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I did not realise that about non-peat so thank you.  I do need to be a bit more consistent I admit, it is just at the end of a long day trudging around with a watering can or doing battle with an ever tangled hose is not my most favourite job - but perhaps worthwhile for better results!

Burford GC in Burford sell RSPB Peat Free Multi Purpose - produced by Vital Earth.

Vital Earth have won a Which Best Buy for thier Peat Free Multi Purpose and Tub and Basket Compost - Great Results - No weeds....

What I would really like to know is........

How can you find out which composts contain COUNCIL RECYCLED STUFF !!

I do not want to pay good money for this rubbish! (my opinion of course)


Burford GC - is that the one near Burford House?  I always pop in when I go to the gardens but I'll give it a miss now. 

I buy peat-free from my local council, I've never had any trouble with it, no more than multi-purpose from B&Q which often has bits of plastic in.

It is your opinion.  Not fact.  If you want to be truly organic then buy a load of compost bins and make your own.


I've stopped using MPC and just use grow bags now, the compost generally costs the same and does not seem to have as much rubbish in them.


Beverley, do you mean the big one by the house (ie furthest out of Tenbury) not the little nursary?  Are you any relation to Peter by the way?

I have been reading about Vital Earth so will follow that up thank you.

Daisy, not the Burford in Oxfordshire, this one is in Worcestershire.... and I do make my own but main compost heap has got contaminated with bind weed from the hedge it is next to so no good any more

This is a really interesting discussion. Firstly it displays the ignorance on offer in some garden centres about weedkiller residues entering the 'compost chain'. The most likely culprit is clopyralid, a sibling of aminopyralid. Clopyralid is a persistent lawn weedkiller that can cause damage in tiny amounts. It gets into bagged composts via green waste recycling. It can crop up in both peat-based AND peat-free composts, because most peat-containing composts are now peat reduced, and the reduction is often achieved by adding composted green waste (which is done to high standards).

The second thing some of the comments show is how misleading scaremongering in some national newspapers has seeped down into the minds of gardeners. This is a serious problem of pollution, but some commentators have chosen to use it as a way of attacking peat-free composts rather than alert gardeners to the pollution being caused by clopyralid weedkiller.

The following links might prove informative:

1 My 2012 trial of almost 40 peat-free composts which showed that apart from a small number of exceptions, peat-free mixes can produce great results.

2 My article on clopyralid weedkiller which explains why it's a growing problem and what we need to do about it.

3 My comment on the dangers of sloppy and misleading gardening journalism.

John Walker

Gardening & environment writer, author




Intersting and informative - thank you.  However, I would like to know from whence comes the 'green compost' that is being added to reduced peat composts.  If it is from counceil waste, then surely the issue of perennial weeds persists (never mind the weedkiller, a separate discussion).  Most of us put in the bins the items we will not, or cannot, compost at home - bindweed, docks, ground elder etc.  I spoke to our tip people and they had no idea about how the waste was dealt with, nor did I really expect them to, but neither could they tell me who collected it nor where it went for 'processing'.  I know what I put in mine is not stuff I would want back, which is why I avoid council compost, but is it getting into composts I might buy?  If so, how do I know that? 

Carbon Gold

GroChar seed & all-pupose composts from Carbon Gold are peat-free (and green waste free) and Soil Association approved for organic growing - as recommended by John Walker (Earth Friendly Gardener) in his compost trials.

They consist of organically certified coir (made from coconut husks), seaweed, mycorrhizal fungi, wormcasts, biochar and a natural, vegetable-based nutrient blend.

You can easily buy online and avoid unhelpful garden centres 

You can read more about biochar in the Telegraph Gardening Supplement:

6 April - 


Carbon Gold is good stuff, as is Fertile Fibre which is also coir based, peat free and Soil Association approved for organic growing. I use it all the time along with a small amount of Moorland Gold peat - which is also certified Organic and is non mined peat  - a by product of hydroelectric schemes where peat suspended in the riverwater washes into the filters.

Hope this is helpful


On the point of 'greenwaste' We have a thing we call the non-compost heap. This is where all the things like dandelion roots, couch, dock etc go. It is covered up so that no water can get to it and it has been left for 3 yeras now. I have opened it up, in the past and the material is beautiful, well rotted and as far as I can tell, weed seed free. At least in the area where I have used it there are no extra dandelions etc.

Now, in theory, the heat produced in the green waste composting process, ought to be enough to kill off all seeds. I am not saying it does, but that is the theory.


A HotBin, operating well , will get up to in excess of 60 Celcius - which will kill weed seeds. The trick in a compost heap/bin is to ensure all of the material gets to over 60 - mixing it up helps but its often all a bit marginal - which is where the weed seeds creep in unkilled.

I put my finished compost in empty raised beds in the spring and leave them to germinate anything left - like a "stale" seed bed - that way I can see if anything undesirable has been left!


If you want to see my thoughts on the HotBin ( and my composting set up and garden) go to and have a look at what I get up to

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