Lou Nicholls is Head Gardener at Ulting Wick Garden and a Blogger that has worked in Horticulture for over 20 years. She gives talks around the country on Organic, vegetable growing and Ornamental plants and is a member of the Garden Media Guild and the Professional Gardeners Guild.
To Peat or not to Peat?
I’ll make this short, don’t use Peat!
But why not? When it’s been successfully used for generations why change?
The answers is because you don’t need to, in the past we’ve used it for convenience. It’s lighter than loam and has better moisture retentive capabilities and that’s where its benefits end. However over the last 25 years various companies with an eye to the future, climate change, habitat loss and just generally caring about the environment and sustainability, have developed various Peat free composts that do exactly the same job without long term impact into our Peat wetlands.
Gardeners aren’t the most significant consumers of Peat I’ll grant you but it’s our attitudes that change the world as well as our actions. By rejecting Peat in your compost you are making a small but important stand to companies. It’s our pressure, our buying habits that change how companies work.
I’ve never used Peat in my professional career, I worked for Garden Organic and at that point Peat free was just starting to become an option. Since then the options available to the home gardener are so varied and easily available there is literally no reason to use Peat. You can even buy Vegan compost these days! That’s right Vegan, this is a brilliant example of how for the first time in history consumers are leading manufacturers in what they want to see and use as opposed to the other way round.
Peat wetlands are home to sundews, marsh violets and many species of wild orchids, plants that can’t grow anywhere else. This is an area we really can make a difference to and very quickly, by allowing water to re-flood peat wetlands the damage done by draining it can be quickly reversed.
So take a moment to check the bag of compost you’re thinking of picking up, make sure it says Peat free and know that in your own small way you are helping to save the planet.
I recommend in random order and in no way an indication of preference!