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Compost or any organic matter… It’s not the most glamorous topic but it’s vital to the health and well being of your plants and soil. After a long season of growth, soil will be depleted of nutrients and minerals. I can’t stress enough the importance of putting back in what has been taken out. Not only does it boost soil fertility, it improves the structure of the soil. So happy soil, happy plants!  And you can make your own brown gold, even in a small space. There are a few simple rules to follow and within a year, flower and vegetable beds can be topped up with this wonderful crumbly black stuff.

Ideally you use a three bin system to enable turning. We have found some great links to show you how to make a three bin system with old wood pallets. See our Pinterest board here:

Start your compost pile preferably on bare earth. This allows worms and other beneficial organisms into the compost to help the process along.

Add compost materials in layers, alternating moist and dry. Moist ingredients are food scraps, tea bags, seaweed, etc. Do not add meat, bread or cooked food as this will attract rodents.  Dry materials are straw, leaves, newspaper and wood ashes. Grass clippings or any nitrogen source, activates the compost pile and speeds the process along. Keep the compost moist. Water occasionally, or let rain do the job. Cover with plastic sheeting or carpet scraps to retain moisture and heat, two essentials for compost. Covering also prevents the compost from being over-watered by rain. The compost should be moist, but not sodden.

Every few weeks give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel. This aerates the pile. Oxygen is required for the process to work, and turning adds oxygen. You can skip this step if you have a ready supply of coarse material, like straw. Once your compost pile is established, add new materials by mixing them in, rather than by adding them in layers. Mixing, or turning, the compost pile is key to aerating the composting materials and speeding the process to completion.


No-Turn Composting

The biggest job with composting is turning the pile. However, with 'no-turn composting', your compost can be aerated without turning. The key here is to thoroughly mix in enough coarse material, like straw, when building the pile. The compost will develop as fast as if it were turned regularly. With 'no-turn' composting, add new materials to the top of the pile, and harvest fresh compost from the bottom of the pile. This can be easily done with a plastic compost bin.


Organic Matter

Another way of adding goodness back into the soil is applying fertilisers like chicken manure pellets, seaweed or well rotted farmyard manure.

Right now in store we have a fantastic product called Soil Renew (1.5kg for €12.95, 3kg for €24, 10kg for €45) made from organic plant matter. All you need to do is scatter on the surface of the soil and let the elements and naturally occurring microorganisms in the soil do the work. No digging required. Add it when planting bareroot hedges at this time of the year for strong root growth. And it’s brilliant for lawns too. 


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