Compost: it comes down to personal choice and what is available to buy

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With summer flowering plants going in over the coming weeks, all manner of containers, such as patio pots, window boxes and hanging baskets, have to be prepared to accommodate them.

Any presently with spring flowers will mostly be past their best. Once removed it is best to replace all the existing soil with fresh compost. What is removed can be spread among shrubs and rose beds or on the vegetable patch to improve the structure of the soil in these areas.

When it comes to purchasing fresh compost, well this can be a daunting task to the less experienced gardener as there are so many different ones on the market. As well as own-brand compost from stores and supermarkets, there is a quite a range from the national companies such as J. Arthur Bower’s Multi-Purpose, Scotts Miracle-Gro All-Purpose, Levington Original, and Westland Gro-Save All-Purpose.

Any of these is suitable for all summer-flowering plants, it’s all a matter of personal choice and availability as they are produced to provide the perfect growing medium with initial feeding added and good moisture and nutrient retention. However, the cheaper brand is not always best.

The term multi-purpose or all-purpose means they can be used for planting, potting-on, taking cuttings, as well as filling containers and baskets. When using these soil-less composts, it is recommended that gloves be worn and, when filling containers, only firm gently to leave an open medium.

Even though feeding is part of the mix of ingredients, a soluble feed added to any watering throughout the season will keep the plants growing well and producing an abundance of flowers.

Becoming very popular are controlled release plant food tablets. These are added to containers of compost at planting time, the number depending on their size, then, as the soil warms and watering is given throughout the season, the tablets release the nutrients needed for sustained growth and flowering.

The required number of tablets are placed evenly onto the compost surface and pushed in five cms and watered – it’s as easy as that.