Having decided it would be not only an interesting but also a useful exercise to see how many bags of compost I use in a year, I kept all the empty bags together till now. Subscribing to Which? Gardening magazine, I always take advantage of their annual surveys of compost for seed sowing, raising young plants and pots, ensuring I purchase from amongst their best buys. This proved to be particularly useful after the year when it threw up a big variation in compost from one supplier which led to pressure on compost providers to date their compost and ensure outlets were not palming ‘old’ compost off on unsuspecting customers. Sometimes it meant going out of my way to get a particular compost, but it was worth it to avoid the disappointment and self-doubt that comes with a poor product.
It might make sense, therefore, to act on the knowledge that I used 4 75 litre bags for seed sowing and pricking out, and 25 bags of 40-50 litres for potting on and filling big pots and baskets and purchase as much of it as possible early in the season. One of the Best Buys this year, perhaps surprisingly so, was a compost from Lidl which was not always in stock, meaning either a delay in planting up or an untried alternative. 29 bags sounds a huge amount (where DOES it all go?), but that’s what it was ( and without including the occasional bag of John Innes no 3 for potting up maturer plants) – and they contributed to a reasonably successful year of seed sowing and plant raising, so have proved their worth.
Looking back over the year I can now give some thought to which seeds have been worth growing and which were not really worth the effort (or compost). You will see from the Seed Sowing tab above that I made well over 100 sowings and would like to cut down on this although I do thoroughly enjoy the process of sowing, pricking out and potting on. It is very easy to jump at the opportunity to grow something new and pretty that you have seen online or in a garden or recommended by other bloggers, but not all have grown successfully and I shall drop those I feel have not proved their worth for whatever reason. Among those to be dropped will be Cobaea (masses of foliage but no flowers), Ammi majus (poor germination), Cosmos Dazzler (too tall!), Echinacea (always fails to thrive following germination), any nasturtium that suggests it might be pink or purple and various things tried for the first time with limited or no success.
Particular successes this year, however, were Helichrysum ‘Bright Rose’, Limonium ‘Purple Attraction’, Alonsoa ‘Salmon Beauty’, (perennial) Verbena rigida ‘Santos Purple’ (not flowered yet) and grasses Lagurus ovatus (Bunny Tails) and Hordeum jubatum (Squirrel Tail), but there are many reliable stalwarts that will continue to be grown every year along with new favourites like these:
With ‘Black Friday’ offers and discounts extending also to plants and seeds, I have already given some thought to new seeds for next year (Chiltern Seeds), extra bulbs (Peter Nyssen) and next season’s ‘bedding plants’ (Brookside) – it saves a few pounds and thus reduces my (exceedingly) large expenditure on the garden!