Monday, 30 July 2012

Plastic bottle recycling increases

PET bottle recycling increases significantly across Europe
Around half of all PET bottles in Europe were collected for recycling in 2011. This is according to a report from European plastic recycling trade bodies EuPR and PET Containers Recycling Europe (Petcore).

The ‘Post Consumer PET recycling in Europe 2011 and Prospects to 2016’ study found that more than 1.59 million tonnes of PET bottles were collected across the 27 EU Member States, as well as in Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, a collection rate of 51%. The capture rate for PET bottles has gone up by almost three percentage points compared to 2010, when 1.45 million tonnes (48.3%) were collected. However, the report predicts that the continent has a total capacity to process around 1.9 million tonnes, meaning that there is potential for a significant rise in the number of bottles that are captured.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Composting Olympics 2012


The London 2012 Olympics committee is working in partnership with the NNFCC (the UK's National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials) as well as the British Printing Industries to raise public awareness during the 2012 games about the importance of sustainable and compostable packaging.

The food and drink served within the Olympic Park area will be packaged in wrappers, boxes and cartons made from compostable materials, such as cardboard and bioplastics sourced from starch and cellulose.

With approximately 6.5 million people estimated to attend, the 2012 Olympic Games in London offer a perfect opportunity for plastics manufacturers and the packaging industry to demonstrate the benefits of compostable packaging. During the 17 days of the Olympic Games, more than 3,300 metric tons of food packaging waste will likely be generated. With the use of compostable food packaging, combined with the London Olympics' plans to recycle, reuse or compost 70% of the materials used at the games, the events will hopefully lead to zero waste in area landfills and a huge leap forward in the path to a greener future.

"Compostable packaging is ideal for events like the Olympics, because packaging contaminated with food can be composted together, helping to cut waste and generate valuable revenue," said Dr John Williams, head of materials at NNFCC.

Across the Olympic park and at many of the other events too separate bins are being provided for compostable and recyclable materials.  All the packaging sold at the venues will be simply colour coded to show what goes in each bin.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Big Tidy Up comes to Shropshire

Volunteers from Shropshire Master Composters and Ludlow "Pride of Place" have organised "the BIG tidy up" (as part of the national 'Keep Britain Tidy' campaign) to recycle and litter-pick in the lovely medieval market town of Ludlow in Shropshire.

The volunteers will be meeting this Saturday (28th July 2012) at 10:15 am at The Buttercross, Broad Street, Ludlow. As part of Saturday's event, the High Sheriff of Shropshire (John Abram) has asked a Ludlow Councillor (Graeme Perks) to hand out some volunteering certificates to thank those who have contributed a great deal towards the success of this project over time.

The whole event is being organised by Alan Stewart, Project Manager, Ludlow "Pride of Place".  If you can spare an hour to help or can offer any assistance with anything please contact him directly on his mobile 07929 062 691 or e-mail

Photo is of Isla Stewart in "the BIG tidy up" uniform, recycling complete with a children's size litter-pickers

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Composting nettles

Nettles have a bad reputation. They sting and they're invasive – what good could they possibly do? Quite a lot actually. You can eat young, fresh nettle tips (yes, really), they're a magnet for beneficial wildlife, they make great plant food, and they're just the thing for kicking your compost heap into action. And they're free. What more could you ask for in a plant?

The nettle we're used to in this country, Urtica dioica, is a perennial plant full of iron, calcium and magnesium – handy if you're looking for a superfood. It's also full of nitrogen, which is why it is perfect to add to compost heaps.  Like any green leafy plant they add lots of Nitrogen to your compost so its good to balance that off by also adding drier brown Carbon materials like cardboard, straw or shredded paper.

Some people avoid adding the root incase they spread within the compost bin.  The root part is perhaps best left for the Councils industrial composting processes to get through although they will compost too if you compost heap is getting hot enough. 

Other uses

Alternatively you can soak your nettles in a bucket of water for at least two weeks or so to create a liquid plant feed.  Its greener to use rain water but tap water works fine too and you will make a nitrogen-rich feed plants will love.

At Shropshire Master Composters we tend to advise people to cut or crush the nettles into small pieces and stuff as many as you can into a large container.

Warning! It will get smelly so it is best not to leave it too close to the house!  But trust me it is  worth it, you will get excellent (and free) plant food.  Once its 'brewed' we suggest you further dilute the intense green solution to make a liquid plant food suitable for direct application. Use roughly one part of concentrate to 10 parts of water.

Love barbecuing?

Top Tips to help you waste less

We now spend around £35 on food and drink for a barbeque, up from £19 just five years ago. With an average nine barbeques each, that’s a whopping £315 a year*.

We have lots of ideas to help your money go further…

  •  Keep the fridge below five degrees to help food stay fresher for longer. 
  • Use up any ginger, garlic and lemongrass lingering in the fridge by making a simple marinade for king prawns, lamb, beef or chicken skewers. Chop and mix with olive oil.
  • Squeeze any spare – or past their best - lemons and combine with a sprinkling of sugar and sparkling water to make a thirst quenching lemonade.
  • Sliced lemons can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for a refreshing addition to cold drinks. Why not freeze grapes and use as tasty ice cubes.
  • If you’re inviting lots of guests and aren’t sure how much to buy and cook, try Love Food Hate Waste’s online perfect portion calculator at
  • Use a cool box or cool bag to help keep food fresh and tasty.
  • Store-cupboard essentials like dried noodles make delicious cold oriental salads when mixed with chopped leftover veg like baby corn and sugar snap peas. Perfect to go with your barbeque.
  • Any fish that needs using up can be wrapped in foil and barbequed.
  • If you’ve got veg which is past its best - such as courgettes, aubergines and peppers - brush them with olive oil and chargrill until soft. Or why not try a Roast Vegetable Lunch
  • If salad is looking tired and wilted put it in a bowl of water with a couple of ice-cubes to get it nice and crisp again.  
  • Chop up spare veg from your salad drawer into little crudités for dunking into hummus or your favourite dip.
  • If salad is looking tired and wilted put it in a bowl of water with a couple of ice-cubes to get it nice and crisp again.  
  • A dollop or two of coleslaw and hummus make delicious additions to salads. Why not make your own coleslaw to use up your veg by combining grated carrot with shredded cabbage (red or white) and some mayonnaise.
  • If raspberries, strawberries and blueberries look past their prime, cook gently in a saucepan until soft and then serve with crème fraiche or ice-cream for an easy pud.
  • Keep the children entertained by giving them refreshing lollies made with left over fruit juice, smoothies and yoghurts frozen into ice-lolly moulds. 
Find out ideas for when the sun goes down here…
For more safety advice visit: 

Crime scene compost donated to Shrewsbury school

Compost and equipment seized by police from a cannabis factory in Shrewsbury, are being put to good use helping create a "secret garden" at a local school

Police Community Support Officers Neil Darley and Ivan Columbell, who delivered the compost to the school, are pictured with headteacher Mrs Geraldine Dunkerley and pupils Rebecca Edge, Ollie Hodgson, Jimmy Meredith, Harry Wagner and Tessa Delafield.

The idea came from West Mercia Police crime scene forensic investigator Annabel Hodgson, whose son Ollie attends Woodfield Infants School in Copthorne.  Annabel, who assisted with investigations after around 2,000 cannabis plants were discovered in an industrial unit off Featherbed Lane on Tuesday, thought the compost and other items including seed propagators and plant pots would come in handy for the school.

More than 100 bags of top quality, unopened bags of compost were found at the premises.
She said: “I immediately thought of my son Ollie’s school, Woodfield Infants, who are in the process of creating a secret garden for the children to use as an outdoors classroom when they return from their summer break.  I contacted the headteacher Mrs Geraldine Dunkerley who was thrilled with the 12 bags and other items we were able to supply. She said it couldn’t have come at a better time for the school and knew the children would thoroughly enjoy using it when they start to grow vegetables in September.”
The police felt it was a shame to destroy the perfectly useable compost and approval for its distribution was given by Detective Chief Inspector Alan Edwards, the senior investigating officer. A large number of bags have also been donated to Derwen College, near Oswestry, which helps disabled young people.

Article from 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Tea Bag Composting
Unilever has entered into a cross-industry partnership pilot to boost teabag recycling in the UK in a bid to recover energy from the nation's favourite hot drink.

Brits consume around 165 million cups of tea every day, but most teabags are disposed of in the residual waste bin. To address the problem, Unilever UK has teamed up with WRAP to change consumer habits.

The campaign with widespread advertising including posters at bus shelters and in local newspapers. The adverts, featuring PG tips' iconic "Monkey", advise tea drinkers that they can compost tea bags instead either at home or in some areas through council collection schemes.

According to WRAP, tea is by far the largest element of unavoidable food waste produced in the UK, above items such as fruit peels and onion skins, accounting for some 370,000 tonnes of waste every year.

As the maker behind PG Tips, Unilever says that Britons drink more than 20 million cups of the brand every day. It is looking to take greater responsibility for this through its recycling drive which also supports the company's commitment to reduce waste to landfill by 50% within the next eight years, as detailed in its Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever's sustainability director for beverages Paul Sherratt says that this type of challenge can only be tackled through collaboration stating "Unilever's tea bags are mainly made from organic material so we believe that composting them is a small habit change that everyone can adopt".

Monday, 16 July 2012

Dont dump it donate it!

Its amazing what people chuck out.  Fully functional electrical items.  Furniture that's as good as new.  It all gets taken down to 'the tip'. That's the finding of independent researchers who interviewed customers at the Shrewsbury Household Recycling Centre about their opinions on the larger items which they were putting into the recycling and rubbish skips on site.

Over 1,200 individual items were checked as part of the research.  In all cases the customers underestimated the potential for reuse.  For example, with electronic equipment brought to the site, residents felt that only 30% of items would be reusable.

In fact almost 50% of all items were fully functional in their current condition.  An additional 10% could have been reusable with minor repairs such as replacing parts, cleansing or merely changing the fuse. 

Whilst its great that most of the waste bought to the tip is now being recycled, it would be even better if people would choose to re-use instead.  It shows what a wealthy and wasteful society we have become that people can afford to chuck away perfectly good TV's.  What is more of course as well as the environmental benefits of re-use, there are lots of charities in Shropshire who could really benefit from these items.

So don't dump it, donate it!

Find your nearest charity shop via or

Recycling Water Filters

BRITA filter
Thanks to Brita UK who run a national recycling scheme for water filter cartridges, you can recycle any water cartridges by taking them to certain high street stores in Shropshire which have bins in store for recycling them. Follow the link Brita recycling here to see your nearest location

What happens to the cartridges?

The cartridges are recycled at BRITA's own recycling plant. They break the cartridge down into its three main components, plastic, activated carbon and an ion exchange resin. All of the components can be recycled back into the production process to make more filters.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Shropshire schools win award for composting and growing their own food

Fourteen primary schools in Shropshire that have excelled in transforming their food culture were presented with a prestigious Bronze and Silver Awards at Shropshire’s first Food for Life Partnership Awards Ceremony on Thursday 16 June. The ceremony took place at Fordhall Organic Farm, England’s first community-owned farm.


Children and staff from the 14 primary schools across the region attended the ceremony. The schools work with the Food for Life Partnership to transform their food culture and that of their communities by reconnecting children with growing, cooking, eating and appreciating climate-friendly and healthy food.

The Food for Life Partnership Bronze Award means that schools serve seasonal school meals with 75% of the dishes being freshly prepared by a very well-trained school cook. Pupils and parents are involved in planning improvements to school menus and the dining experience, and every pupil has the opportunity to visit a farm, cook and grow food during his or her time at school.

Wilfred Owen Primary School in Monkmoor, one of the schools to be awarded Bronze has since achieved the Food for Life Partnership Silver Award. Headteacher Chris Huss says: "By working towards these awards we have raised awareness amongst pupils, parents and staff of healthy eating and wider issues to do with sustainable and healthy food production. This has been an exciting development for the whole school, everyone is looking forward to the challenge of the Gold award and how we can benefit from an even better food culture."

Polly Ross from Whitchurch Infant & Nursery School says: "Teaching the children about healthy living at an early age is very important. The earlier the better so that their understanding of healthy eating becomes ingrained. It's also an excellent way of getting through to the parents."

All of the 14 schools are catered for by Shire Services, the Shropshire County Council caterer which has achieved the Food for Life Silver Catering Mark for its meals served to 135 primary schools in the region.

Business Operations Manager at the Councils Catering Division "Shire Services" Mr. Bill Campbell says: "It’s really pleasing to see that our work to achieve the Food for Life Silver Catering Mark has supported these schools in their work, teaching the importance of food to children and generally transforming food culture in Shropshire. The links we have forged with schools is stronger than ever and we wish to encourage more schools to embrace the Food for Life Partnership so they can benefit. Within a rural county, the school food provision has become an integral part of pupils’ education – they learn about local, seasonal food, see it growing and then eat it as part of their lunch, and leave school with a desire to make healthy choices."

What the children sayRory, 10, from Worthen school says his favourite part of the Food for Life Partnership is the eating because the food is "really fresh and we're proud that we've grown it ourselves."

Matthew, 10, also from Worthern school says he likes growing. "We have a fuschia competition, so we grow fuschias. We also grow carrots and tomatoes and loads of other vegtables that all go into the kitchen at the end of the day. Rocket's my favourite because I like the name."

Olivia, 11, from Wilfred Owen school is a keen gardener. She likes growing because "it's important to know what you're eating. We grow fruit and vegetables and my mum does a lot of gardening at home."

Naomi, 11, from St John's school says she likes gardening because "you can do it with your friends and we can choose what healthy food to grow, like beetroot and onions."

Olivia, 10, from Whixall school (pictured top right with Jessica) says her favourite part of the Food for Life Partnership is the cooking. "It's nicer when you make it than when you buy it."

Alex, 10, from Worfield school (pictured top left with Oscar, 9) says he likes "getting involved" and enjoys cooking with parents. "We had an Italian day at school, and parents came in to cook pizza. My mum came and we made a pizza together with tomatoes, peppers and cheese."

The schools awarded Bronze are:

  • Bomere Heath C of E Primary School, Shrewsbury
  • Cleobury Mortimer Primary School, Cleobury Mortimer
  • Kinnerley CE Primary School, Kinnerley
  • Market Drayton Junior School, Market Drayton
  • St John’s Catholic Primary School, Bridgnorth
  • Stottesdon C of E Primary School, Cleobury Mortimer
  • Trinity C of E Primary School, Shrewsbury
  • Welshampton C of E Primary School, Ellesmere
  • Whitchurch CE Infant & Nursery School, Whitchurch
  • Whixall CE Primary School, Whitchurch
  • Worfield Primary, Bridgnorth
  • Worthen CE Primary School, Shrewsbury

The schools awarded Bronze and Silver are:
  • Hadnall C of E Primary School, Shrewsbury
  • Wilfred Owen Primary School. Monkmoor

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Valuing our clothes

A third of all clothes bought in the UK go to landfill!  If they were recycled instead they could generate £140 million a year in revenue, according to new research.

The ‘Valuing our clothes’ study provides the first ‘big picture’ view of the environmental impacts of clothing, incorporating both the financial and environmental aspects of its whole life cycle, from raw material and manufacture to purchase, use and disposal.
The WRAP study looks at the impacts of clothing
Key findings from the report include:

- around 350,000 tonnes (31%) of used clothing ends up in landfill every single year!

- Nearly half of adults surveyed also said they put at least some of their clothing into bins.

- UK households owns around £4,000 worth of clothes each – but around 30% is never worn.

- 65% of UK consumers said that they buy or receive pre-owned clothes.

- 73% of people donate clothes to charity.

The report goes on to outline a range solutions including establishing ‘buy-back’ schemes in shops, promoting repair and using more high-durability fabrics.
Source: WRAP's 'Valuing our clothes' report
Source: WRAP's 'Valuing our clothes' report

Getting Shropshire composting

To buy a discounted composting bin now just call:0844 571 4444 or visit

Composting & coffee grinds

If you're an experienced composter, you probably already know that adding coffee grinds to your compost heap is a great idea to help make good compost at home. 
Many of our volunteers at Shropshire Master Composters also use coffee grinds around the garden for all manner of things from fertilizers, to weed suppressants and slug deterrents.  Its really important that you re-use or compost coffee grinds because coffee already has quite a high environmental effects so it really matters that it doesn’t end up in landfill! Fortunately, coffee grounds have multiple uses and reuses, as well as making good compost.  Here's some ideas from our volunteers.

1, Coffee Grounds as a Beauty Product
· Mix a quarter-cup of used coffee grounds with an egg white for a cheap home made skin-tightening exfoliating facial mask.
· Coffee grounds can add shine to brunette and black hair, improve scalp health, and prevent dandruff. In the shower, rub some used coffee grounds throughout your hair in between shampooing and conditioning.
· To combat cellulite, mix a tablespoon of olive oil with a quarter-cup of moist, warm coffee grounds and apply to the troublesome areas of your body as a scrub. 

2, Coffee Grounds as a Cleaner
· Combat stubborn grease on pots and pans, by scrubbing on some coffee grounds. The grounds are both abrasive and acidic, so give you a cleaning edge.
· Keep your sink drains clean and odor-free by pouring about a half-cup of used coffee grounds down them, immediately followed by at least 5 cups of boiling water to avoid clogging.
3, Coffee Grounds as a Deodorizer
· If your closet smells too much like dirty gym shoes, simply fill the foot of an old pair of stockings with used, dry coffee grounds to make an odor-eating sachet that will last for weeks, or even a whole month.
· Chopping onions and garlic leaves your hands downright pungent for hours? To get rid of stubbornly smelly hands, just scrub them with used coffee grounds then follow up with soap and water - it really works!
4, Coffee Grounds as a Dye
To make your own at-home dye, mix coffee grounds with hot water then leave to soak. Then set the dye with either alum, vinegar, or soda ash.
· If you have brown furniture that is scratched it can be a good touch-up.
· You can also use it to dye such things as clothing, fabric, ribbons, feathers, or paper.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Love food hate waste awareness

Volunteers from Shropshire Master Composters have been out and about across the county promoting food waste prevention as part of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. We have been supplied with some trainning and some great promotional items by the local authorities.  Some of us have linked into existing food events such as farmers markets or sometimes we just organise our own events to be more focused.

Generally our pitch is to engage people face to face initially asking them if they waste food at all.  Its amazing how many people deny ever wasting any food!  But when pressed and reminded of examples like after parties or weekends away people begin to recall that they are throwing food away. 

We try not to make people feel bad about this but to offer helpful practical advice and tips like how to store food in the fridge so it lasts longer.  We generally provide everyone we speak to with an advice leaflet and a range of recipe cards to encourage them to use up all their leftovers creatively.

Generally we are always positively received and the anecdotal evidence is that this is working, people are thinking about the issue at least now. These events help to reduce waste at source to avoid food ever becoming wasted in the first place which is the best environmental option and could save some families £50 a month on their shopping bills!

Of course though there is always some unavoidable food waste from non-edible things such as banana peel or olive stones and thats where we can also plug the important role of home composting

Bagged compost from Vital Earth

When we are out and about promoting home composting and recycling with Shropshire Master Composters people often ask where they can buy the compost that is made with from the councils garden waste collections

Of course we tell them they are mad to buy compost when you can make your own for free from household waste! Just buy a compost bin from instead we tell them!
Vital Earth Organic Compost Process

However if people really want the reassurance of knowing that they are using eco-friendly 100% recycled and peat-free composts then they can buy VVital Earth.  Vital Earth run two UK in-vessel composting facilities in Market Drayton in Shropshire and in Ashbourne in Derbyshire. Both are fully licenced waste management facilities which are specializing in creating organic compost from recycled waste. 

The product that they sell is literally made from grass clippings and tea bags put out in green bins in Shropshire!  Your waste transformed into a useful product.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Newport Open Gardens (Shropshire)

Newport Open Gardens Event.  On: -

Sunday 15th July 2012
11.00am - 4.00pm

Newport Open Gardens (Shropshire)Newport's Through the Garden Gate event is your chance to peek behind the gates of some local gardens and allotments. There are 12 gardens to visit including a school, a care centre, an exotic garden, koi pools and one 4 acres in size.

The gardeners will be there to offer tips and advice, with refreshments, raffles, plant sales and other fund raising activities.

All proceeds go the Heart of England in Bloom to help raise funds for the floral displays in Newport.

Further information:
Phone: 01952 820 005


Postcode for Sat Nav: TF10 7AB

Ludlow Farmers Market

Volunteers from Shropshire Master Composters recently attended the local food market (organised by the Ludlow 21 group) in the Castle Square in Ludlow. 

The market takes place twice a month on Thursdays.  Everything sold at the market should come from within a 30 mile radius of Ludlow to reduce food miles and encourage sustainabililty.

Of course encouraging people to make their own compost is a cornerstone of sustainability.  Better than 30 miles you can get compost which has travelled no more than 30 footsteps to spread on your garden!

Over the course of the day we spoke to around 50 people about home composting and encouraged them to visit the website to find out more about the Shropshire home composting scheme.

A big thank you to the market organisers for letting us have a free stall and of course to the local volunteers who staffed the event.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Shrewsbury Green Fayre 2012

Shrewsbury's Annual Green Fair took place this weekend on Saturday, 7th July 2012 from 10am-4pm at the Trust HQ (opposite Shrewsbury Abbey).

5 volunteers from Shropshire Master Composters took turns to man our stand and spoke to hundreds of enthusiastic green gardeners about how to get the best out of their compost bins. 

There was also about 40 other environmentally themed stalls, including solar power, recycling, weaving, plants, crafts, children's workshops, birds of prey, live music and fantastic cakes.


For more information on events at the Shropshire Wildlife Trust visit

Friday, 6 July 2012

Shrewsbury business certifies compost producers

The certification of compost to nationally-recognised standards has received its biggest shake-up since the scheme was launched five years ago.  However PAS 100 and CQP certification from Organic Farmers & Growers continues.
Shropshire-based experts the Organic Farmers & Growers has been awarded a renewed contract to provide inspection and certification to the Compost Quality Protocol and PAS 100.
They provide certification for a wide constituency of composters and thereby expanding the supply of approved compost for use in agriculture, horticulture and other areas, such as public land management.
Organic Farmers & Growers’ Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, said: “We are extremely pleased to have met with AfOR’s approval to retain our license to operate the CQP and PAS 100 scheme, based on our track record and the work we have done to help develop the scheme into a new, more inclusive phase."
The renewal of the AfOR contract, five years since OF&G first entered the compost certification arena, is the second significant milestone for the company in 2012, as the organisation marks 20 years since it became the first Government-approved certifier of organic food and farming in the UK.

Mr Jacobs added: “This is an important year for us as we mark two decades of successfully delivering certification and inspection services. In that time we have built a reputation for friendly efficiency, carefully allied with the rigorous application of standards."

Where should you put your compost bin?

There are a number of basic requirements to keep in mind when placing your compost bin in your garden or allotment. 
First and foremost it must be outdoors! It also needs to be accessible all year round, even in the winter. If you don’t like to look at it, put it behind a screen or a trellis. A decent path to the compost bin is useful if you are going to use it regularly, particularly in winter. It is also important to have a bit of room around the bin so that you have space to work when filling and emptying.
Where to place your compost binIt is preferable to have your compost bin on bare ground (or lawn) so any liquid produced by the decomposing material can drain away. If your only option is to place it on a hard surface, you can still make perfectly good compost. Put a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard in the bottom of the bin to soak up as much liquid as possible, although it is likely that the slabs beneath will be stained. A sunny site for your compost bin is also preferable since the sun will speed up the compost process, but this is not essential.

Permanent spot or move it around?

The ground under a compost heap will be very rich after a year or so. You can make use of this fertility by moving the bin elsewhere and growing courgettes, pumpkins or spinach beets for example, on the spot. You can also grow vegetables around a compost bin to take advantage of the fertility of the soil in the near area. As it is not advisable to grow the same vegetables in the same place every year, it makes sense to be able to move the compost bin to different areas of the garden or allotment.
Article supplied by Garden Organic from their book The Garden Organic Book of Compost.
Garden Organic - the national charity for organic growing

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Composting Bench!

This is something some of our Master Composter volunteers came across on a home recent visit to a resident in Shropshire who wanted some advice on how to make good compost.  Incredibly clever idea which they had made themselves at home with basic DIY tools.  Its been insulated slightly to increase the temperature and speed up the composting process.  But once the lid is shut it doubles up as a garden bench, helping everything look nice and tidy! Clever hey?

Food waste collections in Shropshire


We are often out and about promoting home composting with Shropshire Master Composters and people often ask why there aren't dedicated food waste collections provided locally. But there are!!

Of course we tell people its far better to home compost your food waste if you can but some people prefer to have it collected.  In two of the districts of Shropshire you can simply add food waste to your green garden waste bins and it will be collected and taken for centralised composting by the Council.

I think perhaps the message has not been widely communicated or something has been lost in translation because whilst in most areas of Shropshire you must not add food waste to your garden waste. However, in South Shropshire and North Shropshire districts you can. This includes:
  • Cooked and uncooked leftovers
  • Whole fruit and vegetables and peelings
  • Pasta and rice
  • Bread and cake
  • Meat, fish and bones
  • Egg shells
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds

What happens to the food waste?

It goes to Vital Earth's in-vessel composting facility in Market Drayton, Shropshire.  When this facility experiences operational problems as has happened of late they use their sister facility in Ashbourne, Derbyshire to treat the waste instead.  They make PAS100 (2011) certified quality compost which sold at a number of local garden centres.

Composting newspapers

Yesterday's news can become tommorrows rich growing medium for your garden when its composted. Newspaper breaks down quickly and fully inside a good compost bin and adds vital carbon necessary for the decomposition process. 

Along with cardboard, straw, woodchip, dried leaves and other "brown" materials, newspaper helps keep the balance of your compost heap correct.

"Brown" (carbon-rich) and "green" (nitrogen-rich) materials mixed together in a 50:50 ratio makes the best compost.  So newspaper added in the right ratio is important to get some of the carbon necessary for a healthy compost heap.

So top tips from our experts at Shropshire Master Composters are:  - 

- Shred or tear the newspaper into ~2cm-wide strips.  (Alternatively you can scrunch it up into balls, this just increases the surface area which helps it compost)

- Dont worry about shiny or glossy magazines being included - you can compost these too - no problem.

- Combine the newspaper with a mix of 'green' material too e.g. grass cuttings

- Mix the material together with a garden fork once the bin is filled. (Turning the heap over in this way is optional but it does speed up the process and help ensure everything rots down more fully).

For more tips like this visit 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Free trees

Shropshire Community Tree Scheme Picture

Shropshire Council are running a 'Community Tree Scheme' to get more trees planted in the county. 

The idea is that volunteer groups like ourselves and parish tree wardens, schools etc as well as farmers and private landowners can apply for native trees and shrubs free of charge.


How does it work?

It couldn’t be simpler. Just contact the Council and reserve your trees now.  They will then be made available for you to collect in the near future.

What is included?

The trees are usually small bare-rooted transplants, between 40 and 90cm tall. Rabbit spirals and bamboo canes can also be included to help protect them.

How many trees can I have?

Due to the popularity of the scheme, there is a maximum number of 100 trees per applicant.

How can I find out more? 

For more information visit

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


slug picture

There are many great ways to kill slugs, but the first thing to note is that not all slugs eat living plants, writes Bob Sherman from national charity Garden Organic.

When you lift the lid of the compost bin lid and find a long, sleek monster, grey and spotted like a leopard, you're meeting a slug that feeds on decaying matter, as many do.  So these are your compost heaps friend and should be kept. 

The ones to worry about are black slugs known as keeled slugs and the grey and brown field slugs that you find all over the garden at night, especially after or during rain.

There are no food plants I can think of that are immune to slugs and snails.
What you might notice, however, is that in a row of, say, broad beans, one plant will have been visited again and again and eaten down while others nearby are barely touched.

Plants are not defenceless. They are responding to the chemical signals given off by the attacked plant and releasing toxins to keep the slugs and snails away.
So when it comes to sowing and planting, assume you'll have some casualties and plant more than you need.

As for actually killing slugs and snails, here are some organic ways to do it.

Encourage slug eaters

Some creatures love the flavour of slugs and snails. Smashed snail shells indicate that thrushes are around. Hedgehogs search out slugs, especially in autumn.  Ground beetles will find them in places you can't reach or see, and then eat them. In fact some slugs even predate other slugs! So you need to generally  encourage wildlife by leaving a wild area in your garden if you have room.

Protect young plants

Recycle your 1 litre pop bottles by discarding the screw top, cutting off the base and pushing the sawn-off bottle into the soil to protect small seedlings.

The tile trap

Place a tile or slate on the surface of the soil with a few outer lettuce leaves or other peelings under it. This will attract snails and slugs, which can then be killed or relocated to distant wild countryside.

Slug pubs

Slug pubs containing beer or lemonade will attract slugs, which then drown. You can buy slug pubs or make one from the bottom of a plastic bottle. Unfortunately these devices also drown beetles and other beneficial creatures. Raising the lip above the soil surface by 1cm reduces this risk.


I am a firm fan of nematodes as a solution. These microscopic parasitic worms are watered on to warm soil (6 degrees) in wet weather to hunt down the slugs under the soil. You have to send off for these but they are fairly readily available in catalogues.


Also effective are the pellets made from ferric phosphate, a natural substance that is non-toxic to other organisms but which kills slugs and snails. You can get these in almost all garden centres or by mail order.

The Organic Gardening Catalogue lists more than 15 different ways to deal with them safely including a shot of caffeine.

This article was contributed by Bob Sherman - Chief Horticultural Officer at our partner organisation Garden Organic

Garden Organic - the national charity for organic growing

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Allotment Open Day, Shrewsbury - July 2011

There is something very special about the Bowbrook Allotments in the heart of Shrewsbury.

Three years ago the land now carefully divided into 68 lovingly tended plots was a council-owned field providing grazing for a handful of cows.
But one local resident spotted its potential as a focal point for community life, gathered support from neighbours, and within months the idea of transforming the plot into allotments became a reality.

Allotment committee member Malcolm Mollart says it was a back-breaking but rewarding few months,  leading to the grand opening in May 2009. A committee of allotment-holders was formed, and all plot holders and their families were invited to become members.

Each member is allocated one of 68 “half-size” allotments, where fruit, vegetables and flowers are grown, just as at traditional allotments around the county.
But at Bowbrook members and their families are also encouraged to volunteer to help tend shared green spaces around the allotments; regular work days are held to get everyone to dig in together; and everyone is keen to do their bit for the benefit of all.

It is a genuine demonstration of the “all in it together” culture.

Together the members have created a peaceful oasis, where friendships have blossomed and where advice and cups of tea are freely shared.

The allotment committee’s mission statement sums up the ethos of the site: “We aim to provide an attractive, friendly and safe environment for members and their children, to grow and harvest fruit and vegetables in harmony with the wildlife that surrounds us. We shall endeavour to develop our green areas into orchards, meadows and rest areas and to encourage the use of organic practices and the recycling of green waste.”

Their efforts so far have not gone unheralded. Last year Britain in Bloom judges awarded the allotments a Level 4 “thriving” award in the “It’s My Neighbourhood” category and commended the terrific amount of progress made in such a short time.
It has a long waiting list - more than 40 people are currently hoping for a space. Said Malcolm: “It is rare for people to give up their allotments but it can happen. It is a big time commitment - several hours a week - and some people realise they just can’t keep it up.”

Regular picnics, barbecues and family events are held at the allotments to reinforce the community ethos at its heart. Last summer a scarecrow competition drew lots of wonderful entries. The allotments now has its own website at and produces a regular newsletter. One plot-holder, Jill, of Plot 45, who joined the allotments last year, tells the story of her plot’s development on the site, and pays tribute to her fellow allotment holders thus: “Everyone I accosted was very helpful and many offered us both advice and plants to try, and recipes to deal with the excess veg; carrot and orange soup has become a firm favourite! So a very big thank you; it is a delight to come to our allotment. I am also impressed by the hard work done by so many on the surrounding orchards, shared areas and wildlife areas - their passion shows through.”

Visitors to the plots are struck by the community vibe - children are especially welcome, with many of them having their own growing patch within their parents’ or grandparents’ plot.

Says Malcolm: “It is lovely to see the children learning about where their food comes from and how it grows. The produce tastes fantastic too.”

Local community groups, including volunteers from Shropshire Master Composters, a local church group and Shropshire Organic Gardeners, visit the site and a pre-school group, Little Explorers, visit regularly.

The scheme also has two orchards, a picnic area with barbeque, meadows, a herb border, gardens planned to attract wildlife and “Gardens of the Four Seasons”. There’s also a child-friendly willow dome, a willow tunnel, a turf spiral and a sensory border. A withy bed, hazel coppice and a birch grove are under development.
The scheme also has “insect hotels”, insect shelters and different types of bird and bat boxes.

NAME OF GARDEN: Bowbrook Allotment Community, Mytton Oak Road, Shrewsbury, SY3 5BT. or call Malcolm Mollart, tel: 01743 791743
OPEN DAY: Sunday 17th July. Teas will be served; an interest trail has been created; and there’s a children’s quiz.

Favourites plants/flowers in the garden:
Buddleias have become the feature plant around the site. They form the basis of borders planted to attract wildlife, especially butterflies, bees and beneficial insects.

Gardening tip/tips from the owners:
Plan your planting to attract beneficial insects, both predators and pollinators. They will be your garden allies.