Author Topic: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please  (Read 11316 times)

hellohelenhere

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Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« on: October 15, 2008, 16:25:33 »
When I get my new garden (Nov 1st! yay!) which is presently an unkempt lawn, the first thing I'll need to do is dig beds and improve them. If the ground is really bad, I'll start gardening in tubs and growbags while I set about improving it, and probably making raised beds, which I'm considering in any case.

Any tips on a cheap source for good topsoil or compost? Anything to avoid? My cuttings at the moment are all in Lidl's cheapo compost, which I hear is not recommended, though most of them look OK so far.

I'll be in Reading, so have access to B&Q and Homebase. Can anyone recommend anywhere else? Is there a good garden centre, a 'proper' one ? (rather than the kind that sells polka-dot wellies, and pretty pink watering cans.. a lot of London garden centres are like that...)

Oh, and I'd like to avoid peat if I can.

SMP1704

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2008, 19:46:15 »
Hello Helen

I'm not in Reading, so can't help with a proper Garden Centre

However, with regard to topsoil/compost I have a few tips.  When I first got my plot, it had heavy clay soil and I didn't have much money, so I bought the 4 for 10 80l bags of compost from Wickes and incorported and it has had a noticable effect on the soil.  I would recommend searching ebay 'compost' or 'topsoil' as there are several suppliers who will deliver 1 cubic metre and is comparable to buying bags of compost without the cost and hassle of using your own car to collect it.

If you are lifting turf, stack it green side down and a year later that will be rich soil.
Sharon

manicscousers

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2008, 20:08:22 »
also, collect leaves and put them in bin bags with holes poked in the sides, they'll rot down for compost end of next year  :)
in fact, in the vegetable gardener's bible, he adds them straight into the soil, after running over them a few times with a lawn mower  ;D

hellohelenhere

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2008, 00:37:27 »
Thanks for that, Sharon, I'll try the turf trick. Hadn't thought of Wickes! Don't have a car, so will have to find a helpful taxi driver.  :)
cheers
H

hellohelenhere

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2008, 00:42:55 »
Thanks Manic, will try that trick too. Not sure how many leaves my garden will catch, as there aren't any large trees close to it, that I recall, but will certainly keep it in mind. Also I'm aiming to get some compost bins on the go - it really grieves me at the moment to throw away kitchen scraps, as we're currently in a flat with no garden. Can't wait to get my little compost factory on the go.

Barnowl

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2008, 09:49:54 »
I think you can find cheaper - especially if you keep an eye out for special offers but I've used these chaps for compost, grow bags (which I open up and use in the bottom of troughs for water retention) and bark and have been very pleased by their own brand products. They deliver.

http://www.thecompostcentre.co.uk/


PS Best not to gather leaves from roadsides!
« Last Edit: October 16, 2008, 09:53:36 by Barnowl »

hellohelenhere

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2008, 10:28:21 »
Wow, Barnowl - amazing prices and free delivery! There's my problem solved. Reading is in their delivery area, so I'm in luck. That saves me some strenuous trips to B&Q. Thanks!

ceres

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2008, 10:38:16 »
If you're thinking of buying the composted stable manure, it might be worth asking for their guarantee that it's free from aminopyralid or other hormone weedkillers.  Bagged products like this have been implicated in 3 aminopyralid contamination cases that I know of.  They need to confirm that they don'r spray anything and that the horses were not grazed on sprayed pasture or fed sprayed hay or silage.   

hellohelenhere

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2008, 14:07:03 »
Thanks Ceres, I will certainly ask about that. None of the products that I can see mention stable manure: do you think the 'Compost Centre Natural Organic Compost' contains it?
see: http://www.thecompostcentre.co.uk/products.html
I may try to avoid it altogether if that's possible.

I was planning on getting a load of the 'growing trough' bags to start with, and a bag of the chicken manure. Once I've looked at the quality of the existing soil, I'll be asking for more advice on what combination of stuff will need to go into it!

ceres

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2008, 14:21:31 »
On the home page:

"Natural Organic Compost
Natural Organic Compost is carefully composted stable manure which undergoes a unique process developed by The Compost Centre."

Baccy Man

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2008, 14:25:57 »
They couldn't call it organic compost if it contained manure from animals that consumed anything chemically treated.

hellohelenhere

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2008, 14:39:32 »
Ah thanks, Ceres - I thought I'd seen that somewhere, but am a bit dim today with a nasty cold! :-D
In which case I certainly need to check with them that it is clear of nasties. Baccy Man, what you say may be true in principle, but I think the chemicals have found their way into all manner of products and have been very, very difficult to track, so people didn't even know they were feeding it to the horses in the first place. A nasty situation altogether... I may try to avoid any form of horse manure for another few years yet. Too big a risk!

ceres

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2008, 14:39:46 »
They couldn't call it organic compost if it contained manure from animals that consumed anything chemically treated.

Surprisingly they can.  This is from Garden Organic, formerly HDRA:

http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/guidelines/materials.php

"Acceptable
Straw, hay and farmyard and horse manures from non-Organic sources - after being aerobically composted for three months or stockpiled for six months (See note 6)."


Note 6 says:

"The extra time is to allow some breakdown of any chemical residues that might be present."

Unfortunately, aminopyralid doesn't break down in a stack.



hellohelenhere

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2008, 14:48:15 »
I've just emailed the compost centre to ask about it - but I'm not sure I want to trust stable manure at all, at the moment. Of course they're going to say their product is safe, aren't they? Not much consolation if they turn out to be wrong, and a whole season's work and expense is wasted. :-s

allotmenteer62

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2008, 13:04:17 »
have you tried your local council tip our sells compost/ soil conditioner for 2 per bag all re cycled garden waste      good luck hope this helps    ps im in worcs bit far for you to come

hellohelenhere

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2008, 13:29:29 »
Thanks for that allotmenteer62 - probably a very good idea indeed for people who have a car - but I'm betting that if Reading council do this, the depot will be in some out of the way place...
I reckon the compostcentre site is looking like the best option for me, with the free delivery.
Gardening without a car does occasionally present problems!

KLCG

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2008, 17:09:06 »
I think you can find cheaper - especially if you keep an eye out for special offers but I've used these chaps for compost, grow bags (which I open up and use in the bottom of troughs for water retention) and bark and have been very pleased by their own brand products. They deliver.

http://www.thecompostcentre.co.uk/


PS Best not to gather leaves from roadsides!



Hiya

I have just spoke to the chap at the compost centre and he has assured me that the compost is free from aminopyralid or other hormone weedkillers.  He supplies to RHS so it must be good.  thank you Barn owl.  I am going to order some compost from these guys xxxx
PMA - Positive Mental Attitude!

Katcreative

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2009, 13:27:46 »
Hi Helen

I just came across your posting when Googling 'The Compost Centre'.

I'm based in Reading too and thought it might be helpful to share my experience. I used The Compost Centre's Natural Organic Compost for my allotment last year. I didn't get it delivered - they wouldn't deliver it to my allotment as there would be no-one there to sign for it. I also didn't have a car, so I got a lift to Country Gardens in Winnersh where they stocked it (not sure if they still do).

I was using the natural no-dig approach for the first time last year. I spread the compost on the surface of the growing areas, raked it in and left the worms to do their work. The results have been fantastic! Our plot had noticeably less weeds than neighbouring ones, and our vegetables have been incredibly productive. We've been amazed by the size and quality of some of our carrots and parsnips (so much for having to carefully sift out stones...) and we couldn't keep up with the courgettes!

We also used a bit of B&Q's organic soil improver (which was good for giving added structure to the soil) and a bit of homemade compost. Although we've got lots of homemade compost this year I'm still planning to invest in some more Natural Organic Compost.

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you'd like to swap notes on growing your own in Reading!

tonybloke

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2009, 16:04:15 »
They couldn't call it organic compost if it contained manure from animals that consumed anything chemically treated.
they can call it organic (it is) but to be certified organic is a different kettle of fish. to be certified they have to jump through a lot of hoops.
You couldn't make it up!

Katcreative

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Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2009, 17:50:07 »
Yes, that's true. It depends how serious you are about gardening truly organically.

In our case we compost the peelings of shop-bought non-organic fruit and veg, so we're not going to be super-organic anyway. But I'd never use chemical pesticides or fertilisers on the allotment.

Allotments 4 All

Re: Compost/topsoil from B&Q, Homebase etc - tips, please
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2009, 17:50:07 »