July 4

Compost for seed sowing

Sticks thicker than a Sharpie.

I haven’t been pleased with the seed germination rates this year and have also been a little less than positive about the compost I have been using so thought I would undertake a seed sowing trial of composts to see which is the best.

I normally buy Jack’s Magic compost which this year is a new and improved formula. I applaud them for removing the peat but you can’t just add sticks instead. They need to be more composted before they are used. (See photo for one of the sticks found when sowing seeds in the trial.)

I have chosen three types of compost available from Garden Centres where I live and I have bought new packets of seed so that I can be a little more sure that my failures are not just due to older seed.

The Composts

My first is Westland’s Gardener’s Multipurpose Compost which states quite clearly on the front that it has peat in it. I don’t normally choose composts with peat but this is what is available locally so I thought I had just one compost with peat – about 70% judging by the back of the bag. However, meet compost number 2

This bag from Westland of multipurpose compost says nothing about having peat in it. It is only when you turn it over that you see it has about 45% peat in it. I really only wanted one with peat so I should have read what was in it before I bought it.

The third compost is Sylvagrow multipurpose compost which is quite different in texture – almost like flakes rather than fibres. I have used this before and didn’t think it had enough nutrients in it but I am giving it a second go.

The seeds I have are ones I haven’t grown before in terms of variety. Chard – Fire Fresh F1. I have never grown an F1 chard and am not sure that it is necessary but it will be interesting to see how it differs from open pollinated chard. Then there is a chicory – Treviso – as my seeds of this have failed so far along with PSB Rudolph whose seeds I already had unopened but due to expire in September 22. And finally, some dwarf french beans as my first lot I planted over an ants nest. These are called Mistick. All are from Thompson and Morgan apart from Rudolph which is Kings. I sowed the chicory, PSB and chard into a tray and the beans into modules. I also had six plug plants of ‘Totally Tangerine’ Geum which I potted up in the composts to see how they do. Each compost had one strong plant and one that was a bit weaker.

See how the composts differed when the seeds germinated here.