Posts tagged "composting"

How can I reuse or recycle mouldy bread?

We’ve had an email from Milly:

I know about making breadcrumbs with stale bread but is there anything that can be done with bread that’s gone a bit mouldy? I don’t mean eat it of course but compost it?

Obviously the best thing to do is avoid it going mouldy in the first place – freeze it if you don’t have time to use it up or turn it into breadcrumbs there and then. But sometimes loaves have a tendency to turn in a blink of an eye so it’s harder to avoid.

Bread is one of those things that some people compost and others don’t. It will break down quite quickly but in an open, slow going compost heap, it might attract vermin to the pile even quicker. It’s also not going to add that much goodness to the heap either so you might decide it’s not worth the risk. But then what do you do with it instead?

Any suggestions? Do you compost bread?

(Photo of non-moldy bread because looking for a photo of moldy bread was making me too queasy!)

How can I reuse or recycle squash or marrow leaves?

I always feel a bit silly asking for suggestions for vegetable/garden waste because the vast majority of the time, it just goes in the compost bin, job done — but sometimes I think it’s worth asking because what is a common place use/reuse to someone is completely mindblowing to the next (for example, the broccoli stalk issue).

I thought it would be worth asking about squash (above) and marrow/courgette/zucchini (below) leaves because our garden is full of them and some of them are massive – when they stop finally fruiting, that’s going to be a LOT of vegetable matter going in the compost bin. Obviously not the end of the world – they’ll make nice compost for next year and it’ll nicely balance out our browns in there – but still.

From what I’ve read, chickens aren’t so keen to eat them so they’re probably not good for them. What about other livestock? If it’s veggie livestock, the leaves will end up in the compost anyway, just serving another purpose first ;)

My next question was going to be “can we eat them?” but a bit of Googling has already answered that for me – yes, we can eat squash leaves but best stick to the tender new leaves & shoots of summer squash, else they’re a bit tough. They also need peeling too apparently. Anyone had any experience of cooking with them?

Any other reuses for them?

What can I reuse or recycle to build a wormery/vermicomposter?

We’ve had an email from Kate/Glitter Pixie:

Hi, I wonder if the Recycle This community can help. My husband and I have finally moved into a house with outdoor space and want to seize the opportunity to begin composting. However, our yard is completely concreted over so a normal compost bin won’t work. I’ve done a bit of research and think a wormery might be the ticket but they are so expensive! I just want to make a haven for the little wriggly guys we buy, so does anyone have any neat ideas about how to build a wormery and what to use? (obviously reusing general household junk where possible). Thanks so much you guys, absolutely love the site, you are awesome!

(She’s right – you guys in the Recycle This community are awesome!)

Normal compost bins would work on concrete – we just had a piece of wood underneath our open-bottomed one at our old house to facilitate air circulation and moving it around (although we have yet to move it to our new house – that’s going to be quite a effort!) – but wormeries are great too, working a bit quicker so don’t need to be as big – plus who doesn’t want 1000 new wriggly pets? ;)

I’m tempted to build a wormery too for dealing with dog & cat poo (the output can’t be used on veg, which limits our use of it here but better than it going to landfill) so any suggestions?

A lot of the commercial ones I’ve seen have been tray-based to allow easy rotation/access to the new vermicompost. The trays have mesh bottoms to allow the worms to move constantly upwards in search of food – when they reach the top, whip the bottom tray out to the top and start filling that one instead. The trays should fit together snugly – the bottoms touching if it wasn’t for the waste matter – rather than stacked to allow the worms to travel about. They also tend to have a drip tray at the bottom for collecting liquid run-off (which is a great fertiliser).

There are also ones more like purpose bought compost heaps – with an access hatch at the bottom. Possibly easier to make but apparently harder to keep healthy when you’re new to wormerying.

Also any suggestions for where to get the worms? Any types of worms to look out for/avoid?

How can I reuse or recycle walnut shells?

Echoing the pistachio shells that started this site, I was thinking about walnut shells recently.

It’s advised not to compost walnuts/walnut shells because the trees contain a chemical called juglone, which is toxic to some trees, plants and vegetables (especially members of the Solanaceae family – aubergine, tomatoes & potatoes) so better safe and than sorry when it comes to composting them.

Walnut shells have a number of industrial uses – a thickener in the paints & plastics industries, as a filler in explosives, and for cleaning/polishing – but less re-uses in the domestic setting. I’ve used exfoliating soaps and cleansers with tiny walnut shell particles as the abrasive element so home soap makers could use them up – but what about other reuses?

What can I reuse/recycle to make plant/vegetable fertilisers?

So how is your garden/allotment/window box doing this summer?

Due to a combination of a underestimation of seed germination rates, disorganisation/ignoring plans and demon slugs, my growing hasn’t gone quite as I thought it might but we’re doing ok and I’ve learned a lot about growing here.

One thing definitely on my list for next year – well, technically later this year – is to give my beds a good old fashioned manure boost in late autumn. The soil here is very poor but since I reclaimed the beds from the weeds in early spring, I couldn’t do a manure feed this year and I think our output has suffered as a result. I’ve been feeding the seedlings/growing plants since then but I think better soil to start with would have helped overall. Ah well, live and learn.

Anyway, homemade plant/vegetable fertilisers. I’m sure everyone reading this has a bulging compost heap for general compost goodness (if not, start one today!) but I thought it might be interesting to hear what kitchen scraps/plants/garden waste/household waste people use for specific fertilising/feeding plants at this time of year.

I’ve been making/using a lot of liquid fertiliser from nettles this year because we have so many in the field next door to our house. Coffee grinds are also popular as a mid-season fertiliser, as are potash and bonemeal.

What are your favourite produced-at-home fertilizers? Do you have any tips for particular plants?