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Make our own I guess, but coming up with sufficient 'loam' has put me off so far, also it will be full of weed seeds.

I only use bought compost for sowing seeds and things in pots, I hope to try my hand at making usable potting compost once I have sufficient leaf mold - a hot compost bin will hopefully deal with the seed problem,

Time will tell!

Edd wrote (see)

What were the results Nanny gardener.?

Results very variable. Interesting though that John Innes had the worst results overall the different trials. I always mix mine in anyway. Seems to me you pays your money and takes your choice. Sometimes you get good stuff...sometimes you get rubbish...literally



Have just transplanted 48 small mixed salvia plants which were grown from cuttings, they have a  really extensive root system!

Also have lots of Echinacea seedlings from seed saved from named varieties are now germinating.

The seeds and cuttings  were sown/rooted in a mixture of finely riddled pure peat and washed river sand, six of peat to one of sand which gives a nice open mixture!

They were all kept in the greenhouse!

Hope they continue as they have started!

No peat sources are sustainable. Peat was laid down millions of years ago. They ain't making it any more!
i am in dispute with homebase at the moment regarding there multipurpose compost on sale for 2x 120 ltr bags for £ 14 sounds a good price until you start to use this rubbish and that is what it is bits of wood ,plastic , small stones even a bit of glass and a high percentage of wood chippings added to bulk up the bag, i returned both bags to homebase for a refund but i have lost a lot of seedlings as there seems to be some kind of contamination in the compost still waiting to hear from homebase regarding this issue ,what they did say was that westland was there supplier and i should contact them.   mr angry.


I personally don't find Westland compost that great at all, I bought it last year and it was more like bark.

i have used the garden compost from my composter for the first time this year since I started it 2 years ago, for seeds and cuttings I have just added sand  which has worked out just fine.


I use peat free New Horizon, it has worked fine for beetroot, chillis, spring onions, tomatoes, pak choi, french beans, leeks, sweetcorn etc. I am suspicious of Which trials. For example, not feeding tomatoes before planting out is bizarre. It sounds like they are mainly testing fertiliser levels. And of course compost varies not only from year to year, but sometimes within a year. NH has varied this year, some bags are woodier than ideal, but it still works. I picked up some Lidl compost today, 25l for £1.29, 200L for just over £10. Peat free too. 

Jack's Magic apparently made by Westland. Fine, crumbly and everything grows well. This year however following GW mag trial I am going to use grow bags and see if I get the same results.
JM is peat based I'm afraid. I try to mix non peat with peat to reduce but have not yet gone fully non P.

Why do people use peat? As I said, I've germinated and grown a wide range of veg in peat free compost with success. I get close to 100% germination with good seed. 

I suspect that J Arthur Bowers grow bags are contaminated with something that is affecting plant growth. Earlier this year I bought 11 grow bags and planted 33 tomatoes both inside and outside my greenhouse. Of the 33 plants only one flourished. All of the others just refused to grow and the leaves became dark in colour. Tomatoes grown from the same seed but in different compost all did well. I have e mailed William Sinclair Horticulture LTD at with photographs which clearly show the problem. I suggest others with the same problem do the same.


Google clopyralid, it can last for years, and even in amazingly small concentrations can damage susceptible plants, especially tomatoes. That is just one broad leaf plant killer.

I try not to use any of the  crap peat free  composts that is on sale now.

If you see what my neighbour put in his council recycling bin which eventually goes into the so called wonderful peat free composts sold, you would not buy them at any price!

He has Greenfingers dosing his large lawns regularly with all sorts of industrial chemicals with the cuttings going straight into the bin.

I said to him once about it, his reply was, not my problem son!

Welshonion says:
No peat sources are sustainable. Peat was laid down millions of years ago. They ain't making it any more! See original post

Not true - but then none of the anti-peat comments on this thread are actually true.  There are more than 4,000,000 km2 of active deep peatlands around the world, covering an area of more than 400 million hectares producing more than 4 billion cubic metres of new peat annually.  This does not include the increase on shallow peats less than 0.5m deep, which may be as much as twice the figure for deep peats.

Peat is laid down faster than any other soil mineral aggregate - sand, silt, clay, chalk all take millions of years to form and lay down a metre depth.   Topsoil forms at the rate of 25mm over the course of a thousand years while sphagnum peat is laid down 40 times faster, at the rate of1mm a yeat - 1 metre depth of peat is formed in the time it takes to lay down an inch of topsoil.

There's a reasonable argument against the use of peat from some raised lowland bogs in the UK, where they support 4 species of threated invertebrate and another 4 species of rare moss on an area of just 5,000 hectares.  This argument does not apply where peat wetlands stretch for thousands, tens of thousand, hundreds of thousands or millions of square kilometres.


Yup - completely agree.

In Ireland they use it to fuel power stations - can you imagine how much peat that uses.


When I first started gardening quite a few years ago I used Levington General Purpose compost for seed sowing and potting without any problems but after several years using it the quality declined and the results with it. Since then I have used products from a number of companies but find what was good one year is poor the next.

Last year (2016) I used Jack's Magic which was excellent. This year it appears to be the same but results are very poor. Seeds do not sprout or if the do fail to continue growing and 'stick'.

I have come to the conclusion that seed sowing and potting composts are unreliable. How one selects what to use has become a lottery.

Last edited: 14 August 2017 17:31:51


I can remember using Levington GP compost back in the 1960's and I stuck with it until 5ish years ago when bits of plastic and glass started to appear in it and the results were not like they were in the good old days.
I think the 'problem' is that since we're mostly re-cycling our garden waste via the local councils, the waste is processed and the compost companies buy it.
I had to smile when I read on the bag of Levingtons a while back - Enriched with recycled materials - I wasn't expecting them to include plastic and glass. I don't buy it anymore.
I've had very good results last year and this year with Grow Wise range of composts - no foreign objects, and I've used around 800L of the stuff in the last 2 seasons.


Thanks for your reply

I have made a note and will try Grow Wise next year.

When I moved into my new house 12 years ago I needed to improve the soil so purchased a load of recycled compost.....I am still picking pieces of plastic from the soil!

I have seen what occurs at the recycling site. Plastic bags, plant pots, ties etc, etc all go over the wall into the garden waste which is then shredded before composting. No notices requesting people not to do it and nothing said but if you as much as try to throw a metal spoon into the general waste the operatives are on to you like a shot.

Need less to say I have not purchased any more recycled compost and warned others about it.

II bought 3 bags of Levingtons a few weeks ago. bits of foreign objects in it....


I purchased three bags of levingtons general purpose compost at the beginning of may this year and anything I potted on or potted up to grow on ie:- tomatoes have either stopped growing and stood still or died. Won't be buying that again.