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The other day I bought a small bag of wilko's multi-purpose to top up my pots.....

What in the gods creation is this ??   

  Someone's shredded fence panel !?!?


Hello I have been following the BBC garden message boards for years but have never had the courage to post before. So I thought I'd make this a fresh beginning with the rest of you original posters.

I'm afraid that looks exactly like the Wickes multipurpose compost I purchased this year. Very disappointed.


Hi brenda

I'm very disappointed, also ! How can the manufacturer expect plants to live in this kind of pollution. I was going to give Wickes a try, to see if theirs was any better.  I shall not bother now. 

That is the stuff the council take away in green bags sold back to you.  The problem for the manufacturers in the legislation on the use of peat.  For posh seeds and cuttings use a loam based compost.  For general potting and veg seed use your own and steralise it yourself using one of those garden waste burners (dustbins on legs), some scrap wood and a smaller metal container to go inside the bin with the compost when you light the fire.  The result is just better. 

Dont accept the crap purchased from Wickes etc. Take it back and complain. If you purchase and say nothing they will keep producing.

I think the council are supposed to heat treat their green waste but when I think of all the rubbish I take to the green collection site, I would not want to touch it with a barge pole.  All the good stuff I keep for my own compost. In addition to making compost I have also started saving leaves this last Autumn to make a leaf mulch. After 1 year it is supposed to be useable but fantastic after 2 years. Cannot wait to see the reuslts in 2013. I am going to mix it into my own compost.


Morrisons stuff is just as bad


I don't know what has happened to named brands of compost. Levingtons seed compost and some brands of john innes no.1 have all had lumps of wood and balls of clay in them. I bought seed compost to save me sieving. Other composts have certain weed seeds in. Godwins at the min, have fat hen and nettles. Clover had nettles and king henry in. I have got so fed up with writing to complain. I think they are just producing the stuff too quickly. But I got really piddled off with westlands, glass and bits of tin, with the results of plasters all over my hands. was the last straw. they did get a letter. 


I will definitely do some more research on sterilising homemade compost. This maybe the only way forward. Its just not possible to use this rubbish with reasonable success. Cheers

What I find alarming is that those new to gardening, may think this bagged rubbish is the norm and perfectly acceptable - and its not !!

The main dealers are getting their compost from one large bagging depot, it is collected from various area's where councils dump their green waste then put through a shredder and heaped up to heat up, being turned often to speed up the rotting down. The problem is much of the council green waste is brush or trees among stuff we gardeners do not put in our own compost bins, we know wood takes much longer to rot down as well as taking the nitrogen out of the compost. My own Council compost locally and we can get two free bags a week, take your own bags and bag your own. I find this more like normal compost but would not plant seed in it.

I mix my own seed compost with a loam base fine gravel and washed sand, a third of each, seeds will grow in sand but need some food as soon as they have two true leaves so then I pot on into half loam quarter fine grit and a quarter washed sand.

Loam in small quantities can be cleaned by steaming it, an old kettles with a bit of pipe into the base of an old bucket with a small quantity of loam in it. Or you can pour boiling water onto the loam. Just do not let H&S see you doing it.


I am confused about compost. I always understood that pure compost (made from general cuttings and kitchen waste, was way too strong for seedlings or even potting, where I have always mixed just a little with garden earth (is this the loam you refer to above?). For seedlings I always buy a special mixture at the gardening center, as it is sterile and of good quality. I've lived in Switzerland all my gardening life, so I may just be out of touch with the terms you are using.

Loam is roughly Sand, Silt and Clay at 40%, 40%, 20%. It is rich in nutrients, and is about right for moisture retention.

Suze, loam is basically soil as Burhinus rightly says only not always found in those precise percentages. Seeds like babies need some weak nutrition when they are first sprung from the seed you plant, so a seed compost would be a third loam or compost, a third fine grit for drainage and a third washed sand. The seeds will happily germinate in that with some bottom heat, remember all seeds do not need heat though some need more heat than others. Once the first true leaves are set pot the seedling on into half loam, a quarter fine grit and a quarter washed sand, this is the next stage of weaning the young plants. The last move is to loam with a small amount of grit and sand and that should do until you harden the plants off and plant them out. each move give more and stronger nutrition.

Pure Compost is what you make in your compost box or bin at home, waste material which with heat air and time will become pure gold. When planting new plants I dig in some of my own compost to give the plant a boost until it has settled in not forgetting to always water in a new plant after putting in position. Hope this helps.



Hello Frank, many thanks for that explanation. I have never fully understood the different composts and the stages of potting on. Although I have been gardening/pottering on a small scale for over 40 years it is only the last couple of years, since acquiring an allotment, that I've got into seed sowing.

I did purchase some of Asda's multi-purpose compost yesterday, after accidently catching the bag with my car key which exposed some of the contents and if I can learn to upload a  picture of it on the boards I will.



oops me again. Sorry I meant to also say that Wickes website customer reviews are very critical this year and Wickes have responded with the following:

Wickes Multipurpose Compost now has a new look and feel, with a new and improved formula. We are confident that when you use this product and see the results you can achieve, you will have a much more positive opinion of it, however, please note that this product is not suitable for planting seeds.

The shredded wood mentioned by some customers actually contains an exciting new wood fibre technology (and is not just for ‘bulking out’). This material is sterilised, pest and weed-free and is manufactured using a patented process. The fibres created using this process provide a lot of benefits, such as improved air spaces for root respiration and growth, easier wetting – so avoiding dry spots in pots, improved drainage – so no risk of water-logging, a drier surface to avoid growth of moss and liverworts, and also a lower density – making it easier to handle.

Tee Gee
I think from all of what I have read in recent months about composts in particular multi- purpose, it is time for a change of name! I suggest " Not fit for purpose" compost.


Tee Gee
Thanks Brenda for your mail, I had in fact found that statement shortly after I had my rant, But thanksc again........Tg

Have just looked the reviews on the Homebase compost-exactly the same wood chips etc-my feeling it that it is all being produced in the same place and then branded for individual stores-that has never seemed the case in the past

I have some wicks compost & my plants are doing fine just mix in some of your garden compost it fine.

Hello Brenda, we did not have this problem when we could buy peat based seed composts. Peat is not full of nutrient as home made compost is so was very good for seed setting the big growers are still allowed to use it by the way. I still at times can get hold of peat blocks and use it as a mix for setting seed. Another way is to empty last years pots into a bin and rest it then taking out small amounts and sterilising it by steaming, pouring boiling water through it or Jeye's fluid leaving it to dry in the air. All a bit of a palaver after years of just sowing your seeds into seed compost. As for wood in compost old gardeners know that wood takes a lot longer to break down than ordinary green waste, it also takes the nitrogen out of the compost or if spread as a mulch the soil something we all fell for years back when bark was introduced as a miracle mulch. I remember asking my father why he put an old tin bath of soil on his bonfires, no packaged seed compost back then and no one screamed if you lit a fire, he said he was sterilising his seed compost "Hmm", could it be possible to sneak a metal container of soil into the oven and give it thirty minutes on 180 c, we could probably slip a chicken casserole in at the same time says he whistling!


Peat B

I have three compost bin/ barrels, one tumbler bin, three pallette  bins and a section for leaves still in the bags I collected them in. The old green things that used to take all kitchen wastes are now for forcing rhubarb, VERY  efficiently, yet, I still feel I need more compost ! I can go and collect as much horsemanure  as I can load, sheeps dags, and my allotments own stuff, but I still itch for more. It's becoming an obsession ! My wife thinks I have gone too far now, and is threatening me with heavy blunt instruments, and I don't mean tuba's.