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Last season I had dismal results with some compost i bought from our local garden centre. Sorry! i  cannot remember the blooming make,

but in all the blurb written on the bag it it said contains some recycled materials, or something like that.

They were not kidding, it contained pieces of wood and other debris,but I perservered with it, and as I said results were dismal.

Then I read an article by some guru who was warning to look out for compost containing council recycled material as a lot of it contains a lot of weed killer and shredded wood material.....YUK!

So, how can I be sure I am not buying this rubbish, because reading all the composts at my local garden centre, all state contains added nutriants etc ( which could be a wizz kids way of saying it has council magumby added.

So any ideas which compost is safe from this new disastrous trend.



This is not a new trend at all, it has come more into the headlines as we want to use more compost that is peat free and organic.  The trouble is, that most gardeners only send to council tips the stuff they cannot or will not compost themselves - perennial weeds, weedkilled material, nails, wooden slats etc.   In due course most of this stuff woud compost well ( well, not the nails!), but needs a very long time at very high temperatures within the compost and in most council compost making places this does not happen.  As we demand more and more of this so called 'good' compost, the people preparing it are having to speed up their supplies - hence more rubbish gets to stay in it.   There are many problems with bought compost at present, I suggest you do a couple of things - buy a small amount from 1 supplier and check out that it is OK beore you buy more, look around for someone making large amounts locally, with enough heat and time to get it right - not easy to do, but should be possible in thos day of electronic communications,  Again, buy a little and check it.  Of course the most important thing is to make your own, bu you can't start there I know.   Keep an eye on this site, people do share what they have found with various composts, thus informing you as to which are good and which not.  I'm afraid there is little way to avoid poor stuff except by experiment and avoidance. 

Bookertoo says it as I feel.
I bought a few tons of recycled compost from council some 5 years ago. Most of it was not composed well at all....bits of wood, plastic, polythene and goodness knows what else. Would not buy it again.
My fear is just as bookertoo has said that the stuff sent to be recycled will contain serious perennial weeds....maybe knotweed...that will infest my own garden.
My own garden compost is safe. I have bought in tons of mushroom compost as well as farm manure and this is likely to be better. Used loads of seaweed in the past.....this is by far the best of all compost I think.
Bags of mpc too are not great...ranging from ok to poor. I use them for temporary potting. John innes composts usually are very good.
So, in answer to the question I would go,for John innes or trial and error on mpc. Buy small amount of mpc and see if it looks and feels good. If it is then use that

Have to say i've noticed a difference even from last years bags to this years bags of Seed compost. Last year the JAB seed (in the pink bags) was really nice, this years is alot more indifferent, often with bits of plastic in it. 

I'm not a big fan of the soil based seed composts so there is not much choice around. 

The stuff i like the best, primarily just for the look and feel of it, is the New Horizon stuff, certainly the vegetable and MPC from them always seems better than the other brands.

Unfortunately i cannot ever find the New Horizon seed/cutting compost locally to try that, just the JAB stuff. Although Which voted the New Horizon the best MPC, but worst Seed compost so who knows!



John Innes loam based is doubtless the best but works out very expensive if you want to use alot.  i use it for permanent pots, it adds weight which is a good thing if you have a windy site as we have here, and I add it to other composts for baskets & summer pots, with bulb compost for bulb pots stored for the spring.  


Maybe perlite and J I for seed Andy?

This year, Which voted Verve (b&q's own) the best multipurpose compost, the report was done in december or January, which means they tested last years, which as many of us know was utter garbage.

I am a cheapskate (I garden on a budget of next door to bu88er all), and for seed compost I have found aldi's own to be very good so far, only minimal bits of twig found, for the most part looks & smells good.  Aldi growbags also good, and I've also bought a couple of the westland grow-bags, as I can get it delivered with my online shopping (so OH is inadvertently supporting my gardening habit)  I opened one of the growbags to repot an Aldi Blackcurrant, it was very good considering it only costs £2. 

So I can personally recommend Aldi seed & cutting compost, Aldi Growing bags, and the Westland grow bags (although prefer the aldi ones).


Verdun i get confused by all the John Innes types, if you were going to make seed compost would you use perlite + JI #1? 

I always thought seed composts were supposed to be sterilised, where i assume the JI types are not? Maybe that's just marketing blurb that is not actually true.

I sowed some peppers in some B&Q seed compost this year, on a windowsill indoors, and it ended up having some tiny slug like creatures that ate the seedlings as soon as they sprouted. So won't be using that again, was very twiggy anyway.


You could, but why not use JI seed compost and perlite or vermiculite if you're going to buy JI?  You can always add fertiliser and use it for other things if you have more than you need of the seed stuff, I have done this for a long time - worth trying for you may be? 


I did try a couple of bags of the JI soil based seed compost, but wasn't a big fan of this. It seemed to go a big claggy, maybe adding extra perlite might help lighten it  a bit. 


Indeed, I do think it needs a bit of lightening, I use vermiculite but I assume perlite does much the same job.  I have found I get good root systems with this - whatever works for each of us I guess. 

I am trying to grow organic veg but I'm very confused as to what make of compost to buy from the garden centre as my own compost is not really ready this year. Any ideas? After reading the above posts, recycled compost doesn't look very appealing.


There are good organic composts out there, by it's very nature, compost is recycled - though  recycled what is often the question these days.  Quite honestly the best way is to buy a small bag of one kind of orgainic compost and see how it is - if no good, then try another  -  there is no easy or guaranteed brand at present - though some seem worse than others going by some peoples experiences. 

John innes is of 3 types....number 1 is for seed and then there's 2 and 3. The difference is I remember my school days....the amount of fertiliser added with 3 being the richest.
So j I number 1 with perlite would have little if any fertiliser and if perlite was added it would make it more free draining

Jphn Innes is a set of formulations - sterilised loam, sand, peat, lime, fertilizers, first developed in the John Innes Research Institute in the 1930's.  It is not a brand. Different manufacturers make John Innes formulations. Some make multipurpose compost 'with added John Innes' - but it might be 5% or 10% John innes - they don't tell you  , so don't be taken in.

John Innes Seed - does what it says

John Innes No1 - for pricking out - potting on

John Innes No 2, for hosue plants, window boxes, hanging baskets etc

John Innes No 3 - for shrubs that are going to be in pots for the duration  - Japanese maples, dwarf magnolias etc. - contains longer lasting fertilizers

John Innes Ericacious - for rhododendrons, camellias etc. that prefer acid soil. 



You are right, but there is a seed sowing one as well as 1, 2, and 3 - I have used that with some sucess the last coule of seasons. 

Many thanks for your help.  I did buy a bag of organic last year (think it was New Horizon) but I wasn't overly impressed but it could have been the weather.

I normally by B+Q's own brand - Verve and haven't had any issues with it, this bag which I purchased a few weeks ago has bits of plastic in it.  Im thinking of taking it back and complaing - unless people complain nothing will get done to improve the quality.

I think I'm going to look foolish here, 

but on opening a bale of miracle grow to try it, the compost has masses of white stuff on the surface of the compost......Is this some type of mold or fertilizer or what??

It doesn't look particularly appealing.....what is it?? 

gratefull for advice on a 'new' garden: lovely dark soil dries out fast; how would you advise improving its 'moisture retentive' qualities? I don't have access to compost yet, but would be happy to buy initially for this season.