Gardeners Say The Quality Of Peat Free Compost Is Rubbish & It’s Unfit For Growing Plants. Read My Peat Free Compost Improvement Plan.
Complaints about large pieces of wood, plastic and even glass in the bags certainly The Quality Of Peat Free Compost is questionable.
Complaints that it is lumpy, has either been overheated or not heated enough to kill weeds are also common. And when it comes to growing plants, too often it gets the thumbs down.
So how can things be improved as we move towards a peat free gardening world?
The Cause Of The Quality Of Peat Free Compost Problem
Anyone can produce peat free compost. There are no standards to abide by. Anyone can decompose some organic material, bag it up and call it compost.
In the main the producers are councils or those businesses that buy waste from councils and/or have access to large quantities of waste organic matter.
They can just decompose the material and either sell it to another company for bagging, or bag it themselves and sell it to retails outlets as a branded product. But the brand means nothing, it is not a quality standard.
Current Compost Standards
Currently we have no standards. The material can be from almost any source.
There is no pH (acidity or alkalinity) standard; the compost can be acid, neutral or alkaline. That means we’ve no idea if it is suitable for the plants we want to grow.
The nutrient levels are unpredictable, as are the carbon to nitrogen content. That also means we’ve no idea if it is suitable for the plants we want to grow.
The problem is the materials used dictate the quality of the final compost. If it is largely decomposed wood chip it will have a high carbon content. If it is mainly green material the nitrogen levels will be high.
In some cases animal manures may be added. The nitrogen levels vary greatly dependant on the type of manure used. Whereas cow manure tends to have lowish nitrogen levels (0.6%), rabbit manure (2.4%) has around four times higher levels of nitrogen than cow.
Compare that with comfrey teas where the nitrogen levels (0.014%) are very low and these figures are put into context. Clearly how much of the material is added to the compost will influence the final compost nitrogen level.
The alkalinity or acidity will also be hugely influenced by the material used. though most will be around pH6-8 clearly some will be alkaline whilst others will be acid!
How To Improve The Quality Of Peat Free Compost
What we need is a standard to which all compost is measured. As compost is manufactured en masse from various products the levels will vary to it may well be necessary to mix various batches to get closer to a standard mix.
This isn’t going to be easy. But it isn’t impossible.
Certainly some parts of the standard ought to be easier to achieve than others. For example the screening out of glass, metal, large pieces of wood etc is just a simple engineering design process.
What we really need is “designer compost”. Perhaps named after a famous gardener!
Many other natural and manufactured products are standardised. From semi skimmed milk, grain, alcohol, fuels and electricity to dress and shoe sizes.
Many brands depend on product standardisation. I’m thinking about companies such as Coca Cola, MacDonalds and products such as Marmite.
So why not compost?
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Tag: The Quality Of Peat Free Compost