Peat-Free Trials

We recognise that it is extremely detrimental to the environment to continue using growing media containing peat. The lowland and wetland peat bogs that are being destroyed take thousands of years to develop and are a unique ecosystem for wildlife. Additionally, the extraction of peat causes the release of carbon which contributes to climate change. It is clear that we should avoid using peat wherever possible and we are campaigning to make this happen by doing our best to get the message out to our customers and stocking a greater quantity of peat-free alternatives.

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.  Earlier in the year, 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.

The majority of gardeners grew vegetables and bedding or container plants, a few tried growing seeds or using it to plant an established perennial, shrub or tree. SylvaGrow Multi-purpose, New Horizon Tomato Planter, and Happy Compost Vegetable were most popular.

Many reported that the peat-free produced very similar results to their normal compost. The general consensus was that peat-free compost needs watering more regularly and feeding is more essential in comparison to peat-containing composts.

Tomato plants grown in peat and peat free to compare

Some of the comments included in the survey

“I used the peat free alongside peat-based grow bag compost, both decanted into long tomato pots for cultivation. There has been very little difference in the cropping thus far although the plants in the peat-free compost took a little longer to establish themselves when initially transplanted. The same tomato cultivars have been grown in both composts. As the peat-free compost has equalled the peat-based compost in growth and yield, I would opt for peat-free in future.”

“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 find 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 have to say that although the look of it is not pleasant as it always looks dry, I grew tomatoes and they are the best I have ever grown!”

“Rescued a camellia, which is now doing well in a pot using SylvaGrow Ericaceous compost”

“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 for ever, I like the fact that it’s more environmentally friendly and would definitely recommend it.”

Carrot Seedlings in peat free

Fully grown healthy carrots


The Results

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.