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Peat-free potting-on compost

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Hi all,
I've had good luck germinating seeds on coco coir (which has the added benefit of being really easy to transport if you don't have a car) but I'm struggling to find a good peat-free compost for potting on. As I understand it, coco coir is low nutrient and so really only suitable for the fist step. I've tried a couple of DIY warehouse multi-purpose varieties but they're quite coarse, have weird drainage properties (seem to dry quite solid on top, but also some went mouldy after a week or so) and my seedlings aren't doing well on them.
Can anyone recommend a good option? 
Cheers. 

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  • Woolsery
    Woolsery Posts: 1,535 Forumite
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    Since heavily peat-based composts were withdrawn, gardeners have been sold some pretty awful stuff in the name of conservation and they've mostly gone along cheerfully with it, not asking many awkward questions. It mirrors another situation I can think of where the diligent, well-meaning public have been taken for a ride and big business has profited.
    We all like to save a few pence; hence this site. Years ago, when bulk composting of garden waste began, I thought I'd found a way to cut costs in my small business by purchasing trailer loads of it and  making my own potting mix. At first I just added about 25% of this composted waste and all was well, but soon I became greedy and pushed the mix to 50:50.....and problems began, with the sort of drainage problems you mention.
    It was an issue I never resolved, except by keeping the composted waste content low, but you'd think companies with £millions at their disposal would be able to overcome it. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case, though commercial growers with access to professional mixes must be OK, or else they'd vote with their feet....or roots!
    Nowadays, I only mix for home use and I'm lucky having light soil I can sterilise and add to some batches. Other additions include coarse grit, perlite or vermiculite. It all depends on what's being grown. However, none of these things adds enough in the way of nutrients, so I buy a big bag of Osmocote every year or two. That will have the eco-warriors gnashing their teeth I'm sure, but I also make liquid feed with comfrey, so I'm not all bad!
    Sometimes the DIY shed stuff is OK and sometimes it needs work. Occasionally, like some Jack's Magic I bought 2 years ago when things were grim, it needs chucking on the veg beds and putting down to experience!

  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,675 Forumite
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    Just looed at mine. It is Irish from 'managed' peat bogs not SSIs. 
    Not sure how that works. I thought peat to centuries to be replaced. 
    Also the new answer  to climate change.
    I'll do some research tonight unless someone can enlighten me.

    viral kindness .....kindness is contageous pass it on

    The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well


  • Fosterdog
    Fosterdog Posts: 4,948 Forumite
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    I make my own mix of peat free compost, Asda one is very fibrous and seems almost purely coco coir, it's great for drainage but dries out and not many nutrients, Lidl one is a much better general compost but can be quite twig/wood heavy, fine for my main beds but I run small batches through a garden sieve for my seedlings, the two mixed together seem to make a really good combination. I then add a generous amount of my homemade compost ( I don't add this for my indoor seedlings because I inevitably get a lot of worms in the house from it), a decent amount of my home harvested worm castings, some blood, fish, and bone, and depending on what I'm planting I might add some vermiculite, perlite, or both. 

    I make it sound like a lot of work but it's really not, it only takes a few minutes to make up enough for each planting session and I keep old empty compost bags to pour in any extra I've made ready for the next lot of planting. Since doing this I've found my seedlings do a lot better than they used to when I used single source compost or even peat based compost.
  • Farway
    Farway Posts: 13,326 Forumite
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    twopenny said:
    Just looed at mine. It is Irish from 'managed' peat bogs not SSIs. 
    Not sure how that works. I thought peat to centuries to be replaced. 
    Also the new answer  to climate change.
    I'll do some research tonight unless someone can enlighten me.
    I have something similar and got mine from Home Bargains
    I did read the label and form memory it's spagnum moss or one of them that is annuall crop, not matured centuries so my guess is they grow it just for composting

    This is my first season with it but it is open, light and friable with no bits of wood or plastic so far and my seedlings are liking it, or at least they are still growing inlike last years rubbish

    It wasn't cheap, even in HB, over £3 for 40L
    Eight out of ten owners who expressed a preference said their cats preferred other peoples gardens
  • Woolsery
    Woolsery Posts: 1,535 Forumite
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    I meant to say anything from Melcourt should be good, judging by their prices. I hoped to test that theory, but my local supplier chose to stock it for only a few months and then went back to the cheaper alternatives, so I never found out.
    Interesting to read what others do, or have found out. :)
  • Indigo_and_Violet
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    Thanks all. It's only our second year so no home-made compost yet. Our soil is not great - some bits okay but generally quite heavy clay. I'm finding 'bog standard' multi-purpose peat-free absolutely fine for mulches/soil improvement but not for the more fine work.

    I've found a few 'recipes' online that involve mixing sieved multi-purpose with worm casings/manure, more coir and a bit of permalite and some blood/fish/bone. The last time I bought manure it wasn't super fine so I'm tempted by worm casings but we've only got a small garden so I'll have to either a pay a reasonably high % delivery fee for a small amount or buy lots and find somewhere to store it. 

    Thanks for the tip about Melcourt @Woolsery - there are a couple of stockists near me so I'll try and get hold of a bag.

    I've got a day booked at our local community gardening project on Saturday so I'll ask them. Hoping they might get a big delivery/grow their own that they might be willing to sell small amounts on to. 

    Will report back after the weekend. 
  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,675 Forumite
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    edited 25 March 2022 at 6:38PM
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    Thank you Farway. Sounds like it might be the same/similar stuff. Moorlands from Poundland. Light to carry too. £3 
    I've used Tomato growbags before. There is plantt food in them. I've used them for summer pots and tubs as well as germanating. It does dry out though.
    You could mix a good and poor one to get a cheaper lot. Save the extra as said.
    If you want to go down the worm route they've made them on Garden Rescue and there will be loads on t'internet.

    viral kindness .....kindness is contageous pass it on

    The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well


  • Farway
    Farway Posts: 13,326 Forumite
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    twopenny said:
    Thank you Farway. Sounds like it might be the same/similar stuff. Moorlands from Poundland. Light to carry too. £3 
    I've used Tomato growbags before. There is plantt food in them. I've used them for summer pots and tubs as well as germanating. It does dry out though.
    You could mix a good and poor one to get a cheaper lot. Save the extra as said.
    If you want to go down the worm route they've made them on Garden Rescue and there will be loads on t'internet.

    Checked mine from HB, its Growmoor universal and it’s £3.49 for 40 Litres

    Eight out of ten owners who expressed a preference said their cats preferred other peoples gardens
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