Compost trials give thumbs down to peat free

Gardening Which? magazine have brought out a critical report on peat free potting compost. Each year they trial 20 plus bags of compost and peat compost always come out best. Not suprising as peat is an ideal growing medium for most plants. The problem is peat is extracted from fragile wildlife havens and the sale of peat compost is going to be illegal after 2012. I always welcome Gardening Which? reports but there was one organic peat free bagged compost they didn’t trial. Fertile Fibre. I don’t know why. I know plenty of people who have used this recycled compost (its made out of waste coconut fiber – coir) as an effective alternative to peat free. You can get it from the organic gardening catalogue. Alternatively you could make your own potting compost using a mix of one part home made compost to one part top soil to one part sharp sand (available at garden centres). The best peat free compost in the trial was Westland Peat Free Multi-Purpose compost with added John Innes. This is made out of composted bark and got the same rating as two peat composts and better than two others. This should be available from most garden centres. Also it should be noted that Gardening Which? deliberately pick seeds that are notoriously hard to germinate.

3 Replies to “Compost trials give thumbs down to peat free”

  1. Having done a small trial with peat free products I find that germination and plant growth is very much poorer.

  2. Hi
    I just wonder if there is some one who can help me.

    It is my first time to have indoor plants as i never have a garden and i am interested in having plants. So i have been reading some books about house plants and i went and buy few. They are ok but i think as the book say they need repotting.

    I have Antherium, azalea,begonia, gardenia, kalanchoe, geranium, saintpaulia, easter cactus,some cactis, calathea, ivy, chrysanthemum, dieffenbachia, ficus, dracaena, galathea, aloe, syngonium, yucca and others that i do not know their names.

    My problem is that i have repoted an aloe and azalea in acidic compost and the aloe is doing well, but my azalea is not even though the book say it needs acidic compost. so i have a big bag of this compost so i was wondering if i can use it for all other plant repotting.

    And also my Stpaulia’s head is dying and i am not sure why. Please help.

  3. As a professional gardener I am questioning how the top peat free compost which is ‘westlands with added john innes’ can be a peat free compost and have added john innes. If it is the john innes compost they are meaning and not just the john innes base fertilizer, then to have added john innes compost means having peat included in the compost. The formula for john innes compost as devised by the john innes institute way back in the 30s is 7parts by volume sterilized loam, 3parts by volume medium granulated moss peat and 2parts by volume sharp sand/grit to which is added the john innes base fertilizer, which is 2parts by weight ‘hoof and horn’ 2parts by weight ‘superphosphate’ and 1part by weight ‘sulphate of potash’ this fertilizer mix is then added in increasing amounts together with ground limestone to give the JI 1/2/3. The formula is set in stone. Any deviation from this formula means the compost is not john innes, so how can a peat free compost contain added john innes and still be peat free? I don’t get it! unless company’s have decided to rewrite the john innes rule book while still using the name. If anyone wants to enlighten me please get in touch.

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