Thursday, June 27

Not what I expected.

When I cut open a new bag of New Horizon Compost, I didn't expect to find this.

Apparently this kind of growth is quite normal and I should ignore it and it will go away. Must admit though I was a bit taken aback when I first opened the bag.

It does explain the 'mushroom' smell and the tiny 'toadstools' that we have found growing in some seed trays before the seedlings germinated. 

I must admit to not being greatly impressed with the types of compost available. The texture just doesn't feel right and plants grown in it soon need supplementary feeding. What's more it seems to be a highly desirable home for masses of fungus gnats - not great if used for houseplants. It also requires a bit of experimentation when watering.

New Horizon seems to do well in the various compost trials that I have seen on TV which is why we use it but it seems to vary considerably from one bag to the next. Maybe this is because the green waste used in the mixture is a very variable ingredient. 

Has anyone found a multi-purpose compost that performs consistently well? Please don't suggest we use home made compost as we just couldn't make enough.


36 comments:

  1. I agree, Sue. These days commercial compost is just rubbish (literally!). I'm prepared to be disappointed when I open a new bag, though I do grieve about spending £5 or so on every bag. Like you, I can't make enough home-made stuff to meet my needs. I'm experimenting with various makes, but I haven't yet found one I would recommend.

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    1. The size of the bags have decreased too, Mark. No doubt they would cite health and safety but the price has gone up!

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  2. I use Fertile Fibre, it's coir based, they do seed, potting and multipurpose - for some seeds ( mostly legumes) I mix it with Moorland Gold (reclaimed) peat. Fetile Fibre is excellent stuff; I find it works very well for what I want to grow and I do get through a lot of it.

    It is also what Garden Organic give out to Master Gardeners to use for their seed planting demonstrations and events :-)

    And yes - I also make a lot of my own from loam, sand, leaf mould and home made compost.

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    1. Do you buy this online Compostwoman as I don't think I've every seen it available

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  3. I've used FF for many years now and coincidentally I spent a lot of yesterday at FF HQ (just up the road from me) on a tour and talk. Having seen the level of tracability which goes into their product I am even more impressed with it - and of course it is CERTIFIED Organic ( as opposed to just saying "organic" on the bag!)

    Although I think (but don't quote me) even certified organic growing media is allowed to have green waste based compost in it, if the company wishes it.

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    1. I think you are correct as this was a problem during the weedkiller problem too. Organic farmers could use a certain amount of non-organic material.

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    2. I understand that FF don't use green waste in theirs :-) one of the many attractions of it :-)

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  4. My real struggle this year has been to find a non peat-based seed compost- no luck! So for both seed and multi-purposes I make up a mixture of well-sieved Lidl peat-free multipurpose (very cheap and looks like the result of council green re-cycling depots eg occasional bits of plastic and wire, but the very good for the price) and a fibrous peat-free variety(Westland? lightweight?) along with what we produce from the heap. I will certainly keep buying the Lidl peat free and keep adding it to the mix....
    I too have had quite a few little mushrooms pop up this year.....

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    1. Our problem Jill is the amount of compost that we need - mixing would be almost a full time job.

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  5. I've had nettles popping up from the compost I've used this year. I can't recommend any types as they all seem to have their downfalls.

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    1. Did you used to buy your compost from Swillington, Jo? I think it was you who said they sold the stuff they used.

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    2. I did used to buy it from Swillington, we're just getting it from wherever now. I still haven't found a good enough nursery for all my supplies. It's so sad when we pass and see it all stood empty, they haven't done anything with it.

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    3. It was a one-off. I was told last time I was in that it was all going to be flattened.

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    4. A friend said Swillington recommended 'Clover' and so we have bought some today from the nursery at Middleton

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    5. You'll have to let us know how you get on with it.

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  6. Lool you can grow mushrooms with this. :D I gave up buying composts here... All of them are rubbish. I use my own compost and for seedlings I buy Klasmann organic substrate. It is a bit expensive (10€ a bag) but I just plant my seeds and with watering there is nothing else they need.

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    1. It's not just a UK problem then Leanan.

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  7. The answer is to sterilize it. Put it in the microwave, about 2 mins before putting your seeds in it. Usually I do a large pot each time (remember the size of the microwave).
    As for my mix, hmmm, I don't tell people my secret formula.

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    1. We'd need an industrial size microwave to do that, Liz.

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  8. I don't like the look of that compost. The microwaving of compost that Liz suggests is a new one to me but sounds interesting.

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    1. Neither did I Kelli! It looked sinister!

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  9. Many thanks for sharing SUE I never come a cross that before

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  10. Hi Sue, I've had several problems with 3 different types of multi purpose stuff over the past 2 years. They have been absolute rubbish, usually dry and crumbly even after regular and adequate watering. I'm all for not destroying peat bogs and all for re-cycled products but I now refuse to use none peat based composts. I was recently recommended "Magnolia Compost" (he as used it for the last 2 years) by one of my fellow plot holders, I don't know which retailers sell it.

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    1. We have had the opposite, Rooko very wet soggy compost that was too wet to use until it dried out a bit.

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  11. I have no idea about your compost Sue but I do know there is a lot of rubbish around.
    I am very lucky that my own soil is sandy and I can use it to make my own compost when suitable slow release fertiliser and lime are added. Very environmentally friendly, it never breaks down and if I refresh it I repeatedly reuse it!

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    1. Unfortunately ours is heavy clay soil, Roger. Although it's not always unfortunate just when comes to seedlings.

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  12. Good heavens, that does look odd! I tend to use a multi-purpose compost but I must say they do get worse each year....xxxx

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    1. And more expensive, Snowbird

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  13. I have used Westland this year and found it to be a good compost, not to wet or to dry and I haven't had any trouble with extra rubbish growing either. Last year the compost I bought was cheaper but had large pieces of material which hadn't been given the time to compost down. You could give it a go Sue but I can't promise as from one batch to the next you can get such different results. I bought it from Homebase.

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    1. Having said all that, seeing your rather yucky compost did remind me that I started off my mushrooms several weeks ago and then forgot all about them...maybe I should go check on them!!!

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    2. The variability is a major problem, Tanya and the fact that it seems some things grow OK and other things not.

      You probably have one huge mushroom.

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  14. I use New Horizon every year. It was funny when I read your post, I thought to myself, hmm I haven't noticed that much variation, but then the next bag was completely different to the last! (Not necessarily in a bad way as my sowing and potting is a bit haphazard anyway). I have never open up to find all those mushrooms but have had little ones appear after sowing. Agree about the little flies - they are quite annoying.

    I also bought a bag of Moorland Gold reclaimed peat potting compost this year, as I needed to start seeds off and it coincided with placing an order with the Organic Gardening Catalogue and it took me over the free postage limit! I did't actually get on very well with this but I think mainly not being used to peat - I think I compressed it too much.

    For me, NH is fine but I can see how it wouldn't suit everybody. The multipurpose is best for big seeds and potting-on and final pots (I mix with soil for my toms etc in the lean-to).

    Essay over! (I have a day off hence long ramblings)

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    1. We are using a bag of Clover at the moment, Lou and the texture is much nicer - it also has some moisture retention added which hopefully will help too.

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