More on peat

07 March 2019

A couple of years ago we discussed why we don’t use peat.

At this time of year, when gardeners are going out to buy compost to start sowing seeds and repotting plants, could we make a direct appeal to buy peat-free compost?

We do try not to bang on about the environmental principles that underlie what we do at the Memorial Gardens, but I’d like to make an exception this time, because climate change is accelerating much faster than we thought it would a couple of years ago, and we have to reduce carbon emissions urgently in the light of the latest evidence on climate change.

When I wrote that first post, the situation was bad, but there was a lot of hope that if we could limit our greenhouse gas emissions, we could stop the earth’s temperature rising uncontrollably. In the last two years the situation has got much worse, much faster than we expected. When peat is dug up to make cheap multipurpose compost, very large amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, and we just can’t afford to keep doing it. Peat-free composts have improved tremendously over the last few years, and they’re being stocked much more widely; with bulk-buying, the price has got much closer to the price of ordinary (peat-based) multipurpose compost, which is cheaper to produce.

We’ve rung round local suppliers to find prices for ordinary (= peat-based) and peat-free multipurpose composts, and apart from the most heavily discounted multibuys, the difference in price for three 50-litre bags or equivalent would  only be the same as a couple of cups of coffee. Wickes has New Horizon peat-free at £4 for a 50-litre bag, which is cheaper than peat-based multipurpose compost at most of the local suppliers. If you prefer the Sylvagrow range, they’re stocked locally by Potash Nursery, and others are being introduced all the time.

Edited on 8th March: we’ve rung round a number of local suppliers, and found that most of them are stocking good, reliable peat-free compost – Sylvagrow, Westland’s New Horizon,  or equivalent. The price is generally a little more than peat-based multipurpose composts, but the gap is much closer than it used to be, and it really is only a little more expensive now. Locally, suppliers (in alphabetical order) include Dobbies, Frosts, Homebase, Leighton Buzzard Garden Centre, Potash Nursery and Wickes; and Ascott House tell us that later in the year they’ll probably have whichever peat-free compost they’re using this year for sale in the car park, along with plants they’ve potted up in it – I think they’re the only local supplier of plants grown in peat-free compost at the moment. If anyone cares to add to the list, add a comment or email me as usual!



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