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By Bernard

Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom Gb

I would appreciate any information members can give me about some bags of compost that were supplied to me by one of the gardeners we have employed. It is called Bullrush Growing Excellence 'Crop Specific Substrate' and I initially used it as a mulch but found that it dried out on the surface and did not absorb water applied to the surface, by either rain or watering can. I was told by one of the gardeners that it probably contained peat, not suitable for using as a mulch but should be dug in.
Incidentally, our experience of using 'professional' gardeners has been quite depressing - out of the four we tried, only one could justify the name 'gardener' and unfortunately she has suffered a nervous breakdown and won't be available in the future for more work.
So, we've decided to go it alone by using the internet to select suitable species for our small woodand garden and doing the planting ourselves.
The question of the right procedure for planting seems to be to dig a hole larger than the pot and release the plant from the pot and tease out any roots that are following the outline of the pot. Prepare a planting mix consisting of 50% soil dug out from the hole, 50% compost and I wonder if this would be a good use for the Bullrush product I mentioned earlier. To the mix should be added some Bonemeal, and a general fertiliser such as Growmore.
After gently pressing down the planting mix, each plant should be watered with the entire contents of a 2 gallon watering can.
Judging by the methods used by the gardeners we employed, this is overkill as they seemed concerned only with the speed of the job and dug the minimum sized hole and popped the plant in straight away as it came from the pot and trod it in.
I'd be very interested to have your comments about the points I have raised about the Bullrush product and the planting technique as we now have upwards of 150 plants and bulbs to deal with and I'm hoping that our decison to go the DIY route will give us a better understanding of the plants and a greater interest in their welfare.



I woiuldn't be at all happy with a 'crop specific substrate' - Bulrush have a website, I'd be getting the phone number and ringing them to find out exactly what crop your substrate is specific to - these are usually only sold to professional growers, not supplied for amateur use, and it would appear its a specific mix for a special purpose, not a general purpose compost at all.

Your description of how to plant is fine, except don't add Growmore past mid July, and there is an argument that one shouldn't, in fact, add composts or peat to the planting hole because the plant is then shocked once its roots venture beyond the pleasant, comfortable environment of its surrounding compost. Personally, I still throw in a handful or two of peat based compost, or multi purpose if its good stuff, and then plant into that, but it is only a handful or two, half a medium pot at the most. The bonemeal's an optional extra - takes forever to break down and isn't much use to the plants you're putting in. So to make it quicker for you, dig the hole as you describe, chuck in a bit of compost, position the plant (having teased out the roots) and back fill with the soil you've dug out, firm down with your foot, then lightly fork the top of the soil over so that it's not panned from your standing on it. Contents of a 2 gallon can may be appropriate if the soil is especially dry when you plant, but if the soil is already very moist, and you have (as you always should) watered the plant pots before attempting to plant, then a gallon or half a gallon will do, depending on the size of plant.
If you're concentrating your planting on a smaller area, say 10 plants in a space 6 x 6 or something, its better to dig the whole area over and then make your planting holes. Individual planting holes in soil which hasn't been dug for a long time, especially heavy soil, may have a tendency to fill up with water when it rains from the surrounding imperviousness of the undug soil.

8 Oct, 2010


As usual, you've come up with the goods Bamboo, thanks very much.

12 Oct, 2010

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