Inspired by recent examples of ‘capturing the essence’ of things by crystallising them into a dozen or so objects, I thought I’d do something similar for gardening. So, here’s the first in a new weekly series of my personal take on gardening essentials (in a sort of logical order)…

compost-heapThe humble compost heap doesn’t look much, but it symbolises gardeners’ efforts to maintain or improve their soil and to help meet the nutritional needs of plants. Home made compost is just one, important source of organic material that both enriches the soil and improves its texture- whether your soil is light and sandy or heavy clay (the former being ‘the least back ache, the most heartache’ and the latter, vice versa!).

Do you make your own compost? I do, but don’t really have enough for a garden the size of the one here at The Old School!

I tend to use my two cubic metres a year  on the plants that are the hungriest- principally fruit bushes, canes and strawberries- and supplement it with manure (for roses, rhubarb etc.). And I do get a pretty good supply of leaf mould, which, though relatively low in nutrients, is a good winter mulch to protect bare soil, and can be turned in at spring time to improve soil texture.

Compost bins, like the one pictured, can be made from ready-to-buy kits or from recycled pallets and other wood. It’s useful to have removable slats at the front to make it easier to turn the pile and remove the finished compost.

Old School Gardener