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default I Don't Dig Peat...

Post by Sparhawk on 6th September 2011, 9:09 am


................................................................................................................................
"the luxuries of civilisation satisfy only those wants which they themselves create..."
                 The Worst Journey In The World - Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)

                "Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica,
    leads a ragtag, fugitive fleet, on a lonely quest—for a shining planet known as Earth."
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Post by Chilli-head on 6th September 2011, 9:48 am

Sorry to say that I can't, in complete honesty, sign it. I still use one peat product - a JI blend seed compost. I have found as yet no satisfactory alternative commercially available. I do only use maybe 10-20L of the JI per year, just for the smallest and most delicate seeds, which I regard as forgivable Question , but I'm experimenting with leaf mold based home made mixes to replace it.

No peat goes into anything else though.
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Post by Chilli-head on 23rd April 2012, 2:59 pm

... At last I have a clear conscience. I've switched to a homemade leafmould based compost for seed this year, so I am for the first time totally peat free Cool And it seems to work well, certainly had a good emergence on my chillies and tomatoes this year Very Happy

It is a shame that the commercial peat free mixes are not what they could be though. The (previously excellent) New Horizons seems to have degraded; this year it looks to be made with a high proportion of shredded fitted kitchen ! Very woody. I wish I could make enough compost / leafmold to be able to not buy any in. I've heard good reports of Vital Earth composts - anyone use them ?
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Post by Dandelion on 23rd April 2012, 7:09 pm

The New Horizons is a little 'woody' at the moment, isn't it? I haven't used Vital Earth - we're limited here by what we can buy locally (or relatively locally - I have to drive a little way into the next county to get New Horizons.) I've tried Homebase peat-free compost - let's just say I only ever bought one bag, and one of my girls remarked that it looked like the stuff the caretaker used to put down in the hall when anyone was sick at infants school!! The other thing I use is Fertile Fibre, which has its headquarters at a farm just outside Hereford. It's coir, comes in a small block which is reconstituted in a bucket with water, and I've found it good for germinating small seeds (which New Horizons is too coarse for)

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by freebird on 24th April 2012, 7:36 am

Dandelion wrote: and I've found it good for germinating small seeds (which New Horizons is too coarse for)

Ah! I'm glad you've mentioned that. I bought New Horizons for the first time this year, and have been somewhat dismayed. I have managed to germinate my outdoor tomatoes, but fine seeds just aren't appearing. I don't know what I'm going to use, but I'm going to try sowing a new batch today.
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Post by freebird on 24th April 2012, 12:37 pm

By way of a science experiment, I have sown two lots of basil. The first are sown in some of my wormery compost, a small handful, mixed with a couple of large handfuls of New Horizons. The worm compost is completely opposite in texture to the New H, quite smooth and inclined to be a bit slimey. The only way to integrate the two was to rub the worm compost into the New H, rather like rubbing fat into flour for pastry. While I was doing this, I picked out some pretty large lumps of wood (methinks they might do for kindling!). So that lead me to thinking there might be something simpler:

So the second pot of basil is sown just into the New H, but I sieved it first through a garden sieve with 5-6mm mesh. The resulting compost looked quite nice and much, much finer. It was easier to wet as well.

Will see how things go and report back.
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Post by Dandelion on 24th April 2012, 5:54 pm

It'll be interesting to see which comes out the best, FB. I've tried sieving New Horizons through a relatively coarse sieve (1cm holes) which has improved it no end for sowing - if I've got time on my hands I have a much finer small riddle to sieve really fine stuff just for the top half centimetre and to cover the seeds, really just for tiny seeds.

This could be the Homemade Life competition for 2012 - who can sieve out the largest piece of wood from their New Horizons, and make a useful implement from it!!!

................................................................................................................................
The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Chilli-head on 24th April 2012, 7:39 pm

freebird wrote:The only way to integrate the two was to rub the worm compost into the New H, rather like rubbing fat into flour for pastry.

Perhaps it is worth mentioning at this point that I found a shard of mirror glass in one of my bags of New Horizons ... handle with care !

It may be time to dig out some of Geoff Hamilton's seed compost recipes.

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Post by Dandelion on 24th April 2012, 8:47 pm

These are some options for seed compost from Ask Organic:

Leafmould alone or Coir alone - seedlings need to be transplanted quickly
Leafmould + loam 1:1 - needs careful watering, not suitable for very small seed
*Loam + leafmould + garden compost 1:1:1 - a good, general mix
Leafmould + wormcast 3:1 - a rich mix

I've also used a 50/50 mixture of home produced compost and top soil (left over from filling one of the raised beds) - that seemed to do the trick

................................................................................................................................
The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by freebird on 26th April 2012, 12:43 pm

And talking of New Horizons (which we haven't for a couple of days), has anyone else had little grey toadstools growing in it?
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Post by Dandelion on 26th April 2012, 12:57 pm

Yes - last year I grew broad beans in toilet roll tubes, using New Horizons, and had loads of long thin spindly toadstools. At the time I thought it might have been that the tubes had got too damp, but I've noticed them in other pots and seed trays. It must be nature breaking down all those kitchen units in the compost!!

................................................................................................................................
The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by freebird on 1st May 2012, 3:43 pm

Today I noticed that my experimental pots of Basil have germinated. Both the sieved New Horizons compost and the unsieved but mixed with wormery compost have yielded identical germination times of 6 days. My first Basil in NewH straight from the bag took 9 days to germinate.
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