Peat-free compost still lagging behindProducers need to do more to improve quality

11 January 2008

peat pots

Compost producers need to produce better peat-free products, according to new research by Gardening Which?.

The government has set targets requiring compost manufacturers to go virtually peat free by 2010.

But Gardening Which? tests show there is still a long way to go before peat-free composts are of reliable quality.

There's still a gulf between the performance of peat-free and peat-based composts for growing young plants from seed.

Sowing seeds

New Horizon Organic and Peat Free Grow Bag was the only peat-free compost deemed to be a Best Buy for growing on young plants.

Variable results in quality between bags of the same compost bought from different parts of the UK meant it wasn't possible make any peat-free compost a Best Buy for sowing seeds.

Focus Multi Purpose Peat Free compost was rated a ‘Don't Buy’, scoring only 8% overall, and performing badly in both the young plant trial and seed-sowing trials.

Traditional peat-based compost continued to top all the trials, with B&Q performing best. 

Peat-free

B&Q’s Seeds, Seedlings and Cuttings compost scored 88% and was a Best Buy in the seed-sowing tests, while B&Q’s John Innes No.2 was the top scoring compost in the young plant trial.  This was also a Best Buy and scored 83% overall. 

Gardening Which? Editor Ceri Thomas said: ‘We've been testing composts for a quarter of a century at Gardening Which? and we are still astounded by the variable quality of peat-free products.

‘Compost manufacturers really need to up their game if they are going to produce compost that can balance the needs of the environment with the needs of our plants.’