Gardening Times

SOME garden centres are selling old compost which could affect how well plants grow, according to a new report.

Loading Comments

Bags of old compost are still being sold in garden centres and DIY stores, with no indication of the date of production on the packaging, according to a report in the latest edition of Which? Gardening, the Consumers'



The report follows up findings from last June that old stock was on sale, which manufacturers said was down to the previous year's poor summer.

Compost doesn't normally have a sell-by or use-by date on it, so consumers may have trouble distinguishing old stock from new.

Which? Gardening claims that the nutrients in compost can degrade over time, so using 'elderly muck' could prevent plants from thriving.

Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser with the RHS, said that certainly organic potting compost deteriorates with time.

"Any organic fertilisers incorporated in the compost will break down over time and the soluble nutrients will become too salty and strong which could damage the roots of young plants.

"Potting composts have been formulated to have lots of air in them because roots need to breathe, just like humans.

"As the compost ages, the air space declines and roots find it difficult to grow because of lack of air in the compost."

He says non-organic composts are less likely to be affected by age because the nutrients will almost certainly be in the form of chemicals, which aren't broken down so quickly.

Which? Gardening wants manufacturers to make it easier for consumers to see when the compost they buy was made - for example by printing a production date on packs.

When it suggested this to the industry body Growing Media Association (GMA), it said: "GMA members believe they manage stock well.

"If consumers are dissatisfied with the quality of their compost, they should take it up with the retailer."

When you open the bag, the contents should feel fluffy and fibrous, not wet and heavy. Compost may seem hard because it's been stacked on a pallet but it should fluff up pretty easily.

However, it is possible to use old compost as an effective soil improver when winter digging or just to use as a mulch to conserve moisture and suppress weeds, says Barter, so you could bag a bargain if you see any old stock in the sale.

Home and Garden

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.


Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email
Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Sussed in the City

I don’t think I’ve uttered the words “no, he’s not a stripper we’ve hired so put him down.




Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.

Games news:

Putting the world to rights

Gail's Gab

My thoughts after Police Scotland are ordered to apologise over IRA interrogation techniques slur.

Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat’s Eyes on Glasgow

Cat Cubie’s job is to find and share with you the fabulous things the city has to offer, from gigs to gastro.