John Innes Compost?

I know it’s come up before, but I despair of French potting composts, even supposed reputable expensive ones. At the moment I’m fighting to keep our pots and troughs watered through the current drought. It seems to me I just turn my back and they are dry again. I’ve just put “John Innes” into to see what might come up and it looks like there are now some providers - Levingtons, Westland - offering John Innes products in France. But to order it online is too expensive . Has anyone come across John Innes products in their garden centres here? I wondered if nationals like Jardiland have started to offer it? Thanks for any thoughts / suggestions.

John Innes is a brand name for a soil based compost mix. No 1, 2 and 3 mean the percentage of grit added to basic loam. No peat or composted materials. If you need to keep your pots moist/easier to moisten when dried out, may I suggest you look for the french equivalent to ‘top soil’ which is basically just plain ‘dirt’ (american slang). Mix that 50/50 with your peat based compost from the garden centre. If you have very thirsty plants, there are some granules available which soak up water and slowly release it to the plants like this
which does help too.

I bought a big bag of terreau from the local builders merchant - 1m3 so not a daily purchase! Most of is was for creating an extension to the veg garden, but I sacked up some of it which I now mix with sand, garden compost and blood fish and bone (actually fish guano) to make a potting mix. But not easy to find any decent loam in smaller quantities. I avoid buying peat based products if I can possibly help it.

The other thing I struggle to find is grit. Gravel yes, but not grit.

Mulching the tops of pots with a thick layer of straw does help.

Thank you Bettina and Jane for your suggestions.

A much lighter substitute for grit is ground up cork (from your wine bottles). They will add aeration to the soil, but make the pots much easier to move around. Simply put a few corks into a blender and blitz until you have a coarse consistency.


What a good idea! Love it! Just have to make sure I don’t mix it up with the breadcrumbs…,

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bit chewey, but won’t kill you

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