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Old 26-09-2007, 07:33 PM
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Default Ericaceous compost warning

Earlier this summer I purchased 8 ericaceous compost bags from a well-known supplier which subsequently caused me quite a bit of grief when I could have easily lost some expensive and difficult-to-replace plants. My bags had all the enticing pictures of healthy cammellias and rhododendrons we are used to seeing and the inference was obvious.

But within a week of planting, my acid lovers were showing signs of nutient deficiency. Over the next several weeks I added the extra nutrients separately in order to identify the culprit but to no avail, by which time my plants were looking very sick. Having exhausted all other possibilities I eventually checked the pH, (which I hadn't done previously because I did expect ericaceous compost to be acidic), at this late stage I was simply checking to see just how acidic it was.
The result was pH 7- neutral.

I changed my new compost immediately. But not before I had been compelled to remove all the newly grown roots that were embedded within the original new compost and trimmed the new top-growth to balance the foliage with the root system and thus avoid rapid dehydration.

My second new compost was tested before purchase with a simple probe through the bag (5.5pH). Within the week my plants were showing distinct signs of recovery. The first compost was 'recycled' in the veg patch. It may have been a poor patch, but then again it might not. So, it might be as well to double check - 'cause ultimately, it's the easiest option.
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