Gardening Tips > ‘How to’? Go Peat-Free

‘How to’? Go Peat-Free

This year we have significantly increased our peat-free range and introduced new signs to provide clear information to help you select the best peat-free compost for the job. We hope that we can encourage and help you to confidently and successfully switch to a peat-free alternative.

What is peat and how does using it affect climate change?

Peat is used in growing media to enhance soil condition; it helps to improve its water and nutrient retention. Peat is made up of decayed organic matter and vegetation that has developed in lowland or wetland bogs over thousands of years. It is a precious and unique ecosystem to wildlife. The extraction of peat can contribute towards climate change because peat bogs act like a sponge, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it safely underground. When they are dug up the carbon is released into the atmosphere.

Why should I consider switching?

Peat has been a major ingredient of the growing media used by gardeners for many years. This peat is dug out of precious wetlands in both the UK and overseas. Over 94% of the UK’s lowland peat bogs have been destroyed or damaged. There is some good news – as awareness of the damage caused by destroying peat bogs has increased, the total peat extraction in the UK has halved since the year 2000. It is important to keep this figure reducing and find effective alternatives to using peat.

How can I be sure that I choose the right peat-free to work for me?

Peat can be effectively replaced in compost with materials such as bark chippings, wood fibre, and coir (coconut fibre which is a waste product). Peat-free compost can perform very well, especially if you purchase the right compost for the job.

How might it differ from my normal peat-based growing media?

You might find that it has different watering or feeding requirements. Be careful not to simply go by initial appearances, some of them can look dry on the surface but are still retaining water. Follow any guidelines on the bag, both for fertilisers it recommends or which plants it says will grow well. This will be based on evidence from supplier trials. We are conducting our own trials so will be sharing our own experiences with you throughout the year. The Perrywood team is on hand to offer advice and answer any further questions you may have. Why not try a bag of peat-free compost today?

Peat-free trials

As part of encouraging our customers to switch to peat-free, we have been busy researching to make sure our peat-free choices make a successful growing media. We asked 25 volunteers from two local gardening groups to try out our range of peat-free products and sent them a short survey to complete in order to collect their thoughts and find out how they got on. Here are a couple of comments included in the survey:

“I have actually used peat-free compost for many years. Have tried many over the years and SylvaGrow and New Horizon for me are the best because they do not use green waste and don’t have large lumps of half composted wood which can be found in some cheap bags. Find it re-wets better if the pots have dried out. Have never liked using peat because of the environmental concerns.”

“I really liked the peat-free compost and would certainly use it again. The texture was nice and even, no big lumps like my normal multi-purpose, and seeds germinated well, no problems. I think peat-free is the way forward, we can’t dig it up forever, I like the fact that it’s more environmentally friendly and would definitely recommend it.”

64% of the gardeners taking part in the trial, said they would use peat-free again and overall rated their peat-free experience as 3.5 stars out of 5. These are really positive results. Along with feeling better about using a growing media that is kinder to the environment, we hope that these results will encourage many to at least try using a peat-free alternative.

To read more information on our peat-free trials see our full news post here.


Brands to look out for at Perrywood

  • We also now offer peat-free alternatives from well known brands Levington and Miracle-Gro

The houseplant compost range from Growth Technology is now peat-free.


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