Monday, March 23, 2015

Crochet, cats and compost

A crochet & cat combo

I've done quite a lot on the blanket over the last few days but each time I've tried to lay it out flat on the floor for a photo Tilly has come and helped. So I've abandoned all hope of a full photo for the moment and will just show a couple of views with cat accoutrement!

I wouldn't mind but she has her own special snuggle rug on the chair seat (you can just see it in the photos).

Although she's been with us for 10 months she has shown no inclination to venture outside as she's very timid and still scared of visitors so we decided to let her tell us when she was ready. Recently she's been watching what's going on through the window and seemed to be much more settled so for the last few weeks we've been encouraging her to be brave and come outside just for a short time each day.

I'll let the photos show her journey. She was really scared at first and it took days to get her to even come out onto the patio (with me sitting on the sun lounger with a packet of Dreamies cat treats as encouragement!) and she'd just sit there sniffing the air and looking around.

I'm not sure…….

Here I come…..

…but then again…..

I like it here!

What's that then?

This smells interesting - it's Curry plant so the leaves are aromatic but she spent ages rolling underneath it so there must have been an animal scent there too.

There were lots of nice smells around the stacked wood by the barn

Hmmm, I think mum needs to get some weeding done in this bed!

First close encounter with ducks. Thankfully they quickly established the ground rules between them.

Now she's very keen to come out and we have several outings each day of about 30 minutes at a time. She wanders off and has her own adventures whilst I potter in the garden; then she comes to get me when she's ready to go back inside. Bless her!


Yep, I'm about to extol the virtues of a good compost heap. No, don't yawn, it's an important part of gardening!

For years I've been hoarding pallets (well, a girl can have an obsession other than yarn can't she?) in the hope that someone, ahem Mike, would make me some compost bays. We've only been here 12 years, admittedly a lot of that time was spent renovating the house itself and the garden had to take a back seat, but finally my dream came true and here they are:

They may not look pretty and you probably wouldn't want them in an urban setting but my goodness they are useful! Until now I've had to just create piles behind the barn and because they weren't closed in at all they attracted the ducks and badgers who would rummage through them for worms and make a right old mess. I also have piles of leaves rotting down, a pile of wood chippings which I use as a decorative mulch on some of the flowerbeds in the wilder areas and a pile of horse muck.

You can see I've got 3 bays; one to be left to rot down, the current one that's being built up and one for piling stuff to be sorted into the current heap - oh the luxury!  It's really important to get a good balance of ingredients so things rot down well. Mike puts the grass clippings in the end bay so I can add them to the current heap in layers as grass clipping just form a slimy mush if left in a pile on their own or added all at once.

The first thing I had to do was transfer my existing heap into the first bay. I did this at the beginning of February which was the ideal time as it's got time to finish rotting down before I start using it to dig in when I plant new things. It's really important to turn your compost heap to mix things up and get air into it but it's jolly hard work.

The lower I got into the heap the more worms I found; just look at these lovely composting machines. They help the rotting process by digesting things, which breaks them down, and by moving through the heap thus aerating it too.

But you don't need such a large area to compost things. When we lived in our flat we were lucky enough to have a small garden and I had a wormery just like this. I still chuckle when I remember that the brandling worms came through the post in a polystyrene container! We put all our kitchen waste into the bin together with some plant material and the worms did all the hard work for us. Not only did they produce the most crumbly compost, they also gave us a liquid feed (that's what the tap's for) which I diluted and used for our plants. 

When we moved to our next home the bin was full and I refused to empty it out so the removal men transported it for us. They were both fascinated and horrified when I showed them what was inside!

What do I put on my heap? Lots of things, some you might not have thought about composting. Here are a few things:

- things high in nitrogen such as plant material from the garden for example plant leaves and stems but not perennial weeds or annual weeds with seeds developed. I also add fruit and vegetable peelings and scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags (although not all teabags are compostible). I always have a few comfrey plants in the garden as their leaves speed up the composting process so I add them throughout the summer.

- fibrous materials such as dead and dried plant material and plant stems; but not anything too woody as they take a long time to rot down. If you want to add tougher plant material then you can put it through a shredder to help it to break down faster.

- I used to add rabbit dropping when we kept rabbits and I always add horse manure, egg shells, cardboard (ripped up and wetted) and paper towels.

So why am I showing you a photo of our beautiful pampas grass, taken last summer? Because I left the plumes on all through winter and they looked wonderful but I had to chop them down so that the new growth could come through.

I know that the birds love this sort of material for their nests and so when I'd cut them off I put a pile of them by the compost heap so they can help themselves.


Roberta Mendes said...

Hello, I love your crochet, it is beauty, I love this colors, I follow your blog, I have a blog about crochet with free patterns and free crochet diagrams, and I love Cats, visit me , hugs from Brazil.
Visite meu blog - Tita Carré - Crochet

Sue said...

Pretty soon kitty will decide she owns the outside too...just like she does the inside. We adopted one that spent the first probably year in our room..had her own sandbox, etc. Finally when the others wanted to share the box, she started venturing out. We had her almost 9 years when she went to kitty heaven to chase mice. Your compost looks so warm, earthy, and wormy..we are in Michigan, so not quite warm enough yet..but soon, very soon. Thank you for sharing.

Susie Hewer said...

Hi Roberta, thanks for your comments. Our weather is a bit different to yours over in Brazil!

Susie Hewer said...

Hi Sue, thank you for sharing your kitty story. We were beginning to think that Tilly would never find her inner lion and venture out but we're hoping that she'll get bolder over time. Sorry to hear your kitty had to leave you so soon; it's so hard saying goodbye to a beloved pet, Susie x