In our garden we have several ways to get rid of our garden and general waste. There are two large bins: one is for rubbish which we can’t get rid of ourselves;  small bits of cooked food, although we don’t waste much, and the rest is mostly plastic: All that extra packaging which is considered necessary by manufacturers, but which we used to manage without. You know the kind, it takes special tools just to open a packet of biscuits these days. We bought some new tree loppers, and had to use the old loppers to open the packet that the new loppers came in.  It was almost as if someone was playing a cruel trick. 

There is another bin for green waste. We use that rarely as most things will compost eventually, even what are thought of as toxic weeds; thistles and dandelions, if I can catch them before they seed in they go. It was full this week as we had a tree hit by such strong winds that three branches came off and needed getting rid of.

Near the back door there is another bin for card, glass and recyclable plastic bottles. There is also a bag in the kitchen for waste paper. Outside the kitchen door is a small compost bin for kitchen waste from vegetables and fruit. This saves too frequent trips down the garden path to where we have large compost containers into which goes all the garden waste  - rotten fruit, grass cuttings and all the rest.  

When I think back, we used to have one dustbin and everything went in there. Some bins had a notice saying don’t add hot ashes, but  no one ever did as you only cleared the ashes in the morning when the fire had died right down.  Most rubbish would have gone on the fire and there was no plastic in those days. Glass bottles were collected for a refund, newspapers were screwed up and used as firelighters, and any spare food, and there wasn’t much in the 1950s, went in a pig swill bin to feed the pigs. In due time, everyone who had contributed to the pig feed would get a share of the meat; sausages, kidneys, black pudding or even a joint.  Such methods are now banned by legislation, but they worked for hundreds of years.  

How many bins do you have?

Of all the rubbish bins we have, I like my compost bins the best. We turn the contents over from time to time and eventually we have rich , dark compost, so much nicer than anything I can buy at the garden centre, and it is free, the only cost is just a little effort.  There are several compost bins. One to be filled, one just quietly rotting down, and a third from which we can take fresh compost as needed.


I have a more or less organic garden, although I do feed my citrus fruit from a chemical mix.  Other fruit and vegetables just get their goodness from the soil and its annual dose of seaweed and compost. We grow almost all the fruit we eat, with plenty to give away or sell, as well as some potatoes, onions and lots of herbs.  It isn’t perfect, but it isn’t bad. We’ve just planted out a whole hedge of plum seedlings which have grown from rotten fruit I buried two years ago.

Not everyone can do this of course. They just don’t have the space, or that is what they say, and don’t talk about time, but I think you find time for what you want to do.  Take my friend George. He has a tiny garden, about the size of two average flat balconies.  Visit him, and then just look around you. Every inch is employed. You can hardly move your feet, but bend your head back and look up at beans of several kinds, strawberries growing in tiers, sunflowers for the birds, tomatoes of course and even kiwi fruit.  There are lettuces growing in old trays from the market, peppers on the kitchen window sill, a dustbin sprouts potato tops.  A cucumber climbs around the tomato vine – and I’m sure I’ve missed lots,  thinking back there was a passion fruit around the door frame to the house.  

We can’t all be Georges and we don’t all have a garden as big as mine, but we all have a window sill. What could you grow?  A tomato or chilli plant, a few lettuces?  Think of how good you will feel, the money you will save, and how fresh and crunchy it will all be.