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Is this a "Buyer Beware" issue?

I have been growing tomatoes for 14 years now and always enjoyed a fantastic fruit crop through the summer months even into September. Usually 3 different varieties in a ten plant layout in the greenhouse in two rows. 5 x Shirley F1, 4 x F1 Sungold and one extra. This year Black Opal another favourite. Process same: always grown from fresh seed (F1) in mid March, young plants cultivated in seed compost, grown indoors to first full leaf, transplanted into 100mm pots in greenhouse through April to reach 150mm height. Transplant into 250 cultivator rings around 1st May.
The results this year, despite advantageous weather conditions, one word...ABYSMAL results. Slower setting, smaller fruits, reduced crop. The problem became obvious resulting in having to resort to top dressing with well fresh well manured compost to even save the season.
This was the first season I followed the Gardners World edict of peat free compost. In actual fact I didn't truly follow this I used my usual Westland Jacks Magic compost, 100 litres, but with a difference. The latest peat reduced version with added B103??? for better growth results, well, it does not work and I have a season of my favourite fruit crop wasted. The is not the first post that I have read from disappointed Gardners. Now I know why my tomato crop has seemed from TV to perform a lot better than Monty Don's.  



  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    It's a case of "buyer, buy a decent brand".
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,914
    The fact that tomatoes can be successfully grown on the hydroponic system shows that all a plant needs is water, food, light, warmth, and somewhere to anchor its roots.

    I know that a lot of people have a lot to say about peat free compost, but I think it’s just a case of adapting our habits so that the new style compost provides the plants with the essentials that they require, as demonstrated by hydroponics.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,162
    Rubbish compost come with and without peat.
    Likewise good compost. 
    I haven't used peat based compost for years, my toms are fine

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • B3B3 Posts: 25,257
    I have used sylvagrow. The non organic one. It's fine. The bag says they don't use waste. Perhaps that's the difference. Certainly no bits of glass or plastic. Things are growing well, bearing in mind the weather but, that being said, I'm not growing tomatoes this year and am trying new things so it's a bit difficult to judge.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,973
    edited July 2022
    All brands of composts vary … we all have our chosen types/brands and have adapted our gardening practice to suit the properties of the ones we use.  

    Now, for the future health of this planet and those who come after us,  manufacturers are producing composts using new mixes of materials and techniques … some will work better than others.  The same thing goes for every new product … some are better than others. 

     If we buy a new car we have to adapt our driving technique to suit … it took me quite a while before I could get the best out my new sewing machine, after twenty odd years of using my old one. 

    If you’ve changed to a brand of compost which has different constituents and properties it’s a test of gardening skill to get the best out of it. We can’t just carry on doing what we’ve always done and saying ‘I’ve always done this in the past and it worked so there’s something wrong with the compost harrumph.’ 

    With a new compost we have to observe our growing plants and adapt our gardening practices accordingly, just as we do with the weather … that’s what gardening’s about.


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • LynLyn Posts: 21,960
    My tomatoes are doing well in no bought compost,  just garden soil and homemade compost.
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • B3B3 Posts: 25,257
    edited July 2022
    @lyn I can see how that would work considering the robust tomato  self seeders I have had in the past. None this year because of the drought, I suppose. Plenty of spuds on the compost heap, though. 
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    I have used Jack's Magic for some years, though not for tomatoes.  You are quite right, the new improved version is rubbish. I couldn't believe it when I opened the bag, it even smells awful. Here in the Island we have a more limited choice and delivery is not really an option so I'm  not sure what to try next.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,973
    edited July 2022
    My grandmother never bought bags of compost … there was no such thing … she made garden compost and mixed it with topsoil (she collected the soil from molehills when available as it came from below the surface so didn’t contain weedseeds) , leafmould, rotted manure etc … varying the mixture according to its purpose. 

    I’m using using bought composts as part of my potting mix rather than using it ‘straight off the shelf’ …. Im mixing it with garden topsoil, manure if not for seeds, and sometimes with  some grit … just as gardeners have done for centuries. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • MikeOxgreenMikeOxgreen Posts: 760
    Make your own compost, simple. I've had a huge crop this year on my own home made stuff and it cost nothing.
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