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

(41 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!

Siope Tue 15-Aug-23 08:02:00

NotSpaghetti I’m bloody horrified if it is. I’ve been peat free for years (with mixed results) and that was in the peat free section, so I didn’t even check. I will make sure, and then return the one bag I have left, and lecture the nursery.

TheHorticulturalHussy Fri 18-Aug-23 17:20:11

I know that others have had problems but I have had great results with all of my seedlings and larger plants by using the cheapest peat free compound I could find and adding bonemeal. I bought the dehydrated blocks because my garden is very steep and the shed and greenhouse are at the top (obviously 🙂) and I can’t carry the big heavy bags up there. I have germinated many different native perennials and they grew like, well, weeds!

NotSpaghetti Fri 18-Aug-23 18:21:31

Siope - I hope I'm wrong!

glammagran Thu 14-Sep-23 17:26:31

I’m not much of a Gardner but do all the pots in the garden. I bought many, many bags of Miracle Gro peat free compost this year. My plants haven’t been great but that may be due to a wet summer. Despite watering wall troughs regularly the compost has the consistency of sand and falls out of the bottom. I’m wondering whether it would be worth mixing in topsoil in future. Very disappointed but understand the reasons but do miss peat compost.

AskAlice Thu 14-Sep-23 18:22:20

I've just replaced four of my raised vegetable beds and shovelled all the earth from the old to the new (with the help of DH, thank goodness!) I incorporated handfulls of chicken manure pellets and blood, fish and bone in them to boost the fertility, and will top dress with my home made compost when it's ready in the spring, so hopefully that will do the trick for the veg in those beds.

I'm ashamed to say that a couple of weeks ago I made a trip to a local garden centre that is still selling Jack's Magic compost, including peat, for any sowing, potting on and cuttings that I take next year. Well it was there already and someone had to buy it!

Peat free has been a disaster in years gone by when I've tried it and again this year with peat free grow bags, so I've put off the day when I have to find a decent alternative, or mix my own recipe with a wish and a prayer, for at least a few months...

Ali23 Thu 14-Sep-23 18:42:18

My peat free compost was awful this year. I then watched a tv program that said lots of them look dry on the surface but are wet underneath and the roots get waterlogged… maybe this is what happened? So I’m going to add vermiculite next year and see if that improves things.

NotSpaghetti Tue 19-Sep-23 22:47:37

Anyone found a decent one yet please?

lixy Wed 20-Sep-23 08:48:21

The best I can do is mix peat free with vermiculite and home-made compost, 1-1-1 ratio.
This is OK for big pots but I have yet to find a good seedling or small pot formula.
Hoping someone else has found the magic answer!

Casdon Wed 20-Sep-23 10:06:37

John Innes Seed Sowing Compost is now giving me good results, it is peat free but seems to work well. I’m still struggling to find a decent compost for potting on though, interested if anybody else has found anything good.

AskAlice Wed 20-Sep-23 18:20:46

Casdon, thank you for your recommendation. I will buy a (small) bag next season for my seed-sowing and see how I get on with it. I'm really not looking forward to all the shovelling, sieving and mixing I'm going to be doing in future years for my pots when no doubt I'll be less able to do it!

Ali23 Wed 20-Sep-23 21:37:10

My guess is that companies are experimenting now with blends of their own, and we’ll be buying these pretty soon 🤞

NotSpaghetti Thu 21-Sep-23 09:37:22

Let's hope so Ali!

Ali23 Fri 22-Sep-23 21:02:28

They’ve just mixed some potting compost on gardeners world:

4 scoops peat free compost
1 scoop grit
1 scoop sand
Some fertiliser ‘to keep it going’

Might be worth a try next year 🌸

RosesandLilac Sat 23-Sep-23 00:20:53

I had a complete disaster using peat-free compost, growing both plants from seed and growing tomatoes and cucumbers bought as healthy plants in peat-free grow bags.
I’ve never had such a bad year in 45 years of gardening.
Luckily my local garden centre still sells compost partly containing peat so I have unashamedly stocked up and hope I have enough for a couple of years. I do have 3 compost bins but the slow worms have moved in! I will focus on making more of my own in future.

Katie59 Sat 23-Sep-23 07:19:03

The problem for producers is that the ingredients put into green waste is so inconsistent, everything from lawn mowings to rose prunings, not to mention various chemical residues and disease from gardens and commercial waste.
Getting consistent results from tender seeds and transplants is difficult, if there are any commercial growers using recycled compost they will be processsing and sterilizing their own material to make sure plants will thrive.