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Question for Nina re soil
Posted: 28/07/2009 by rachaelbrown3

Hi, this is a question specifically for Nina, although other peoples input is also very welcome!!

I could be very wrong here as I am going from memory, but did you once recommend or say that you used john innes seed compost as a good type of soil to mix with sand as a substrate?

I have been using topsoil (rather than compost) and i am very unhappy with it. I have tried different brands and bought the freshest bags i can find from different stores, and it still doesnt seem right to me.

I would like to try compost rather than topsoil, but wanted to check which brand/type people thought was best - as obviously i dont want one that has added fertilisers and things.

any suggestions welcome please. Thanks, Rachael

Re: Question for Nina re soil
Posted: 28/07/2009 by Laraine

What problems are you having with the soil?

I use either of the following, B&Q or Homebase own brand top soil. They are both screened, the B&Q one seems to have some tiny stones in, but have had no problems so far.
I use to use the Levingtons organic, but there was an increasing amount of plastic and glass. Since using the B&Q and Homebase I have found no plastic or glass. They do seem to be a little more sandier than the Levingtons, but now I dont add the sand. I also use either of these, when topping up outside in the enclosures.

We have 7 tortoise tables and 10 enclosures where we use the topsoil. We have a heavy clay soil in the garden, so have used a lot of top soil and brown sand to improve the quality.

Re: Question for Nina re soil
Posted: 28/07/2009 by rachaelbrown3

Hi Laraine, I have tried b&q one and i found it to have lots of little stones in, this was quite a while ago so maybe it has changed a little? I am wary of stones as i have seen my torts eat them! I have found large pieces of glass in other brands and finally settled on levingons organic. The last few bags i have used have been very fibrous, and this last bag in particular has a mushroom/fungus smell, so i have not used it. It was a fresh batch too as it had just arrived in the store.

I was thinking about the seed compost, as seed compost is meant to be low in nutrients and quite sandy - and i imagine is blended freshly rather than old composting material used for topsoil. just wanted to check before going out and buying a load!

Rach x

Re: Question for Nina re soil
Posted: 29/07/2009 by TPGDarren

Hi Rach,

I tend to use the Homebase topsoil here and find that it's quite sandy anyway - so don't add any playsand at all, just 100% topsoil.


Re: Question for Nina re soil
Posted: 01/08/2009 by Nina

Hi Rachael,

Sorry to be late in responding. I personally use topsoil, mixed 70%topsoil - 30%playsand, and I keep a section of the substrate (near the basking spot) slightly damp, to avoid dust. You're right, though, I did mention John Innes in the past, as I think I said that if you are going to use compost, it is best to use John Innes no. 1, as that has the least fertilizer in it (I'm not sure it has any fertilizer actually), and that is better for your tortoise. The other John Innes mixtures (2 and 3) have fertilizer in them and so should probably be avoided. Hope that helps. What is it that you don't like about the topsoil you've been using?


Re: Question for Nina re soil
Posted: 04/08/2009 by rachaelbrown3

I bought a bag of b&q topsoil at the weekend, and it is much better than i remember as it is lose and sandy, but still has too many stones in it for my torts, so will be trying john innes number one next! I can always use the rest on my garden. Rachael


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