SylvaGrow peat-free compost was launched in spring 2014. It’s a 100% peat-free all-purpose compost made with sustainably sourced fine bark, wood fibre, and coir from a single, known source (it doesn’t contain any ‘green waste’ compost), plus plant nutrients sufficient for 4-6 weeks. SylvaGrow is based on the professional peat-free growing media devised and mixed in the UK by Melcourt, and used by an expanding number of commercial growers (check out the Melcourt website if you’re a grower wanting to make the switch away from peat-based growing media).
I was the first UK gardening writer to cut open a bag of SylvaGrow, and I haven’t looked back – and nor have many other gardeners who’ve given SylvaGrow a green and resounding thumbs up. But don’t just take my word for it. Garden blogger Helen Gazeley tried out SylvaGrow last year and is now a confirmed fan. Blogger Michelle Chapman (@Malvernmeet) is equally taken with SylvaGrow, and you can read about her behind-the-scenes visit to the place where it’s formulated, mixed and bagged on her blog here.
Not one but two Best Buy Awards from Which? Gardening magazine
SylvaGrow’s been a consistent top performer in my ongoing garden trials where I’ve used it for seed sowing, potting up young plants, and for growing potted fruit and bulbs. Since it’s launch, SylvaGrow has bagged two Best Buy accolades from Which? Gardening magazine.
Melcourt’s press release says:
Which? Gardening has awarded Melcourt SylvaGrow multi-purpose peat-free compost a Which? Best Buy for raising young plants. The product was also awarded a Which? Best Buy for container composts in 2015.
Which? Gardening selected the product after extensive trials as a Which? Best Buy for raising seedlings and young plants. Indeed, Which? Gardening recommended those wishing to grow seeds and raise young plants in a peat-free medium, to use SylvaGrow, “If you want a peat-free compost for both jobs,” it commented, “we’d recommend Melcourt SylvaGrow. It’s a Best Buy compost for raising young plants and it scored almost as well as our Best Buy compost for sowing seeds.”
Source: Melcourt press release, January 2016.
Which? Gardening test a range of gardening composts (peat-based and peat-free) regularly, so a Best Buy is a fairly reliable mark of both quality and performance; it does what it says on the bag. And I can echo Which? Gardening’s findings – it’s also excellent for seed sowing.
SylvaGrow receives RHS stamp of approval
In fact, it does it so well that in 2015 SylvaGrow‘s entire range of gardening products received endorsement by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). This is more kudos for a top-performing peat-free compost that’s become the must-have mix for a growing band of earth-friendly, nature-savvy gardeners.
An important offshoot of the RHS’s endorsement is that it will encourage garden centres and other gardening retailers to brush aside the tired, misleading old myth that ‘all peat-free compost is rubbish’ (still peddled by a minority of out-of-touch, pro-peat gardening pundits) and let their customers discover SylvaGrow for themselves. Melcourt tell me that spring 2016 will see seven Blue Diamond Group garden centres stocking SylvaGrow.
As one nature-savvy gardener commented on Twitter: ‘Peat-free composts work, are winning endorsements, and are here to stay. No ifs, buts or myths.’
But just how well is your local garden centre/shop doing at bringing modern and reliable peat-free composts to its customers?
Try some peat-free pester power at your local garden centre or nursery
In my experience, getting garden centres to stock and sell what you want can be met with, at best, mixed results. Responses can range from disinterested and lethargic to engaged and on the ball. But there’s no chance of your local garden centre/shop or nursery stocking SylvaGrow (or any of the other modern and reliable peat-free composts) unless you ask them to.
Why not suggest they search online for ‘peat-free compost’ – there’s a healthy and growing amount of information available. Or why not try a more direct approach; you could print off this blogpost, take it along, point out the Best Buys and the RHS endorsement, and pop the question: ‘Will you please stock this peat-free compost?’
Peat-free pester power, they call it.
New for 2016: SylvaGrow All Purpose Peat Free Growing Medium with Added John Innes
Building on the success of SylvaGrow’s all-purpose compost, spring 2016 sees the arrival of SylvaGrow All Purpose Peat Free Growing Medium with Added John Innes. This is a new mix based on SylvaGrow’s original blend, but with added sterilised loam and sand. It can be used for sowing seeds, taking cuttings, potting up young plug plants, filling pots, containers and raised beds.
I like a slightly heftier, more ‘soily’ peat-free for filling pots, so this new twist on an already proven winner looks like it’s going places.
Love to grow lime-hating acid-lovers? Try peat-free SylvaGrow Ericaceous Compost
For a long time the options available for gardeners keen on growing lime-hating, acid-loving plants without resorting to peat-based composts were limited. But not any more. SylvaGrow Ericaceous Compost is a professional-quality peat-free that’s also lime-free, meaning it can be used for container-grown plants which need a low pH (camellias, heathers, rhododendrons and the like).
You can use it for rooting cuttings of acid-lovers, for filling raised beds, and for improving the soil at planting time if your garden soil is acidic.
How much does SylvaGrow cost?
The recommended retail price (RRP) of a 50 litre bag of SylvaGrow is £6.99. SylvaGrow All Purpose Peat Free Growing Medium with Added John Innes, and SylvaGrow Ericaceous Compost each cost £7.99 for a 50 litre bag.
From spring 2016 each of these mixes will also be available in handy 15-litre carry home packs (below); £3.49 for SylvaGrow, and £3.99 for both All Purpose Peat Free Growing Medium with Added John Innes and SylvaGrow Ericaceous.
Where can I load up my trolley with SylvaGrow?
The SylvaGrow website has a useful stockist locator facility which will search for the stockist closest to your postcode (it’s worth asking your local garden supplier if they stock it anyway).
Can I buy SylvaGrow in bulk?
Melcourt, the makers of SylvaGrow, have an efficient and flexible delivery system. If you’re a gardening club or allotment horticultural society that is able to place a bulk order (e.g. a full pallet of compost), it’s worth talking to the folk at Melcourt to see what might be possible. Make contact via the website, or call 01666 502711.
• For information on the entire Passionate Gardener range, including SylvaGrow Pine Bark Mini Mulch and Pine Bark Flakes, visit the website.
*Source: Melcourt Press Release, January 2016.
More on going peat-free in your garden or allotment…
• For tips on peat-free sowing, potting and growing see How to Succeed in Your Garden With Modern, Reliable and Nature-friendly Peat-free Compost.
• See what other peat-free gardeners and commercial growers (yes, there are flourishing peat-free businesses out there) are up to, and share your own peat-free experiences by joining Twitter and tagging tweets from your balcony, garden or allotment with the hashtag ‘#peatfree’. Nature’s loving it.
• Check out my articles and posts about all things peat-free here.