Launched this week at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013 is a peat-free compost for seeds made from a mix of sheep’s wool and bracken – amazingly it was not only launched but also shortlisted for the Garden Product of the Year award at the same event.
Although untested by us here at Compost Everything, according to the RHS ‘Growing tests have shown Wool Compost for Seeds encourages a fantastic root ball, healthy germination and strong seedling growth. The new compost can also be used for rooting soft cuttings and so is spot on for green gardeners wanting an all-round, early-use compost to give their young plants a much-needed boost.’ It is also claimed that the Sheep’s wool has good water retention and is a source of nitrogen. Bracken, an invasive plant, is high in potash and provides a range of health-giving minerals and trace elements.
This is excellent news and has a number of other positives; for struggling sheep farmers it helps find a new use for British wool and the use of bracken is beneficial as it is an aggressive plant which makes grazing difficult and impacts upon native species. The two developers of the compost use wool from the Swaledale and Cheviot sheep on their 120-acre farm and those of neighbouring hill farmers, along with bracken from the Lake District fells surrounding their land.
Their adventures in composting bracken were brought about as part of their contract to re-introduce peat forming sphagnum as part of a Peat Bog restoration Contract across hundreds of hectares of degraded bogs in N England. The bracken was a natural by-product of this environmental and habitat restoration work. Ultimately they innovatively added their wool to the mixture. It was developed as a natural bolt-on to the work they were already doing.
Wool Compost for Seeds is made by Dalefoot Composts from Cumbria. Sheep farmer Simon Bland and his partner, environmental scientist Dr Jane Barker, developed the compost.
We wish them good luck with the Product of the Year Award and would love to hear from anyone who tries the product to see if it really is as good as it sounds. Please do let us know your results.