2020 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

2020 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for peat-free composts.  I know from my own experience, that it’s not always easy to find a good quality peat-free growing media.  I understand that gardeners who have used peat-based composts all their lives might be hesitant to switch to a peat-free compost and gardeners who have purchased a poor performing peat-free compost could naturally be reluctant to try peat-free growing media again.  Trying a new compost can feel like a venture into the unknown; none of us want to start the gardening season off on the wrong foot, to be unnecessarily delayed, or to have our gardening compromised by using products that are not as good quality or effective as we might wish for.  I want to help you to avoid this dilemma and encourage you to switch to a superb peat-free compost, one which you can be confident and excited about using; hence my reason for demonstrating a range of composts in this Compost Trial.

I don’t usually include peat-based composts in my Compost Trials, but after receiving many requests from gardeners asking me to demonstrate peat-based composts alongside peat-free compost, I’ve made an exception for this Compost Trial and my Dwarf French bean Compost Trial.  This is my attempt to convert peat stalwarts to become peat-free champions, as this Compost Trial allows you to actually see how the peat-free composts in this Compost Trial directly compare to a popular and widely used, peat-based compost.

I’ve included organic and vegan composts in this Compost Trial, in the hope that all of my readers will be able to source a great peat-free compost that suits their needs and requirements, using the information in this Trial Report.  In order to avoid any confusion, I’ve listed whether each compost is peat-based, peat-free, organic, and vegan, in my headings throughout this Compost Trial Report.

Although peat has been widely used as an ingredient in commercial compost for a great many years now, it might surprise you to hear that most plants do not need to be grown in a peat-based compost in order to grow or perform well.  In fact, many plants perform better when they are grown without the inclusion of peat in their growing media.

Buying Peat-Free Compost

Compost packaging can be confusing.  Some compost brands’ labelling make their products appear very green and environmentally friendly, thanks to the images, colours, and the wording on the pack.  But I’m sorry to say that today, the vast majority of composts that are offered for sale in the UK, contain peat.  If you want to purchase a peat-free compost, check that the packaging states that the growing media is peat-free – if you don’t see the words ‘peat-free’ on the pack – choose another growing media.

If you’re wondering why it’s important to use peat-free compost, you’ll find more information via this link, here.

Using this Compost Trial Report

At the very top of this page, you’ll find a series of headings in red text; simply click on a heading to save time scrolling and whizz over to another section of this Compost Trial Report.  At the bottom right-hand-side of the page, you’ll see an arrow – if you click on the arrow, you’ll be returned back to the top of the page.  I hope this makes it easier for you to manoeuvre through this Compost Trial Report and speedily find all the information you require.

Trialled Composts

I’ve included a peat-based compost in this Compost Trial.  Naturally, as a peat-free advocate, I have no intention of repeatedly trialling peat-based composts.  I certainly don’t recommend purchasing composts made from peat; the reason I’ve included one peat-based compost in this Compost Trial is to honestly show how good peat-free composts are these days.  When I was choosing which peat-based compost to include in this Trial, I selected Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost, as this is one of the top selling composts in the UK – it’s a widely used and very popular, peat-based growing medium.

Each of the composts that I chose for this Compost Trial were purchased at the same time, so as to avoid using old composts, which might have been depleted of nutrients, and to ensure a fair trial of every compost.

I trialled the following peat-based and peat-free composts and compost blends in this Compost Trial:

  • Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic)
  • Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost (peat-free and organic)
  • Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads (peat-free and organic)
  • Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost (peat-free and organic)
  • Happy Compost All Purpose Compost (peat-free, organic, and vegan)
  • New Horizon All Plant Compost (peat-free)
  • New Horizon All Veg Compost (peat-free)
  • SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes (peat-free and vegan)
  • SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium (peat-free and vegan)
  • Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based)
  • Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost (peat-free)

Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic)

Bord Na Mona Growise Organic Vegetable Compost.

Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost is described by Bord na Móna as:

Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost is suitable for delicious home grown vegetables. It is rich in organic matter and nutrients to ensure healthy and strong growth the natural way without artificial fertilisers. Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost is produced from composted bark fines, green organic compost and other sustainable organic materials along with an organic fertiliser.

Ideal for use:
Organic Vegetables
Raised Beds for Vegetables
Improving Soil Composition

If you’re interested in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost (peat-free and organic)

Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost.

Dalefoot Composts describe Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost as:

“This general purpose compost is ideal for growing in pots, tubs and hanging baskets where water retention is key.  No need to add extra feed or water retaining gels.

Use in containers, hanging baskets and raised beds
50% less watering
No need to feed
100% Peat-free
Soil Association approved

No need to feed – None of our composts require any additional feed and will feed your plants throughout the season.

50% less watering – The wool content in our composts provides natural water retention meaning less watering is required than other composts.

Soil Association approved – Our composts are sustainably made from from renewable, natural ingredients on our farm in the Lake District and are approved for organic growing by the Soil Association,”

If you’re interested in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads (peat-free and organic)

Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads.

Dalefoot Composts describe Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads as:

“Perfect for “grow your own” organic vegetables, salad and fruit in an allotment, raised beds, containers or windowsill.

Up to 50% less watering
Feeds throughout the growing season
100% Peat-free
Soil Association approved

No need to feed – None of our composts require any additional feed and will feed your plants throughout the season.

50% less watering – The wool content in our composts provides natural water retention meaning less watering is required than other composts.

Soil Association approved – Our composts are sustainably made from from renewable, natural ingredients on our farm in the Lake District and are approved for organic growing by the Soil Association.”

If you’re interested in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost (peat-free and organic)

Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost.

Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost is described as:

Especially designed for patio planters and growbags, this peat-free coir compost just needs water to make it up to 70 litres.  Plants love coir because it is open and airy and does not get waterlogged.  It also has superior water retention, so you won’t have to water quite so often, and is easier to re-wet when dry.  For the perfect mix, Gardman have added some slow-release fertiliser to get your plants started. It couldn’t be simpler.”

If you’re interested in Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

Happy Compost All Purpose Compost (peat-free, organic, and vegan)

Happy All Purpose Compost.

Happy Compost All Purpose Compost is described as being:

For successful seed sowing, beautiful flowers and productive fruit and vegetable.  The All Purpose compost is vegan.  A great choice for the everyday gardener.

100% Peat Free
Rich in Organic Matter”

If you’re interested in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

New Horizon All Plant Compost (peat-free)

Westland New Horizon All Plant Compost.

New Horizon All Plant Compost is described by Westland as:

New Horizon All Plant Compost is a naturally peat-free formulation that gives every plant triple the goodness.

  • 100% sustainable, natural & peat-free compost
  • Specially blended for all types of plants
  • Base fertiliser – Feeds plants for up to 6 weeks
  • Ideal for seedlings, containers, fruit & vegetables
  • BIO3 formulation with No Green Waste

100% peat-free – 100% sustainable – Guaranteed results!

New Horizon All Plant Compost has been specially created to be the perfect compost for all fruit and vegetables, herbs, & seedlings. Westland BIO3 is a revolutionary new compost formulation engineered to out perform all peat-based blends. The ingredients start nourishing the plant immediately.

Works best with seedlings, containers, fruit and veg and herbs. Not suitable for ericaceous plants.”

My experience: As I opened the bags of New Horizon All Plant Compost I discovered that this compost produced a very potent odour, rather like fresh manure.  It was an unpleasant smell that I could detect a few feet away from the containers of compost.  The odour persisted for a couple of weeks, thankfully then it faded.

If you’re interested in New Horizon All Plant Compost, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

New Horizon All Veg Compost (peat-free)

Westland New Horizon All Veg Compost.

New Horizon All Veg Compost is described by Westland as:

New Horizon All Veg Compost is a naturally peat free formulation that gives vegetables triple the goodness.

  • 100% sustainable, natural and peat-free compost
  • Specially blended for all types of vegetables
  • Base fertiliser – feeds plants for up to 6 weeks
  • Ideal for adding into raised beds
  • BIO3 formulation – No Green Waste

100% peat-free – 100% sustainable – Guaranteed results!

New Horizon All Veg Compost has been specially created to be the perfect compost for all tomatoes, chillies, root crops and herbs.

Westland BIO3 is a revolutionary new compost formulation engineered to out perform all peat-based blends and starts nourishing the plant immediately. It also has an open structure and micro-nutrients for total plant health, helping to feed plants for longer.”

My experience: As I opened the bags of New Horizon All Veg Compost I discovered that this compost produced a very potent odour, rather like fresh manure.  It was an unpleasant smell that I could detect a few feet away from the containers of compost.  When I first discovered that the New Horizon All Plant Compost had an unfavourable, pungent odour I hoped that I was somehow unlucky with the bags of compost I purchased, but after discovering that this second type of New Horizon Compost was afflicted with the same unpleasant odour it seems that this was not out of character for this compost blend.  The odour persisted for a couple of weeks, before thankfully diminishing.

If you’re interested in New Horizon All Veg Compost, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

SylvaGrow Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes (peat-free and vegan)

Melcourt SylvaGrow All Purpose Peat-Free Growing Medium with Added John Innes.

Melcourt describe SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes as:

  • “Superb quality, 100% peat-free compost as used by professionals
  • With added sterilised loam
  • Suitable for a wide range of garden applications including potting-on, planting out and as a growing bag
  • Available in 50L bags and 15L carry packs
  • Suitable for vegans
  • RHS Endorsed”

If you’re interested in Melcourt SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with Added John Innes, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

SylvaGrow Sustainable Growing Medium (peat-free and vegan)

Melcourt SylvaGrow Sustainable Growing Medium.

Melcourt describe SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium as:

Sustainable growing medium for gardeners who are as passionate about the environment as their gardens.

  • Superb quality, 100% peat-free compost as used by professionals
  • Suitable for a wide range of garden applications including potting-on, planting out and as a growing bag
  • Available in 50L bags and 15L carry packs
  • Suitable for vegans
  • RHS Endorsed

Melcourt SylvaGrow® is a unique blend of fine bark, wood fibre (bi-products of sustainably managed British forests) and coir (from a single, known source).  It contains balanced nutrients sufficient for the first 4 – 6 weeks of growth. This growing medium is widely used throughout the UK by professional growers and is suitable for a wide range of uses around the garden.  Melcourt SylvaGrow® contains no peat or green waste compost.”

If you’re interested in Melcourt SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based)

Westland Jack’s Magic Traditional Blend All Purpose Compost.

Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost is described by Westland on their website as:

Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost blends the finest 100% natural ingredients to create a pure and balanced growing medium, which produces super, natural growth and exceptional health for plants and blooms all over your house and garden.

  • Rich peat based compost
  • Great for seed sowing & potting on
  • Use in beds, borders & containers
  • Perfect medium for flowers, fruits & vegetables.

If you’re interested in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost (peat-free)

Woodland Horticulture Limited Peat Free Multi-Purpose Compost.

Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost is described as:

Based on composted bark fines, composted wood fibre, organic compost and other peat free materials indigenous to the United Kingdom, together with coir, these media are suitable for potting and cuttings of most types of plant. All components are from sustainable sources and avoid further depletion of peat resources.

Additives to enhance drainage, water retention and uptake can be added if required. Inorganic or organic fertilisers are added to give the desired balance of nutrients.

Peat Free Growing Media are ideal for:

Cultivation of most types of plant at all stages of growth.”

If you’re interested in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost, you’ll find every article I’ve written that mentions this compost here.

Compost Costs

The price range of the composts in this trial is quite wide, with premium composts like Dalefoot costing nearly three times as much (per litre) as the cheapest composts in the trial.  Increased costs are often due to additional delivery costs, as many of the premium peat-free composts are only available direct from the manufacturer or from online suppliers.  It’s worth looking into placing a bulk order, (perhaps with friends and fellow gardeners?) because often a flat rate portion of the price is taken up with delivery, so the more you order, the cheaper the compost becomes per litre.

If you decide to place a bulk compost order, be sure to store your compost bags undercover, (a garage or shed is ideal.  If you don’t have a shed, cover your compost bags with tarpaulin) to prevent the rain from seeping through the compost bag and washing your compost’s nutrients away.

It’s madness, but peat-free composts are still not as widely available as they should be.  I think peat-free composts should be available everywhere, and peat-based composts should be restricted.  But sadly today, as ridiculous as it sounds, the majority of major garden centre chains stock mostly peat-based composts.  The one exception to this is New Horizon Compost, which is stocked in most garden centres (where it is usually the only peat-free compost available).

I implore the managers of garden centres and nurseries to offer a full range of peat-free growing media.  I also strongly suggest that if gardeners want to purchase peat-free composts, they ask their local garden centre or nursery to stock these products.  If your local garden centre is part of a chain, why not email their head office or contact the company via social media?

CompostPriceBag Size (L)Cost per LitrePrice from
Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost£10.9930£0.37Dalefoot
Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads£10.9930£0.37Dalefoot
Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost£12.0040£0.30Squires
Happy Compost All Purpose Compost£14.8850£0.30thecompostshop (price per litre when purchasing 5 bags)
Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost£17.0060£0.28Amazon
Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost£7.0050£0.14Almondsbury Garden centre
New Horizon All Plant Compost£7.0050£0.14Homebase
New Horizon All Veg Compost£7.0050£0.14Homebase
SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes£8.0060£0.13Squires
SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium£6.0050£0.12Country Supplies.uk.com
Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost£29.99280£0.11Gardman/Amazon

Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’

For this particular Compost Trial, I opted to sow seeds of a Dwarf Broad Bean called ‘Robin Hood’ that I purchased from Chiltern Seeds.

I chose to sow seeds of this particular broad bean cultivar, as it’s a dwarf, compact broad bean that’s a great bee-friendly plant and a lovely vegetable to grow in containers.  Broad bean risotto is a delicious treat in spring and summer; this meal tastes a thousand times better with home-grown broad beans!  If you’re looking for vegetables to grow as container plants, I’d recommend you try Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’, this cultivar doesn’t need any support and is very easy to grow from seed.

I’ve grown this particular broad bean cultivar during previous Compost Trials, so by growing the same plant again, these Compost Trial results are more comparable to my earlier Compost Trials.

Growing Broad Beans in Containers

Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seeds.

I started this Compost Trial on 15th February 2020, when six Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seeds were sown in each pot of compost.  I used three of my trial containers for every compost blend trialled.  Each container of compost experienced the same conditions.  The broad bean plants were observed as they grew, and the results were monitored and recorded.

Germination Rates

Over the years, I’ve heard a few (anti peat-free) gardeners describing peat-free composts as growing mediums that prevent successful germination.  Not all peat-free composts are created equally – I have purchased many poor quality peat-free composts, but on the whole I’ve achieved excellent germination using peat-free composts.  A few of the broad bean seeds that were sown for this Compost Trial failed to germinate; I expect that these seeds rotted, due to the exceptionally wet and rainy, cold weather we experienced during February and March 2020.

The first Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seed to germinate was grown in a container (Pot No.1) of New Horizon Compost.  This seedling emerged on the 15th March 2020, a month after the seeds were sown.  Germination would have been much speedier had the weather had been warmer.

Here are the germination rates for the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seeds that were sown for this Compost Trial.

Compost VarietyGermination Rate
Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost100.00%
New Horizon All Plant Compost100.00%
SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium100.00%
SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes100.00%
Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost100.00%
Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost94.44%
New Horizon All Veg Compost94.44%
Happy Compost All Purpose Compost94.44%
Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost83.33%
Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads72.22%
Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost11.11%
A Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seeding emerging in one of my containers of Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost, as pictured on the 27th March 2020.

Weather Conditions

Weather wise, February was a complete wash out, with prolonged periods of rain – it rained every day!  By the beginning of March, I wondered if we’d ever see sunshine again, as we were still enduring some pretty inclement weather at this time.  But then we embarked on a new season with entirely different conditions; for the remainder of March and throughout April we enjoyed warm, dry, and sunny weather.

May was essentially warm, sunny, and very dry; although we did experience a couple of late frosts and a few windy days.  June brought some welcome rain, overcast days and summer sunshine, along with breezy conditions.  While July brought some overcast days with lower light levels, cooler temperatures, and strong winds.

Irrigation

The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial were watered by the rain and by hand, during dry periods.  Although there was no set time (the plants were only watered by hand, during periods of dry weather) that was allocated for watering the broad bean plants that were grown for this Compost Trial; all of the plants received the same quantity of water, which was administered at the same time.

I’ve found Dalefoot Composts (both peat-free and organic) to be very water retentive, these composts are comprised of composted bracken and sheep wool, which is naturally absorbent and holds on to water.  I’ve found that I don’t need to water plants growing in Dalefoot Compost as often as I need to water plants growing in a non-Dalefoot Compost.  Having said this, if the other Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial required water, all of the broad bean plants were watered (using the same quantity of water, which was administered at the same time).

In the first weeks of this Compost Trial, the weather was insistently wet and cold; during this time I was very concerned about the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seeds in the Dalefoot Composts, as I was anxious to whether the seeds would rot in the wet, cold compost.  If I was simply growing broad beans and not running this Compost Trial, I would have moved these pots to a sheltered location, or rigged up a temporary shelter to protect the containers from the worst of the wet weather.  But as this is a Compost Trial, it’s important that the plants grown in every compost experience the same growing conditions; so the pots of Dalefoot Composts were out in the pouring rain, along with all the other containers of compost that were grown for this Compost Trial.

Similarly, when the warm, dry spring weather arrived, the containers of Dalefoot Compost didn’t require watering as often as the other composts that were featured in this Compost Trial.  However, as the other composts needed watering, the containers of Dalefoot Compost were also watered – this was a Compost Trial – therefore I ensured that every container of compost experienced the same conditions.

I was surprised to see that two of the containers of Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost (peat-free and organic) became waterlogged in February.  One container was visibly more waterlogged than the other, while the third container of this compost drained properly – this container did not suffer the same fate – the compost remained well-drained.  However, this didn’t seem to help the Broad bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in this compost – all of the seedlings had died within a few weeks of germination.

Fertiliser

No fertilisers or plant feed was given to any of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.  The plants were reliant on the nutrients they received from the composts they were grown in.

Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ Plants

Let’s have a look at the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial…..

Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost (peat-free and organic)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads (peat-free and organic)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost (peat-free and organic)

The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost had died by the time I took this photograph, on the 22nd April 2020.
The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost had died by the time I took this photograph, on the 22nd April 2020.
The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost had died by the time I took this photograph, on the 22nd April 2020.

Happy Compost All Purpose Compost (peat-free, organic, and vegan)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

New Horizon All Plant Compost (peat-free)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

New Horizon All Veg Compost (peat-free)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes (peat-free and vegan)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium (peat-free and vegan)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost (peat-free)

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 22nd April 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 16th May 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. I took this photograph on the 1st June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Broad Bean Flowers

These flowers were produced by one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that I grew for this Compost Trial. Pictured in bloom on the 17th May 2020.

The majority of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial flowered during May 2020.

These flowers were produced by one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that I grew for this Compost Trial. Pictured on the 19th May 2020.

However, one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown in a container of Happy Compost was in flower on the 30th June 2020, which was over 30 days after the main flowering time for the plants grown for this particular Compost Trial.

This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in a container of Happy Compost All Purpose Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 30th June 2020.
These flowers were produced by one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that I grew in Happy Compost for this Compost Trial. Pictured in bloom on the 30th June 2020.

A number of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial started flowering again, in July.  The plants grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads, Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost, New Horizon All Veg Compost, and SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium, all undertook a late flowering in mid July.

This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in a container of Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured in flower, on the 11th July 2020.
This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in a container of Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. I took this photograph on the 11th July 2020.
This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in a container of New Horizon All Veg Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured in flower, on the 11th July 2020.
This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in a container of SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. This photograph was taken when the plant was in flower, on the 11th July 2020.

If I had a larger garden and more trial containers, I would have allowed these late flowering Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants to produce their final crop of broad beans.  However, rather frustratingly, space is at a premium for me, and I also don’t have as many trial containers as I would like, so I didn’t wait for these July flowering plants to produce their harvest.  By this stage of the trial, most of the plants were lack-lustre or on their last legs and I needed to get started with my next Compost Trial; as by this time it was late in the season and I was keen to avoid missing the sowing window.  Accordingly, this Compost Trial ended on the 11th July 2020.

Broad Bean Plant Heights

This chart shows the average height of the tallest stem grown on the plants for each compost type. Whilst tall, vigorous plants indicate strong growth, it doesn’t always correlate with a good harvest of beans. In fact, the plants with the shortest, stockiest growth – grown in the Dalefoot composts – produced the largest yield of beans.

I purchased my Broad bean ‘Robin Hood’ seeds from Chiltern Seeds.  Chiltern Seed’s listing for this broad bean cultivar describes Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ as growing to 45cm (1.5ft) tall.  During this Compost Trial, for each container of broad bean plants, I recorded the height of the tallest plant.

The tallest Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown for this Compost Trial reached 79cm (2.6ft).  This plant was grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost.

The shortest of the tallest Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants grew to 51.7cm (1.7ft).  This plant was grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads.

Wildlife

I make every attempt to encourage wildlife into my garden.  I don’t use any kind of slug pellets and I’ve not used any nematodes for slugs and snails since the 14th July 2018.  During this Compost Trial, no attempt was made to prevent any slugs, snails, or any other pests from accessing the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants.  When any pests were discovered they were left alone; no attempt was made to move, re-home, or harm pests.

I made no effort to prevent any pests from damaging the broad bean plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.

Aphids

I spotted this aphid on the leaf of a Broad bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 16th June 2020.

I spotted a few aphids on the Broad bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.

I spotted this parasitised aphid on the leaf of a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in a container of SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

Bees

Broad bean flowers are adored by bees; this is a super vegetable to grow if you’re keen to grow more plants for bees.

This bee visited the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial, on the 18th May 2020.
A bumble bee feasting from flowers produced by one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that I grew for this Compost Trial. Pictured in bloom on the 19th May 2020.
A bumble bee feasting from flowers produced by one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that I grew for this Compost Trial. Pictured in bloom on the 21st May 2020.
A bumble bee feasting from flowers produced by one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that I grew for this Compost Trial. Pictured in bloom on the 21st May 2020.
This bee visited the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial, on the 25th May 2020.

Birds

I watched this baby Robin looking for insects in amongst the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants grown for this Compost Trial. Pictured on the 17th May 2020.

Many birds were spotted visiting the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants grown for this Compost Trial.  Whilst this Trial was in process, Blackbirds, Robins, Sparrows, Blue Tits, Dunnocks, and Pigeons were observed around the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants.  The birds ate aphids, slugs, snails, worms, and other creatures they found in amongst the trial plants.

Black Bean Aphid

I discovered these Broad Bean Aphids on the underside of a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ leaf, from a plant that was grown in a container of New Horizon All Veg Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

Aphids are commonly found sap-sucking insects, they feed on the leaves, stems, and buds, of many garden plants.

Black Bean Aphids (Aphis fabae) are frequently found on broad bean, runner beans, and other plants.  These small insects have sharp piercing mouthparts that allow them to puncture the plant’s leaf, stem, or flower bud and feast on the plant’s sap, which weakens the plant.

Aphids are virus vectors.  When aphids feed from a plant that’s suffering from a virus, they take in the virus as they feast on the plant’s carbohydrates and sugars.  When the aphid moves to feed on another plant, they transmit the virus as they feed; thereby spreading viruses as they move from plant to plant.  Aphids weaken plants, as they feed on the plants’ sap and sugars, which reduces a plant’s energy and vigour.

Simply pinching out the growing tip of the broad bean plants really effectively solves any problem with these aphids – once you’ve pinched out your plants, these Black Bean Aphids will disappear, almost overnight.  However, during this Compost Trial I didn’t pinch out any of my Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants, as I wanted to discover if any of my plants were more susceptible to Black Bean Aphid than the others and to see whether the compost was affecting the plants’ ability to withstand or attract pests.

A Hoverfly Larvae pictured hunting Black Bean Aphids (Aphis fabae) on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown for my Compost Trial. As seen on the 2nd June 2020.

During this Compost Trial, I found that three containers of broad bean plants were more visibly affected by Black Black Bean Aphid; two of these containers were of Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost and one container was filled with New Horizon All Veg Compost.  These colonies of Black Bean Aphid were not a cause for concern; the plants were not overwhelmed by large infestations of Black Bean Aphids.  The aphid numbers were deftly kept in check by the birds, ladybirds, hoverfly larvae, wasps, and other predators that visited the plants.

The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in the other trialled composts remained largely free of Black Bean Aphid.

Ants

This ant is tending to a small group of Black Bean Aphids. This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Ants are often seen with aphids; they farm the aphids for the sweet, sugary honeydew that aphids secrete.

Broad Bean Seed Beetle

Bruchus rufimanus, also known as the Broad Bean Weevil or Broad Bean Seed Beetle, pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown for my Compost Trial, on the 15th June 2020.

I spotted the Broad Bean Weevil also known as the Broad Bean Seed Beetle (Bruchus rufimanus) on the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.  During this Trial, I didn’t notice any particular broad bean plants being more or less attractive to this insect than the others.

These flowers were produced by one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that I grew in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost, for this Compost Trial. Can you spot the Broad Bean Weevil? Pictured on the 30th June 2020.

I tried to harvest the broad beans whilst they were still small and young, which accounts for the fact that I didn’t find any larvae in my harvested beans, during this particular Compost Trial.  If you’re interested to see Broad Bean Seed Beetle (Bruchus rufimanus) larvae in action, click here to visit one of my earlier Compost Trials.

Caterpillars

I found this caterpillar on a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in a container of Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

During this Compost Trial, I found one caterpillar on a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads.  I really like caterpillars and insects, so I protect caterpillars – I never wish to hurt them – in fact I enjoy creating habitats for caterpillars and I make a particular effort to grow plants for them!  This caterpillar hadn’t caused any very noticeable damage.

I spotted these droppings on the leaf of a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in a container of Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

I assume that the droppings on this leaf (pictured above) came from a caterpillar, but I didn’t find any caterpillars on the same plant.  Consequently, it’s possible that there may have been one or more caterpillars feeding on the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads, during this Compost Trial.

Crickets

A Speckled Bush Cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima) pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost for my Compost Trial. As seen on the 2nd June 2020.

I found quite a few Speckled Bush Crickets on the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.  I didn’t notice that any of the broad bean plants were more or less attractive to the crickets than any other.

A Speckled Bush Cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima) pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants grown for my Compost Trial, on the 14th June 2020.
A Speckled Bush Cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima) pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants grown in SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium, for my Compost Trial, on the 16th June 2020.

Froghoppers

A Froghopper (Cercopoidea) pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants grown for my Compost Trial, on the 16th June 2020.

I spotted a few Froghoppers (Cercopoidea) on the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that were grown for this Compost Trial.  I didn’t notice any of the broad bean plants being more or less attractive to these insects than another.

Hoverflies

A Hoverfly Larvae pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown for this Compost Trial. As seen on the 2nd June 2020.

During this Compost Trial, I regularly saw Hoverflies around all of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Trial.  I spotted both the adult Hoverflies and Hoverfly larvae on the broad bean plants.  I observed a number of different coloured Hoverfly larvae (including white, green, and orange) busily hunting aphids on the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ Trial plants.

A Hoverfly Pupa pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost for this Compost Trial. As seen on the 14th June 2020.
A Hoverfly Pupa pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost for this Compost Trial. As seen on the 16th June 2020.
I found this empty hoverfly pupa on a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in a container of Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

Ladybirds

A Harlequin Ladybird Larvae preparing to pupate on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost, for my Compost Trial, as pictured on the 14th June 2020.

I regularly came across adult Ladybirds and Ladybird larvae on the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.  I often found Ladybirds and Ladybird larvae hunting aphids during this trial.

Again, I wasn’t aware of any particular compost having an effect on the number of ladybirds or ladybird larvae.  From my observations I concluded that no particular compost blend was any more or less attractive to the Ladybirds than the others.

Harlequin Ladybird Larvae pupa pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost, for my Compost Trial, on the 16th June 2020.
I found this empty Ladybird pupa on a leaf of a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in a container of Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

Moths

A Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata) and a Harlequin Ladybird Larvae pupa pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost, for my Compost Trial, on the 15th June 2020.

I found these two moths on the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.

A Riband Wave Moth (Idaea aversata) pictured on a leaf of one of the ‘Robin Hood’ broad bean plants grown for this Compost Trial.

Slugs and Snails

This leaf has been damaged by snails and Vine Weevils. These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Many of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial sustained damage from slugs and snails.  I found that snails were far more prevalent than slugs and caused more damage to plants, during this particular Trial.

I spotted this Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum) on the leaf of one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in New Horizon All Plant Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 9th July 2020.

Vine Weevils

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads, for my 2020 Compost Trial. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

A number of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial sustained leaf damage from Vine Weevil adults (Otiorhynchus sulcatus).

Leaf damage caused by slugs, snails, vine weevils, and other insects. This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost, for one of my 2020 Compost Trials. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Wasps

On the 2nd July 2020, I spotted this wasp (Vespula vulgaris) catching Broad Bean Aphids, on my Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants grown for this Compost Trial.

I saw very few wasps during the time that this Compost Trial ran.  Here’s a photo of one of the wasps I spotted on the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.

On the 2nd July 2020, I spotted this wasp (Vespula vulgaris) catching Broad Bean Aphids, on my Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants grown for this Compost Trial.

Broad Bean Pests, Diseases & Problems

Black Bean Aphids

Black Bean Aphids (Aphis fabae) pictured on one of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that was grown in Bord na mona Growise Organic Compost for my Compost Trial. As seen on the 2nd June 2020.

During this Compost Trial, I found that three containers of broad bean plants were affected by Black Black Bean Aphid (Aphis fabae).  The broad bean plants growing in two containers of Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost and one container of New Horizon All Veg Compost were affected by Black Bean Aphid.  These colonies of Black Bean Aphid were not large infestations; the aphid numbers were deftly kept in check by the birds, ladybirds, hoverflies, wasps, and other predators that visited the plants during this trial.

The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in the other trialled composts remained largely free of Black Bean Aphid.

Virus

This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seedling was grown in a container of Dalefoot Wool Potting Compost, during my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 18th April 2020.

The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seedling that you can see pictured above was grown in a container of Dalefoot Wool Potting Compost; this seedling looks distinctly different to the other broad bean seedlings that were grown for this Compost Trial.

Fungal Diseases

A closer look at the damaged leaves of a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in a container of container of SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. This photograph was taken on the 11th July 2020.
A closer look at the stem of a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in a container of container of SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium. This photograph was taken on the 11th July 2020.
A closer look at a leaf of a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in a container of Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 30th June 2020.

There were two fungal diseases that affected the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial:

Broad Bean Rust

This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in a container of SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

Broad bean Rust is a commonly found fungal disease that affects broad bean plants, it’s caused by a fungus known as Uromyces viciae-fabae.  All of the composts that were featured in this Compost Trial produced plants that suffered from Broad Bean Rust.

This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost, for one of my 2020 Compost Trials. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

The plants grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost were the first to become infected with Broad Bean Rust.  The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in the three containers of Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based compost) were more severely affected by Broad Bean Rust than the other plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.

This leaf was produced by a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. This photograph was taken on the 11th July 2020.

The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in the other trialled composts were also afflicted with Broad Bean Rust; this fungal disease was seen on plants grown in every single one of the trialled composts.  After the plants grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based), the next most serious cases of Broad Bean Rust were seen on the broad bean plants grown in these growing mediums:

  • Woodland Peat Free Multipurpose Compost (peat-free)
  • Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic)
  • New Horizon All Plant Compost (peat-free)
  • Happy Compost All Purpose Compost
  • SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium (peat-free and vegan)
  • New Horizon All Veg Compost (peat-free)
  • SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes (peat-free and vegan)
  • Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads (peat-free and organic)
  • Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost
This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in a container of Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in the containers of Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost (peat-free and organic) were less affected by Broad Bean Rust than the other plants that were grown for this Compost Trial.

This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. This photograph was taken on the 11th July 2020.

One of the plants that was grown in Happy Compost All Purpose Compost (peat-free and vegan) was less affected by Broad Bean Rust than the other Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in this growing medium.

A closer look at the leaves of a Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant that was grown in a container of Happy Compost All Purpose Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

Broad Bean Chocolate Spot

This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant was grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trials. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Broad Bean Chocolate Spot is a commonly seen fungal disease that creates reddish brown to dark brown spots on the leaves, stems and pods of broad bean plants.  Chocolate Spot tends to be more severe and more damaging to the productivity of broad bean plants than Broad Bean Rust.

This Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ bean pod was grown in a container of New Horizon All Veg Compost, for my 2020 Compost Trial. Pictured on the 11th July 2020.

During the later stages of this Compost Trial, Broad bean Chocolate Spot was found on some of the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in the following growing mediums:

  • Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based compost)
  • SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes (peat-free and vegan)
  • Happy Compost All Purpose Compost (peat-free and vegan)
  • New Horizon All Plant Compost (peat free)
  • Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic)
  • Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost
  • SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium
  • Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads (peat-free and organic)
  • Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost

Broad Bean Leaf Damage

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost. This photograph was taken on the 11th July 2020.

The broad bean plants that were grown for this Compost Trial sustained damage from slugs, snails, Vine Weevils, Broad Bean Weevil, and other insects.  During this Compost Trial, the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants grown in the following composts sustained severe leaf damage:

  • Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads (peat-free and organic)
  • Happy Compost All Purpose Compost (peat-free and vegan)
  • New Horizon All Veg Compost (peat-free)
  • Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based)
  • Woodland Peat Free Multi Purpose Compost (peat-free)

During this Compost Trial, the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in the following growing mediums sustained moderate leaf damage:

  • Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost (peat-free and organic)
  • SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium (peat-free and vegan)

During this Compost Trial, the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in the following composts sustained minimal leaf damage

  • Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic)
  • Happy Compost All Purpose Compost (peat-free and vegan)
  • New Horizon All Plant Compost (peat-free)
  • SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes (peat-free and vegan)
These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants were grown in New Horizon All Veg Compost. I took this photograph on the 11th July 2020.

Compost Trial Results

These Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ bean pods were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost. This photograph was taken on the 30th June 2020.

Harvesting the Broad Beans

This Broad Bean ‘Robin hood’ plant was grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads. Pictured on the 11th June 2020.

I relish young broad beans; they’re so sweet, tender, and utterly delicious!  I’m not keen on older broad beans, which can become rather floury.  Consequently, the intention was to harvest the broad beans that were grown for this Compost Trial, while they were still small and tender – I wasn’t attempting to grow the largest sized individual broad bean but the greatest harvest of individual beans!

Havesting Dates

There were six harvesting dates for the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial:

  • The first harvest was collected on the 18th June 2020.
  • The second harvest was taken on the 22nd June 2020.
  • The third harvest was gathered on the 25th June 2020.
  • The fourth harvest was taken on the 2nd July 2020.
  • The fifth harvest was collected on the 9th July 2020.
  • The sixth harvest was gathered on the 11th July 2020.
I harvested these broad beans during this 2020 Compost Trial.

Average Number of Bean Pods Harvested per Plant

This chart shows the average number of pods harvested per plant, for each type of compost – regardless of how many beans were harvested from each pod.

Average Weight of Broad Bean Pods Harvested per Plant

This chart shows the average weight of the bean pods harvested from each Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plant grown in the various growing mediums.

Average Weight of Beans Harvested per Plant

This chart shows the average weight of beans harvested from each plant grown in the various trialled growing mediums.

Average Number of Broad Beans Produced per Plant

This chart shows the total number of beans harvested per plant for each compost type. I haven’t counted the harvest by weight, because the variation in some bean sizes, depending on the exact harvest date, could skew the results. You can see that yield from the Dalefoot Wool Potting compost outperformed the other composts by more than 15% per plant. The only peat-based compost in the trial, Westland Jack’s Magic, was around mid-way in the list – showing that in this Compost Trial there was no disadvantage to growing in a peat-free compost, and no advantage to using peat.

How Does Each Compost Compare to the Top Performing Compost in this Compost Trial?

This table shows a comparison between the top performing compost and the other composts that featured in this Compost Trial.

How Does Each Trialled Compost Compare to the Peat-Based Compost in this Compost Trial?

This table compares the relative performance of the different peat-free composts when compared to the only peat-based compost in the trial. You can see that 7 of the peat-free composts out-performed or equalled the harvest from the peat-based compost. This demonstrates that there is no need to use peat-based compost, and that a quality peat-free compost will be more beneficial for your plants and harvests.

Final Compost Ranking: Harvest per Plant

I adore freshly harvested small broad beans.  Once the beans have become larger and paler green in colour, I find they’re not as sweet and tasty.  Large sized, mature broad beans can be rather floury in texture – they’re a different vegetable to the delicious darker green coloured, younger, sweeter beans.

When you’re viewing the results of this Compost Trial, it’s important to remember that it’s the number of beans that is the most important calculation.  I have harvested these Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ beans when they were young and small – I’ve not tried to grow the largest beans possible – in fact I’ve actively tried to harvest young, small sized beans!

A number of the broad beans I harvested in the fourth harvest, (taken on the 2nd July 2020) were a larger size than I would have chosen, but alas this was a busy week and I didn’t have time to make an earlier harvest.


Rank

Compost Type


Conclusions

1




Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost (peat-free and organic compost) was the clear winner in this Compost Trial!  The total harvest of beans achieved by the broad bean plants grown in this compost was over 15% higher than any of the other composts in this Compost Trial.  Gardeners who believe that peat-based composts are superior to peat-free composts will be interested to know that the plants grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost produced 51% more beans that the peat-based compost in this Compost Trial!  Dalefoot compost is the most expensive brand of compost, per litre, in this Compost Trial – but the plants grown in this compost performed better and produced a greater harvest of beans.

2

Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads (peat-free and organic compost) came in at second place.  The broad bean plants that were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads produced a harvest of broad beans that was higher than nine of the composts, during this Compost Trial.  During this Compost Trial, the plants that were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads produced 19% more beans than the plants that were grown in the peat-based compost.  Dalefoot Composts are available from garden centres and online stockists, or you can purchase this compost directly from Dalefoot, who deliver to homes across the UK.

3

Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic compost) secured third place.  The plants grown in this growing medium produced an excellent yield of beans and sustained only minimal damage from slugs, snails, and other leaf-eating pests.  During this Compost Trial, the plants that were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost produced 2% more beans that the plants grown in the peat-based compost.  Given that this compost can be purchased for around half the cost per-litre of Dalefoot Composts, Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost represents both excellent performance and price.  The only challenge you’re likely to face is finding a supplier.

4

New Horizon Peat Free All Plant Compost (peat-free) came in fourth place.  During this Compost Trial, the plants that were grown in New Horizon Peat Free All Plant Compost produced 6% more beans than the plants grown in the peat-based growing media.  This is the most widely available peat-free compost, it’s available in garden centres, such as: Squires, Homebase, and B&Q, as well as many of the independent stockists.  The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in this compost suffered only minimal damage from slugs, snails, and other cutting insects.  However, I found the manure-like smell when this bag of compost was opened was very unwelcome and very off-putting.

5

Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based compost) put in an average performance, placing it squarely in the middle of the peat-free composts within this Compost Trial.  I would never normally consider buying a peat-based compost, but I decided it was important to include a peat-based compost in my Compost Trial this year, to demonstrate that when gardeners and horticulturists claim that peat-based composts will always out-perform peat-free composts, they are completely wrong.  Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost is one of the more expensive composts in this Compost Trial.

6

Melcourt SylvaGrow Sustainable Growing Medium (peat-free and vegan compost) costs around half the price of the leading composts (and peat-based compost) and yet produced almost exactly the same yield.  During this Compost Trial, the plants that were grown in Melcourt SylvaGrow Sustainable Growing Medium produced 3% more beans than the plants grown in the peat-based growing media.  Melcourt SylvaGrow is also endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society.  In terms of value for money and performance, I would definitely recommend Melcourt SylvaGrow Sustainable Growing Medium.

7

New Horizon All Veg Compost (peat-free compost) produced almost 10% fewer beans than New Horizon’s All Plant Compost.  During this Compost Trial, the plants that were grown in New Horizon Peat Free All Veg Compost produced 5% more beans than the plants grown in the peat-based growing media.  This compost’s wide availability and low price mean that this is still an option for gardeners looking to go peat-free.  Sadly, I found that New Horizon All Veg Compost produced an unpleasant manure-like aroma for several weeks after the bags were opened, which was very off-putting for me.

8

Melcourt SylvaGrow All Purpose Peat-Free Growing Medium with Added John Innes (peat-free and vegan compost) produced plants that were less affected by slugs and snails than the majority of the composts in this Compost Trial.  During this Compost Trial, the plants that were grown in Melcourt SylvaGrow All Purpose Peat-Free Growing Medium with Added John Innes produced the same quantity of beans as the plants grown in the peat-based growing media.

9

Woodland Horticulture Limited Peat Free Multi-Purpose Compost (peat-free compost) was a very woody formula, which dried out quickly and required much more watering than the other composts in this Compost Trial.  I’d recommend you use this particular compost as a soil improver or a mulch, rather than using it neat to grow vegetables.  Woodland Peat Free Multi-Purpose Compost was the fifth most expensive compost in this Compost Trial.  I found that this compost’s availability is rather limited.

10

Happy All Purpose Compost (peat-free, organic, and vegan compost) produced a disappointing performance.  The broad bean plants that were grown in this compost produced the lowest harvest of beans of the composts in this Compost Trial, despite the fact that these plants sustained only a minimal amount of damage from slugs, snails, and other cutting pests.  The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in Happy All Purpose Compost produced a harvest that measured just over half that of the leading compost, Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost.

11

Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost (peat-free and organic) was the worst performing compost of this Compost Trial.  Only 2 of the 18 beans sown in the three pots of Gardman compost germinated, and these seedlings shrivelled up and died within three weeks of germinating.  Despite the company’s claims that this compost wouldn’t become waterlogged, during the wet weather in February and March 2020, two containers of this compost were waterlogged.  Whilst Gardman is the cheapest of the composts trialled, this growing medium didn’t offer good value for money, during this Compost Trial.

Conclusions

  • Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ can be successfully grown in containers.
  • The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown for this Compost Trial produced a greater harvest when grown in a peat-free compost.
  • The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that produced the greatest harvest of beans during this Compost Trial were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost (a peat-free and organic growing media).
  • During this Compost Trial, the plants grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Potting Compost (peat-free and organic compost) produced a harvest that was 51% greater than the harvest produced by the plants in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based compost).
  • During this Compost Trial, the plants that were grown in Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables & Salads produced 19% more beans than the plants that were grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based compost).
  • The plants that were grown in New Horizon Peat Free All Plant Compost produced 6% more beans than the plants grown in the peat-based growing media, during this Compost Trial.
  • During this Compost Trial, the plants that were grown in New Horizon Peat Free All Veg Compost produced 5% more beans than the plants grown in the peat-based growing media.
  • The plants that were grown in Melcourt SylvaGrow Sustainable Growing Medium produced 3% more beans than the plants grown in the peat-based growing media, during this Compost Trial.
  • During this Compost Trial, the plants that were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost produced 2% more beans that the plants grown in the peat-based compost.
  • The plants that were grown in Melcourt SylvaGrow All Purpose Peat-Free Growing Medium with Added John Innes produced the same quantity of beans as the plants grown in the peat-based growing media, during this Compost Trial.
  • Considering the cost and average performance of Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost, this Compost Trial demonstrates that there is no reason whatsoever to use a peat-based compost when growing vegetables.  The peat-free, organic alternatives either cost less or performed better, and in some cases, both.
  • 100% germination was achieved by the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seeds sown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic), New Horizon All Plant Compost (peat-free), SylvaGrow® Sustainable Growing Medium (peat-free and vegan), SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes (peat-free and vegan), and Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based).
  • The lowest germination rate was 11.11%, achieved by the Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ seeds sown in Gardman Country Smart Multi-Purpose Organic Compost (peat-free and organic).
  • The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that sustained the least leaf damage (from snails, slugs, vine weevils etc) were grown in Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic), Happy Compost All Purpose Compost (peat-free and vegan), New Horizon All Plant Compost (peat-free), and SylvaGrow® Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes (peat-free and vegan).
  • During this Compost Trial, every one of the trialled composts produced at least one plant that suffered from Broad Bean Rust; the plants grown in Westland Jack’s Magic All Purpose Compost (peat-based) were more susceptible to Broad Bean Rust than the plants grown in the other growing mediums.
  • The Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ plants that were grown in two containers of Bord na Móna Growise Organic Vegetable Compost (peat-free and organic) and one container of New Horizon All Veg Compost (peat-free) attracted colonies of Black Bean Aphid; while the plants grown in the other growing mediums mostly avoided this pest.
  • The top performing vegan compost in this Compost Trial was Melcourt SylvaGrow Sustainable Growing Medium (peat-free and vegan).
  • Excellent quality peat-free composts are available to UK gardeners.
  • The cheapest compost isn’t always the best value.
  • There is no need to use a peat-based compost to grow vegetables.
  • Peat-free composts should be more widely available.

More Compost Trial Reports

To see all of my Compost Trials, please click here.

To read advice on planting up containers, please click here.

Scented Daffodil Trial Reports

To see the results of my second Scented Daffodil Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my Scented Daffodil Container Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my first Scented Daffodil Trial, please click here.

Slug and Snail Trials

To see the results of my Slug and Snail Trial and discover the best methods of protecting your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.

To read about using nematodes to protect your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.

Sweet Pea Trial Reports

To read the results of my third Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my second Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

To read the results of my first Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

Terrarium, Vivarium, and Orchidarium Trials

To see how my Orchidarium was created, please click here.

To see the design of my Rainforest Terrarium, please click here.

To read the first part of my White Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.

To read the first part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.

To read the first part of my Miniature Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.

To see a planting list of ferns, orchids, and other plants that are perfectly suited to growing inside terrariums and bottle gardens, please click here.

To read about the general care I give to my orchids and terrarium plants, and the general maintenance I give to my BiOrbAir terrariums, please click here.

To read how I track the temperature, humidity, and light conditions inside my terrariums, please click here.

Tomato Trials

To read about my Trial of New Tomato Varieties, please click here.

Vegetable Trials

To see all of my Vegetable Trials, please click here.

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One thought on “2020 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

  1. Adrian Teare

    August 31, 2020 at 7:18am

    Dear Beth,

    I have really enjoyed reading the compost trial today on holiday. I have the time and mental space to take in your detailed study. It is a superb piece of work – thank you.

    Best wishes, Adrian

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      August 31, 2020 at 7:24am

      Thank you Adrian, that’s kind of you to say. I am so happy that you enjoyed reading about my Compost Trial; I hope the results will help you find top quality composts. I also hope you’re having a lovely and very relaxing holiday. Best wishes, Beth

  2. Keith Johnson

    January 2, 2021 at 12:22pm

    Hi this is a very interesting report and really well done. I used the New Horizon All Plant Compost last year for all my plants but I did not notice smell, I got a very good display of flowers with this compost, better than with some peat based ones, I agree peat free should be much more widely available. I would be interested to know what size containers you used as I am thinking of growing veg in containers this year.. Thank you all the hard work you must have put into this trial.
    Keith

    • Author

      Pumpkin Beth

      January 2, 2021 at 12:49pm

      Hello Keith

      It’s great to hear from you. I am glad that you achieved good results with New Horizon. How wonderful that your compost wasn’t as potent as mine was – the stench was most unpleasant; I am glad you didn’t have to suffer this!

      My Trial Pots that I’ve used in this Compost Trial (and many other Trials) are the 40cm Stewart Palladian Planters, here’s a link: http://stewart-garden.co.uk/products/green/40cm/palladian/ Whenever I can, I try to purchase a few more pots each year to extend the size of my Trials.

      I’ve written a lot about growing vegetables in containers – I trial veg in containers every year and have done for many years – so hopefully you’ll find lots of useful information here. Broad Bean ‘Robin Hood’ is a great variety for containers. If you live in a warmer part of the country, you can sow seeds in February – if the weather’s good – wait until March or April if the weather’s bad or if you live further North.

      I have a number of Compost Trials planned for this year. Another of my 2020 Compost Trial Reports will be publishing in early February, and I have another Compost Trial report, which will be published later in the season.

      Happy new year!

      Best wishes
      Beth

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