Compost – a gardener’s friend, a great way to give a boost to all your plants, from seedlings to mature shrubs and trees – but which compost is the best for the job? We take a look at the things to keep an eye out for when buying your compost.
Q) What do you call an irishman lying at the bottom of a bog for 1000 years?
Since the 1970s, most composts use peat as a central ingredient. Peat is great for compost as, being made up of decayed vegetation, it contains in abundance many of the nitrates needed to help plants grow. However there are environmental drawbacks – namely the destruction of huge areas of natural wilderness owing to the harvesting of peat. While most of the peat used in the UK is imported, the amount of peat used from UK sources still far outstrips the rate at which it is naturally produced.
Thankfully, there are now on the market many peat-reduced or peat-free alternatives to the regular types of compost, many of which are just as effective as helping your plants grow. Generally made out of coir, wood fibre and composted bark, which mean they are good at holding water, but are also well drained. At Primrose, we only stock peat-free compost.
As well as the peat content, another thing to keep an eye on is the acidity. Composts that are too alkaline or too acidic can be damaging to many plants, while some plants do thrive in acidic soil conditions this is not the case for most. An ideal pH is around 7, but due to the salts containing the nutrients plants need to thrive,most composts will be a bit off from this. Too low and it can spell disaster for plants.
Drainage/ Water Retention. How well a compost drains and contains water is also important. If a compost has poor drainage it can lead to waterlogged root, on the other hand, if a compost has poor water retention, it can lead to there being not enough moisture for the plants to really thrive.
Fertiliser Levels. How much fertiliser is in the compost will naturally affect how well a plant grows. What might be less apparent however is that too much fertiliser can also be a bad thing, as well as too little. Too much fertiliser is not needed by many plants, and putting too much in can cause the soil’s pH to fall to dangerous levels.
We at Primrose hope this helps you make a more informed choice, and buy the best compost for your plants and the wider environment, as long as you buy from us!
Charlie works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.
When not writing for the Primrose Blog, Charlie likes nothing more than a good book and a cool cider.
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