Help us stop the use of peat compost in gardens

This Peat Free April we’re sharing tips for using peat-free compost – and urging you to write to your MP to speed up the ban on peat.
Peat free planting

A lack of clarity from DEFRA is continuing to damage precious peat habitats as a promised 2024 ban is no closer to being enforced – and we’re asking you to support an upcoming Ten Minute Bill on the ban on 16 April.

More needs to be done by the Government to ensure its proposed ban on the sale of bagged peat compost for amateur gardeners is fully implemented this year.

We’re joining forces with other organisations to ask for your support for an upcoming Ten Minute Rule Bill to ban the sale of horticultural peat. This is scheduled to be introduced to Parliament by Theresa Villiers MP on 16 April.

Please fill in the template letter here and send to your local MP.

“Despite confirming a ban would take place from 2024, there has been no new information on when this will happen, or how it will be rolled out. We’re very concerned it will be unlikely to happen in 2024,” says our chief executive Fiona Taylor.

“We also believe the ban on peat in the horticultural industry needs to be brought forward from 2026. Using peat in gardens destroys the planet and it simply isn’t necessary. Many compost manufacturers, retailers, gardeners and growers have shown it is perfectly possible to grow without peat, so we’re urging gardeners to take action now in their own gardens to protect wildlife habitats.”

Our eight tips for growing without peat today

  1. Spend as much as you can. Unfortunately cheap peat-free compost, often made from green waste, will give you poor results. Invest in your garden and growing by buying the best you can afford. We recommend Melcourt’s SylvaGrow, Dalefoot’s wool composts and Fertile Fibre.
  2. Look for the Responsible Sourcing Scheme symbol. This scheme measures bagged compost against seven criteria to assess their environmental credentials. This means you can be sure the peat-free compost you’ve brought has been made ethically with minimal energy, water and pollution and from renewable sources. Find out more.
  3. Check your potted plants. Clearer labelling on peat-containing products is desperately needed. Peat can be found in many pre-potted plants, mushrooms, leafy salads, and houseplants. Always check what you’re buying and make sure your garden centre or supplier knows you’d like to buy peat-free products.
  4. Water little and often. Because of their high coir and woodchip content, peat-free mixes can dry out more easily. Their coarse texture means they can appear dry on the surface but still damp further down. Check by putting your finger around 1 inch into in the soil. Don’t let them dry out otherwise they can be difficult to water again, as the water runs off the top. If this happens, sit the pot in water to let it draw up the moisture.
  5. Feed after four weeks. Most peat-free composts provide fertiliser up to four weeks, but after this you can make your own comfrey liquid feed for hungry crops and container-grown plants. Find out how to make this.
  6. Make your own compost mixes. With a bit of planning, you can reduce how much bagged peat-free you buy in and experiment with your own recipes. For sowing seeds, mix one-part garden soil (loam) with one-part well-rotted leafmould and sieve out any lumps. Find more compost recipes.
  7. Make your voice heard. Sign Garden Organic’s pledge to show the Government you want them to act sooner to ban peat use in gardens - and write to your MP ahead of 16 April!
  8. Check out Enrich the Earth. This collaborative campaign has been created by a coalition of expert organisations – including Garden Organic – to help people make more informed and impactful environmental choices. Find your perfect ‘soil mate’ and other useful information via its website.

For more advice on using peat-free compost and its benefits go to our For Peats Sake hub, where you’ll also find a free online peat-free growing course.