Why all gardeners should only use peat-free products
by Transition Woodbridge
(For further information and links see this article on our website)
It’s spring! Time to get growing! Need some compost?
…Before you head out and buy the nearest bag of multipurpose compost, are you aware of the impact that peat-based composts have on your carbon footprint?
Alys Fowler (from BBC Gardeners’ World) says:
“Stop buying peat-based compost (the ingredients are on the back), buy plants from the many good folk who already grow peat-free, and ask your local garden centre to commit to being peat-free.”
Why is this?
“Peatlands are considered to be the most efficient carbon sinks on Earth. The plants that grow in them capture the carbon released by the peat, maintaining an equilibrium that we cannot afford to lose. Extracted and degraded peat bogs do the opposite: they release a lot of carbon dioxide. It goes without saying that we can’t afford to destroy them while the world burns”.
From “For Peat’s Sake: How To Protect Bogs” by Alys Fowler
“A loss of only 5% of UK peatland carbon would equate to the total annual UK anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.” (From IUCN report 2011, p10)
This is why Monty Don says:
“I have said this a thousand times but worth repeating: If you are a gardener or nursery do not use peat. Ever. If you are a garden centre – stop selling peat products right now!”
Many of us have had excellent results by gardening without any peat for several years. For the vast majority of garden situations, there are many ways to achieve good peat-free results.
Apart from the climate implications of peat extraction, peatlands are also very biodiverse habitats essential to a wide range of species from insect-eating plants like sundews, to Curlews.
“The time is now to stop using peat in the garden” Allie McGregor, RSPB
For many of us, existing soil can be improved with garden compost, leaf mould (Monty Don’s favourite), local horse manure, soil improvers derived from green waste/wood products, as well as grit or sharp sand when appropriate.
An increasing number of peat-free composts are now available for potting and seeding, as well as soil improvers.
Talk to your local suppliers – If you go to the nursery or garden centre, ask them what peat-free compost or plants they have in stock. By getting ahead and meeting the increasing demand for peat-free products, they stand to benefit. If the bag doesn’t say peat-free then it most likely isn’t.
The National Trust only sells plants grown in peat-free compost & there are several local suppliers of peat free compost. keep asking for 100% peat-free.
There is currently much discussion on social media, with hashtags #peatfree, #PeatfreeApril and #PeatfreeSuffolk of which are the best products and where to find them.
See the TransitionWoodbridge.org.uk website for further information on this and other ways to help reduce your carbon footprint and make Woodbridge more resilient in the age of climate change.