Schools Section

Soil or compost for a school vegetable garden

compost mix for a school vegetabe gardenThe soil or compost you use in your school vegetable garden is the single most important part of the project. Vegetables are demanding as plants go, after all we we expect quick growth and lots of crops from a relatively small space. Flowering plants and shrubs can produce year after year on a less fertile soil because we don’t harvest them and remove nutrients from the soil. Vegetables are different, they take a lot nutrients from the soil to grow but these nutrients are never returned to the soil because we pick and eat the plant.

The secret to a successful school vegetable garden really is in the soil, it contains the food the plant needs to grow. A poor soil simply cannot produce a good crops, it’s as simple as that. It’s important to make sure the soil you use is of suffient quality and should be an important part of the budget.

school garden compost heapA word on Compost
The term ‘Compost’ can be a little confusing for new growers as it’s a word used for two quite different things. The bags of compost you see in garden centers or hardware shops are usually peat based and are a sterile growing medium for growing plants. Sterile means peat or peat substitutes don’t contain any nutrients, they are just a nice fine textured medium for the plant roots to grow. All multipurpose compost have nutrients added to them which will typically only last about a month. After this you will need to supplement the plant with extra feed.

The compost we make in our garden by rotting down vegetable waste in a compost bin is a very different thing. Well composted waste may look similar as it’s dark and crumbly but this is a highly nutritious plant feed suitable for mixing with garden soil to increase fertility. Garden compost would be too rich for use on it’s own and should be added to beds as a mulch or dug into top few inches of your soil.

I will refer to low nutrient compost as ‘Multipurpose’ compost and nutrient rich compost  as ‘Garden’ compost.

Multipurpose compost for school garden plantersMultipurpose Compost
Multipurpose compost is a handy bagged product suitable for smaller container growing. Multipurpose compost is available as a traditional peat based product or as a peat free alternative. Peat is slowly being phased out as peat mining or harvesting destroys the peat bogs which are an important and valuable habitat. We supply an Irish reduced peat compost or a peat free alternative.

Multipurpose compost is suitable for smaller containers as smaller quantities of soil will dry out too quickly and generally will not contain enough nutrients to sustain the plant. As I explained in the compost section multipurpose compost, whether peat or peat free, will only contain enough nutrients to feed the plant for a month. We recommend adding a natural seaweed/poultry manure pellet feed which will slowly release nutrients for up to 3 months. Pellet feed can be mixed into the compost at planting time or gently worked into the surface of the soil when required.

Multipurpose compost is suitable for the following planters:

Carrot patio planter
Hanging Strawberry Growbag
Potato Patio Planters
Herb and Strawberry Planters
Pea and Bean Planter
Rail Balcony Planter
Self Watering Window Box Planter

Envirogrind green waste compostEnvirogrind ‘Garden’ compost.
Compost produced in your school compost bins is excellent stuff and a sensible and sustainable way of feeding your school vegetable garden. The problem is you can will never be able to make enough of it as the majority of material grown in the garden will be removed and eaten and therefore never returns to the soil. To keep a soil wed fed you will need to substitute nutrients from an outside source using compost or manure.

Envirogrind is an Irish garden compost made in the same way as the stuff on your compost heap but on a much larger scale. Green and food waste is composted to produce a dark, crumbly and highly nutritious soil additive. Envirogrind also contains about 25% composted fish waste from the the fish processing industry in Killybegs so is jam packed with nutrients. Don’t worry, there is no smell from this product, the fish is properly composted and has no aroma.

Envirogrind is more suitabe as a soil improver and should be added to larger, more permanent beds a mulch in the springtime or a soil improver and nutrient booster when filling the beds for the firast time. If you are building a school vegetable garden using your own supply of topsoil Envirogrind is highly recommended to mix in with the soil to improve soil structure and nutrient levels.

Envirogrind is available in the following size bags:
Envirogrind 60 Litre bags.
Envrogrind cubic metre bags Dublin area.
Envrogrind cubic metre bags outside Dublin area

Soil mix for school vegetable bedsQuickcrop topsoil/compost mix
We deliver cubic metre or tonne bags of soil mixes for filling larger 6ft by 4ft beds. We have a specially formulated vegetable soil mix that includes a high quality topsoil base mixed with 30% garden compost mix. The topsoil has been screened to remove any large stones but does contain some small pea gravel or pebbles to aid drainage. The compost mix adds nutrients and ensures the soil is light and easy to work. Our soil mix will contain sufficient nutrients for the year with an application of envirogrind recommended the following Spring.

Our 6ft by 3ft timber raised vegetable beds will hold approximately 1 x  tonne (cubic metre) bag of soil mix with some left over to refill the beds when the soil naturally settles after a month or two.

Our topsoil mix is not suitable for smaller planters but is the perfect choice for filling large raised beds. One cubic metre bag will fill the following beds:

6ft x 3ft x14 inch high Classic Raised bed.
6ft x 3ft x14 inch high Premier Raised bed.
6ft x 3ft x14 inch high Deluxe Raised Vegetable Bed.

  1. David Jones

    Will be ordering 6×4 x14″ deep raised planter shortly but before I do can you tell me if you ship your 1 ton compost bag at the same time to the UK and if so what is cost of bag? If you don’t ship to UK what compost should I buy locally.

    1. Andrew

      Hi David
      We have a sister website in the UK which may be more convenient to order from, we delivery all products nationwide in the UK. The website is simply wwww.quickcrop.co.uk

      The cost per bulk bag of soil mix is £99.00 with a delivery of £3.95. If you order the soil and the raised beds at the same time the total delivery for the complete order remains £3.95.

      I hope this helps


  2. Susan

    I have a raised bed garden. Can i use compost from leavesand grass clippings? There is a place near me that sells this really nice compost and that is basically all there is in it.

    1. Andrew

      Hi Susan.
      Yes, you can use leaf and grass compost in your raised beds. Are you intending to fill the bed completely with this compost or is it to top up what you have. I would recommend mixing with a good loam soil to about a 50/50 mix for growing vegetables.
      I hope this helps, thanks for getting in touch.

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