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Peat Free Gardening (6)

What is the government doing?

In 2011 the government published a White Paper with voluntary targets for the end of peat use in horticulture. The aim of this was for all compost available to amateur gardeners to be peat free by 2020. You will have noticed that this voluntary target has not been met, and your local garden centre is probably selling far more peat based compost than peat free compost.

In February 2018 the Committee for Climate Change advised DEFRA that sales of peat should be banned from 2023, stating that "despite the availability of peat-free alternatives for compost and bedding, the horticultural industry has not produced the desired decline in sales of peat based composts…. therefore there should be a ban on the sales of peat for horticultural use. This would include imports of peat". DEFRA's response was that they will continue to wait until 2030 to phase out industry use of horticultural peat.

The government did say that it would produce a 'peat strategy' for England by the end of 2020, presumably as part of the Environment Bill. The introduction of this Bill has now been postponed, with no date yet for it to be reintroduced into the parliamentary process.

So, in summary - Could Do Better!

What is the Horticultural Industry doing?

According to a recent article in Gardeners World :

  • Only 1 in 20 bags of compost on sale is peat free

  • The average bag of compost contains more than 40% pure peat

  • Professional composts used by plant growers are on average nearly 2/3 peat

  • The higher costs of peat substitutes often adds more than £2 to the cost of a bag

In many garden centres, peat based composts are still a cheaper option than peat free.

There are some positive moves though :

  • B&Q has recently committed to : selling both peat based and peat-free composts at the same price; not selling any 100% peat composts; use peat free composts in all their bedding plants

  • All major compost manufactures do now offer peat free options

So, in summary - Could Do Better!

What are Environmental Groups doing?

Garden Organic launched their For Peat's Sake campaign in October 2019. Find out more here.

All five of the RHS Gardens have been peat-free for several years – except for a handful of specialist plants where there is, as yet, no proven alternative. Instead of just accepting that these plants must be grown in peat for evermore, the RHS is trialling peat-free products on these specialist plants to find ways of discontinuing its use forever. They only sell peat free composts in their shops.

The National Trust and RSPB, also support a ban on the use of peat in compost

As Monty Don says " There is no garden, however beautiful, that justifies the scale of environmental damage or contribution to climate change that peat-use causes"

So, in summary - setting a good example for others to follow, support them if you can!


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