The potting shed
What should I do differently with peat free compost (as opposed to peat-based)
I’ve only tried a few makes of peat free but so far I am not impressed. They are too coarse for my liking. They don’t hold water or nutrients well. I think they could be vastly improved by the addition of loam, particularly clay particles. But that would make it heavier and I’m sure the manufacturers don’t want to do that!
Don't rely on colour to see if it's dry. Peat goes pale when it's dry. The peat free compost I've got stays dark brown when dry as a bone.
I agree with Katrinaomalley44. I rely on weight (or the plants starting to wilt if I forget to check).
The peat free I'm using (Dobbies own brand cos it was cheaper than the alternative they had and I didn't want to visit several places during Covid) dries out faster than my peat based compost (Levingtons - bought before I started this discussion). It was lighter than the peat based when I filled the pots so it's just a matter of working out how much lighter it is when it needs watering.
So far the results of my trials are that there is very little difference in how my plants have grown but the peat free compost needs more watering (not a vast amount more but enough to be annoying). I'll give another update later in the season when I've been liquid feeding them (the intention - which may not happen - is to do this once a week starting next Saturday).
I've put saucers under my tomato plant pots this week because no matter how slowly I watered, it was running straight through.