Mr Plant Geek’s Garden Hacks: soil

By Michael Perry, Mr Plant Geek

Last month, we spoke about choosing the very best plants for your garden and how it can make a difference to your overall gardening experience. Now, we look at soil and why this is so important. After all, why would you invest in the very best plants and not give them somewhere quality to grow?

In all my years of growing, I've always made sure I've purchased the best compost I could afford. There can be a myriad of choices in the garden centres and DIY stores, but being dazzled by the multi-buy makes navigating the compost section of any store super hard.

Time after time, top gardening magazines confirm that investing in compost is the right thing to do. Using inferior brands could mean you end up using a soil with very little nutrients. Below, we take a look at different types of compost to help you understand which is best suited to the needs of your plants.

What's this ericaceous compost I hear so much about?

The UK varies in soil type widely, and whilst some gardens are lucky to have an acidic soil which supports beautiful spring Azaleas, others can't support them as the soil is too alkaline. Ericaceous compost is a specially formulated acid mix, which supports all plants from Camellia to fruiting blueberries, which simply wouldn't perform in other soils. Use the mix in containers or dig it in around your acid-lovers!

Why are seed composts useful?

When growing younger plants, and sowing seed, we need to make sure our plants have the most efficient drainage. Using a seed and cutting compost gives your babies the right balance of nutrients and, most importantly, efficient drainage.

Why can't I use the same compost for all my needs?

Well, of course, you can, but if you want to get the very best from your plants, it's better to choose wisely. For example, an orchid compost has added bark to keep the compost open and more like how an orchid grows in it's natural habitat. Citrus compost is different in it's balance of pH and encourages stronger roots and encourages fruit production in a UK climate.

What are the benefits of top dressing my borders and containers with compost?

A multi-purpose compost blend is just that, multi-purpose! Use this robust formula for planting up containers at any time of year. It can also be used for top-dressing borders and patio pots with a fresh layer of lush looking soil. By adding this layer, you can actually lock in any moisture into the soil and offer the plants a bit of rejuvenation!

When should I use a Gro-Bag?

One of the best inventions ever, and I had around 10 on the go each year when I was a kid cluttering up my Dad's garden with my gardening prowess! These self-container bags are packed with nutrients for your summer vegetable crops, in particular tomatoes and peppers. They are super easy to use, you just lay them flat, make some holes and plant up! The plastic surfaces actually make sure the soil heats up more too, which keeps tomatoes happy, in particular!