Up until last year (2014) I’d been a total coir freak (as regulars will know). Growing on in coir’s great but I had been mystified by reports of problems germinating seeds in coir as I’d always had good germination rates (except with Thompson and Morgan seeds for some reason).
But in 2015, I wanted to expand my range. I’d messed about a bit in 2014 and it had become apparent that my love affair with coir wasn’t problem-free. Previously I’d only sown large seeds in coir – sweet peas, sunflowers and the like. But last year I found that small seeds, such as amaranthus, just didn’t work. Some repeat sowings, and buying a bag of ordinary seed compost, drilled through my skull and I realised that, really, I needed something other than coir. I also need something other than ordinary seed compost as I want to be peat-free, even if I don’t aspire to be organic.
Out here in “the sticks”, places just don’t stock the sort of stuff I want. The argument is that “We have to buy so much of something from wholesalers; then we have to find somewhere to store/display it.” If there isn’t a readily available purchaser stream they simply can’t afford to devote the resources to stocking a product.
Taking my custom elsewhere isn’t going to make any difference – they have enough willing punters to buy the normal stuff they sell (particularly the cheaper 3-bags-a-tenner stuff). Remember we’re talking of places that pile the impatiens walleriana high in an area where downy mildew has struck. If we have no hope of eradicating downy mildew, we have even less of persuading the neighbourhood to go peat-free.
So, needing a limited quantity of seed compost (and one thing about seed sowing is that compost needs to be fresh), I compared the mileage overhead to the mail order overhead and decided it was cheaper, and more carbon neutral, to order my seed compost online!
And I’ve had excellent results with it (except with Thompson and Morgan seeds for some reason). I think T&M simply don’t like me (though I know I’m not alone in being un-liked!). I’m actually angry with T&M. After all, at over £1 per litre, it’s not just the cost of their (crap) seeds but the wasted compost as well. So T&M are now firmly off my radar (though I may have a blog post or two to come about them). If you want my advice, have a look at Higgledy Garden, with whose seeds I always get good results (except when I don’t). I’ve also developed an affection for Mr Fothergill, about whose plug plants I’ve been less than complimentary in the past but whose seeds are great.