What is compost?

In short, compost is recycled organic matter, such as garden or food waste, that is broken down over time to create a nutrient rich material that fertilises and adds value to soil.

Our NEW All Purpose Compost is great for potting

What is the difference between soil, compost and mulch?

  • Soil is the earthy material from which plants grow. It is a vital building block for gardening and farming alike and, as such, it is important to understand the type of soil you have in order to know how best to manage your garden.
  • Compost is recycled organic matter used to add nutrients, structure and fertility to your soil. Compost can be used to change the chemistry of the soil according to your needs. Compost is used dug into and mixed with the soil.
  • Mulch is any material that is used to cover soil as a means of suppressing weeds, improve water retention, aid with soil temperature stabilisation and as an aesthetic feature. Mulch can be organic, such as bark or wood chip, and as such will break down over time and add value to the soil in a similar way to compost. For longer lasting coverage, non organic products such as gravel can be used.

Why should you be using compost?

  • The composition of compost means it is full of nutrients that slowly feeds plants, keeping them healthy and strong. 
  • It can help plants to improve disease resistance, root development and drought tolerance. 
  • By adding it to the soil, it improves the overall soil quality and structure, keeping your plants well rooted in place and assisting the soil to hold more water, meaning you will need to water less. 
  • It helps to balance the pH in your soil, helping different plants to grow that may otherwise have struggled. 
  • By adding it to the soil, it will help to reduce the number of pests and diseases your plants may otherwise be susceptible to. 
  • And the added extra benefit? It will save you money. By using compost, you will need less fertiliser and mulch to help your plants grow.

What is the best compost for your garden?

There are many types of compost to consider, from making your own to high-quality peat-free. There are several that we recommend to use in your garden, depending your garden's needs:

  • Our NEW Potting Compost is perfect for sowing seeds, striking cuttings and transplanting delicate seedlings. A local mix of peat-free ingredients, this compost is fine grade and sieved to 5mm.
  • Mushroom Compost: a recycled product made from the animal manure and agricultural straw used in mushroom production. This is highly nutritious and is excellent for soil with a high clay content and contains less than 2% peat. 
  • For a completely peat-free alternative there is Revive Peat-Free Compost: made from organic and green garden waste, this is rich in potassium and is excellent for both clay and sandy soils. 
  • Horse Manure is also peat free, great used as a mulch for roses or digging into vegetable beds.
  • Our new, locally made, All Purpose Compost is a mixture of peat free ingredients that is perfect for potting.
  • Soil Conditioning Mix is a mixture of 50% Horse Compost and 50% Revive Peat Free Compost is perfect for heavy soils, helping to increase soil moisture retention and adding essential nutrients. (Not good for lime hating plants).
  • Our Soil Structure Enhancer can be used as a mulch or to aid the structure and health of the soil, improving drainage in heavy soils and to improve structure in lighter soils.
  • For smaller quantity bags, you could try SylvaGrow, also 100% peat-free and RHS endorsed in a 50L bag.

All of our loose composts are available in the amount you need, whether that be a one tonne bulk bag, or our fantastic small refill bags (where you are not only using less plastic, but also saving yourself money). 

Get in touch to discuss which compost would be best for you on 01935 850388.

Can you plant directly in compost?

Compost is fantastic for planting and potting. You can either plant directly into compost, or mix it with soil either from your garden or store bought. If planting in a raised bed, make sure you mix it with soil using about 30-50% compost. Pure compost will mean water will drain away too quickly where soil will create a better structure. For the perfect solution, try our pre-mixed Premium Topsoil which uses 10mm screened sandy loam topsoil with a blend of composts. So, no need to mix yourself!

Can you add too much compost in your garden?

Strangely, you can actually have too much of a good thing. Try not to grow in pure compost in beds and raised beds, but mix it in with soil instead. Alternatively, simply get our pre-mixed Premium Topsoil to save some time.

What time of year should you use compost in your garden?

You can use compost any time of year to feed the soil or as a mulch to protect plants. An excellent time of year to use compost in your garden is the spring. At this time your garden will be waking up, having been dormant all winter, and will be very hungry. You can top up as and when you need throughout the year, improving the soil as you go. Autumn is a great time to top up - as well as mulching and preparing your garden for winter by aiding drainage and protecting plants from frosts.

If you'd like any more advice, give us a call on 01935 850388, email us at enquiries@sherborneturf.co.uk, or message us online on our website, on Facebook or Instagram - we're always happy to help!