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By Jensen

Oxfordshire, United Kingdom Gb

My grow bags have small bits of wood in them. Should I break them up with my fingers, or does it not matter? Do they have any purpose? I seem to remember hearing somewhere that wood helps to retain moisture. I am emptying the grow bags and filling up some pots, to plant tomatoes in.
I also see bits of string in the grow bags. Any opinions on this?



Now you know why grow bags are sealed :)

For what it's worth, I am growing tomatoes in pots in a home made compost, and for comparison, some in Levingtons Tomorite compost.
At the present, the ones in my home made compost are far better than the Levingtons. However, the ones in Levingtons aren't bad.
The Levingtons compost has a lot of fibre material in it and I would say does the job it says, well at least in 10 Litre pots it does. No sign of woody bits.
Yours doesn't sound a very good brand. If nothing else, the wood will keep the compost open. That's all it will do.

11 Jun, 2012


Sign of the times I'm afraid now that composts either have reduced peat or no peat at all, they have to fill the bags with something!

That why I now call "mult-purpose compost" - "not fit for purpose compost"

The bit that worries me about it is;

When potting up and I use my fingers to press the compost down the side of the root ball some of these days I am going to get a huge splinter stuck under my nail, which I won't be able to get out.

That coupled with the fact that it has been nestled in some unknown ( possibly diseased) substance that someone took to the tip rather than putting it on their compost heap!

Where is " elf & welfare" now?

What will " elf & welfare" say?

You should have worn gloves!

Now tell me how you can do a such a task with safety gloves on?

The old 'marigolds' won't be any good either because the splinter will go right through it.

Beggars belief doesn't it?

11 Jun, 2012


Scrumpygraham, I would use my own compost, but I am unsure about it. Last year (in fact, for the last four years), all my tomato plants showed something wrong early on; I do not know if it was wilt or blight. As things turned out, it did not really matter much, as they produced a good crop. I wondered if it was because I mixed some of my own compost in with the grow bags. The previous year I put bits of tomato plant with wilt or blight into the compost. I know not to do this now.
It is interesting to hear that your own compost is much better than the Levingtons grow bag. If I carry on doing this in the future, I will do the same as you.
I should add though that since growing tomatos, I have used four different brands of grow bag, and I have always had a good crop.

Teegee, I noticed bits of wood which are similar to what you mention. In fact, I was thinking of the bits of wood which are chunky and thick, and sometimes quite hard. The bits that you mention - I did wonder what exactly it is, as it looks more as if it is from a plank of wood, than from a natural bit of wood.
Yes, perhaps there are diseased bits in grow bags. A friend of mine wondered this. I wonder if gardeners who only use their own compost find that there is no wilt/blight/whatever it is on their tomatos. My friend also said that he knows someone who uses something that gets rid of all the disease-causing bacteria in her greenhouse.

11 Jun, 2012


I'm probably misleading you when I say my own homemade compost. I don't mean compost from composting bins, I mean proprietory composts with bits added to them.

So my homemade tomato compost this year comprises of the following ingredients, 24 Litres being made at a time because that quantity is easy to mix in a wheelbarrow.

8 litres Top Soil...any branded one from a garden centre... to which is added 1oz dolomite of lime and 1 oz nutrimate and 1 oz BTD fertliser ( base, top dressing)
16 Litres Keith Singleton Hanging Basket/Tub Compost.
Then mix both together.

I use a range of Keith Singleton composts because they are all peat based, always of a high standard so you know what you are getting, which cannot be said of other composts from the garden centres/DIY stores.

The fertilisers, well tomatoes love dolomite of lime, nutrimate is supposed to make fertlisers in soil/compost more readily available, and the BTD mainly for it's trace elements.
I can honestly say I've never had tomatoes looking so good at this time of year. The growth has been phenomenal and the trusses are really strong. Just waiting now to see how the tomatoes develop.

Bit of a performance for a few tomatoes but I love messing around to find the best mixes for things. Different plants have different needs and can't all be grown in the same multipurpose compost is my philosophy.

But if you've had good crops from your grow bags in the past then I'd say stick with what you know. I'd certainly as i said recommend the Levingtons.

11 Jun, 2012


The catch 22 is this;

You said that you won't put diseased material into your compost heap, so what do you do with it?

You take it to the tip as responsible people do!

But what happens then?

It is sold to compost producers to bulk up peat reduced composts, so when you buy compost what do you get?

Potentially your diseased plant remains @ around £4 a bag!

I watched a documentary on what happens to 'green' waste.

It is put into huge piles in big sheds, and like our own compost heaps it heats up.

This heating it is said, kills off any disease and pests, the trouble is; we can't achieve such heat, but because of the size of their heaps they can!........but as I saw in the video the heat is only in the centre of the heap not on the outer exposed material.

OK they have loading shovels turning the material to alleviate this problem.

But then they go on to say that the time lapse from you putting your "green waste" to buying it back as compost is SIX weeks! this long enough??

Other compost producers are using the old timber you put in the skip at the same tip.

Quite often the timber I have taken to the tip is painted.......with lead based paint!!

This ( painted) timber is shredded and mixed with peat and again you pay around £4 a bag!!

And yes!.......I have found painted splinters in my compost! :o((

Where is "elf and welfare" now?

I have heard a rumour that traces of weed killer have been found in some composts........could this be from weed & feed residue on the grass cuttings you didn't put on your compost heap ??

The subject is a minefield and it is not a level playing field.....commercial growers use compost recipes not available to Joe Public!

If you have read my recent 'blog' this is the reason I am giving up growing so many bedding plants!

I could say a lot more on the subject but I don't want to bore you any further....Tg

11 Jun, 2012


I used to use Bullrush compost which was good but now finding it has small crushed woody bits.

And the compost drys out more.

What is now the best compost to use.

12 Jun, 2012


This is very interesting. I have always emptied growbags into pots for my tomatoes. They have always been fine, but the texture of the compost has certainly changed over the last few years, and yes - there are lots of woody bits in there.

12 Jun, 2012


I add miracle grow slow release fertiliser to the grobags, it seems to provide the trace elements etc. Then tom.fertiliser as usual, I once grew toms and cues in hydroponics which worked suprisingly

12 Jun, 2012


Thanks for your replies. I will read through them all soon.

I mentioned finding bits of string in my grow bags. At first I wondered if it is man made shiny string because it reminded me of some that I have, but now I think that it is probably garden twine that is thrown into compost.

12 Jun, 2012

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