Soil or Compost??

I am planning growing veg in containers next year and have a list of seeds which are suitable for this purpose.  However, I am not sure if I can only use compost or would garden soil be suitable.  If it is compost, is there a particular type which must be used.

Also, as I do not want to use chemicals to feed the plants, can anyone suggest an organic feed which would be safe for veg. 

Any help will be gratefully received.




  • Personally, I would never use garden soil in a container.

    If you're growing a plant in a container, then that means the plant is a bit special to you, and that you intend giving it more care than most plants, so it deserves to have the best growing medium you can provide for it.

    Personally, I prefer to use John Innes composts. They are not the cheapest, but are the best, IMO.

    I do completely avoid any chemicals which are designed to be harmful, such as insecticides. But I don't have any issues about using general purpose fertilisers which are designed to feed plants, as they are completely safe.

    Other members will have different views....

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    Garden soil in containers may not drain adequately- what sort of soil do you have in mind? Generally a multi purpose compost would be adequate, but unfortunately these seem to have become a bit of a lottery as regards which brand is best. Loads of organic fertilisers- pelleted chicken manure, fish blood and bone, comfrey tea...I am sure other posters will respond as well.
  • Mrs MMrs M Posts: 34

    Thanks to you both.  I did think I had read years ago that you should not use soil in a container but the book I read which gave suggestions of types of veg which could be grown in containers referred to "the soil".  I did then begin to wonder if maybe I should use a soil based compost. However, I am happy to use the best compost for the purpose. I had also intended to grow comfrey last year to use as a "tea" for my plants but unfortunately for some reason did not do so. Think it will be a must for next year though.

    Okay then, thanks for replying and I will get my seed order finalised.


  • Mrs M, fill your bed with general compost then top it off with John Innes which does have soil or loam in its mix.
    If you use a rotation system, yes even in a small bed you can self fertilise using beans peas that add Nitrogen down to a handful of lime for the cabbages and greens. Moving crops round in the bed also rests it from one crop planting which can in time add to any diseases. Work it so you have a small amount of any crop being ready on say a weekly basis that way you do not have waste or be eating one thing for every meal.
    Having worked at ICI the use of chemical fertiliser does not worry me as long as it is used sparingly.


  • Mrs MMrs M Posts: 34

    Thanks for the info.  You make it sound really organised - hope I can be that way too. I take it that when you refer to "beds" you are meaning the containers that I intend to use.  You are right, it makes sense to use the better quality compost where it matters most .  As for the chemicals - still feel I don't want them especially where foodstuffs are concerned but I do respect your opinion.


    Mrs M

  • Hi Mrs M, I have been growing veggies in large containers for a few years now in homemade compost boosted up with fertiliser and done well(expect this year.) They include corgettes, spinach,cabbage, rubarb, beans,tomatoes, chilli, early potatoes,gooseberries etc. I make sure that they are well watered. With bought compost varying in quality and being pricey I didn't thing it would be worthwhile. So do have a go, it will work out slightly cheaper, you'll crop fresh produce and really taste the difference.

  • Mrs MMrs M Posts: 34

    I plan to try as many vegetables as I can and see which are most successful and that will determine which ones I grow in future. We decided to give up the garden space we previously used for veg and grow shrubs there instead and this should hopefully cut down some of the work involved after the veg is lifted. e.g. keeping the area weed free etc. Nothing ventured - nothing gained. I have also come across an organic gardening book I bought a couple of years ago and that should guide me as to fertilisers etc. (hopefully).

Sign In or Register to comment.