Challenge on peat-free compost

JANUARY 13, 2008: Compost producers need to up their game in order to produce good quality, peat-free composts that live up to their peat- based counterparts, according to new research by Gardening Which?.

Despite Government targets requiring compost manufacturers togo virtually peat free by 2010*, Gardening Which? tests showthere is still a way to go before reliable quality peat-freecomposts are produced. There remains a large gulf between theperformance of peat-free and peat-based composts for growingyoung plants from seed.New Horizon Organic and Peat Free Grow Bag was the only peat-free compost deemed to be a Best Buy for growing-on youngplants.Variable results in quality between bags of the same compostbought from different parts of the UK meant it wasn'tpossible make any peat-free compost a Best Buy for sowingseeds .Focus Multi Purpose Peat Free compost was rated a 'Don'tBuy', scoring only 8 per cent overall, and performing badlyin both the young plant trial and seed sowing trials.**Traditional peat-based compost continued to top all thetrials, with B&Q performing best.  B&Q's Seeds, Seedlings andCuttings compost scored 88 per cent and was awarded Best Buystatus in the seed sowing tests, while B&Q's John Innes No.2was the top scoring compost in the young plant trial.  Thiswas also awarded a Best Buy and scored 83 per cent overall.Ceri Thomas, Gardening Which? editor, says:"We've been testing composts for a quarter of a century atGardening Which? and we are still astounded by the variablequality of peat-free products."Compost manufacturers really need to up their game if theyare going to produce compost that can balance the needs ofthe environment with the needs of our plants."