Go Peat-Free

When looking to buy compost from a garden centre, it is important to look for peat-free products.

Peat bogs are an important but dwindling habitat for wildlife and vital store of carbon which has accumulated as decomposed organic matter over thousands of years. When the peat is extracted, carbon is released into the atmosphere further warming the earth, leading to the heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and floods we see now as a result of our rapidly changing climate.

Peatlands, like bogs and moors, are the UK's largest store of carbon, more than all our forests put together, and yet peat is still being extracted in lowland areas, and we also import lots of peat from Ireland and the EU.

Most garden centres now sell peat-free compost. You might also see peat-reduced composts (but these can still contain large amounts of peat) and 'organic' composts which really doesn't mean anything as all composts have organic components.

A lot of plant nurseries are also moving over to potting up their plants into peat-free compost.

Please do write to your local plant or compost retailer if they are still stocking large quantities of peat-based products as businesses will usually respond if sufficient customers make their feelings known.

Using peat-free compost

Peat-free composts have different properties to peat-based ones, so you might have to manage them a bit differently, depending on what they are made from.

Notice how it holds water and drains, and try to water slowly to allow it to percolate into the body of the compost. You can feel the weight of the pot to see how heavy it feels. If it feels light, it will need more water. These composts can often hold quite a lot of water but can feel dry on the top, so try not to overwater but get a feel for what water is required.

You might also find that the plants will not grow quite as strongly as in peat but this can be remedied by adding a bit of organic liquid feed now and again.




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