RSPB Bird Watch 2020

Did you manage to squeeze in an hour to do the bird watch last weekend?  Personally, I was deeply frustrated with the birds in my garden.  They all hid for the hour I spent staring out of the window, apart from the rather fat pigeon scoffing the suet pellets.  I even had a second go on Monday and it was no different. This morning they are back; 5 longtail tits, the lovely female blackcap, the wren and at least 4 blue tits all at the same time, Mr and Mrs Blackbird, the dunnock and the house sparrows.  Still, at least I know they are there.

Going Peat Free in Your Garden

Wild Stroud has “being peat-free” as one of the criteria for entering the Making Nature Welcome competition (doesn’t apply to attending workshops).   Peat is made from decayed vegetation and organic matter, it develops very slowly over years and is found in wetlands and bogs

There are so many reasons:

When it comes to climate change, peatlands are vital. The excess carbon in our atmosphere is causing the planet to heat up. Peat bogs act like a sponge, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it like a sink. The UK’s peatlands store around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon and alongside the oceans, are the second largest store of carbon on the planet whilst covering a much smaller area.

Peat bogs are home to all sorts of plants and provide an environment for rare dragonflies, spiders and other invertebrates, and a feeding ground for birds,

Finding an alternative

We were talking about it at our first workshop last week and I thought it would be useful to check out some of the local garden centres to see what they offered and also explore online.  

Out of 15 types of compost, soil improver, mulch, garden conditioner and many other terms only one actually said Peat Free on the packaging.  So I started to dig deeper exploring some of the better-known brands.  John Innes 1 and 2 all contain peat – Ok it calls its self “reduced peat”  – but peat is peat and the term “reduced peat” just means less than they used before and I don’t want to use it as peat bogs are vital for holding carbon.

Where to Buy Peat Free Growing Medium

I’ve always had the intention to make my own growing medium. There are recipes online but then suddenly I’ve some seeds to plant  (sweet peas) and I’ve lots of other things to do so it’s easier to buy some.  Homebase in Stroud has some New Horizon products – today there were only 2 left in stock so check online before you head down there.  B&Q have Verve Peat Free multipurpose compost, probably not great for seed planting but if any of you try it out please let us know.  I fancy the Melcourt products, they are made in Tetbury, they have organic versions and their website is really helpful.  You do have to buy from local stockists and the two closest are The Pound Farm Shop – as you come out of Gloucester on the Edge road and The Nailsworth Garden Centre, which is on the Avening road.  I’ll pick some up next time I’m passing and let you know what I think.

If you’d like to make your own soil for planting your seeds we’ve found a good recipe we are going to try you can find it and some other information on going peat-free on this link

There’s lots of information out on the web for wildlife gardeners.  Wildstroud is slowly curating content to help you get techniques and knowledge quickly.  Checkout out our resources page and let us know if you find something really useful we could post