The Land Rover Owners Wife

Seed compost disaster

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The seed compost I used for my first lot of seedlings was the wrong one! The bag looked like the one I normally get, it was a Westland one but it was the wrong one. It now appears that the shop stocked two different seed composts from Westland a 20 litre bag of ‘Surestart’ and a 10 litre bag of  ‘John Innes’.

Westland Surestart seed compost

The wrong type – Westland Surestart seed compost

It was only when I opened the bag to start sowing my seeds back in February that I began to suspect I had the wrong one but as my memory for detail isn’t the best in the world, I thought that maybe I was getting confused and that this was the correct one . Either way, I’d opened the bag and so I had to use it. Sadly, those seedlings that have actually appeared are not looking altogether healthy: most of my lettuce seedlings have failed completely, the tomatoes and cabbages aren’t looking too happy and only 15% of the chillis sown first time around have germinated and so far, only one of the second batch has appeared!

Westland John Innes seed compost

The right type – Westland John Innes seed compost

We had first become aware of the discrepancy in the quality of the seed compost a couple of years ago when we had inadvertently bought the good stuff, Westland John Innes, first but on a subsequent trip to the garden centre, there was only the Surestart available. Proudly wearing the Westland logo and in a similar design of bag, we simply didn’t realise that the it was different as it had been several months since we’d bought the first lot. To be fair, we hardly expected there to be such a huge difference in performance between products from the same company and especially as the Surestart claims to ‘Improve Germination by 25%‘.

This year, my first sowings have been an unmitigated disaster. Yesterday I sowed some more tomatoes, chillis, cabbages and lettuces in the John Innes compost and will compare the results in respect of the seed germination rate, seedling strength and growth in due course.

I have attached two photos so you can see the difference in the texture and grain of the two composts. I estimate that I am approximately 6 weeks behind where I wanted to be right now, with the only saving grace being that the appalling weather means I wouldn’t have been in a position to plant anything out or move stuff into the greenhouse for a few more weeks anyway, even if the seedlings had been robust and plentiful but that said, I am not amused.

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One thought on “Seed compost disaster

  1. What a shame! I’m not surprised you are not amused! it’s amazing how much difference the type of compost can make to germination rates. Like you say though, with the weather being so cold, you would have struggled with getting them planted out. Hopefully the weather will be much more suitable by the time your second sowings are ready to go out. I have a lot of gangly looking seedlings on my windowsills which desperately need potting on, but I’m afraid it’s too cold even in the tunnel for them!

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