide childrens activities and he was keen to tie these into the green/sustainability agenda of the day. So we were both happy.

I collected my usual 'ethical supermarket' recyclables and also two sacks worth from the Heslington Road shop, more fuel for my hot heaps!

Home in good time to go and pick up the kids. There was some bad behaviour when they got home, so I stayed around to provide a back-up for Gill. CENSORED His behaviour at school isn't bad. This doesn't make it any easier, but if Gill calls me for help, their behaviour often cools down without need for actual intervention. My presence is enough. They know that I will wade in and make the wrong-doer go to their room and give them a talking to.

A sad email this evening from one of my CrUST colleagues Mark, who says he wants to concentrate on his volunteering for York Credit Union and leave CrUST. This is a blow as he has been good to work with.

My good buddy Simon popped in during the evening and helped me uninstall some unwanted software which he said was slowing my laptop down, stuff I'd never used but was running. Nice one Simon!

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