There’s always something new to learn!

It’s amazing the little snippets you come across when you least expect it. I was reading through an on-line article about composting from the Telegraph and was surprised by one particular part of this section:

Compost dos and don’ts

Do add to the heap

  • All grass clippings
  • Cut flowers
  • Kitchen waste, eg broad bean pods, outside lettuce leaves, peelings
  • Weeds — not those going to seed. Not persistent perennials
  • All cardboard and paper (shredded), but not very heavily inked or glossy
  • Cotton clothes

Don’t add to the heap

  • Cooked food — it encourages rats and flies
  • Citrus — bake on a low heat in the oven and then use as fire lighters instead
  • Egg shells — too slow to break down
  • Coarse bark — too slow to break down
  • Wood shavings — most are treated with preservatives, so best avoided
  • Perennial weed roots — they will start to grow and invade the whole heap
  • Plants which have gone to seed — they will just shed all their seed into the heap and germinate when you spread the compost
  • Anything diseased — e.g. wood infected with honey fungus or courgettes with mildew — this will encourage fungal spread
  • Man-made fabric — will not decompose

via Composting: make your own black gold – Telegraph.

This is a pretty standard list of items for composting that you might find on any number of websites. However, when I read the part about citrus fruit, my first reaction was one of mild disbelief mostly because I thought I would have heard of this before now if it was true. How can it be possible that citrus fruit peelings are any good as fire lighters?

However, this seems to be confirmed by many other pages I found on the web, this is just one example:

Orange Peel Firelighters

The citrus oils in dried orange and tangerine peel make it an effective firelighter. If you have a Rayburn or Aga you can leave the peel in one of the ovens over night to dry. Alternatively you can put the peel in the oven after cooking. The peel will dry as your oven cools.

via West Coast Reducers (Highland) | Household.

All I need now is the Rayburn or Aga so that I can give this a try!

Another belated update

It seems that for the last few months I have had a consistent list of “things to get done” which somehow never seemed to get any shorter. Every time I reached the point where an item could be crossed off there were another couple of things to add to the bottom of the list!

Finally I think I can see the end of the current list but I know what will happen when I get there, I’ll just add more things to it again. With luck those new items will related to moving house and starting the smallholding but the housing market doesn’t work on luck so I’ll have to wait and see.

Hopefully I’ll remember to take some time before starting the next list and I must also remember not to add so much on the next list as well!


The chickens are still merrily trashing the far end of the lawn plus (when they feel like flapping over the fence) the veg beds and flower borders.

Chickens still happy after 6 months
Chickens still happy after 6 months


The compost heap looks to be an excellent “brew” which I will try to take plenty of credit for but of course the success is probably more down to loads of chicken poop, straw and wood shavings.

It might be considered by some to be slightly “chunky” perhaps but I am disproportionately proud of my limited contributions to the process!

Compost bin
My finest compost yet

Attempting to move house

Some of that lovely compost has already been spread over one of the raised beds although my heart isn’t really in it. I’m not sure of the etiquette when selling a house but perhaps we should have specified that we’re taking our compost with us when we move?

Compost on raised bed
Compost on raised bed