Wow! Who thought it would be so difficult to choose soil for my raised beds? Top soil, green waste compost, organic soil, garden compost, spent mushroom compost, leaf mould, mulch manure, the list goes on. Much of what I have read up to now agrees on how crucial soil is to success as a flower grower. I just wish experts would also agree on exactly what that soil composition is! But I suppose for the same reason I am attracted to seasonal home-grown blooms being so varied, so too comes my acceptance that no two gardens will be the same, and no two horticulturists are going to tell me how to grow the same way. I have a feeling it will take years of trial and error to find out what is going to work best for me and my garden.
Having said all this, I have to start somewhere. From the reading I have done, there are a few things I have decided. I would ideally like my soil to be:- Organic, peat free, seed free, and of neutral PH. Surely not too much to ask? Apparently so. After phoning around local suppliers, the main problem I came across was that nearly every organic soil that delivered in large quantities and is of reasonable price had peat in it.
Next I started enquiring into suppliers of top soil. I wasn’t able to find one that could answer all my questions with certainty about the soils PH balance, its sterility regarding weeds, where it came from and what it consisted of.
What then, about compost? I have about one bin full of homemade garden compost right now. Not enough to fill my beds and it likely has too high levels of nutrients and too high a PH to use to completely fill my beds anyway.
Finally I looked into green-waste compost, and this is what I have chosen to build up my beds. Made from local green bin recycled waste, peat free, PH of 6-7 (I will test myself also), containing river sand for drainage (which is likely to be an issue in my back yard), weed and weed seed free, locally sourced, BUT (no) not organic certified. And here is where, for me, something has had to give. The guy I spoke with when asking him my huge long list of questions told me they are currently in the process of trying to get their soil certified organic, but are having challenges as small pieces of plastic have been found in the soil. When people are throwing out their green waste there are still pieces of non green waste mixed in.
I need something to build up my beds and green waste compost is what I have chosen. I’m definitely not claiming it’s the right thing to use and I don’t claim to be an expert on organic farming methods and eco-friendly and sustainability issues. I have chosen what seems important to me, and only time will tell if I have made the right decision. In the mean time I plan to add to my soil structure with my own homemade compost and homemade liquid feeds like compost tea and hope for the best!