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Peat-free composts still have a way to go, says Which?

Published: 13 January 2011
B&Q has come top in the latest Which? compost trials with its multipurpose compost and sowing & cutting compost being named as 'Best Buys'.
Peat-free composts still have a way to go, says Which?
Which? tested 20 widely-available composts for seed sowing and growing in young plants, including peat-based and peat-free products.

For sowing seeds, B&Q multipurpose compost and B&Q sowing & cutting compost topped the table, both earning a score of 88%. The multipurpose compost was also voted best for growing on young plants, with a score of 92%, closely followed by B&Q sowing & cutting compost at 88%.

In both categories, Westland Surestart seed & cutting compost came in third.

Peat-free products fared the worst, all featuring at the bottom of the table in both categories, with the exception of New Horizon's organic & peat free growbag, which came in sixth for sowing seeds with a score of 54% and was named the best peat-free product on test.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Organic Choice peat-free compost came bottom in both categories, scoring 17% for sowing seeds and just 4% for growing on young plants.

A recent consultation from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has called for peat to be completely eliminated from the amateur gardener market by 2020. A statement from the Which? compost report said that while peat-free composts still have a way to go to match the performance of peat, "changes are afoot in the growing-media industry".

Companies including Westland, Sinclair and Vital Earth have developed alternative ingredients to peat, such as Sinclair's 'Sincro-boost' made from garden waste. The Which? report said: "It's fantastic to see many growing-media companies starting to innovate new peat-free products. We hope this will increase the quality and the number of peat-free composts available."

Speaking to DIY Week in November, Vital Earth md Steve Harper pointed out that: "In terms of propagation, I'll be honest, peat-based formulations are probably still better. But from that point on in the growing process, peat-free formulations will outperform them."

For the trial, experts at an independent test site sowed a total of 6,000 basil and 6,000 petunia seeds into 480 pots. The number of seeds that germinated was recorded and the size and quality of the resulting seedlings assessed. All the pots, each containing 25 seeds, were watered by hand as necessary throughout the trial.


Published prior to March 2014
By Tony Seaman
When are Which going to realise that the sheds dont actually make their own composts, they are obviously made by the big manufacturers and these big guys probably came fairly low on the Which charts!

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