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I bought a bag of multi-purpose compost (not peat-free) from Aldi yesterday, and it smelt of Jeyes fluid or bitumen. Must be the same stuff Lidl have been selling.

It's almost black when it's soaking wet and the same colour when it's bone dry (unlike any other soil I've seen, which lightens when dry).

I bought a bag of the same stuff about four months ago and it was very different. Not the best, but quite woody and smelled of forests in the rain. That was OK for £2 but the bag yesterday was rubbish even for £2, and I worry about what's in it due to that smell. Not to mention what effect this might have on my fruit/plants.

The annoying thing is that most of my compost was J Arthur Bowers, and I only bought the Aldi bag to top up the last bits, thinking it would be good enough and save me another trip to the garden centre.

Tomsk, if i need a bulk buy of compost etc, i use creative garden ideas, they have free delivery to most places when you spend 30quid, i usually do a autumn order of muck etc

I potted up my pelargoniums in this compost in the autumn.  I keep the pots on a suny windowsill through the winter as I do every year,  This winter we have had a plague of little black flies which need to be cleaned up every few days.  I have resorted to spraying them with RAID fly spray - my dining table is right next to this window!!  There are millions and millions of these dead black flies every two days which have to be cleaned up as they look so disgusting in the plant saucers and on the white window sill.  The compost seemed to consist of a great deal of soot - it did say on the bag to use heavy duty plastic gloves.  If you did not your hands were black with soot.  I would have thought that this compost would have had to be passed by Trading Standards.


I've found that if its cheap stuff is never up to much,

its the old saying "if it looks too good to be true, it probably isn't" 


Thanks for the warning on this stuff- will be very sure to avoid it. Sounds nasty.



I tried the lidl seed and cuttings compost last year.  No dodgy smell. Did a good enough job. 

I used this to pot up plants to bring indoors for the winter.  It seemed to consist mainly of soot.  For the last couple of months there have been literally millions of small black flies coming out of it into my curtains, in the top of the pots and all over the window sills.  I clean them up every few days after spraying with Raid fly killer for large flies.  Are these injurious to health - they are a nasty thing to have in the house but I will lose the pelargoniums if I put them outside.  I already did this with two of the largest pots and lost the plants due to the very cold weather

lidil's compost was the same last year there was quite a few folk on the forum saying the same thing that it smelt of tar my advice would would be to stay clear of it , it is cheap , and by all accounts not very good .  there are plenty of other good outlets where you can buy good compost you may have to pay a little bit extra for it but it will be worth while paying a little bit more as your seeds will germinate and the more seeds that germinate means the more plants you will have in the garden.






I've used Levingtons for about 40yrs.

I tried Verve from B&Q a few yrs ago, that was just chopped garden waste with all sorts of crap (probably in both forms!) in it.

From what I've read on here elsewhere, the Which? best buy (Tichmarsh/Waitrose) isn't up to much.

So I'm sticking with Levingtons.

I use the B&Q Verve compost, but it has some limitations!


I got some from Aldi a couple of years ago and ended up putting it on the garden as a mulch. I stick to well known brands now.


Morning all,here in Norfolk we have some large stores called ROYS one of those that sells loads of different stuff, they now advertise there own compost so iv tried it 4 bags  £10 and its as good as the one iv been paying £4.50 a bag for  so anyone thinking of trying it go ahead its very good and no chunks of rubbish in it ,I am very pleased to recommend it, Sunny erein Muns Norfolk

A fellow in my evening class did his dissertation on composting. He was out at the plants that process the councils' green waste taking samples. He said these places sometimes (frequently) have compost fires in the windrows due to the intense heat generated by the microbiota. (the owner of the local one has coils circulating heat to his home and it's toasty all the year round).

The coal tar smell may be the result of partially-burned wood from one of these fires. If it is sooty that is also further evidence to suspect a compost fire has occurred.

In instances where a significant fire has occurred an EPA / SEPA investigation takes place and involves the Environmental Health, Public health departments, NHS and will be a matter of public record.

Most green waste collections are fortnightly. Waste has often generated significant heat by the time it is collected (I just probed my and my neighbour's 13 day old green waste and it is 21°C, significantly higher than ambient). The more biomass that is there the smaller external surface (heat dissipation) area to volume ratio. Depositing heated biomass onto already heated biomass just compounds the heat problem.

 Some of the processors have a grading system. There is BSI PAS100 material they can sell to agriculture and professional horticulture. The rest can't be sold as a compost in its raw state but can be sold as a soil (structural) conditioner or further processed to make it sellable as compost. They are usually paid by the local authority to process the green waste, so it's dirt cheap per tonne if one can collect. 

Talking of this I need to organise a field trip to the local green waste processors for the horti association. It's quite hi-tech and an interesting although organic-smelling day out, according to the green waste chap at the council.

elaine10, your beastly little flies are probably fungus gnats which can be a bit of a problem in peat free compost.

Just bought a 35l bag of grandiol multi purpose compost from lidl for 1.89 . Totally unlike last years black stuff (they've listened). Its Brown, very similar to b and q verve . Very nice texture. Works out ever so slightly cheaper than the B&Q 125 lt.Just hope it works.


I bought lidl compost last year and this and it smells of compost how strange I must have got a bad batch.

I hope Lidl have done something about there grow bags and that in 2017 they dont stink of old railways sleepers.Having said that tomatoes grown in the compost grew well once i had decanted contents of bag into large pot.As a grow bag it was pretty useless as the contents were compacted and compressed.

A worthwhile buy at £1.29 but i wouldn't grow all your plants in it.


I now have an allotment and for the first time ever, I have a lovely pile of home made compost from our heap!   I feel quite proud !!  So I will be using this for my tomato pots this year - no more smelly black crusty stuff - and the added bonus of knowing just what went into it.


Moominmama. You will need to add some base fertiliser to it. Chempak make a suitable one, or Phostrogen,  or give it a good handful of Blood fish and bonemeal.  2 oz to a 2 gallon bucketful.  You may also need to add something to alkalise it if it is acidic such as dolomitic limestone or calcified seaweed. Home made compost is brilliant for soil texture, but does not have a lot of nutrients.


OK. Thanks for this. I'll go with the BF&B. Fingers crossed!!