Compost – the smell of a successful Garden


serious composting in a large garden

Clay soil, sandy soil, whatever the soil in your garden, it can be improved by adding compost, aka organic matter.

Garden compost should be rich and dark, smelling almost sweetly of earth; if it smells ‘off’ or rancid then there isn’t enough oxygen in the compost, and it probably isn’t decomposing properly. The texture of compost which is ready to use on your garden soil is crumbly, like breadcrumbs, and it’s acceptable to have some bigger pieces of twig or leaf in the mix. Compost should be slightly damp, and warm, especially if it’s from a newly turned heap. If it’s too dry, add some water and allow time for that to soak through before adding the compost to your soil.



So why would you want to add compost to the soil? It’s plant food. Well, strictly speaking, its soil food, but the plants benefit. Dug into the soil it improves the drainage of heavy clay soils and the water retention of sandy ones. It provides food for the earthworms who do all sorts of wonderful things to improve soil quality, not least helping with the release of essential nutrients from the compost into the soil. This in turn benefits the plants, enabling their roots to soak up all that composted goodness, which leads to both better food crops and ornamental plants.

But if you don’t want to, or are not able to dig your garden compost into the soil at root level, then you could use it as a soil and plant mulch instead. Applied as mulch onto the soil surface, compost can reduce the need for watering; keep plants cool in summer and warm in winter.

If you only have small quantities of compost then you need to direct it where it will do the most benefit. Using organic compost as a mulch in planting holes and as mulch around hungry food crops and specimen ornamentals is more effective than throwing it around willy–nilly.

compost bin and fuschia

compost bin and fuschia

Check out our linked ‘compost’ video on YouTube; where Nathan demonstrates how to turn compost and check it for quality and readiness for use.

Whatever your soil, sometimes there is a need for digging in some black gold. Do you really want to be faced with this when you go to plant the lavender bush you were given for your birthday?

Did you know that the first organised landfill was happening c5000 years ago in Crete? Now we’re running out of landfill space at a frightening rate, it seems crazy not to compost kitchen & garden waste, thereby reducing the quantity of material needing landfill.


compost layers

Plus, the more we compost, the more we reduce the methane gas leaching from landfill into the atmosphere and so help reduce global warming.

If you’re not able to compost your kitchen and garden waste then see if your local council offers a collection service – and if not petition them to start – it really is a waste not to!
An earlier blog on the website explaining different ways of composting in your garden can be found here

Or treat yourself to one of the Plews eBooks“In Your Winter Garden” where we have even more on compost, soil and the worms in your garden, is currently reduced in price.

And if you need help with composting or any other gardening issues, why not get in touch? At Plews we love to Resolve Your Gardening Issues




3 responses »

  1. Pingback: Permanent compost practices | beyond permaculture

  2. Pingback: Puzzled By Compost Making Rules?

  3. Pingback: The End of Summer 2013 | Ground to Ground

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