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Poor results from 'organic' compost again
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OtleyLad



Joined: 13 Jan 2007
Posts: 2737
Location: Otley, West Yorkshire
PostPosted: Wed May 01, 13 3:55 pm    Post subject: Poor results from 'organic' compost again  Reply with quote    

Sometimes I never learn. I started off lots of spinach, rocket, calabresse, psb, various squash, spinach, rocket, etc. Using westlands organic veg compost.
Well the results are very poor: yellowing plants and slow stunted growth across nearly all types. Both batches of spinach have curled up and died.

The only things not bothered seem to be peas and beans - might this suggest the compost is lacking in nitrogen?

From now on i'm going to make my own compost. The really annoying thing (apart from the waste of money) is the wasted time - lost a couple of months growing that I can't get back

Mr O



Joined: 13 Feb 2005
Posts: 5512
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
PostPosted: Wed May 01, 13 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I do not know if you can get organic blood meal, but if available it would certainly boost the nitrogen.

oldish chris



Joined: 14 Jun 2006
Posts: 4148
Location: Comfortably Wet Southport
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 13 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I have a lot of sympathy with OtleyLad's situation. I have listened to all the propaganda about organic growing methods, the need to re-cycle and the avoidance of peat. I recycle (compost heaps, collect stable manure and the like), my veg plot is, give or take a few slug pellets, organic and I don't buy peat based products except seed compost.

There have been trials by various organisations, such as the Consumers' Association and Garden Organic, but they point out the some peat-free seed composts are OK. But which ones? And are the producers consistent? Whereas, any idiot can make acceptable compost with a truck-load of peat and a bag of chemicals.

As OtleyLad so rightly points out, useless seed compost can loose the grower up to 6 weeks of a growing season.

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 13 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The Which? trials point out which organic composts do best. They also have done reviews of non-organic composts and some of those do very badly as well.

Having looked for lists of ingredients on the bags of MPC it's a pity they don't provide details of what goes into them. If you have a choice between a few that do well it would be useful to be able to pick the one that has the least peat in if you're concerned about it's use.

Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 15337
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 13 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Could last years seed cxompost be reused with the addition of some appropriate fertiliser?

Finsky



Joined: 10 Sep 2011
Posts: 847
Location: Notts.
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 13 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Trouble with many composts has been last couple of years that they do not contain enough fertilizer and/or lime Almost all have shredded wood pulp used to cut down the peat content and the stupid makers don't take it into account how much all that woody waste use extra nutrients to rot down...not enough left for plants.
Last year I purposely bought few bags of 'normal' multipurpose and same company's peat free...and the plants in peat free stopped growing once they were in their new 'home'...in 'normal' compost they did sort of ok...with one bag I added extras and plants in that compost did well.
After topdressing the peat free compost with 'nomal' compost with added extras..the plants started the growing again
I did all this hassle to prove the point for myself. I had long doubted the composts and now I either have to dig into pockets bit deeper and buy better quality compost or result adding some extras to cheaper ones.....I'm doing both...where the cheaper compost don't matter so much I use it..and the 'important' plants get the best stuff.

NorthernMonkeyGirl



Joined: 10 Apr 2011
Posts: 4357
Location: Peeping over your shoulder
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 13 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I've had good results from Arthur Bower (pink bag - seed and cutting compost??).
No idea what's in it, but it looks and feels disgusting. Cold, claggy, clay with gravel and grit. It forms a crust on the top of the pot, and grows a fine crop of fungi. But the seeds seem to like it (as they pointed out when I emailed, the mycelia are good for plants. They didn't adress the rest though).

I wish there were some way to see what you're getting!

VM



Joined: 23 Nov 2007
Posts: 1748
Location: Lincolnshire
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 13 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Partner was making most of our own sowing and potting compost at our allotment and I think we will get back to doing that again. It is more work but he had good results.

He used to go out on mad leaf collecting expeditions in autumn before the street sweepers could get to them. We'll have to see if there are as many spare leaves here in a village!

Resulting leaf mould mixed with bit of compost from the compost heap was good. And the chickens helped.

VM



Joined: 23 Nov 2007
Posts: 1748
Location: Lincolnshire
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 13 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Re the compost left for us by previous house owners (see Ants in my compost post), I've used it, mixed with garden soil, to sow seeds in this spring, and to put round newly-planted plum trees. Have noticed lots and lots of weed seeds coming up, some in the seed trays, more round the plum trees.

Will this be to do with what has gone into the compost or just that it has not got hot enough to kill off some seeds? Seems more than we used to get from our own compost, though we did get some.

Went



Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 6968

PostPosted: Thu May 02, 13 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Another advocate for home-made here - if possible. We too gather as many leaves as possible, source manure, compost everything and let nature take it's course.

The commercial stuff you can get here is rubbish (literally) - the main waste disposal company composts organic matter and sells it - the last time we bought some it leached a foul brown liquid every time it was watered and we found shreds of plastic and tin foil - disgusting stuff.

Home-made is much better but I appreciate many don't have the facilities or volume of waste for it to be viable.

earthyvirgo



Joined: 24 Aug 2007
Posts: 7972
Location: creating prints in the loft, Gerlan
PostPosted: Thu May 02, 13 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

GQT was discussing the poor quality of some composts the other week. The general consensus that most of the cheaper end composts didn't retain water or nutrient very well - too lightweight.

I think they recommended a mix of multi and John Innes 3 in the end, to get a good balance.

EV

Nicky Colour it green



Joined: 25 Jun 2007
Posts: 8698
Location: Devon, uk
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 13 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

do any folk make seed compost without using peat?

I think I should make my own - we make lots of lovely compost for the garden via 5 vast compost heaps, but I still buy new horizon compost for seeds and seedlings - and I get on very well with it. - yeh it does have some bug lumps and pieces in it, and the odd bit of plastic... but still I prefer to avoid peat.

I've used new horizon - which is 'organic' and peat free - for years and always done ok with it. I ended up with a bag of something else last year and hated it. You do get used to a certain compost.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44283
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 13 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I haven't used a peat compost since alternatives were available, I've not had much issue. I'm using B&Q peat free at the moment, big lumps of stuff in it but it seems to be working fine

Nicky Colour it green



Joined: 25 Jun 2007
Posts: 8698
Location: Devon, uk
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 13 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

worth knowing B&Q do peat free

last time I went to a big garden centre they didn't sell any peat free compost at all.

I'm not happy to use peat, and like you Tahir, I haven't used it since alternatives arrived.
I have found the feed merchants sell new horizon, so I got some there.

robkb



Joined: 29 May 2009
Posts: 4205
Location: SE London
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 13 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I use New Horizon, haven't had any problems with it yet.

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