In the last year, I have spent more money on gardening than anything else.
This year, I decided to do what I could on my own and research the methods to reduce cost and learn something new about gardening at the same time. It is simple really when you consider traditional gardening methods which probably involved planting what would grow by taking a good look at the soil and going by the general environmental conditions in your area. Where I live it is chalk downs and for the most part this is the soil that I have in my garden. Over time, I have learned about the soil by the types of plants that are growing there naturally. Knowing your garden very well in all aspects and especially the soil is the one thing I have discovered will save time and money.
The less you have to spend on the things you already have in the garden means you can splurge on the things you don’t have and would really like to have. For me, this would be my dream of a green house, a cold frame and a raised bed or two. The raised bed and cold frame you could probably make yourself but I will leave that for another post!
Today, I made my own seed compost. After some research, I put together this mix:
1 quarter all- purpose compost sieved
1 quarter locally sourced mole dirt ( I have no moles in my garden-yet!)
1 half well-rotted leaf mould
I put all in a large tub mixed it really well and sieved it again just to make it very fine for seeds
It turned out really well. I filled up one seed tray of Hellebore (helleborus purpurascens) and three pots of Norway Spruce (picea abies) that I got from a free seed packet.
I learned some valuable lessons: one is to take the time to go about and discover what you can forge from the countryside near you- within reason and legally. I discovered the mole dirt when I went out for a walk one day and realised there were moles everywhere. This got me thinking about the soil. I went back a few days later, filled up a bag and lugged it home to my garden. This soil is quite good since it has been sifted for the most part already by the moles themselves. Of course you have to take a good look at the soil and make a judgement as to what the structure but unless you are collecting it from an area that has been previously an allotment it is likely that the soil will be the same as what you have in your local area.
How I came to get all of these necessary ingredients is the key.
I already had some left over compost, and the mole dirt I foraged but I didn’t have any leaf mould- this is something that I need to get prepared for next year. During the summer, I made a place in the corner of my garden where I put the left over compost after sifting. During the winter, leaves had accumulated there and lo and behold without realising it I had made well – rotted leaf mould. This came as a happy realisation that I had a lot more to work with in my garden than I thought I did.
I love your blog and the idea of making your own compost. But I particularly like the advice of getting to know your garden and its conditions. Most new gardeners tend to overlook this, myself included when I first started gardening. Looking forward to your next post.
Having read this over a few time I realise I need to clarify a few points. The main idea of trying to make your own seed compost using the process that I have suggested is of course not practical if you have more than maybe 10 small module trays and about the same for 3’pots or less for small trays.
My idea behind this is to experiment and get some ideas.
Making your own seed compost like this if you have large amounts of seeds to get started would not be practical unless you lived in the countryside and had an easy way of getting a wheelbarrow into a farmer’s field overrun by moles-and with the farmer’s consent. Or in my situation the local golf course.
Another thing. I have since carried out the experiment using the same components and sowed some sweet peas ( chitted) which germinate alot faster than the hellebores -or a Norway Spruce?! that can take up to over a year. Not very practical in the short term.