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Hi everyone This year I will be growing various plants from seed for the first time. I have noticed there are many seed composts, and unsure if they are just a gimmick. Should I just stick to standard multipurpose compost? Help would be appreciated. Thanks

The main difference is that seed compost doesn't contain much nutrient which can be bad for young seedlings.  Having said that I have used sieved MP compost mixed with sharp sand for donkeys years and have had no problems at all growing from seed.  


I always use seed compost, it is much finer than multipurpose and lets the seeds start off somewhere nice and easy for them.  i then pot on into multipurpose when they have grown a bit.  I don't think its a gimmick.


I agree, not a gimmick. I usually do a mix of seed compost, very fine grit (aquarium shop) and a bit of multipurpose.

Then some less fine gravel on top of the seeds

Ok thanks

Is there a preferred make? I have read some negative reviews of john innes seed compost as too heavy??



John Innes isn't a make it's a type of compost. Several people make it, some badly I'm sure.

I find it a bit stiff and have broken roots when pricking out, which is why I do the mix.

I agree with bobthegardener sieved MP with sharps sand or pearlite is just as good as and cheaper and so far have given great results 

Not sure if it's allowed to mention another magazine, but Which? Gardening have just done a review which shows huge differences between brands. Very interesting - some just aren't worth buying.

Doesn't  surprise me

on a positive note Lincolnshire County a Council have a scheme , that when you take garden waste to the tip , they stamp a card and after 5 stamps you get a free bag of compost and I have found it excellent . wondered if other councils do the same ?


The problem with council compost is that you can't tell whether it contains clippings from lawns treated with weedkiller or similar. I'm sure a lot of people put them into their brown bins.  

I've also had reports that some contains weed seeds. 

Gwrs are you sure about that? I know my mum used to get that deal in Boston but they stopped it. I'm in lincoln and not heard anything about it.

the green bins for garden waste around here encourage you to add fish and chicken to the bins also when you pull your brambles out of your garden ect where do you put them? in your green bin

I would never add council waste to my garden



I'm going to make my own seeding compost this year with MP compost and sand with added perlite

Gab82 - if you take your garden waste to the tip at Great Northern Terrace, you get a stamp on your card for every visit (not for every bag you take though).  Just ask the man at the entrance for a card and stamp.  Once you have 5 stamps on your card you can exchange it for a bag of compost providing they have some in and it's only during the week I believe.

Oh bargain! cheers will pop in tomorrow with my weeds, On the way to tesco! Was thinking of getting some from that mec recycling in swinderby this year it seems quite cheap!


I grow alpines from seed and use sieved JI No. 2 plus grit. 2 scoops if JI to 1 of grit.  I get Chick Grit from a Country Store which is very fine and is also useful for topping the pots of seeds.  I have found this mix seems to work for all seeds except vegetables where I use 50% JI no. 2 plus 50% multipurpose compost, both sieved. Hope this is helpful.  It also means you don't end up with lots of bags of different composts.  The sieved rubbish from the compost goes on the garden to lighten our heavy clay soil, so no waste!


Bump for Laura


I'm a fan of incorporating perlite and vermiculite into MPC or seed compost - keeps it light and airy, maintains water without getting waterlogged. 

I find smaller seeds benefit from the finer compost but more robust seeds can cope with the MPC even when you gets bits of twigs!  Ultimately if I don't have seed compost I just use what I've got and it usually works OK - personally I think making sure the seeds are not overwatered (risk of rotting) or left to dry out is more important than the medium they are sown in.

Steve 309

Clueless - the council composting centre is able to get its heaps very hot (60 deg plus) which should kill all the nasties and break down the tough stuff. 

I only know coz I nearly got a job at one of them once and they showed me round and explained it all.  I'd've had to climb each heap (10m high, 20m wide, 50m long!) every day and measure its temperature to see if it was time to call in the bulldozers to turn it.  Now that's a compost heap!

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