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Hi folks,


this week i shall be buying a few bags of multipurpose and i was wondering what the best and worst stuff around is this year based on what you good people have seen?


I picked up, as an emergency, a small bag of Homebase multipurpose compost a few weeks ago and was not impressed, had barely decomposed and seemed to have a lot of small twigs and bark in! I used Westland last year and that was pretty good quality, but i haven't heard if its any good this year and after my Homebase experience i'm shy to jump in until i have some info


This year I've been using Levington M3 compost and it's lovely stuff. It's made by Everris Ltd.

Ive used "Erins"  - up to now have no complaints .


I've had some Levingtons which was good but I bought some Homebase stuff as I had a voucher and there was an offer as well, but I think it was a slightly dearer one than the multi purp and not suitable for ericacious. It was better than a lot of others I've had this year. It does seem to vary enormously and, judging by comments on here, people seem to be finding a lot of the composts  poor compared to previous years.

I purchase some bags of arthur bowes, I had some last year, which were very good, but this they were dreadful looked like pine needles and the bags were alot smaller 35 litres compared with 50. 


John Harding

I've used J Arthur Bowers for some years and it is good quality. This year though my local garden centre hasn't got the J Arthur Bowers range so I've started using the Westland John Innes seed, + Nos. 1,2,& 3 which seem extremely good. Also Westland are doing a promotion at present on their Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I've tried this and find the texture of the compost one of the best I've tried for some years. It also has a good percentage of genuine peat and certainly my plants are sowing the benefit this year with Tomatoes absolutely romping away & I'm very impressed. I've bought some Westland veg growing compost today to see how it does with Courgettes in large patio containers but am adding a bit of Growmore into the mix to give a bit of a boost.

John Harding

I should have added that the Westland promotion is on their 60 litre bags: buy 2 @ £5.99 ea & get a 3rd free.


Arthur bowers multi purpose compost is rubbish this year. its full pulp woody bits and water just runs through. i wonder if it holds any nutrients at all. its more like tiny bits of bark chippings with a small amount of compost added. it should not be sold to gardeners as multipurpose compost. its a rip-off and a disgrace.

John Harding

Interesing: if that's the case then maybe that's the reason my local garden centre isn't stocking it any more. As I put in my earlier post, I've been very impressed with the Westland MP compost with added John Innes.


One thing i've noticed having just done my growbags, is that growbag compost seems to be much better than the multipurpose stuff, and it's actually a similar price, although there never seems to be multibuy offers on it. The original 33l levington growbags were 2.49, compared to most multi purposes at 60l at around 5-6 quid, although you usually get a 3rd free if buying two. But as has been said the quality of the multipurposes is generally terrible. I've tried JAB, New Horizon (which was ok but not half as good as last years), Verve, non of them were nice, all had plastic in, and lumps of wood. 

The best compost i've bought this year was the new horizon vegetable compost for the raised veg beds, but again no deals on that. So it seems to me if you want decent stuff you're better off paying extra and getting veg products, as these seem to have less rubbish in (i wonder if there are rules about rubbish content for veg use??).

I think generally the only decent use of multipurpose now is mulch.

John Harding

We spent a couple of days in early April in Sherringham, Norfolk and visited a brilliant nursery near the village of Holt. They have been trialing various compost brands and told us they have found the best to be a brand calld 'Clover'. I've tried to get it in Bristol but cannot find any stockists here. They do have a website so I've emailed the Clover Co. for nearest stockists but not received a reply as yet. Will carry on using Westland for the time being at least as that seems to be the best I've come accross to date.


This is an excellent thread - thanks. I was particularly interested to hear what franco6832 had to say about J Arthur Bowers. I bought 6 bags recently, because my local DIY store was stocking it, and because it had a label on saying Which Best Buy 2012. If it's a which best buy, I thought it must be good. It's actually like finely chipped wood bark! I can't use it in containers, and have mixed up the first bag with other stuff to get rid of it around the garden.

I've been winding myself up to write to J Arthur and ask if this bag was a one-off dud. Apparently not . I will email and complain - I have another five bags of "compost" I don't know what to do with.



I`ve been using Blue Diamond compost at work and have found it excellent so far and at £4 for 70 litres i won`t be complaining, the girlfriend picked up a bag of Morissons own brand compost for home and it was awful, just wood chippings.

Which Magazine recomends Verve Compost there Growbags can be used forSeeds, Cuttings as well as Plants, I have had good results.5 bags for the cost of 4 at B&Q on a senior citizens card on Wednesday you get 10% off



Blue boots take the remaining bags back( along with your receipt) and if you have any of the open bag left take that as well to show them what they contain.Be polite and explain that the contents are not as described and not fit for the purpose they are being sold for. You hopefully will get a refund. I purchased 3 bags of Growise from a local independant garden centre ( I live in mid Wales)  and it is very good . I shall be going back for more if they have any left.


I to have had good results from B& Q Verve,and also been taking advantage of their multibuy and Weds 10%discount.Not had any plastic or lumps of wood in mine.


The big problem with compost is that you have to lug it home and only then do you see if it's any good or not. 

And not everybody is able to trek back with it quickly which means buyers are often putting up with an inferior product.

I got some from the big nursery when I lived near it but the problem is that the bags aren't totally sealed- would need to be careful if I get them now- it's a half hour drive! At least I can see the quality of it though.


my local centre have changed from the westland as soooo many complaints it is all fibrious. terrible. .they goen back to murphys they had years ago.. and it is good stuff.

so not had problem with this one yet and it is 3 bags for a tenner.. 50 litre bags.


Last year I bought a small bag of Westland Multi Purpose with added John Innes & it was the best I'd ever tried, really fine & no large bits at all. 

This year I bought J Arthur Bowers MP with added JI, 5 for £15 as it came in 35 litre bags which I thought I'd be handle more easily. They are so wet they weigh more than some of the 60 litre ones I've had in the past!  I was also swayed by the  fact it stated Which best buy compost 2012....

As other say, it is full of fairly large twigs & has a really rough texture. I'm not happy as I bought it to pot on seedlings & then fill all my greenhouse pots for tomatoes, chillis & my outdoor pots for everything else. 

As for taking compost back, I agree people should, to help solve the problem of rubbish compost being sold.. It's often so hard to do though if you need someone to help load the car up at both ends etc. I guess suppliers know this, hence why the continue to produce/sell it.  It would be so much better if only decent stuff was sold in the first place. 

So what to swap it for if I do take it back. We seem to have one good & one bad review about the Westland, are you both talking about the MP with added JI? Nothing worse than going to all that effort of swapping & getting home with one worst still!