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What do you really think of peat free compost?

The Bird LadyThe Bird Lady Posts: 219
edited April 2023 in The potting shed
Am I the only person in the universe who thinks that peat free compost is a waste of money? The only time I have ever had failures in my window boxes and hanging baskets is when I use peat free compost on its own.  I've always used multi purpose compost in the past and I've had brilliant results, my baskets and window boxes have always attracted lots of positive comments.  Not so now, the peat free compost is usually almost black and looks lifeless, it doesn't have a lovely smell and texture and quite frankly, I'm not in the least bit surprised that nothing grows in it!  I now add garden compost to it and that seems to do the trick, but I wonder - is that what we're supposed to do, is it now just a base to which you add other stuff in order to get anything to grow?



  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,416
    I've not used anything else for years, I seem to keep growing stuff

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • I've found it's very variable in quality between brands and batches. Some is ok. Some is useless.  The consistently best stuff I've used is Melcourt SylvaGrow.

    Even Melcourt isn't as good as the peat based stuff though.

    However, I've made peat free work for me by making up a mixture. I make an mix of approx 2/3 peat free compost to 1/3 top soil. Then I add in something for drainage and aeration like grit or perlite (I typically use perlite because you can buy huge bulk bags for very cheap). Finally I add some fish, blood and bone.  If you have any home made garden compost or leaf mould to add too then all the better.  The overall price per volume of growing medium is pretty much the same as a bag of compost by itself, but it holds moisture better and plants seem happier.  The downside is that you need to take a bit of time to make a mix. I tend to make up a large batch and store it in a dustbin with a lid, and then make my way through the bin over several weeks. It's more efficient than making little batches regularly.

    Other people I know make mixes different to mine. It's worth experimenting to see what works for you. Peat free out of the packet is generally poor.
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,949
    I've tried a number of different brands and none have been consistent.  One bag may be good and the next is useless.  There is certainly not the consistency of performance I experienced with peat based.  I have no idea what one bag I had was produced using, but when the surface dried it literally blew away in the slightest breeze.  It looked and felt like wool.
    I acknowledge that a decent mix can be made by adding to the mix, but that shouldn't be necessary.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,856
    I refuse to waste my money on it 
  • I always mix my own compost with multi purpose compost purchased. 
    Seems to work well.
    However, I'm now out of both, and need to pot on some plants. 
    "Pot luck", I suppose!!
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,789
    I think a lot of people are doing exactly the same as you @RonnyHotDogs, with the same 'ingredients'. I certainly have - garden soil/compost, sieved and mixed. I also collected some mole hill soil recently, and I use old compost from last year's containers mixed with soil/grit for seed sowing and cuttings etc.

    The biggest problem is having enough room for all those various ingredients, and for mixing them. Many people simply don't have room to have a couple of  compost bins and leaf cages etc, plus room to store everything. The smaller the garden, the less material you have to put in a compost bin too, which many folk forget.   :)

    The Melcourt compost gets mentioned regularly but it isn't available everywhere.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • BluejaywayBluejayway Posts: 329
    I’ve found Miracle gro peat free to be ok
    I try to remember “this too shall pass”.
    Retired and living in Wales.
  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,482
    edited April 2023
    Home Bargains do some peat free compost that I find much better than the usual main branded compost. I buy both peat and peat free and mix them together so even though I won't go to heaven, at least i'm reducing the amount of peat I use.
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,573
    I used Levington pro M3 for years. Last years lot had a load of woodchip in it. It was harder to wet, dried out easily.  This year I am mixing  my own, seived top soil,  home compost and BFB as fertiliser.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,789
    The general consensus every time there's a thread on this subject is- it's very variable. However it also depends what you're using it for.  :)

    I used some of the Miracle Gro one and it was fine for my needs too @Bluejayway:)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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