Practical Composting Courses at Stokes Wood Allotments, Leicester
Neglected compost bins and heaps are a feature of many allotment sites and it would seem some plot holders would prefer a bonfire or paying the council to
process their waste to making their own compost. These bins spoil the look of the site and demonstrate a waste of a valuable means of improving the soil of the allotment. The problem is not confined to allotments, a 2004
survey showed that as many as 40% of householders who had brought a bin and started home composting stopped using because of a lack of composting knowledge. This led to Councils offering leaflets, web pages and trained “master composters”
to provide support and advice resulting in a reduction in the dropout rate to 8-14% . In recent years this figure has reduced further to 3.9% which is probably as low as it will go without further intervention.
There are a number of
reasons for composters dropping out such as insufficient waste to feed the bins, lack of time as well as specific problems relating to lack of knowledge of composting techniques and specific concerns relating to smells, flies and rats.
the environmental perspective there is also a problem with cooked food waste which requires special, quite expensive bins to compost at home, although a pre-compost product suitable to be added to a normal compost bin can be produced using a relatively
cheap Bokashi system.
To help increase awareness of composting techniques and increase the scope and rate of composting at home and on allotments we are starting a series of low-cost training sessions at the
Stokes Wood Allotment Composting Demonstration Site, 2B Stokes Drive, Leicester, LE3 9BS.
The last one-day Introduction to Composting session was planned for May 2020 but was cancelled due to lockdown. We will be
offering the programme again soon. The sesion will introduce attendees to the many benefits of composting and help them explore the methods that will best suit their circumstance in a half day format rather than as all day sessions.
course is designed to equip those new to composting with the basic knowledge and practical experience to compost successfully and take remedial action if things go wrong and provide additional information for those already composting.
It is also suitable
for those who have recently taken on a new allotment plot or have purchased or are considering purchasing, a compost bin through a Council subsidized scheme as well as allotment plot holders who wish to extend their knowledge of composting techniques.
Allotments and large gardens provide an opportunity for using different composting techniques e.g. trench, lasagne or hot composting. As well as composting solutions to problems with perennial weeds and diseased plant material.
Householders are faced with the difficulty of dealing with both cooked and uncooked kitchen waste and plus a significant amount of grass, if they have a large lawn, which can turn anaerobic and smelly if not dealt with correctly.
Participants will receive training to develop a composting skill set, and a knowledge of:
- The environmental benefits of composting and role of composting in reducing waste sent to
- The Benefits of composting in building a healthy soil.
- The main methods of composting available to the home, allotment and small-scale community compos site.
- Home and allotment composting operations
including the use of bins purchased through Council schemes.
- Stages in Microbiological decomposition of organic material during composting
- “Greens and Browns” getting the right mix of materials for effective composting.
- Compost bin “first aid”. Measures to be taken if things go wrong.
- Harvesting and using compost.
The introductory session will include a tour of the demonstration site and practical experience of aerobic composting
operations using the wide range of bins available on the demonstration plot. Depending on the weather it may include the sorting of feedstock from the reception bins, the layering and loading of bins, aeration by turning with
a fork and aeration tools, use of plastic “dalek” and similar bins and the harvesting of finished compost
While the Introductory session will provide sufficient knowledge to operate and maintain a composting
system it will also form the Foundation session for a more detailed and specialist second day with sessions on:
- Traditional three bin hot composting,
- Waste food composting (including cooked food),
- Bokashi fermentation to
pickle food waste so that it can be composted in a conventional bin ,
- Liquid Feeds (plant & compost teas)
Successful completion of both days will lead to certification as a Compost Mentor.
The courses are
priced at only £15 per day (including tea, coffee and lunch) to make them accessible to as many people as possible. All NAS members are welcome
An additional half day session Community Composting will be offered for representatives
of allotment sites, community gardens, schools etc. as demand warrants.
Enquiry forms are available below or from firstname.lastname@example.org