Compost on trial… England Gardeners urged to choose carefully

Gardeners must choose carefully when selecting a compost for their precious plants, a Gardening Which? report suggests.

The results of its latest trial confirm that there is still a huge gap between the best and the worst on offer.

According to the consumer watchdog, the poor quality of certain composts suggests that manufacturers are banking on disappointed gardeners blaming themselves, rather than the compost, for the pitiful state of their plants.

As the best composts for seedlings aren’t necessarily the best for growing on older plants or for containers, three separate trials were undertaken by Gardening Which?, each looking at a different stage of plant development, using brand-leading peat- and non-peat-based composts.

The trials involved assessing the growth of 576 pots of seedlings, 960 pots of young plants and 288 pots of older plants.

Of all the products tested, two brands distinguished themselves as great all-rounders for seed sowing, plant raising and containers: the peat-based J Arthur Bower’s Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes and New Horizon Organic Peat Free.

Julia Boulton, Editor, Gardening Which? said: “With so many products available, choosing the right compost for your needs can be daunting. So select one of our Best Buys to give your plants the best chance of success. Our trials prove that a decent multi-purpose compost can be as good, if not better, than supposedly more specialist ones.

“From an environmental stance, it is encouraging to be able to recommend peat-free composts for both containers and young plants.”

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