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Peat Free Composts - Reviews

I thought it would be useful to have a thread for reviews and recommendations for peat free composts. I'm keen to encourage peat-free gardening, but I know bad peat-free compost experiences can put people off making the switch.

So - any suggestions for ones to avoid, or ones which you've found to be of decent quality? 

In my experience, the best peat free composts out there are from Melcourt (RHS approved) and from Rocketgro (also Soil Association approved). I've used ericaceous, MPC and John Innes from the former and MPC and mulch from the latter and found all to be good. They are pricey though.

I've had mixed experience with Horizon and Miracle Gro peat free MPC. Some of it can be really fibrous but fine for bigger plants unless they need a really light medium. 

Looking forward to hearing thoughts! 



  • chickychicky Posts: 10,379
    Lots of thoughts and recommendations on peat free composts on this thread …..

    for me Melcourt/Sylvagrow is very nice stuff - just a bit tricky to get your hands on - although happily a local GC has just started stocking it 👍🏻
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,045
    The main problem I've seen with recommending any particular compost is the variation in quality from the same supplier in a single season.
  • bédébédé Posts: 2,585
    edited April 2022
    Nothing beats spagnum moss peat for moisture retention and easy of rewetting if it dries out.  Coir is hopeless.  Most products say what they don't include, few say what they do.

    The second best thing for me is my own leafmould.  Two years in black plastic bags.

    Third best is my compost heap cpmpost : ca 50% grass cuttings, 50% general garden waste including beech hedge clippings. Caveat:  after 2 years rotting, it still has lots of weed seeds.
     location: Surrey Hills, England, ex-woodland acidic sand.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 13,716
    The point of the thread is to recommend PEAT FREE composts.

    I am a novice in the use of peat free composts, only started last year. I found Melcort good and have tried some more this year. I am, however, still using peat containing composts as well.                                                                              
    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • BlueBirderBlueBirder Posts: 212
    I would encourage the switch if you can, @punkdoc - I know peat composts are superior in many ways but their environmental impact is huge.
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,045
    I haven't used it yet but I've bought 3 bags of Erin 'reduced peat' compost.  Doing my bit but more slowly.
  • PoppypussPoppypuss Posts: 111
    I bought some Aldi peat free last year and was pleasantly surprised - well worth the money, and I use it to add to my own leafmold as a soil improver and base for potting on. I've just got 4 bags of 40l, not opened yet but hopefully should be OK. Only £2.99 a bag anyway.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,854
    The Aldi peat-free that I had last year was full of un-composted wood chips/shreds. Must have been from a different batch. The plants grown in it were OK (I didn't use it for seeds, cuttings or small seedlings) but it drained like a sieve so needed saucers under the pots or very frequent watering.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,393
    edited April 2022
    I'm trying out the council made from green waste compost this year, labelled as 'soil conditioner'.  I know some people on here give it a bad press and it must be variable council to council but the best of them compost the green waste in large volumes at high temperatures so in theory it should be good and weed seed free. I don't mind about the twigs ......but plastics can get in; not so good.  So far though, it's been clean.

    So far I've used it for general potting and seed far so good.  And I intend to use some bags as grow bags for my tomatoes this year.  

    And it's pretty cheap too at five large bags for £10.  I'm curious to know how other local council's stuff compares.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • hatty123hatty123 Posts: 125
    Last year I mostly used new horizon but it's appalling this year - like they've bulked it out with grit! Horrible texture and soggy.

    The big success is Heart of Eden from local garden centre, it's same price as NH and much better! It seems to be wood based, well composted and lovely texture. I've been sieving it for seed sowing although it doesn't really need it. I add some perlite for potting on, as in my experience peat free tends to hold moisture at the bottom of the pot. Heart of Eden does the same but a bit of perlite seems to help even out the moisture retention. It's doing a bit too well though because my tomatoes are loving it and I'm going to have to pot them on again!
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