Every year I run Compost Trials to discover the best quality peat-free composts on the market. Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing composts in all of my Trials, over the past seven years.
One of my favourite products is Dalefoot’s Double Strength Wool Compost, a nutrient rich, organic compost, comprised of natural materials, including bracken and Herdwick sheep’s wool. This powerful, concentrated compost is naturally water retentive, thanks to the absorbent wool that forms one of this compost’s key ingredients; making this an ideal mulch for sandy or free draining soils. Spring is the perfect time to apply a mulch to weeded beds and borders.
Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost was designed to be mixed with garden soil or spent compost to create a fertile growing medium. This compost is not meant to be used neat, it’s too potent to be used in this manner. Think of Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost as the compost equivalent of elderflower cordial; we enjoy superb results mixing cordial with sparkling water, but this product is expensive and unpalatable when used neat.
It’s all very well saying to mix Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost with soil or spent compost, but how much should you use? Last year, I ran a Compost Trial to discover the effects of adding varying quantities of Dalefoot Double Strength to B&Q Verve Peat Free Multipurpose Compost – a compost that hadn’t performed as successfully in my Trials to date.
The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in a compost made from three-parts Dalefoot Double Strength and one-part B&Q Compost, produced 6% more beans (compared to the harvest produced by bean plants grown in neat B&Q Compost).
Things improved when I mixed two-parts of Dalefoot Double Strength to two-parts B&Q Compost; the harvest of broad beans increased by 22% (compared to the harvest achieved by the plants grown in neat B&Q Compost).
However, when I added just one-part Dalefoot Double Strength to three-parts B&Q Compost, this increased the harvest of broad beans by 41% (when compared to the harvest produced by the plants grown in B&Q Compost alone). A little Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost goes a long way!
Home-grown broad beans are deliciously sweet; they’re a totally different vegetable to shop-bought beans; I’d encourage you to try them. February is a great time to sow seeds in pots in sheltered locations; Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ is a superb variety for container gardeners – I purchased my seeds from Chiltern Seeds.
If you’re sowing seeds directly in the soil, remember that heavier soils take longer to warm up in springtime. Depending on the weather, I sow broad bean seeds in sandy soil from February onwards, but it’s best to hold off sowing seeds in clay soil until March or April.
I’d recommend Broad Bean ‘Dreadnought’, for a slightly earlier harvest and Broad Bean ‘Jubilee Hysor’, which produces pods tightly packed with beans. Have you grown Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’? They’re both productive and decorative.
This article was first published in the February 2020 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.
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