New and reformulated composts are always a big draw at the Garden Press Event – they’re the basics of what we grow, especially if your garden is small and you grow in containers.
Here are four that caught my eye this year:
A ‘no need to feed’ peat-free wool compost for tomatoes – the super-strength compost contains all the nutrients your tomatoes need – with NO ADDITIONAL FEED and up to 50 per cent less watering!
It’s Soil Association approved for organic growing and is a blend of natural ingredients using wool and bracken from the Lake District.
It will be available to order online from www.dalefootcomposts.co.uk or from selected suppliers.
New Horizon All Veg Compost
A peat-free blend of loam, coir and added ingredients to make up compost with great moisture-holding and aerating properties, specially blended for home-grown fruit and vegetables.
The Bio3 formulation of Biofibre, West+ formulation and Coir+ has no green waste added, stimulating growth, letting roots and leaves thrive and sustaining nutrients for longer.
A 50l bag costs £7.99, www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk
Strulch Garden Mulch
Run by husband and wife Dr Geoff and Jackie Whiteley, he invented the mulch as part of his work at Leeds University after he noticed that crop residues on the uni farm were being preserved.
He realised the effect came from natural minerals in the soil and replicated the process.
The straw has a neutral pH and lasts up to two years, helping to retain moisture, improve structure and drainage.
The texture and embedded minerals are unpleasant to slugs and snails.
Strulch is available in bulk from the website (25 or 50 x 150-litre bags) or in 100l retail bags from selected garden centres, visit www.strulch.co.uk for more information.
Try the multi-award-winning Champions Blend Peat Free Organic Compost with Soil Association Approval.
This a coir-based compost with added sterilised loam and the Champions Blend nutrient formulation that includes Remin Rock Dust, Envii Bacteria and Oceans Bounty Seaweed Extracts.
RRP is around £7.50 for a 50-litre bag, available from selected garden centres and specialist nurseries. A single pallet of 60 bags can be bought at discounted rates for groups and allotment societies, visit www.bathgatesilica.co.uk for details.
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JOBS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
Sow hardy annual flowers where they are to bloom if your soil is workable, such as Calendula, Nasturtium and Nigella. You can also sow them in modules if you have space in an unheated greenhouse to give them a faster start.
Sow dwarf French beans under glass in a large pot for an early crop in June.
Plant lily bulbs in pots to transplant into the border.
Take cuttings from Dahlias planted last month to raise new plants.
Divide and/or plant bulbs-in-the-green, such as snowdrops (Galanthus) and winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis), if not done last month.
Check whether containers need watering. Sheltered pots can miss out on any rainfall. Pots and tubs benefit from topping up with fresh compost.
Check autumn-sown sweet peas and apply mouse and slug controls if necessary.
Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a balanced fertiliser (such as Growmore or blood, fish and bone), sprinkling it over the root area before hoeing into the soil surface.
Delay pruning spring-flowering shrubs until after they have flowered. Don’t prune slightly tender evergreen shrubs (such as Choisya, until April), but do tackle hardy types.
Remove reverted green shoots on variegated evergreens.
Overgrown climbers can be renovated. Deciduous varieties will be at bud burst now, so you can tell which growth is dead and alive – suitable for Lonicera (honeysuckle), Hedera (ivy) and rambling roses.
Cacti should be kept dormant until spring is definitely underway, then increase watering and feed to bring it into active growth.
On mild days, open vents and doors of greenhouses to reduce humidity and help prevent disease.
Apply a nitrogen feed to plums, cherries, cooking apples, pears and blackcurrants.
Prune blueberries and apply sulphur chips to beds of blueberries, lingonberries and cranberries if needed.
Sow under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas and Swiss chard.