Sieving compost

by Pippa Greenwood

Like many gardeners at this time of year, I can normally be found in the garden with my head in a bag of compost.

CompostLike many gardeners at this time of year, I can normally be found in the garden with my head in a bag of compost. I'm not hiding from the taxman, or even two noisy kids - I'm just trying to get some seeds sown.

Sowing seeds is a task that should be relaxing and fill me with feelings of excitement and satisfaction. And how could it not? I'm literally sowing the seeds of great things to eat and to look at. Sadly I'm finding the task increasingly irritating.

The seeds are as good quality as ever and the trays are well used and very efficient. Even my ancient propagator works well, although it's in much need of a new lid as the plastic is badly cracked and discoloured.

It is the COMPOST that infuriates me.

I know the price of compost goes down, sometimes year-on-year (although the bag size of many types has also decreased slightly too), but is it me, or am I right in feeling that the compost itself is getting lumpier and lumpier?

More and more sizeable lumps of partially-composted wood clutter up the bags of compost, and on two occasions I even found two pieces of glass. Yes, I own a compost sieve and no, I'm not necessarily talking about composts based on recycled materials. But although I can and do use the sieve, and my son's fingers' were not actually cut when his small hand came across the glass, I just wish that compost quality had not declined so much and so quickly. I even sieve out the chunks of wood and use them for drainage in the bottom of pots, but that is not the point!

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Gardeners' World Web User 01/01/2007 at 00:00

Pippa - where can I buy the sieve that you are using as mine is finer and takes ages to sieve anything? I agree with your comments about the seed compost. I also find large lumps in mine and will try B & Q as someone suggested.

Gardeners' World Web User 07/02/2008 at 18:57

I know exactly what you mean about rubbish in the compost. I have even found half a biro in a bag from one of the brand leaders, and the compost was lousy too. My best compost is that sold in Wicks shops, its so good I enjoy running my fingers through it!!

Gardeners' World Web User 08/02/2008 at 17:20

I agree with you Pippa, I have used Levingtons Multi-purpoose compost for years and years, but like you I find wood chippings, twigs added in the ingredients. though I must add it does not seem to have an adverse effect on the seedlings.

Gardeners' World Web User 11/02/2008 at 20:24

I bought some grow bags this weekend and was shocked to find glass in there. I was crumbling the lumps in my hand and the piece of glass nearly stuck into my finger. Also in the mix was those green garden tie wraps which I didn't mind as much. I have been wearing my gardening gloves ever since while dealing with it.

Gardeners' World Web User 12/02/2008 at 04:34

I've just bought a compost with added John Innes after a bad lumpy, woody experience with an own brand make. The new compost is so beautiful, it's softer, easier to sow in and richer to touch, so i've learnt with compost as with most things in life you get what you pay for!!! PS it was buy two bags and get a third free, what a bargain!!

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