Product Review - Carbon Gold Biochar Composts

This year I have finally taken the step to go peat-free.  I know some of you will sigh and wonder what has taken me so long.  I completely understand that this is an important thing to do and that using peat based products is not sustainable.  I also know many people who swear by peat free products.  Over the last few years I have tried several different types of peat free composts to differing levels of success from the very successful to the sitting and weeping over my dead plants.  I am keen to find alternatives that work for me and so when asked to trial these Carbon Gold biochar products I quickly said yes.

I have to be transparent and state that I have not paid for these products.  My words and opinions remain my own, no one has paid me to write this review nor has anyone else approved its content.

Let's start with what is biochar.  It is an organic peat-free growing medium that resembles fine charcoal and is created by the method called prolysis.  Pyrolysis is when organic matter is decomposed at extreme temperature in an oxygen-free environment.  It can be used in a variety of different ways and Carbon Gold offer a range of products including Carbon Gold Seed Compost and Carbon Gold All Purpose Compost.  Whilst I have found several peat-free composts to be really good, getting a good peat free seed compost has been more of a challenge.  Let's just say I have fried the roots off a few seeds at the point of germination.  So this was probably the compost I was most interested to trial.

As said above the compost is a charcoal like product which means it is quite finely gritty in appearance.  This means it drains well and gives the roots the ability to develop healthily.

I sowed a few different seeds into this compost: the Myosotis (forget me not) seeds above, some coleus seeds (we can discuss whatever their name is today) and some Cerinthe retorta seeds.
and they all germinated and developed well.  This is gave me hope that if the seed compost was good that the potting on general purpose compost would be as well.

The coleus have been potted on and are growing well.  One thing I am going to say is that I know part of my issue with peat-free composts have been that I did not understand that growing in a different medium meant I had to change my habits of a life time.  Peat-free composts need a slightly different approach, they do seem to run out of oomph faster than many peat based composts in my experience and so they need feeding sooner and more often.  Obviously take care at the seed germination stage as you don't want to fry the roots off your seedlings, but once potted on I found that I have to start the weekly feed regime just a bit earlier than I might have done previously.  
I also potted on these cannas I bought into the general purpose compost.
A few weeks down the line and these are still very happy plantings.
I have kept the cannas in their pots as I bought them quite late into the season and so that I can overwinter them more easily.  I have fed them weekly and they are thriving.

I like that on the website Carbon Gold explain how to use their products.  You can select products by season and by task if you are not sure.  They do lots of useful pick and mix bundles so that you buy what you need when you need it and their blogs help talk you through what to do, how and when.  Obviously it is a company that wants to sell its products, but it feels like they want to sell you the right products and help you use them rather than just sell and hope for the best.  I like this.

I am very happy with these products.  They have worked well for me and I like that I can be confident they are from a sustainable source.  The Carbon Gold founder, Craig Sams recently took part in my interview series The Questions and I have also been asked to write an article for their website.  I would not have agreed to either of these if their product was not performing as I would like.

Stay safe and be kind.

For more from the Blackberry Garden follow me on Twitter and Facebook