John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

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Chris43
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John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by Chris43 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:49 pm

After trying J Arthur Bowers soil based JI, and Westfield's JI, I got fed up with having to seive them both to get rid of the big lumps of fibre and undecomposed wood. So much for following the original mix! Those lumps might be OK in a patio pot, or a raised bed, but not in a 3.5" pot.

I popped into a Notcutts today, and bought a bag of Levington JI, which says it is soil, peat and sand with added JI, and standing in the car park, I slit open the top, and it looked good, no obvious big lumps, at least none that didn't crumble. It looks like soil too, which is good, as I tend to associate Levington with non-soil composts.

So anyway, so far, so good, but if you know more about this stuff, I'd like to know please.

I was going to buy some sterilised top soil and mix my own, but thought it might not have much nutrient in in, and then found JI fertiliser for sale on the auction site. I know I could make my own, as the mix is fairly clear, but I'd not really want the quantity that a box of each would make.

I then noticed some warnings about JI compost, and the fertiliser, about it not keeping, because some of the chemicals might break down with age, and certainly in the soil, the bacteria would break them down. Is there a "safe" period, and what actually happens in the soil of our potted plants? Usually I tend to repot, and then not bother to water with fertiliser for a coupl eof years, but now I'm thinking that might be too long!

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Re: John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by Phil_SK » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:24 pm

I can't comment on any of the JI issues but it's certainly worth feeding plants, based on my limited experience and what I've seen of others' plants. I'm not convinced to need to use super-weak solution either, although I still need to overcome my long-held prejudices and feed mine more than once a year this year!
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Re: John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by Peter » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:31 am

Chris: I did a major repot last year using this Levington JI and can report that the plants have done well since. When I opened a bag for the first time the compost seemed very dark in colour, dry and quite powdery (few if any, large lumps of peat,etc) but the results speak for themselves after I did my usual modification with grit and cat litter.

Having stated that, another mention of composts in the Forum reminded me about Singleton's of Carlisle. This was the compost for me many years ago and before we moved to Shropshire. The Forum mention drew my attention to their website and upon learning that they now have the facility to deliver throughout the UK I purchased half a tonne of their excellent, rather old fashioned (I.e.traditional) JI no 2.

I suppose it's one of those 'good old days' things, but the plants did seem to grow better 20-plus years ago. Perhaps it's just that they and me, are just getting old!

So far as feeding is concerned, I have always fed each time I've watered, and that includes immediately after repotting. My only change was after the Prof's features, when I moved from low nitrogen to a balanced feed formulation.
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Re: John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by Chris43 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:51 am

Thanks, Peter.
Its good to know that the Levington seems OK. I agree, it does look dark, but with my adds of grit and catlit/pumice/bims (interchangeable imho, and whatever is the cheapest wins), it looks like a good compost for my cacti.
The difficulty with our plants is that they can take some time to show their reaction to different composts, so all experiences are very welcome.
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Re: John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by McFarland » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:55 pm

I've always had good experiences with levingtons, compared to almost all other brands. I really should get around to feeding my plants, I've never done it and been collecting for 3 or 4 years now :???:
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Re: John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by iann » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:19 pm

Levington JI, which says it is soil, peat and sand with added JI
Is that really what is says? I know the labels are written by people with no clue, but that is a really bizarre description of what should be in a bag of John Innes.

BTW, Levingtons are now owned by Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, experts at switching recipes to use the cheapest available ingredients.

Westlands seem to produce nice consistent products but the last time I looked at their JI it was more peat than loam, silky smooth but not suitable for this task. Odd for a company that markets itself so heavily on being the alternative to peat.
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Re: John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by iann » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:32 pm

From the Levington website: "John Innes compost is predominantly peat based but also includes sterilised loam". Oh dear ...
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Re: John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by Liz M » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:37 pm

I recently bought some Levingtons compost and used some today. It is a lot better than some I have used, very few lumps, little of it lumps of peat and they were only occasional and small. It was dry and free-flowing and a pleasure to use. Long may it continue to be like this, it sounds as though someone has taken note of all the adverse comments people have made about John Innes composts.
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Re: John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by Keith L » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:25 pm

30+ years ago I did some work for a company which amongst other things manufactured JI (but they no longer do), and I remember they were having a battle with the JI institute over the formula regarding the added nutrients. The company argued that if they used the ingredients for the nutrients as stated in the JI formula that they would degrade in the bag before purchase much more quickly than more modern ingredients which they maintained would be just as good growth wise so would be better for the customer. The JI institute would have nothing to do with changing the formula, so the company went ahead and used more modern ingredients and still called it JI in spite of the institutes disagreement.

I don't know if there was any progress made subsequently, and if the JI institute changed their tune - looking quickly at their web site the formula doesn't seem to be a visible part of their work which is these days cutting edge science so maybe they no longer see it as relevant leading to the varying insults to its name by some manufacturers.

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Re: John Innes (oh no, not again!!)

Post by Jim_Mercer » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:26 pm

iann wrote:
Levington JI, which says it is soil, peat and sand with added JI
Is that really what is says? I know the labels are written by people with no clue, but that is a really bizarre description of what should be in a bag of John Innes.
I think that is actually a good description - John Innes compost is a mix of loam, peat, sand and ground limestone with added JI base fertilser. The only difference between nos 1, 2 & 3 is the amount of JI base that is added.
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