Monday 19 February 2024

My Homemade Potting Compost.

 Another gardening post just for a change.

Regular readers will know my hobby nay obsession is propagating perennials and shrubs and growing vegetables.

Apart for sowing seeds I no longer buy lots of potting compost I make my own using different growing mediums:

Homemade compost.
Fym or farm yard manure: pony, poultry, rabbit and pig.  Twelve months old or almost?  Full of natural nutrients to feed the plants growth requirements. 
Sand.  Preferably river or crushed quarry stone sand not sea sand full of salt or builders sand full of man made chemicals.  

I am mixing all three ingredients together for my potting compost but sand or compost can be used on their own.  Especially the sand for starting off and striking roots on cuttings.

The old country estate gardeners use to make their potting compost from mole hill soil.  It's amazingly well worked friable soil but unfortunately or fortunately depending if you think of moles being friends or foes? We don't have any where I live.

I love reading old gardening books from the nineteen twenties and thirties when gardening cost very little and gardeners made their own potting and seed compost.  Magical mixes like the John Innes mixes.  I like John Innes number 3 which is a soil loam based compost.

A lot of the budget or discount supermarket compost is made of bark or coir and even peat and cakes when it drys out and contains little or no nutrients.  So now apart from seed compost I make my own.

Sure it's not sterilized or weed seeds free but it's full of nutrients and my plants and vegetables thrive in it. Gardening is labour intensive and it's not hard to pull out a few weeds is it?

Do you have a homemade potting compost to share with us?

18 comments:

  1. I have stopped purchasing bagged compost, it's such poor quality, when we redid our garden we got high quality top soil to use. I do compost, I have a hotbin, which I love, and I have 2 dustbins which I make leaf mulch in.

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    1. Leaf mulch is amazing Marlene. Even you only have a few black bags of leaves and store them in a shed or under a hedge for a couple of years. You will have wonderful black leaf mould gold. There are good commercial composts but you have to pay a good price for them. I normally pay for 2 and get one free. Thanks.

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  2. I tend to use "night soil" to make my compost. You might be surprised by the size of the pile that two adult humans produce in a week. Because we use old newspapers for wiping the nether regions, it's okay to have that in the mixture too. Why not put this idea to Jean and your sons?

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  3. 'Night Soil' used to be collected from London back yards and gardens and taken to the verdant fields of the Farden of England or Kent YP. I once knew a lady allotment holder who kept a commode in her shed and told me she would empty its contents on her vegetables. I will stick to fym and seaweed,

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  4. When I saw your post I thought I know what YP is going to say. My P used to empty septic tanks and his tanker was originally emptied, by injectors, straight into the soil, to the arable fields here. This was stopped in the 1980s and he then took his tanker to the sewage works and it was emptied there. The treated waste sludge from the sewage works is released in the Autumn and spread on to the land after harvest.

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  5. Thanks Rachel. Cow slurry is spread on pasture and silage fields here. I know in countries like Sweden and Denmark they buy cow slurry and offal from abattoirs and convert it to biogas and electricity. I have read that London drinks it's water over and over again. I suppose human sewage is the richest in nutrients that's why they grew vegetables with the " night" soil.

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  6. We are brewing up a batch of leaf mould here and also have two compost bins on the go. Last summer we discovered a huge pile of wood chippings mixed with other green waste that had been hidden under the overgrown trees for a few years and which we have now used for mulch.

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  7. Hi JayCee. You could get your lumberjacks to chip the branches of your pine trees. Some people grow their vegetables in wood chip mulch but you have got to watch the PH levels in your soil. It makes great paths too. Thanks.

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    1. We have spread the pine chippings over the azaleas and rhododendrons as a mulch. Hopefully they'll like that.

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  8. They should do JayCee they like acidic soil. They do very well over here in the peaty acidic Irish soil. You can also buy Ericaceous compost for them.

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  9. Re old gardening books - my father had a couple of late Victorian/Edwardian gardening books that were a fascinating insight into how things were done in those times before mechanisation. A presumption that you would have a ready supply of fym, space for hot beds, recommended crop rotations etc. It was a real regret of mine that these books were lost during one of many house moves.

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  10. Thanks Will. Back to the days of horses and carriages and carts and a plentiful supply of fym... I think I have a book somewhere in the loft that is in a similar vein to your father's gardening books for knowledge. Leave it with me. That's my job for tomorrow morning.

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  11. I always add my coffee grounds to the compost mix. They add up pretty quickly and they add a nice friability to the soil. I have never added sand though. Interesting!

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    1. Hi Anonymous. I presume you are Debby? Sand is good for drainage and rooting cuttings. You can also add vermiculite and perlite to your compost. I would imagine coffee grounds are very beneficial to your homemade potting compost.

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    2. The worms love it...and you guessed right. Honestly, blogger gives me a headache!

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    3. It can give you problems Debby. I don't see many worms these days. Not enough organic matter being spread on surroundings fields I guess?

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  12. I found that drying/caking problem with store bought compost too and haven't bought any since. I just rake up autumn leaves now and throw them on the garden to break down and hopefully create their own layer of compost or at least a few nutrients. It's very dry out there and I should be watering but a decent amount of water will take forever and cost too much. The plants will survive anyway.

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  13. Hi River. You can but water gel Crystal's for hanging baskets and containers. They fill up with water and give the plants a drink. Mulching helps. Grass clippings in particular are excellent for water retention.

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