I have to admit to a guilty little secret. Actually, a few people would say it wasn't that little, but that reflects how strongly they feel on the subject.
My potting compost hasn't been peat-free. I didn't know that for certain, as the bag that SHL Horticulture uses is labelled merely "growing medium" and I'm afraid I didn't want to investigate too far. I asked a leading light at the local horticultural society what it was she used to grow all the vibrantly healthy plants that she sells for charity and was pointed to that.
Over the years I've tried various composts and SHL is the one that I fell in love with. Great plants, lovely compost to handle, easy to water. I've had little luck with peat-free compost in the past, finding it very difficult in my early days of gardening, and have found much reduced peat compost to be really rather claggy and lumpy.
Then I met Neil Gray from Melcourt Industries last November and rapidly acquired a bag of Sylvagrow to try out. All spring I've been putting half my seedlings and brought-in plug plants in Sylvagrow and half in SHL.
And I really can't tell the difference. Sylvagrow has a very similar texture and colour and the plants have grown at the same pace. Until I read my labels, I don't know which is which. Root growth has been indistinguishable. In the picture below, I'm ashamed to say I can't remember which is which, but I think Sylvagrow is on the right.
The only difference I have noticed is that Sylvagrow needs watering very slightly more often than SHL, but the difference is minimal.
And price difference? Well, SHL was available from the local horticultural society at £6.70 for 75l, and Sylvagrow is priced generally at £6.99 for 50l. A difference, indeed, and not a insignificant one, but Sylvagrow is not only lovely stuff, but carries the glow of a clear conscience, and I don't need that many bags, as things go.
As far as the local horticultural society is concerned, SHL has been facing delivery problems and the society's supplier has stopped supplying it. They've replaced SHL with Roffey.
But I'm working on them.
Syvagrow's website gives details of your nearest supplier. And read Vegplotting for details of Michelle's fascinating visit to Melcourt Industries' Sylvagrow production centre and her opinion of its quality.