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Author Topic: labelling of composts  (Read 2288 times)

ian mcdonald

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labelling of composts
« on: September 06, 2015, 02:30:43 PM »
It is now a year exactly since I complained to my local authority trading standards that the labelling of composts was not reliable. Some bags pretend to be peat free but contain nearly 50% peat. Others claim to be either seed compost or potting compost but do not conform to a set mixture, such as seed, potting on or final potting. The horticultural compost supply industry is not conforming to the tried and tested standards. I have still not received a reply to my complaint to the trading standards department. I am now asking what progress they have made in the last 12 months. Perhaps more people should raise the question why are the suppliers not keeping to the formulas we know.

David Nicholson

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Re: labelling of composts
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2015, 04:58:07 PM »
Ian, you may find this of interest:-

http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=7748.0

You will know, of course, that there is, in fact, no "set mixture". The nearest recipes are for the old versions of John Innes 1, 2 and 3 and Seed and it's a long time (many, many years) since the industry kept anywhere near the original recipes. I for one would be happy if peat remained an option (yes, I know, I'm far from an "eco-warrior" and don't regret it for a moment) as then we would have at least one recognisable element in the recipe.

I note from the The Garden that Westland (a company I refuse to use in any case) has recently acquired William Sinclair (J Arthur Bowers, New Horizon and Growing Success). So Sinclair's rubbish and Westland's rubbish can now be merged.

I have a theory too that the RHS "pussy-foots" around critiscism of the compost industry and I can only think the reason is that thay don't like upsetting possible sponsors/advertisers?
David Nicholson
in Devon, UK  Zone 9b
"Victims of satire who are overly defensive, who cry "foul" or just winge to high heaven, might take pause and consider what exactly it is that leaves them so sensitive, when they were happy with satire when they were on the side dishing it out"

ian mcdonald

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Re: labelling of composts
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2015, 07:45:56 PM »
Thanks David, we will get what we are given if we don,t complain. The "green" re-cycled composts would be ok if the woody bits were broken down to a very small size so that they also rot down? It should be clearly stated on the bags whether ANY peat is included so that those who don,t want to use peat, either on conservation grounds or because it is not suitable, can make their own choice.

Lesley Cox

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Re: labelling of composts
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2015, 07:40:43 PM »
You, in the UK of course, grew up with the famous John Innes composts so I suppose have high expectations of what should be available. Here we are lucky to have any kind of standard at all and in fact I don't think there is any such thing. "Compost" is advertised by hort supply firms, or by local councils and others but heaven knows what's in it. sometimes it is available in bulk, sometimes bagged and it seems to be a matter of trying a small lot first and if it's any good, buying more, if you don't like it for whatever reason, don't get it again. More crushed pine bark is used nowadays and most seem to be based on this or sawdust but there's no indication of whether the sawdust is from non treated timber or not. Peat is still used in so-called "seed" composts and some so-called "tub and container" mixes from commercial firms but if we were to complain about the quality or content of any one, I imagine we'd be laughed off the premise. ???
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

ian mcdonald

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Re: labelling of composts
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2015, 09:50:59 PM »
Perhaps the producers would take notice if we were more choosey which composts we bought.

Lesley Cox

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Re: labelling of composts
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2015, 10:17:24 PM »
But then we'd like to know what's in them before we buy them. :-\
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

ian mcdonald

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Re: labelling of composts
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2015, 10:38:03 PM »
My point exactly. Some bags are labelled "with extra john innes." ?????????????? The John Innes institute told me they do not make composts. JI is a formula. Nothing new there. Something we were told at school in the 1960s. Misleading information by the compost manufacturers. As plant growers we need to know what exactly is in composts. We also need to know what the compost is for. The information on the bags is too vague in some cases. How can compost be multi-purpose? Seed need different compost to mature plants. If we are not satisfied with the contents, would we buy their product again? Often, compost sold for seed sowing turns out to be too moisture retentive, this requires us to buy sand to mix with it. Can we have reliable mixes for each purpose in the one bag? As alpine growers is it a good idea to put seed of  alpine plants in a mixture that contains the contents of a bog?

Graeme

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Re: labelling of composts
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2015, 09:33:09 AM »
We used to use Levingtons compost till we had issues one year with a large piece of glass which sliced my wife’s finger - it also had a residual herbicide in it - great - they blamed the material they had used and a breakdown of the screening machines. - we don't use any Levingtons products anymore.

We then started using Wickes - which was fantastic compost - they then sadly changed their formulation - I bought one bag of the new stuff - which was in the old packaging and it was rubbish - I complained to them and they had to put a sign on all the bags to say it was unfit for seed sowing...............

We then moved onto B&Q which is very good at the moment - I have a trade account with them but normally wait till they have the 125ltr bags on sale at Easter.  I then get a couple of pallet loads delivered.

I only use a bit of JI for the alpines 10-20 bags - I get that from a local nursery as he stores it outside on pallets - but under cover - sometimes it has a bit more sand in it but generally it is good stuff.

Once the 'ban' on peat comes in I will probably just take a lorry to Ireland and collect a few pallet loads of Shamrock or similar - or get it pallet delivered

Our council don't have a compost recycling centre to make compost - so we have no access to any bulk material - the site they had earmarked was very near where we are but it was sold off for housing instead.....
"Never believe anything you read on the Internet" Oscar Wilde

johnralphcarpenter

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Re: labelling of composts
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2015, 12:45:38 PM »
Those on the UK can try GrowChar composts, recommended by Great Dixter. They deliver.
Ralph Carpenter near Ashford, Kent, UK. USDA Zone 8 (9 in a good year)

 


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