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Peat free compost/grow bags - anyone had good results?

(40 Posts)
AskAlice Mon 14-Aug-23 09:10:37

As we will soon be unable to buy anything other than peat free composts (and I understand the reasons why), I wondered how other gardeners had fared with peat free grow-bags? I tried a couple this year and the results were dismal compared to those grown in ordinary bagged compost used in pots. I'm starting to panic ahead of next year...

I'm also wondering if anyone has tried mixing their own compost from topsoil, manure and fertiliser and if they have a good "recipe" I can try for my tomatoes, peppers and chillies in pots.

Any advice or recommendations gratefully received!

Septimia Mon 14-Aug-23 09:47:10

You could try wool compost! Quite expensive but at least environmentally friendly.

Casdon Mon 14-Aug-23 09:57:50

No, I haven’t found a good one yet I’m afraid. The problem with making your own is that it takes a while, and I can’t generate enough for my needs. What I’m planning to do this year is to save the compost I’ve used in my pots this summer, and mix it up with my own compost, plus some manure, leave it over the winter in a compost bin, and see if the combined version works better than the peat free compost alone. My soil is heavy clay, so I’m not planning to mix that in as it’s will make the compost too wet I think. It would be good to do that if you’ve got sandy or loamy soul though.

PamelaJ1 Mon 14-Aug-23 10:07:35

Haven’t tried it but have had Black Gold recommended by a friend.

Woollywoman Mon 14-Aug-23 10:08:43

Hi, I have bought some awful peat-free composts this year! I decided to search out SylvaGrow again, having used it previously, and have now bought more of that - it’s excellent. I think the RHS use it? It’s made by Melcourt. There is a website where you can look to see if there are stockists in your area. Hope there’s one near you…

NotSpaghetti Mon 14-Aug-23 10:09:56

Black Gold has Canadian sphagnum peat moss in it so unfortunately not peat-free...
Maybe that's why it works well?

NotSpaghetti Mon 14-Aug-23 10:11:00

We can't find a good peat-free so are cutting the pest-free with our home-made.
Can't generate enough of our own, unfortunately.

Lathyrus Mon 14-Aug-23 10:23:41

I’ve had very disappointing results this year too. In spite of buying one of the more expensive peat fre because I thought it would be better.

Actually began to wonder if I had some dreadful hidden disease that was leaching out through my fingers into the plants😱🙄

Going to have to buy root veg this year🙁

Jaxjacky Mon 14-Aug-23 10:24:12

I have enough of Jack’s Magic from a bulk buy two years ago, but will need to order something this time next year, so interested in this thread.

Casdon Mon 14-Aug-23 10:28:29


I’ve had very disappointing results this year too. In spite of buying one of the more expensive peat fre because I thought it would be better.

Actually began to wonder if I had some dreadful hidden disease that was leaching out through my fingers into the plants😱🙄

Going to have to buy root veg this year🙁

I don’t know for a fact, but one of the guys in my gardening club told me his theory was that the added fertiliser in peat free compost leaches out quickly when it rains a lot, so it becomes less fertile very quickly compared with peat compost, which is denser and has more fertiliser within the compost mixture itself rather than being added.

Siope Mon 14-Aug-23 10:38:14

I’ve done very well this year with a mid-priced seaweed based one. Can’t remember the make but I imagine any seaweed one will be the same.

However, I am also feeding more often than before (I make my own feed from comfrey), and have been meticulous about limiting the trusses/flowers on fruits & veg, and deadheading flowers.

NotSpaghetti Mon 14-Aug-23 11:08:10

Do you mean "seaweed enriched" type compost Siope?
I'm aware that seaweed is a good fertiliser and have used it since the 1970s but have never seen a seaweed compost as such in the garden centres.

I would like to know more please.

Siope Mon 14-Aug-23 11:16:16

I’ll see if I have one of the bags in the garage - it’ll be later, as I’m out this afternoon. I don’t think it was ‘enriched’. I know I thought it was something I’d not seen before. I bought it at an independent nursery.

NotSpaghetti Mon 14-Aug-23 11:26:14

Thank you Siope - will look out a brand mentioned earlier too.

Auntieflo Mon 14-Aug-23 11:38:32

Does your local council sell compost, made from the garden waste collections?
Just a thought as I have never tried it.

eddiecat78 Mon 14-Aug-23 11:48:03

We've had good results with B&Q's own brand multi-purpose peat free compost

midgey Mon 14-Aug-23 13:30:51

Have you tried using worm compost added to the compost, it has helped my pots a great deal.

lixy Mon 14-Aug-23 13:48:37

I haven't had good results with peat-free composts at all I'm afraid, despite trying several different types over the past few years.
I have compost bins and mix it with bought compost. That seems to work better and we have a good crop of tomatoes, lettuce and squash this year. I add vermiculite for drainage too and a handful of miracle-grow pellets. - belt and braces!

Siope Mon 14-Aug-23 17:18:52

NotSpaghetti it’s this one

Katie59 Mon 14-Aug-23 17:53:24

Bought a few bags a couple of years ago, hopeless for growing plants, I used it as mulch on the rose beds, very good it suppressed all the weeds, won’t be using it again for plants.

Commercial Growers also have to stop using peat in a couple of years, promising alternatives include Coir and Rockwool both used in hydroponic systems

AskAlice Mon 14-Aug-23 18:28:29

Thank you for all your replies...sorry I haven't come back until now as I've had my two GC (11 and 7) all day and have been fully occupied!

I do have a compost bin and I don't add anything to it that carries disease (like blackspot or blight) so I might have a go at using some of that for a home-made growing medium. Unfortunately Casdon our garden soil is also heavy clay (Hertfordshire) and full of stones so I wonder whether a few bags of bought in topsoil would do the trick, mixed with the compost and then a few bags of peat free with added chicken manure pellets? Obviously I would need a different mix for seed sowing as less nutrients are needed for that.

Jaxjacky I also love Jack's Magic and have always used it in the past, but all our local suppliers didn't seem to have it this year. Perhaps ordering online is the way to go...but are the delivery costs prohibitive?

The seaweed enhanced option sounds interesting, but I seem to remember that there have been questions in the past as to whether commercial producers of seaweed fertiliser always use sustainable sources. I can't read the small labels on the front of your photo Siope but I'm assuming they state that the seaweed is from a sustainable source. If so, that's another option to research.

I'll also investigate the local council website for compost Auntieflo but knowing our council's record for providing services and helpful initiatives when they don't absolutely have to by law I suspect that may be a No! Still, yet another avenue to pursue.

It feels like a large chunk of my precious time is going to be taken up looking into this and experimenting with different options, but then gardening is one of my main hobbies and loves, so it will be interesting and worth the effort.

Again, thanks to all who have responded and Happy Gardening!

AskAlice Mon 14-Aug-23 18:30:55

Meant to say that I usually use the compost from my bin in my raised veg beds (along with manure and fertiliser where appropriate) and to mulch one of my flower beds (I have two main ones so alternate between the two.) The flower beds might have to make do with chicken manure pellets and no mulch next year!

AskAlice Mon 14-Aug-23 18:31:36

Or I could, possibly, manage to squeeze in another compost bin if I reconfigure my raised veg beds - but that is another story!!

NotSpaghetti Tue 15-Aug-23 06:52:27

The Gromore compost is, (like the Black Gold one) yet another peat mix - this time with added seaweed Siope.

This is probably why you are loving it - and why it works!

Thank you for going back and finding out what it was though.

J52 Tue 15-Aug-23 07:08:24

After trying several we found Murphy’s peat free good compost.
I have noticed that commercial plant growers are now mostly using peat free, some of the bedding plants I bought were in dreadful stuff that disintegrated as soon as the plants were taken out of their pots.