Peat free composts

Thank you for your review of peat free composts. There is a big move for gardeners to stop using peat but finding information on obscure brands is not easy. Is Levington or Miracle Grow peat free any good? How does it compare to Sylvagrow or New Horizon? What about the other brands? Having tried various peat frees with mixed results I have tended to stick to Sylvagrow but would be willing to try other brands? I tried Dalefoot tomato compost and Syvagrow for tomatoes in pots with little difference and as the Dalefoot is expensive will not be using it again. Some cheap brands have lumps of wood, stones and bits of plastic, so it would be good to know which brands are the best.

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Hi Paul, I haven’t tested them all, so what you’re doing is the best bet. Keep trying some different ones and make a note of those that work for you.
Personally I’ve never come across a bad peat free compost and I’ve never found a bag with plastic and stones in it. I’m not massively interested in testing all of the peat free brands myself. Everything grows pretty much the same in every type I try. I’ve found the stories of peat free being bad quality has been hugely exaggerated over the years by companies making money from peat. Not saying there haven’t been the odd problems with some bags over the years, but the quality of peat is just the same with some good some less good.
Jack

Hi Jack, Perhaps I was being a bit unfair as the peat free with lumps of wood and bits of plastic was purchased a number of years ago. I presume the plastic was from added green waste. My preferred local garden nursery only sells Levington peat free compost and I wondered what it was like? Hopefully with greater publicity more brands will become more widely available.

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I’m trying to think if I’ve ever used Levington Peat Free but I can’t fully remember now and would have to try it again to be sure, but I don’t remember any negative results if I did. Not the most useful information! :smile: If I see some next spring I’ll grab a bag to try as well.

In this day and age I do not understand why anyone still uses peat based compost, there are so many still out there as far as I am aware all houseplant compost are still peat based. I always use Melcourt myself as its easily available in my area and I always get great results. this year I tried Sylva grow for some tomato seeds and tested it against Dalefoot wool seed compost which I have never used before. The Wool compost held moisture far longer but the growth rate with the Melcourt Sylva grow was much more vigorous. at the end of the day I think it comes down to personal preference and availability in your area and often price. I used a woodland peat free compost and it was more like very fine bark chips, but it was cheap.

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We bought a bulk order of a mix of Dalefoot composts at the start of this year and have been happy with all of them. (My partner was particularly impressed by Lakeland Gold and thinks it’s the best mulching compost we’ve used, creating a long-lasting mulch that didn’t dry into hard top layer that stops water getting through, as we’ve found some do, so although on the expensive side it should need applying less often.) I’ve seen Dalefoot prices vary between stockists, some selling at about the same price as the direct bulk discount, others charging more, so might be worth shopping around if you’d like to use it otherwise.
I think the main thing is to buy whatever peat free option is on offer if there’s no choice. In over 20 years of not buying peat compost, there’ve only been a couple of occasions when we’ve had some compost that hasn’t been very good (but still better than having bought peat compost!) and then, if you have it, it can be improved with a bit of home-made compost or leaf mould.

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