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Compost Questions Answered

At The Compost Shop, we’re dedicated to helping gardeners from all over the world find the answers to their compost conundrums!

We want to assist you with the questions you’ve got to ask, so we collected a few of the most common compost queries below, and did our best to put an answer to each. As the UK’s top supplier of bulk organic compost, we’re constantly supporting new gardeners taking their first steps, as well as communities and organisations keeping their outdoor spaces lush for use by visitors and the public- so providing resources for eager gardeners is all part of the service.

1. Which compost is best for vegetable growing?

Compost suppliers offer a wide range of composts, and finding the right blend for you can sometimes feel like a challenge- often it can depend on factors like the local soil and climate as well as the plants you’re hoping to grow. A great place to start for vegetable growing is our manure & mushroom compost- suppliers often charge more for the unrivalled quality of manure composts, so we’ve blended ours with mushroom compost- a tried and tested product used for mushroom growing before being steam sterilised to remove spores- to make an effective & affordable bulk compost perfect for vegetable growing. With our compost online delivery service sizeable quantities of our mushroom compost, manure & mushroom or composted manure- all ideal for growing healthy, delicious vegetables – can be delivered straight to your garden or allotment.

Visit our online compost shop to discover more about our vegetable growing composts.

2. Which compost should I use for cuttings?

Cuttings are a great way to diversify your garden, whether you’re just starting out or an experienced gardener. Whatever stage you’re at, discover the benefits of cheap compost delivered to your garden: the best way to ensure your cuttings get the reliable, plentiful nutrients they need to develop. Now available, our John Innes No. 1 blend is perfect for seeds & cuttings, ready to order the exact amount you need from our range of compost direct, saving on costs, time and waste.

3. Which compost is best for tomatoes?

Tomato plants prefer fairly acidic soil, so, depending on pH, ericaceous compost could be best. Many gardeners suggest that in the case of these crops, the frequency and quality of care outweigh the compost blend. Our broad range of multi-purpose compost online is a great way to get started with a great all round compost.

4. Which compost to use for conifers?

Conifers have a very different compost requirement than smaller plants, for example the extent to which they benefit from mulching, which can be done either with compost or bark. We also now offer our specialist tree & shrub planting compost to buy online and help your trees develop. Our mushroom compost, with or without a manure blend, can act as a great soil improver to ready the soil for your conifers. Visit our online compost page for more information on how these mixes can help you achieve your long term planting goals.

5. Which compost to use for herbs?

Like conifers, moisture regulation is far more important than a compost’s specific properties or nutritional profile. However, mushroom compost is an ideal compost to prepare soil and develop readiness for planting out. Some herbs require planting out in rich soil or will struggle, so ensure you have good quality compost that suits the specific needs of the type of herbs you plan to grow. See our page of compost to buy online to discover more about the soil types our range can help.

6. Which compost is best to use for bamboo?

This will depend on the size & species you plan to grow. Some varieties prefer acidity and will benefit from ericaceous compost, yet as a general rule a blend of peat and loam will provide the balanced moisture needed. Depending on soil pH, spent mushroom compost is a great additive to increase fertility and give your bamboo a boost. Order compost online from us to discover an easy way to get quality compost to your garden, quickly and cheaply.

7. Which compost to use for olive trees?

John Innes number 3 mixed with grit in a ratio five to one will act as great support for your olive trees. It’s advisable to plant in pots as they will struggle outdoors in the UK, especially in colder areas and over winter.

8. Which compost is best for lavender?

When planning your borders or preparing pots, considering a multipurpose compost bulk order or splitting your projects according to their individual nutritional needs, we offer a broad range of garden compost for sale based on expert knowledge.

9. Which compost is best for roses?

John Innes compost or a good multipurpose compost work best for roses, due to its high loam content and moisture control. John Innes compost is specially formulated to provide excellent nutrition to plants in the early (John Innes seed compost), middle and late (John Innes no 3) stages of growth.  Invented at the John Innes Centre in Norfolk in the 1930s, it has become a widely popular and available compost choice due to being put in the public domain.

10. Which compost to use for bay trees?

If you keep your trees in pots, use good multipurpose or John Innes compost for potting to keep your trees stable and well drained. John Innes no 2 is an especially effective blend for planting out. With our multipurpose & John Innes compost delivered to your door you can easily ensure your plants get the correct nutrition, cheaply.

11. Is it okay to buy cheap compost?

Compost itself is a bit of a trick, a neat cheat to save yourself and your plants a bit of a gamble and speed growth. Using any such product in place of natural soil is a small act of trust- that the product you’re using is as effective as is claimed, because if not your plants stand a very slim chance- so it’s not surprising that many gardeners say you get what you pay for. That said, here’s nothing wrong with being a sensible shopper and savvy gardener. These days compost varies hugely, with different products even varying bag to bag, as manufacturers respond to fluctuating prices of raw material. That’s why finding a source of regular or organic compost you trust is so important- and why many people choose to produce their own, and have the final say in what goes into their food. If you can’t produce your own, and you need to find a trustworthy product, a specific recipe such as John Innes no3 compost is a great choice.

  1. 12. Where does compost heat come from?

Compost is food- not for plants, but for billions of tiny microorganisms that break down the matter and release the nutrients plants absorb. Without them, compost wouldn’t decay or rot as effectively. The more of these microscopic creatures that live in your compost, the more fertile it will become. Of course, not all types are good news, and if you start to notice unpleasant smells emanating from your home-made compost, this might be sign the wrong waste has been composted. The heat you see on some large or especially fertile compost heaps- such as horse manure- is generated by these tiny microorganisms collectively thriving.

13. Where do compost worms come from?

Despite the need to carefully monitor the materials in your compost, there’s no immediate cause to panic if you find worms in there. Like the thousands of other tiny organisms feeding on your compost, worms break down the matter into nutrient-rich castings that can be highly beneficial to plants- indeed worm castings are sometimes sold as one of the best multipurpose compost types.

Mostly worms will only inhabit the top few inches of compost, and while they may sneak in from eggs in manure, or other products you’ve composted, they won’t be a pest. If other, larger critters start nesting in your compost, however, this may be a sign of a more serious problem and you’ll need to take steps. Buying your compost is a good way to get good quality compost to your garden quickly and easily, without needing to worry about long-term composting. Our range of cheap multipurpose compost will likely offer much more than home composting, and is readily available for fast delivery. Peat free compost also allows those buying compost to be certain that their purchase is made without environmental damage.

14. How can you tell healthy compost?

With our compost delivery you’ll be certain to receive a quality product from one of our local depots. The mixture you receive should be soft and reasonably dry, not unpleasant in smell, and roughly consistent. If you notice your compost smelling or being wet, problems may have occurred during the composting process, or subsequent storage. Because of our trusted, reliable service, we’re confident you can depend on the quality of compost you receive, without the worry that comes with your own months-long composting efforts.

15. I want to save money. Is there a good compost to buy cheap?

Multipurpose compost offers an affordable, balanced and scientifically proven way to increase soil fertility in your garden. For specialist jobs there are particular products, for example potting compost, however multipurpose compost serves as a strong all-round formula for your plants. We’re proud of offer a broad range of tried-and-tested compost blends, for gardeners of all budgets.

16. What’s the best compost to buy online?

The advantage of buying your compost- other than eliminating the need to surrender one end of your garden to a smelly & unsightly composting heap- is that you can provide your plants with well-balanced, scientifically formulated blend that’s the right mix for your specific plant. Instead of simply composting what’s available, you can tailor your compost’s nutrients to the exact needs of your plant. John Innes Compost no 2, for example is perfect for potting young plants and varieties in the middle stage of growth. By ordering John Innes no 2 compost you can be confident the product has all the properties necessary for this task- once grown you can move on to John Innes no 3 compost. John Innes compost no 3 benefits fully grown plants with a scientifically-tested blend of nutrients. By buying compost online, you can be confident you’re getting the complete nutrients needed for your plants.

17. What’s the best compost to amend clay soil?

There are several options for compost to improve clay soil.

Peat compost can offer a great boost to your soil, with its efficient, nutrient-packed formula built up over hundreds of years so slow composition. Yet concerns have arisen about the environmental impact of extracting peat in environmentally sensitive areas for garden compost, therefore many instead trust mushroom or multipurpose compost. Compare prices and find cheap compost to improve soil at our store.

18. Can you use compost to heat your home?

In the 1970s a man named Jean Pain pioneered domestic biofuel generation, using finely shredded wood chip compost to generate staggering quantities of methane that if stored could run ovens, trucks and heaters for years, while at the same time generating enough natural heat to warm 4 litres of water per minute to 60 degrees centigrade. His enormous compost heap covered a sealed water tank with carefully designed outputs to release gas, which was then processed and stored. In 90 days his compost heap produced 500m3 of gas. His finely-chipped wooden pellets, designed to maximise surface area for bacteria, and subsequently soaked in water for months to stimulate anaerobic decomposition, would not be the cheapest compost around, yet the story of Jean Pain shows the power of a little inventiveness- and, of course, of compost.              

19. How do you use compost to top dress a lawn?

Top dressing is a great way to give your lawn a boost before the first frost of winter, or in the spring for a bit of a lift. Ensure you’ve got enough time for the lawn to absorb the nutrients before carefully puncturing the surface with a fork, before gently dusting the lawn with finely-sieved compost. Thinly scatter compost across its surface, smoothing the fertiliser down. You can even buy specialist spreaders to ensure an even distribution. Remember, spreading too thickly will harm the lawn, so aim to keep the surface as green as possible- you’re aiming for a very fine distribution indeed. Consider using composts that suit the needs of the lawn- sandy compost for improved drainage, for example.

Buy compost online here- we stock affordable compost & manure for sale, with our fantastic home delivery service, which includes specialist and multipurpose compost delivered straight to your garden. Remember to contact us with any questions about our service, and happy gardening!