Updated: Mar 11
So what do you get in peat free compost instead of peat? This will vary from product to product, but these are some of the ingredients you are likely to find :
Wood Most peat-free composts contain wood-based materials as their primary ingredient, e.g. woodfibre, wood chip, composted bark, sawdust, wood or paper waste. Wood-based mixes can be tailored to the requirements of most plants as they have excellent drainage properties as well as a low pH.
Coir Coconut fibre or ‘coir’ is mainly imported from Sri Lanka. Coir is a waste product. It has excellent natural water-holding ability and a sufficient mix of fine and coarse fibres to hold air in its pore spaces, making it a good growing medium. It does not hold nutrients well, however. The environmental credentials of coir-based products are questioned due to the distance they must be transported to the UK, but this is balanced out by the fact that it is a genuine waste material.
Green Waste Compost Many Local Authorities and private companies are collecting and composting green waste, the resultant green compost tends to have a high nutrient content and a high pH making it an excellent soil improver or mulch. There is an industry standard (British Standards Institution PAS100) for green compost that enforces consistent and regulated processing in order to encourage its use in potting composts. Due to its high pH and high levels of nutrients, green compost tends to be mixed with other materials to make potting compost – it is usually no more than 30 per cent of the overall product.
Difficulties of supply
As Peat Free compost is gaining in popularity, some of these ingredients are becoming difficult for compost makers to source - particularly as some of them can be also used by the bio-energy industry which is starting to push demand and prices up. Some nurseries and garden centres are already having difficulty sourcing some products (e.g. The Plantman at Braybrook is still waiting for delivery of Bord na Mona PF multipurpose compost which he ordered well before Christmas)