Peat free at Plantpassion for #peatfreeapril

Peat free at Plantpassion for #peatfreeapril

This week during the first Grow your own workshop of the season here at the farm, I recommended (as I always do) that the participants use Peat Free compost for their seed sowing.

I was asked some really interesting and interested questions, so I thought I'd repeat my answers here for those that might currently be using Peat, but might be encourage (maybe even pushed) into giving it up as a growing medium.

So first things first, what is Peat? and why's it important that we use a lot less of it in our gardens?

Peat is an accumulation of decayed matter that has built up over hundreds and thousands of years. It is very efficient at storing carbon,  and the 1.4 million square miles of it globally are the most efficient carbon sink on the planet, - better even than forests.

As well as being used for gardeners, it has been used for centuries as a fuel and so the UK peatlands have been decimated to the point where they are now mostly protected as SSI's. This spring a report has been published that says that our peatlands are in such a dire state that they are a net source of carbon, rather than a carbon sink.

In 2011, Government set voluntary targets for the Horticulture industry to be Peat free by 2020. - This has been an abject failure and non of the major garden centre chains have gone peat free meaning that amateur gardeners have no push to change their habits.

But why is no-one making the change if it's so bad for our futures?

Well actually most of the professional horticulture industry have swapped over to peat free. The vast majority of wholesale plant nurseries either pot plants in peat free compost, or send out plant at the correct time as bare root plants. We've been peat free in our plant production at Plantpassion since we started, and the growing media have got better and better over the years. 

For Amateur gardeners there are differences when seed sowing, pricking out and growing on. Peat composts are more forgiving if allowed to dry out, so when using peat-less growing media, you do need to set your alarm to check on your baby plants each day. If you're a flower fan like me, that isn't the biggest problem.

Our Garden centres locally all stock my current favourite - Sylvagrow. It's available from Ripley Nurseries, RHS Wisley and Squires in West Horsley.