Choosing The Right Garden Compost
There are thousands of garden compost types to choose between – from seeding compost (such as Perlite compost) to help fledgling plants get started, to peat-free Melcourt compost for an eco-friendly garden.
Your compost or soil additives can remarkably affect growing conditions, so picking the right compost will ensure your plants, flowers, and veggies grow bigger, faster, and healthier.
Here we’ll explain how to select the right compost for your garden – and why it matters!
Is Compost Necessary for Home Gardening Projects?
Natural soil can be suitable for plant growth.
Still, you’ll find that even within your own borders, you’ll have pockets of different soil quality – you’d be extremely fortunate to have excellent soil conditions throughout your garden. Compost helps to ensure that you have the essential drainage, nutrients and environment for plants to thrive.
Here in Chichester, where our headoffice is based, most gardens have lime-rich, chalky soil. That’s promising news for some plant species that don’t need an abundance of nutrients, but most of the mineral goodness in the soil isn’t accessible because the alkaline levels are high.
Therefore, you’ll want a performance compost to combat the heavy mass of clay that makes it tough for shoots to grow, with the right properties to allow iron absorption through the roots.
Compost Variants Explained
There are five broad categories of compost you might need, depending on the type of plants you’re growing and the soil in your garden or vegetable plot:
- Peat composts
- Loam composts
- Peat-free composts
- Organic compost
- Multipurpose compost
Let’s look at several of our leading compost brands and variants, exploring which gardening projects they’re designed for and which is the right choice for you.
Melcourt Compost: Best for Peat-Free Gardens
All Melcourt composts are 100% peat-free, so they’re appropriate for environmentally friendly gardens, with the added benefit of better moisture retention and slow-release nutrients to keep plants happier for longer.
- Melcourt Sylvagrow Multipurpose Compost comes in a handy 15-litre carry bag or a bulk-buy 50-litre size, endorsed by the RHS and suitable for vegan plant growth.
- The Melcourt Soil Improver is created from certified green compost with sustainable, UK-sourced materials and adds organic matter to the soil.
- Given the high lime content in local soils, Melcourt Ericaceous Compost is a superior option for plants that dislike lime and can be used for planting, potting or as a standalone grow bag.
Peat-free composts are great for growing fruits, herbs, flowers and plants either planted in beds and borders or in containers.
Seeding Compost: Best for New Planting Projects
Seeds are very delicate, so a light seeding compost is advisable since it allows the shoots to break through without being smothered by heavy soils.
The difference from multipurpose compost is that seeding compost is less lumpy and much finer, although it’s not great for mature plants since it has fewer nutrients. We stock several Seeding Compost Kits, including an option with added Perlite
Perlite Compost for Seeding
Perlite is an additive you’ll find in several composts, including Sinclair compost. It is made from natural rock and aerates denser soils, ideal for clay textures and potting mixes.
Gardeners nurturing plants that prefer drier conditions, such as succulents and orchids, often prioritise Perlite compost since it provides a stable growing medium.
Low Nutrient Compost for Junior Plants
Low nutrient compost is suited for potting and seeding since it encourages faster growth of small shoots and roots and increased germination. If you use standard compost that is too coarse or too heavily fertilised for infant plants, they may not germinate – so less is more!
ProGrow Compost: Best for Soil Moisture and Root Growth
ProGrow composts include ecologically friendly soil conditioners and multipurpose compost, reducing the carbon footprint linked with peat extraction.
The ProGrow Compost contains slow-release fertilisers and is outstanding at holding water, providing a healthy root environment for plants to grow, whether in a hanging basket or planted.
Note that this type of compost isn’t good for the ericaceous plants we mentioned earlier – they’re better suited to Perlite compost.
Levington Compost M2: Best for Loam Compost Planting
Loam composts are soil-based with a blend of loam (combining sand, silt and clay soil) and often with added peat or grit and supplementary plant food.
If you’re looking for good loam compost, the Levington Compost M2 is an excellent choice, appropriate for a range of bedding plants and with a nutrient supply lasting up to a month.
Bulrush Compost: Best for Growing Veggies, Herbs and Fruits
Bulrush compost is a high-performance all-rounder, whether you’re using it as a soil conditioner, seeding or potting up plants.
Sinclair Compost: Best for Tubs, Containers and Houseplants
Our last compost recommendation to consider is Sinclair compost, particularly if you’re looking for an easy to manage medium suited for year-round use.
The wide range of Sinclair compost products makes it straightforward to choose specific compost that is exactly suited to your needs, such as:
- Sinclair Fish Blood and Bone Fertiliser for flowers, fruiting plants and lawns, made from 100% organic ingredients to reduce feeding volumes.
- Sinclair Growmore Fertiliser is suited to most vegetables and fruits as general-purpose plant food.
- Sinclair Container Growing Medium Compost, designed to deliver an ideal growing environment for plants in containers and baskets.
- Sinclair Alpine and Herbaceous Garden Compost is a peat-bark mixture suitable for perennials, herbs, ferns, or high-elevation alpine plants.
Another option is the Sinclair Vermiculite Medium, which can be added to compost or used as a top dressing when seed sowing to ensure the compost retains maximum moisture.
Performance Melcourt Composted Fine Bark
Finally, once you’ve decided which plants to grow, it’s worth considering a Melcourt Composted Fine Bark, to use in flower beds and borders or to insulate your soil.
Bark can be utilised as a top layer to stop roots from freezing in the winter or becoming dehydrated in summer. It can also be mixed with compost to suppress weed growth and keep that vital moisture locked in.
This composted bark product is peat-free and fantastic at boosting the natural fertility in your soil to keep your blooms beautiful all year round.
For more advice about the right compost for your garden, please get in touch with the AK Kin Garden Supplies team, or browse our online catalogues for full details about all of the brands and products we’ve discussed here.