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Quality of bought compost

Hi hope you can help. Bought some very cheap compost from Lidl and am having a panic about it. It was very black and sticky with lots of twigs and chunks. It smelled ok but had a weird crust on top. I found a tiny white wiggly thing and decided to chuck it out as mulch. I had problems with damping off and poor germination, though courgettes and lettuce are growing fine. Other seedlings have been patchy.  

I have also dug bags of this stuff into my new veg patch and am regretting it. Will it be ok for edibles? I also dug home made compost in but needed more. I also bought compost from b&m that is very fluffy and spongy when wet, very light brown and my tomatoes are growing very slowly in this stuff. Thanks for any advice.


  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 1,113
    We use Lidl's compost regularly but, as peat probably features less and less in such products, I assume it will need a bit of help to be productive.  The former peat element will perhaps be replaced with something less nutritious, so I put a handful of chicken manure pellets in an old milk carton, fill it with water and shake well, before using the contents as my 'water'.  I don't run any tests to compare this with anything else, but it's my way of guarding against failure.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    There are numerous threads about compost,  just now, especially the peat free stuff @Blondie73. It seems to be very poor in many cases.
    There shouldn't be a problem in terms of the health of your veg plants, but it's very annoying when you've spent the money and find that seed is failing, or plants aren't thriving. That seems to be the biggest problem with most of it. Thick, fibrous pieces etc which aren't great for smaller seeds, or those that need a really good medium to germinate in. 
    If you use the search facility at the top of the page, you'll find several threads about it. Or even if you look at the first 3 or 4 pages of recent posts.  Not much consolation, but you're not alone in having bother. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 12,013
    Sorry, but there is some flawed thinking here. Peat in compost does not provide nutrients, it is there for its water retaining properties and for the texture it provides.
    Consequences, altered cases
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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    "Peat in compost does not provide nutrients, it is there for its water retaining properties and for the texture it provides"

    Indeed  :)
    Apart from the rough texture, watering seems to be the biggest problem people are experiencing with peat free composts. Either staying too wet, or not staying wet enough.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • WhiterotWhiterot Posts: 21
    I have had some nightmare composts in the past from some reputable companies. These last few years I have been using Clover seed compost and Clover potting on compost from my allotment association and I believe that it is the best I have ever used. I look for a burst bag of compost at the supermarkets just to see what it is like and I have not seen any this season that I would contemplate purchasing.
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,167
    I always used Levington pro M3, but even though it still states on the pack "contains peat" , it now has a lot of crushed bark or wood in it.  Not the same at all. Whether it is as good, I'll know in a few months.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • BlueBirderBlueBirder Posts: 176
    Melcourt Silvagrow peat free seems to be fairly consistent in quality, as does Rocketgro. Expensive but worth trying if you're looking to make the switch to a more environmentally friendly growing medium :)
  • Blondie73Blondie73 Posts: 17
    Thanks for the recommendations I will up my game with compost 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    It will depend where you live regarding getting hold of that Melcourt Sylvagrow compost.
    It might be readily available in England and Wales, but unfortunately, it isn't the case up here. 
    I tried the Miracle Gro one. It was ok for sweet peas, but I wouldn't fancy it for sowing small seeds. Very rough/coarse, as so many of them seem to be.
    I'm going to experiment with a mix of ground/composted bark, topsoil and a bit of grit or similar. Once I have more homemade compost, I'll try that with the bark. I can add some slow release food for bigger plants that are being potted on, or for containers.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,653
    No stockists of Melcourt round here either, according to their website (an hour or more or so round trip which defeats the point of being more environmentally friendly if it's a special trip to get it). I'll try it if I see it somewhere but otherwise it's a case of persevering with what I can get locally and adding homemade compost, topsoil etc to beef it up or perlite or grit to lighten it.
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