Q. What is compost and how is it produced?
A. Compost is the product resulting from the controlled biological decomposition of organic material that has been sanitised through the generation of heat and stabilised to the point that it is beneficial to plant growth. ‘True’ composts*, like Lincolnshire Organic Compost, are produced through the thermophilic (heat generating) composting process.
Compost is produced through the activity of aerobic (oxygen-requiring) microorganisms. These microbes require oxygen, moisture, and food in order to grow and multiply. When these resources are maintained at optimal levels, the natural decomposition process is greatly accelerated. The microbes generate heat and water vapor as they transform raw materials into a stable soil conditioner.
*Only in the UK are peat-based and uncomposted bark and wood products allowed to be called ‘compost’. However, they are not true composts. Throughout the rest of Europe and the world, only products produced through the composting process can be called ‘compost’.
Q. Why is it important to consider using compost in garden and turf applications?
A. Because compost is an environmentally friendly product, produced from annually renewable resources. Compost is also an extremely versatile product that is produced throughout the UK and the world. Also environmental pressures will likely make it more difficult and costly to obtain both peat and bark based products over time. National and European regulation and legislation will require that greater volumes of organic by-products be recycled (thus larger volumes of compost will be produced). Therefore, it will remain a readily available product.
Further, composts are nutrient rich and often possess plant disease suppressive qualities, allowing for the use of less lawn and garden chemicals and other inputs. This saves money and helps the environment.
Q. How does compost differ from peat, barks, chemical fertiliser and topsoil?
A. Natural bark and peat products contain little to no nutrients that are available for plant usage. Further, certain wood-based produced can even rob plant nutrients (nitrogen) from the soil or growing media that they are added, as they degrade. Compost is rich in macro and micro nutrients. Also, compost typically possesses a higher pH than either of these products.
Topsoil is primarily mineral in nature, containing sand, silt and clay. Although compost contains some soil particles, it is much richer in organic matter and plant nutrients than topsoil. Conversely, although composts contain many essential plant nutrients, they are typically not contained in large enough volumes to be considered fertilisers. Interestingly, all composts contain a broad array of secondary nutrients, aside from the macro nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium).
Q. How does ‘true’ compost differ from ‘multi-purpose compost’?
A. Multi-purpose composts, which often do not even contain any true compost, are usually created to be used as both a soil conditioner (in landscape gardens) and perform as a growing media, to be directly planted into. True composts are outstanding soil conditioners, but are usually not suited for direct plant establishment. Composts are best suited to be used as a component to ‘multi-purpose’ composts.
Q. Why is it important to buy ‘certified’ compost?
A. Because purchasing PAS 100 compost assures end users that their compost product is uniform and safe. Further, PAS 100 composts can trace all of their feedstocks back to their original source.
What is mulch and how is it produced?
A variety of materials are utilised as mulches in landscaping. However, they are typically categorised as organic and inorganic mulches.
In organic mulches include decorative stone and rock, while organic mulches include bark and wood-based products. Peat has also been used as mulch, but it does a poor job in weed suppression. Rock and stone products are very functional mulches, but are very heavier, making them back breaking to install.
Over the years, organic mulches have proven more popular on residential and commercial landscaping projects. This is probably because they are readily available, easy to install, and relatively inexpensive. Further, as they degrade, they actually provide organic matter, feeding soil microbes and providing various benefits to the soil (and therefore, the plants).
Why is it important to mulch your gardens and planting beds?
Mulches are used for a variety of aesthetic and cultural purposes, and many types of mulches are available to the marketplace. Home gardeners and landscapers alike mulch trees, shrubs and gardens in order to improve plant growth and reduce necessary maintenance practices (e.g., weeding, watering).
There are many benefits to using mulch, including:
- Aesthetics (appearance),
- Weed suppression,
- Conservation of soil moisture,
- Reduction of soil temperature and temperature fluctuations,
- Improvement of soil structure over time (as the mulches degrade)
- Erosion control.
Further, as the effects of climate change become more pronounced, a greater number of severe weather events are expected – that means more droughts and heavy rain storms (soil erosion, flooding). Mulching your plants can help to manage these conditions, protecting your plants and soil.
What mulch products does MEC offer?
MEC offers two high quality mulch products.
Garden Compost– pure garden compost can be used as mulch all year round and is ideal for weed suppression but unlike wood/bark based mulches it will slowly be incorporated in to the top soil by worms and other organisms and will act as a soil conditioner and source of nutrients.
Organic Mulch – is a grind of pure aged spruce wood/bark for use in areas where a higher valued decorative appearance is required.
How much mulch do I need?
Apply mulch at the following rates…..
One Cubic Metre of Mulch Covers:
20 square metres ⇒ 50mm depth
13 square meters ⇒ 75mm depth
Cubic Metres Required To Cover 100 square metres
50mm layer ⇒ 5 cubic metres
75mm layer ⇒ 7.5 cubic metres
Landscape and Blended top Soils
Why use compost enhanced soil products in your landscapes?
Because MECs soil products are rich in organic matter and manufactured to be ‘fit for purpose’. Their overall product quality is assured, as are their minimum standards.
Further, it is difficult to find high quality native topsoil’s being sold within the landscaping industry. And in general, suppliers of these products do not test them as often as they should in order to guarantee an acceptable minimum standard.
How do landscape plants and grass benefit from the use of compost enhanced soil products?
In sandy soils, compost improves the water and nutrient capacity of the soil. In heavier soils, compost reduces the bulk density of the soil (adding porosity), thereby improving root development moisture percolation.
By improving the plants root system, it can grow more efficiently and resist damage in times of stressful environmental conditions.
What landscape and planting soils does MEC offer?
MEC supplies two high quality blended soil products in order to assist its customers best complete their various landscaping projects. Products include:
Lincolnshire Organic Premium Topsoil -.
A uniform 10mm screened Lincolnshire sandy/loam top soil. Which possesses a friable texture and is excellent for use in flower and garden bed establishment, as well as turf establishment and maintenance.
Lincolnshire Organic Blended top Soil –
A free draining and organically rich mix of our premium top soil and rich garden compost. Manufactured to use in building raised planting beds and for use in outdoor potting mixes, which require more weight. Manufactured to ensure that it contains a minimum 7-10% organic matter.
How much soil do I need?
Apply Lincolnshire Organic Soils at the following rates…..
One Cubic Metre of Soil Covers:
- 40 square metres ⇒ 25mm depth
- 20 square metres ⇒ 50mm depth
- 13 square metres ⇒ 75mm depth
- 10 square metres ⇒ 100mm depth
Cubic Metres Required To Cover 100 square metres:
- 25mm layer ⇒ 2.5 cubic metres
- 50mm layer ⇒ 5 cubic metres
- 75mm layer ⇒ 7.5 cubic metres
- 100mm layer ⇒ 10 cubic metres
Turf & Lawn Products
Why use compost products in grass maintenance?
Because compost has been shown to revitalise tired turf, improving its colour and recovery, while also improving the soil structure for long-term successful growth. The UK’s own Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) even completed landmark research illustrating compost’s benefits (unblended and blended with sand) as a lawn dressing. Compost is unique in that it improves soil chemically, physically and biologically.
Why is it important to consider using compost in turf maintenance?
Because compost is an environmentally friendly product, which can improve soil quality, thereby improving grass growth for years to come. We often get caught up in grass fertility programmes, forgetting that the soil itself has needs, which if properly cared for, allow the plants to more easily flourish. Although one application of compost will not fix all soil problems, it will certainly improve them.