As someone who once asked her husband for a ton bag of manure for her birthday (inexplicably he didn’t oblige) I am a great convert to the usefulness and convenience of having compost delivered in bulk, as opposed to driving to the garden centre and lugging several small bags home in the boot of the car. It is more environmentally friendly – one delivery lorry going to multiple drop-offs instead of numerous individual car trips and no need to dispose of numerous empty plastic compost bags. And it’s not just compost blends that can be delivered in bulk, there are soil conditioners, bark mulches and topsoils too. Compost Direct is a nationwide service that supplies British products that are organic, peat-free and from sustainable sources. Their Veggie Gold, a blend of compost, well-rotted manure and top soil is ideal for anyone planning to install some raised beds for vegetable growing while their Jubilee Compost is a blend of soil improver made from composted organic matter with added grit to help open up heavy clay soils. Anyone got a birthday coming up?
My tame tree surgeon delivered a heap of fresh oak chippings a couple of days ago. His tipper truck couldn’t access our drive so it was dumped on the pavement. It had to be moved, but with no one available to help, it was down to me. There was nothing for it – I took the radio out, tuned into Radio 4s afternoon play and surprised myself by moving the entire load in just over an hour. Since then we have spread about half the load on the paths and in front of the compost heaps and bagged the rest up to compost for several weeks before it’s spread under shrubs and trees in the woodland part of the garden. It used to be much easier when I was able to buy ready-composted bark (my supplier no longer delivers here) but even though it’s a bit of a palaver, it’s free and the garden loves it. Next year I will arrange an earlier delivery though, so that I can get it spread before the bulbs start poking through. Tree surgeons are generally more than happy to find someone to take the chippings off their hands, so if you have a woodland garden and space to stack the load while it composts down it is worth considering. Just check that the chippings are from a disease-free tree.
When I read that Blackpool Zoo is creating a sustainable wildlife garden that will be fertilised by elephant poo, it reminded me of a story my mother used to tell me about my grandfather. As a child, if the circus came to town, she and my uncle would be sent out to follow the elephants with a bucket and spade to pick up any droppings. Grandpa was convinced that it was the very best of all manures for the garden and would reward their efforts with tickets to the circus. It will be interesting to see how the zoos plants respond to the manure – with the three elephants pooing up to 18 times a day there will be no shortage in home produced organic fertiliser. Blackpool Zoo’s garden is being created as an educational project for the zoo’s visitors.
The fractured knee is healing well and as I get more mobile I’m gradually getting to grips with the borders that have been mouldering over the past 3 months or so. I know the theory is that we should leave everything until spring, but as I’ve been unable to do a gradual tidy I’ve needed to be fairly ruthless in order to sort out the chaos and find spaces to plant the bulbs. As I’ve worked my way along the beds, I’ve edited, divided, planted, top-dressed with and compost to help those roots keep growing overwinter and then tucked them all up in a lovely snuggly bed of Strulch my mulch of choice.
The garden may not be quite is usual beautiful self with all the wet weather, but the compost and leafmould a looking pretty good. The compost loves the warm humid weather and is decomposing superfast and giving off a lot of heat. Meanwhile, we consolidated the leafmould heap and there’s some wonderful rich black humus waiting to be used.