The Green Johanna

In my last Waste Watcher’s update, I reported that we were shortly to be taking delivery of a Green Johanna, courtesy of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Wiltshire Council.

And this week just happens to be Garden Waste week in the Waste Watcher’s campaign, so I thought a blog post all about it would be very fitting!

Our Green Johanna arrived a week or so ago.

And I am very excited.

For those of you who don’t know, the Green Johanna is a “unique closed, home composting container” but it can also take food waste including cooked food.

We have tried various things in the past to deal with our food waste to save them from the bin without success. We tried a wormery, but managed to kill off the worms (although I would like to try this again) and we have also tried Bokashi bins, but we didn’t really have enough garden to dig the fermented waste into, so it all just sat in the garage for several months until we threw it away…

So I have high hopes and big expectations of the Green Johanna.

All of our food waste can basically now go in here. I like to think I am pretty canny about making sure I get the most out of our food, and make sure we use up our leftovers (for ideas on using up leftovers, you can check out these Waste not, want not posts) BUT we have 2 Small people in our house, and they can be a teeny bit fickle at times. So the leftover dregs of weetabix, the bread crusts (this really annoys me, what is wrong with crusts?!) and the spurned bits of my delightfully cooked, nutritious meals, can now have a second life and be put to good use making lovely compost!

The Green Johanna is designed to take 1/3 garden waste to 2/3 food waste, and works best in a shady spot. Hopefully this should work really well for us, as we have a shady, not very big garden, so don’t generate a huge amount of garden waste.

BUT hubby and I have had several arguments  heated debates about when is the best time to fire this baby up.

Hubby has pointed out that it is a hot composter, and will inevitably work better in warmer weather, and thinks that starting it now in mid February is a bit rash.

I, on the other hand, am impatient to get started, so I e-mailed the lovely people at Great Green Systems, who make the Green Johanna, and asked the question. A very diplomatic lady called Samantha replied, and basically, I am right. Actually, she said that both of us were right, and that we could start at any time, but for the purposes of this argument, I am right…

So hubby duly erected the Green Johanna, with a little bit of ‘help’ from BigSmall.

We found a suitable spot in the garden, and moved away some bricks and several families of Grampfur Gravies (woodlice..) and plonked the Green Johanna reverentially in position

Green Johanna1

Then we set my mother in law to work in her garden pruning back some bushes to provide us with the base layer of twigs/coarse garden material

Green Johanna2

Then we needed a layer of grass mowings/clippings. Hubby was again not feeling the Green Johanna love, and refused to mow the lawn for us to generate some clippings (some tosh about frosts and killing the grass) BUT after yet another argument heated debate, we set off to the local park with a pair of garden shears and a big bag! (I love my hubby :))

Green Johanna3

Then, we needed a layer of soil/mature compost, so we raided the various empty pots scattered around the garden.

Green Johanna4

And then FINALLY we could start to add the kitchen waste (which I have been amassing for the last 3 days!)

Green Johanna5

As I may have mentioned, I am very excited about this.

In Wiltshire, we are not allowed to put veg and fruit peelings into the green bins, and our garden does not generate enough waste to fuel a conventional composter, so this should drastically reduce our waste going to landfill, as previously all our kitchen waste (compostable or not) was going in the black bin. (If you are a Wiltshire resident, the Council subsidise the cost of the Green Johanna, and it’s sister, the Green Cone, by a whopping 75%, so go get one!)

I have been firmly instructed by the lovely hubby, who has read the instruction manual thoroughly (why, I am not sure, he refuses to read the instructions for anything electrical, or any kind of flat pack, claiming “instructions are for girls”..) that in order to work properly the Green Johanna will need a little maintenance-ie poking and stirring with a big poky stick, but I reckon I can cope with that.

I will keep you updated with our progress, and we should have compost ready to use in 4-6 months…

19 thoughts on “The Green Johanna

  1. All food waste? Meat as well? Or just greenery food waste? I have to say the idea of this appeals enormously but that might have a lot to do with I love the name….. 😉

  2. We are so lucky in Bristol that we have a food waste collection. Much as I would happily put one of these in my garden I don’t think many people would – to much hassle they would say.

    I also hate the fact that my kids leave the crusts – because its making me fat finishing them off so they aren’t wasted!

    • I will never understand why there is so much variation between local councils as to what they will recycle. We have a massive food digester about 500m from us, that I think takes the food waste from other counties…
      Hopefully the Johanna won’t be too much trouble once it is established. A bit of poking with a stick, and keeping it topped up.

  3. Really looking forward to seeing how you get on with this. I have an old wheelie bin that the council ripped the wheels off, so OH chopped the bottom off and turned it upside down and voila a compost bin (complete with lid!), I get the hoe in every month of so and give it a bit of a stir/chop/turn to give it a boost. We are also luck that we have a City farm close by and they will take food waste as well.
    Im surprised you dont collect your bread crusts to make breadcrumbs, having said that our left over bread goes to feed the birds so I dont get much chance to use crusts either. :O)

    • I save big bits of bread for breadcrumbs Jo, but not the half-chewed, buttered, jammy bits of crust!
      Will keep you updated. At the moment, I am contemplating making a ‘jacket’ for it from bubble wrap and an old blanket, as apparently if it gets consistently less than 5C it should have a jacket on..!!

  4. Good luck with the composter, it sounds great! I did look into various ideas like this for us, but now the council take all our garden waste and food peelings / leftovers from the kerbside once a fortnight. Problem solved! We wrap all our food waste (hopefully not very much but plate scrapings / crusts (we have small ones too!), etc) in newspaper because in the summer it causes problems with flies and an awful smell.

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