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I have been using Wickes multi-purpose compost 3 x 70 litre bags for £10 for three years now and have never had a problem with it for growing on seedlings and plants.I put it through a rotasieve and mix it with some perlite for sowing seeds. When using it in large outdoor planters I mix it half and half with John Innes No 3 to give it extra weight and substance.

All used compost is recycled into my garden beds and raised vegetable beds usually as a mulch, which helps to improve the soil.


Thanks for the heads up Geoff, me and the OH went and picked up 5 bags today. I've already dug one in to a bed at the allotment before the heavens opened.


I use Countrywide multi purpose - this year it was 3 x 100l bags for £17- I find it good. Used it for potato bags, top dressing planting etc. Now going to use spent potato bags for a top dressing. I have also used Goodwins - I get it at 4x70l bags for £10. Goodwins also do an easy use horse manure mix at same price as multi purpose compost. Using these is finally beginning to make a difference to my very clayey soil

Goodwins I get from my local low cost shop and Countrywide from the stores of that name.

B&Q I fell out with last year,


At one time I would have sworn by 'Humax' it was made by a relatively small firm in Cumbria, now been taken over ,and the name seems to have disappeared from around here.

The co-op was selling some compost from Ireland last year, which I found very good,this year not selling anything,maybe it was a one off deal they did, or only available at the very large stores.

Gary Hobson

This thread was started back in August.

It seems that Which? have been researching the issue, systematically. Their results are published in the January/February issue of Gardening Which. I haven't seen the full report, only a summary of their results...

27 brands were tested, for seed-sowing and raising young plants.

Three brands have been selected as 'best buy'. They are all peat-based...

  • Sinclair’s J Arthur Bowers’ Seed and Cutting Compost
  • B&Q’s Verve Grow Your Own Growing Bag
  • Verve Seed and Cutting Compost and Verve Multipurpose Compost.


Next, also recommended, though not 'best buys'...

  • Westland Jack’s Magic all Purpose
  • Westland Gro-Sure Seed & Cutting
  • Levington John Innes Seed compost.


Best peat-frees, but not as good as the peat ones...

  • Miracle-Gro Expand n’ Gro
  • Vital Earth Multipurpose compost.


If anyone subscribes to the magazine they might have some more details, about how good, or bad, all the others were. I don't know which brands came bottom.


Lyon Greene - many thanks for this info. I will certainly look out for Miracle-Gro Expand n' Gro and Vital Earth Multipurpose compost as I try not to use peat if I can. I don't subscribe to Which magazine but I am sure someone on this wonderfil forum will be able to give us more details. Roll on spring.


Thanks for that Gary. I had thought this year I would attempt to be peat free, it's sourcing the stuff around here - eg Vital Earth compost. Was going to have a go with John Innes seed as well, but have just bought a cheapo Wilkinson seed, will see how it goes!


We have not a company where we can pick up compost so we are lucky for many organic matter from our household and garden farm. A small hut (half open walls) is the place "we" producing the compost.look 


Thanks LG.

I had a good old moan about B & Q's grow bags early last year but purchased a large split bag, of their Verve multipurpose Compost at the end of the year and found it to be very good, didn't use it for seed sowing though.   

Getting a good seed sowing compost to start seeds indoors seems almost like a lottery...some dry like concrete in the propagator.... so will look out for the Gardening Which mag. 


I think ThaiGer-we are confusing you-there is garden compost that we use for soil conditioner- ie made from rotted down material

And commercial compost that we buy in that is formulated with nutrient for seed sowing and potting plants

Same word but different product and uses

What do you use a seed sowing /potting medium?

homebase have got jamie oliver branded strawbrry compost 50lt grow bags half price £2.49 a bag also buy 3 get 4th free thats 200lts for £7.47 sure it be good for something,hope so i got 8bags


Have to agree that the Wickes multi purpose last year was appalling. It was just a bag of wood fibre rather than compost!  I ended up using  J Arthur Bowers instead and was very pleased with it. Have started this year using the same. Be interesting to see the full results of the Which report before heading off to get further supplies

None of the mpc around now are reliably good I think. Nothing has replaced peat satisfactorily. More feeding is needed, watering needs to be done more carefully and drying out is a real problem. In containers John innis is better but this too has good and poor versions.

New Horizon peat-free seems to be reliable and consistent year after year, and doesn't seem difficult to water.


Our small B&Q has just got its' new stock of their Verve composts- in the smaller carry bags anyway. Didnt go outside. J.



Murphy Multi Purpose Compost - honestly the best, rich and feels great to the touch. Plants love it. I find Asda, Homebase and B&Q compost gets dry and is poor. Murphy multi-purpose gets 10/10 from me.

Ok, will try murphys mpc. Thanks blairs
Joe_the_Gardener wrote (see)


Is the Murphy's peat-free?


Not sure, but my guess would be that it does have peat.


Blairs- I've never heard of nor seen it around. You are in Scotland, could it be local to there?

BTW the amount of peat & other components should be listed on the bag somewhere. J.