No, it’s not a scene from Quatermass. The looming lump of white fluff in the photo is…wool. Or more accurately, a pile of discarded fleece, dropped off by some kind neighbours who raise a small flock of sheep for meat. Once a valued commodity, this kind of wool is now worth so little that there is no real market for it – rather than chuck it on the bonfire, my neighbours kindly offered it to me instead.
I’d read somewhere that wool can be composted – and that was confirmed by one of the helpful members of UK Veg Gardeners, who mentioned that wool ‘shoddy’ has traditionally been used as fertilizer by farmers in the wool district of west Yorkshire. So, offered a load of free wool (and remembering the permaculture idea of getting as many yields as possible from something, especially if it’s stuff that others might discard!) – I thought I’d have a go at putting it to use. (Before using, it’s apparently a good idea to check if the stuff is chemical-free…)
After a bit of rootling around on the web, I learned that wool can indeed be composted – in fact, I found a commercially available wool-and-bracken compost. Though as wool apparently takes ages to break down, I may have to find the fleece its own corner of the compost pile. Given how thick the fleece is, I think it will also be great at suppressing weeds. I’ve put a load around a young pear tree that is being swamped by grass. It looks pretty weird, but once covered up by grass clippings, who’s to know? Our village school has also used some to line their new ‘bug hotel’, to make nesting material for critters. If none of this works out, I suppose I could always learn how to make the stuff into a jumper. If anyone has any other ideas, I’d love to hear them!