Peat is hugely important to our planet for lots of reasons. It acts as a carbon store, it is a great habitat for wildlife, it has a role in water management, and preserves things well for archaeology. … as a carbon store – peat holds more carbon than the combined forests of Britain, France and Germany. National Trust
In 1999 the Government aimed to eliminate peat from all but 10 per cent of compost by 2010, but it is still present in 46 per cent of the compost sold in Britain. Its extraction in the UK not only disturbs rare wildlife but also releases an estimated million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.
Around 70 per cent of peat is used in horticulture, much by amateur gardeners who have long considered it the best way of encouraging plant growth. It is rich in nutrients, being made up of partially decomposed plant material that has not decayed fully because of local conditions.
It doesn’t have to be this way – you can change your behaviour today and help preserve habitats around the world.
Why we need to keep peat in the ground – and out of our gardens
If you’re not sure what peat is and why it is so important for us to look after our peat bogs this site has a really clear explanation of what peat is and why we need to keep it in the ground and not in our gardens www.plantlife.org.uk
“It’s a myth that peat is necessary for a healthy garden. This is just not true. Trust me, I’m a botanist.”
Lovely article from the Wildflower Garden on why we use peat, how to make your own alternative soils and compost for different uses and recommendations of plants that do really well without peat in the soil
How to Make the Best Potting Mix for Starting Seeds – from GrowVeg
Do you really need special soil that you have to buy in plastic bags at the garden centre in order to plant your seeds? Well, opinion is mixed on this one. The trouble with just using some of the soil from your garden is it might well be full of other seeds that you don’t really want to grow (some people call these weeds). Soil that is too rich, too dry, too wet etc etc can cause a problem. I watched the video and found some additional information which was interesting but 5.49 minutes was enough – have a pen and paper ready if you watch the video there’s a lot of information.
Pledge to go Peat Free with Butterfly Conservation and Monty Don
Writer, Gardener and television presenter, Monty Don, has described using peat in your garden as an act of eco-vandalism, see why here. Join him in going peat-free in your garden. You can either make your own or purchase peat-free composts. Make a pledge to Butter Conservation to be peat-free this year. Receive news and wildlife gardening tips from Butterfly Conservation.
How do I know if it’s Peat Free and where do I get compost from?
If it doesn’t say Peat Free on the packaging then assume it isn’t. We have a producer of Peat Free composts in Tetbury – Melcourt and you can see in the picture it clearly states Peat Free.
You could make your own compost and we’ve several links above to recipes for that but if you do want to buy check the packaging. It should say on the bag the percentage of peat in the compost and some companies have developed their own symbols. As we move towards the time of year people are thinking of gardens and planting seeds or potting on last year’s plants now is the time to research who has what. In 2020 B&Q in Stroud had a peat-free compost, in smaller more manageable bags and their peat-based one. Stancombe Farm Shop in Bisley offered a peat-free on and a soil improver that was also peat-free. They tend to have a peat-based one all year and then in Spring bring in a larger variety in bulk. Highfield at Whitminster did not have a peat-free product when we checked but we only checked once. Melcourt we got from Pound Farm on the way to Gloucester and also from Denis Brown in Woodchester.