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Thread: When do lay compost...and where to buy it?!

  1. #1
    Greendude is offline Germinator
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    Default When do lay compost...and where to buy it?!

    Hi everyone,

    I've just got my first allotment and I have a couple of questions.

    Firstly, when do most of you start preparing the soil with compost (I have done the weeding!)?

    And secondly, where do you get your compost? I have made some but not enough to nourish 125 sq meters of allotment! It is very expensive to buy in the shops.

    Any advice?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Baldy's Avatar
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    I tend to put down compost a few weeks before planting - unless its going underneath something like cardboard etc - as I think a lot of the nutrients would be washed away before your plants were ready. I tend to use a local diy shed (not a national outfit) as I find their prices pretty good and the quality of the compost has usually been good too. Some local council's sell off compost made from their green recycling - sometimes the prices are good...
    As you say it can be an expensive business - so the more that you can make yourself the better. Almost all the green waste from home and weeds/plant matter from the garden go into my composters - along with newspaper, cardboard etc etc. For the especially noxious weeds they'll either get drowned or burnt and then dug into the soil. I'm just about to leave a builders bag up at the plot so that people can dump their grass cuttings there rather than heaping it in the hedges - I'll then lug the bag full of grass to my compost heap.

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    My local council lets you take as much compost as you need from their recycling place, does yours do the same ?.
    Ours is free , i dont know if i would put it anywhere near spuds or tomatoes though, pretty sure lots of people would send their blight ridden toms there. would blight spores survive composting?
    Last edited by jackarmy; 13-12-2016 at 08:42 AM.

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    Baldy's Avatar
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    Blight requires living tissue to survive (IIRC) - also, in general the heat reached by the large scale composting done by council's would get to higher temps than what most can achieve at home / plot - thereby getting rid of even more 'nasties'.
    Having said that it seems all local councils are different so your mileage may vary in terms of cost and quality.
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    We found the council generated compost locally to be very poor, If you have a new allotment invest in some free off freecycle daleks I have 6 on one plot and another 7 on the other plot and now my eldest daughter has her own place I have a secondary source for grass clippings, compost in layers, but cut up greens well if not grass. Coffee Grounds for the local coffee shop, loo roll and junk mail paper & bills shredded and you will soon have a plentiful supply.

    See if manure is delivered to the allotment. Harvest as many leafs as you can at the moment. Also think about installing some comfrey beds http://cadalot-allotment.blogspot.co.../label/Comfrey Look out for offers in Wyevale and B&Q until you get there. Here is how I compost Alans Allotment: compost
    Last edited by Cadalot; 12-12-2016 at 03:53 PM.

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    We have a local horse owner who dumps his hoss muck in heaps at the plot. Its sawdust based, but its free and adds organic matter to the soil. I grew spuds in pockets of it last year and had a cracking crop.
    There is no set time to add manure/compost to the soil. In my case its whenever its freely available!
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    Talk to your local stables and see if they might deliver. We have regular deliveries from ours - I think the arrangement is we pay the owner in beer.
    Speaking of which, your local brewery might give you spent hops, which are great for heavy soils. Or you can get good peat-free compost delivered in bulk - a tonne bag costs about 75-80 incl delivery where I am.

    If you don't have enough for the whole plot, just use it in the planting holes/sowing rows next season. You can grow green manure as a ground cover crop under tall plants like tomatoes/sweetcorn and dig that in as you harvest those crops, which will also help.
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    ESBkevin is offline Cropper
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    You can add compost as mulch at any time. Making your own is the preferred option because you know there's nothing 'odd' in there.
    Council compost is well heated but in my experience falls into the soil improver camp rather than compost because there is a lack of nutrients in some of it. Worth mulching with though or digging in to improve texture in a hurry.
    Right now the best compost material is autumn leaves, go gather as many as you can and put them in black plastic bags or a chicken wire cage and save them. The more the merrier because they take a while to break down.
    Home made compost from garden and kitchen waste is another source. Well rotted animal manure (herbivors not meat eaters like dogs and cats), a favourite that is often free is wood chips from a local tree surgeon, they are glad to off load them somewhere but don't dig fresh woodchip into the soil simply place a thick layer on top as a mulch and it will break down without robbing the soil/plants of nitrogen.
    Nettles and comfry make excellent compost and are good to add into other compost as an accereator but use them before they flower to avoid reseeding.
    Another favourite is brown cardboard, you can dig it in or mulch or add it to green compost material.
    So the options are many and various you just have to identify your local resources and get then stock piled for use.

    If you have more detailed questions there are plenty of threads here as well as people who will asnswer specifics. Yootoob also has a plethora of advice (mostly good) to give you ideas.

    HTH.

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