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Accessing organic waste streams?  RSS feed

 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 309
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Any ideas for how to acquire organic materials, preferably for free?

Here in the UK it seems to be very difficult. If you're a company you need a waste permit to throw most things away (and there's mandatory recycling- with the relevant waste permits required!), so many businesses can't give you anything even if they wanted to- because you can't provide them with a waste permit! The cost to become a licensed waste contractor is immense.

As for paid-for but cheap materials, its £70 for a cubic meter of compost, which is over $100US! I got wood chips a few months ago for about $30, but that has now doubled Wood chips here are increasingly being use to make wood pellets for gasifying boilers, its become the 'in' thing and wood prices have shot up!

I get coffee grounds from the local starbucks- but I can only take one small bag at a time, so it will take about 20 years until I have enough to mulch with. All the other coffee shops in the area use machines with proprietary coffee-sachets, rather than actual coffee beans. Local stores are mainly frozen-food palaces, so the don't throw a lot away (I live in a lovely area!), and what they do- the open the packets and pour blue dye on it first, so people won't steal it out of the bins.... And I don't have a massive amount of room to do composting.

Any other ideas? My sheet-mulching has been bare newspaper for a while and it doesn't work too well without organic matter...

One added complication.. I only have a bicycle to transport things! I like to be especially awkward...
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3572
Location: Anjou ,France
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Have you contacted you local tree surgons ?
How about the local council ? Parks department ?

David
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Being on a bike does put limits on what you can glean for free.

Well within reason though, is the autumn leaves.
Here in the U.S., each autumn, everybody in the suburbs ends up with bags and bags of raked up leaves.
They usually go into plastic trash bags - approx. 100 liter size. Each bag probably only weighs a kilo or two. Dried leaves are very light. You could easily carry several on a bike.

 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 309
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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John Polk wrote:
Here in the U.S., each autumn, everybody in the suburbs ends up with bags and bags of raked up leaves.


I read about things like this with envy! As no one here rakes up leaves... they're just left on the ground. (If it snows, no one here clears their drives or the road or anything either!). I can pick them up off my drive, but not really other peoples (even asking to clear their drive- I'd just get odd looks)

i live right across the road from a park- the council uses a (and i think this is the right word) mulching mower- so it just chops the grass shorter but leaves the excess there. Same when they cut trees- they leave the wood and prunings under the tree (and people take the big bits for firewood). I could follow them round picking up stuff I suppose- I'd get odd looks raking grass clippings off the park, but i don't think anyone would care enough to stop me.

The council does offer garden waste collection, but its all done by a private company and goes to a private composting facility- where it then ends up in garden centres and costing £70 a metre. There isn't like a cheap municipal source- everything gets trucked off to private companies.

I have got assurances from two of my neighbours that i can have their garden trimmings, which might be a carrier bag a week or something (small terraced houses with small gardens, but better than nothing!)

I do sound like I'm trying to make it really difficult- but I am genuinely struggling to work out how to get organic stuffs for a reasonable price!
 
wayne fajkus
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We are lucky that we can pick up bags and bags on the side of the road. Or maybe I should say the USA population is stupid for putting bags and bags of their organic matter on the side of the road.

 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3572
Location: Anjou ,France
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I used to cut the grass outside my house before the council got there
No one ever complained

David
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I know where you're coming from Charli: I don't drive (or ride a bike), and it can feel like I'm always turning down people's ideas.
Tree chip: I used to be able to score it, but arborists have caught on-
they'll give it to my community projects, but I haven't worked out a way to convince them that my drive is part of a community project
Many deciduous trees are in parks/public gardens; most natives are evergreen.
NZers aren't big on 'tidy', but municipal-types tend to clean up leaves.
Just thinking, but do you have the space to declare yourself a community leaf/compost/clipping drop-off/pick up?
If you happened to use most of the product, you're still offering a service and contractors get to tick their 'community' box...
 
Allison Gessner
Posts: 21
Location: Dallas, TX
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Here's a site where you can sign up to have mulch delivered for free, but they're in Atlanta, GA. Maybe similar services exist elsewhere too? https://freemulch.abouttrees.com/#!/home
 
Dawn Hoff
Posts: 504
Location: Andalucía, Spain
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I go to the local farmers every very week and get their trash (quite heavy) - I have like 30 mins between the time they leave and the time the sanitation guys come in. I also go to my neighbor and gets the manure from his goat-stable, and I go to the local renovation centre and get everything from leaves to ready compost (in Denmark there is a rush every spring when they give away compost - because it's free. Here in Spain though it hasn't really caught on yet (and I get to climb the mountains of cuts and get palm leaves to make roofs and shade for animals and humans alike).
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6786
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Top quality mulch may be had when hardwood hedges are pruned. The growing tips are the richest part. They are full of phosphorus when in flower. This along with lawn cutting in your neighborhood could put money in your pocket and mulch in your bike trailer.

I got $150 and 300 lb of mulch for my three hours spent on this 320 ft hedge.
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Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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When I lived down near Marlow, I use to be able to collect a bucket of kitchen waste from our favorite pub we frequented. We were the crazy yanks who liked to garden and make compost. I supplied a clean bucket & lid each evening when I picked up the used one. That was a decade ago so the council rules may be different now.

I also got permission to pick up sheep manure. Access to the pastures was no problem due to the public footpaths, but for leaving the footpaths in order to pick up manure I always got permission from the farmer first. I used a doggy scooper, the kind with a little rake to rake up sheep manure. I used a plastic bucket to carry my treasure home. There were sheep fields all around me so I never had far to walk.

Finding free organic material for the compost was more difficult in England than what I find to be in the States. I often resorted to cutting weeds along hedgerows on farms.....with permission from the landowner of course.
 
Stevie Sun
Posts: 55
Location: Devon, UK
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Charli - I completely hear you. I would love a bunch of cheap/free mulch to do some sheet mulching in our community garden.

Have you investigated licencing to process garden or kitchen waste? I have the licencing to get bones and offal from abattoirs for my dog and it was completely free. I found the form online but was rather overwhelmed by it so emailed the local office who deals with that stuff, I got a call back and a lovely woman talked me through the form. The whole thing was completely free. I haven't investigated the licencing to handle garden waste for example but you might find it's not as back as you might expect.

In my area we're given white bags for garden waste, this time of year they're regularly getting filled with grass cuttings. I'm thinking about asking some of my neighbours to just let me take it away instead of the council.

Also do you have any friends with a car or a van who'd help you transport a batch of stuff?
 
John Saltveit
gardener
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Another long term situation is to grow fast growing trees and coppice chop them for the leaves.
John S
PDX OR
 
tom waterman
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Hi there, I'm also from the UK, I work on a large organic garden. Even in a professional garden we don't have enough mulch. But I have found some great sources.

Nettles!find an area and cut them before they set seed. I maintain a river path and have an unlimited supply of very nitrogen rich mulch. You can cut several times a year.

Grass! Don't use the first cut of the year as it will have seeds in it. Offer to cut someone's lawn or a public area, so you are giving something back.

Both of these are good excuses for getting a scyth or sickle.

Weeds can be used. Nothing with seeds and make sure tap rooted plants have fully dried out.

I don't know your situation, but how about chickens? The manure is rich and straw bedding is great for composting.

Buy your friends and family compost bins and regularly collect it so they keep doing it. It's a good excuse to catch up.

Leaves! Find a local path or an area you can clean up. Leaf mulch is the worth the effort and collect way more than you need.

Grow more plants, it takes a while but once your garden is running, you will get a steady supply of remenants through the season.

If you are feeling ambitious about your garden, get comfry growing immediately!

I also don't drive, but I do have a bike trailer! Good luck
 
Tim Wells
Posts: 120
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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Local pro gardeners often need to dump waste, you could offer your plot as a dump.
It will need sorting tho.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 985
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Option one is to call lawn mowing contractors in your area, however I can't get this here anymore because they all have mower mulchers now.
The second option is to call commercial gardeners. They have trailer loads of tree clippings and other stuff and they are more than happy to dump that at your place.
Your can get tons of it, the only problem is that you have to cut it up somehow.
The next option is your local greengrocer and restaurants as well as hairdressers. But you would need a car - don't you have a car sharing in your area?
If you do not have any means to transport the gardeners are the best option as they deliver.
Another option is a local zoo. Or horse paddocks, but that as well you need a car. Or you tell some older guys in your area that you will rake up their leaves provided that they deliver them (you load the car).
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 309
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Thanks for all your ideas, some have worked! Local stables will let me have stuff for free, unfortunately since then they've been closed due to strangles disease... but at least they offered! They'll deliver me a trailer full for £25 too, which is pretty good.

I've also been snooting around the nearby woodland, there were council guys there trimming trees- they let me have a load of bags of wood chips. And I might have wandered in acquired lots of nettles and like.

I have an allotment, they've been trimming the hedges and I've acquired and chipped the offcuts- they were going to burn them, but the big bits have gone into a hugelkultur and the small bits chipped for mulch.

I have recently (well, spring), planted loads of comfrey and my chickens arrived a fortnight ago- so I'm working on producing my own biomass!

Couple of notes- no car sharing where I am Good public transport, and whilst I once transported a piano on the bus, I don't think they'd appreciate large amounts of compost or anything.

I find that commercial gardeners either hold onto their own stuff, or need licensed contractors to dispose of it. Next doors gardener is now dumping his stuff (just from that garden) into my compost though, which is a start.

Its looking better- the neck-high weedfest (mostly grass) is now squashed under a few layers of cardboard, with about 3 inches of random compost/clippings/wood chip on top, with 'useful plants' planted through the board-


The bonus of wandering around the neighbourhood and asking about this kind of stuff if that you do find some cool things! I got given some cool rocks for my pond, various pond plants, loads of really big plant pots, and loads of wood off a building demolition, some old decking to make raised beds from.. its just being around at the right time and being brave enough to ask.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 985
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I am not talking about local vegetable gardeners, I am talking about those guys trimming hedges for someone else. They will be more than happy giving you the stuff.
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 309
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Angelika Maier wrote:I am not talking about local vegetable gardeners, I am talking about those guys trimming hedges for someone else. They will be more than happy giving you the stuff.


By 'next doors gardener ' I did mean the professional gardener that my neighbour uses, but he won't dump stuff from other gardeners with me. Same for the professional gardener at work, he won't even leave stuff at work for me to take home (even though its saving him carting it around! Though quite how I'd get it all home I don't know).
 
Tim Wells
Posts: 120
Location: Essex, England, 51 deg
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exactly - pro gardeners can dump at your plot instead of having to spend money to dump it
 
Mark Chadwick
Posts: 81
Location: Cranbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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Here's a thought for your chickens _ my local butcher saves the waste off his meat bandsaw for me (I'm a good customer). I cook it up with a week or two's vege peels (frozen while waiting) and thicken with waste bread I buy from a local baker for $3 a flour bag full. I freeze it in 500ml tubs, warm in the microwave as a treat on frosty mornings. My girls love it.

I can get bulk litter from a local horse stud, and the guy I buy my feed from. I mow public land at the rear of our place and scrounge fallen leaves wherever I find them.

I've had compost heaps that have steamed for three months! I exchange a barrow full of chicken enriched soil from the run with two barrows of worm filled compost. No need to spread it!!

Good luck in your hunt for biomass.
 
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