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Welcome to the Garden Guru!

You will find lots of useful information on compost, composting and all things grow your own, from hints and tips to step by step how to guides on all sorts of interesting subjects.

Browse through all our garden guru's articles below to find the subject you are interested in.

If the article you  are looking for is not here, just ask The Compost Shop Garden Guru and he will get back to you as quickly as possible with the answers you are looking for!

How you can grow your own food in 2019

There’s a lot of ways even limited space can be used to grow your own food. With preparation, even paved yards can be turned into impressive gardens. Innovative methods such as vertical gardening can even turn cramped gardens into productive allotments.

By adding even small garden planters to your yard you can quickly establish a variety of small fruit trees or berry plants, herbs or even small vegetables like radishes and chives. With care and attention these smaller plants can produce a crop in a few months- perfect for introducing children to gardening.

For those with even less space, hanging baskets are an attractive and simple option that are simple and cheap to set up. Ideal for summer crops like strawberries or even cucumbers, these versatile containers also add an appealing visual aspect to homes and gardens.

If you’re lucky enough to have workable space on your borders, then the range of vegetables available to you is far wider. Easy growing, ground-hugging seasonal vegetables are perfect for creating lush borders, while herbs and smaller crops can fill gaps. Be careful to create plenty of space for sunlight to reach your borders, while rotating crops to improve the chances of strong yields. Building frames for climbing veg such as beans and peas can help increase your harvests by building upwards.

If you really want to get stuck into growing your own food, or you lack the space, you could consider an allotment. This will give you all the space you need to develop large, productive vegetable crops such as root crops, while also providing room to experiment with more diverse seasonal crops. You can also consider growing very large crops to capitalise on the available space. This would include things like squashes and rhubarb, cane-based plants like beans, or berry trees and fruit bushes.

How can your garden help fight hayfever?

So the summer has rolled around, and you’re sneezing again. The hottest months of the year and you’re feeling distinctly un-summery. The times you want to be outside most of all, and you can’t step outdoors without feeling the tingle of swelling sinuses, irritated eyes and a sniffling nose.

The good news is, you don’t need to sacrifice a beautiful garden to create an allergy-free environment- in fact, you can create a space that’s ideal for local wildlife. This is because heavier pollen- i.e. that which needs insects, rather than the breeze, to spread it around, is less prone to causing allergies.

Avoid lawns

As mentioned above, plants with heavier pollen also present less of a threat of hayfever, so rather than keep a large lawn consider expanding borders to accommodate flowering plants, shrubs and other ornamental plants. Many flowers, especially those with closed blooms, such as tulips, keep pollen tightly packed away from the air. Open-bloom flowers, such as sunflowers, dahlias and asters, expose more of their pollen to the air and can therefore spread more around. Highly fragrant flowers are believed to be more likely to trigger allergies, and are therefore best avoided. The worst offenders in the average garden, however, are trees and grasses, which can produce huge clouds of wind-blown pollen that will not only trigger allergies outside, but worse can make their way indoors.

Choose wisely

Fuchsias, geraniums, tulips, penstemons, and clematis all produce low levels of pollen and can create a favourable garden for hayfever sufferers. With their pollen-enclosing flowers and heavy pollen particles that are unlikely to drift far, you will find these create an attractive garden while minimising airbourne pollen particles. Intersperse these with berries, cactus, and winter-flowering plants that will be easier on your allergies.  

Why use organic compost?

Interested in organic compost? UK gardeners are increasingly making the move to organic soil improvers- here are some of the reasons why.

  1. It’s cost effective

Unlike synthesised fertilisers, natural organic compost provides comprehensive nutrition for your plants- eliminating the need for additional feeds and saving you money. By going fully organic, you can save even more money by eliminating the need for pesticides and other synthetic compounds- and enjoy the benefits.

  1. It’s safe for pets

One big advantage of making the change to organic compost is the pet-friendly composition. Dogs and other pets can be made sick by chemical fertilisers, and shouldn’t be allowed outside for up to 48 hours after fertilising plants. In addition, neighbours’ pets who might come through your garden should be kept out. By using organic compost, your pet will be able to safely play outside all the time.  

  1. Organic compost is best for the long term fertility of your soil

Overusing synthetic fertilisers saturates the soil with chemicals that harm the long term fertility of the soil and prevent the natural breakdown of nutrients. By switching to organic fertiliser you can encourage the build-up of a wide range of microorganisms which can break down nutrients and promote long term soil fertility.

  1. It’s easier on your plants

Harsh chemicals in strong concentrations can cause leaf burn and harm plants. Plants need to absorb a range of nutrients, and dousing tender new plants in one particular nutrient can obstruct this process. By using organic compost you can be confident your plants are getting balanced nutrition. In addition, as mentioned above, organic compost is the perfect long-term soil improver, and is almost impossible to over-saturate your plants with. With synthetics, a very precise amount must be used to avoid killing your plants with a nutrient overdose.

  1. It’s best for the environment

We all know the advantages of avoiding harmful pesticides and chemicals that can harm the ecosystem. Made from non-renewable sources like oil, and requiring a huge processing effort to manufacture, synthetic fertilisers have a bad environmental profile before they even touch your garden. Once they do, they harm your soil fertility and the wider ecosystem.

If you’d like to discover for yourself why so many gardeners are switching to organic compost, UK-based supplier The Compost Shop offer great prices on a range of composts and soil improvers, including bulk orders and home delivery to make your gardening project even simpler! With top quality organic compost for sale at very competitive prices they’re the UK’s leading supplier of bulk soil improvers, and also have a range of turf, sands and topsoils available.

How to grow cucumbers in 2018

It’s not too late to get some cucumbers this year- in warm weather they can prosper even with late planting. Seeds or small plants can be planted out in late May or June and covered with fleece or a cloche to achieve the warm temperatures required. Aim to keep your cucumbers at around 15 degrees Celsius once planted.

It’s vital to use quality compost to enhance the fertility of your soil. Mixing in screened, friable compost gives your cucumbers the best possible start- though nonetheless you should attempt to use the most fertile, well-lit and sheltered parts of your garden. Use plenty of compost, well mixed into the topsoil, and also add fertiliser- around 100g per metre. Wet the ground around the plant, ensuring it’s not allowed to completely dry- but avoid saturation. Once the plant is developing, remove the head above the stems to encourage outward growth, until there are several shoots developing. This allows the plant to develop plenty of flowers & creates a more impressive yield. Establish canes or a similar structure to support your shoots as they grow- all the time controlling their growth to produce more shoots, as this will maximise yield.