Peat free compost - keep fighting for it

We know that sourcing peat for use in growing mediums (such as bagged composts) is environmentally unsustainable. So far, the horticulture retailers have dragged their feet in endorsing alternatives. All the while peat bogs with their sensitive ecosystems and wildlife habitats are being irreversibly cut. And lost. Over 95% of the UK's peat bogs have already gone.
Peat free planting

It was back in 2011 that DEFRA introduced a 'voluntary' target for peat to be phased out in products available for amateur growers by 2020. (Professional growers were given another 10 years.) It took a further 5 years to create a Responsible Sourcing Scheme, which aimed to "steadily introduce and increase an awareness of manufacturers’ impact upon the environment as a result of choices made regarding the components used in growing media". Even now, 8 years on, the Growing Media Association are saying weakly "We're progressing on the scheme ... The great thing is they're talking to all of the parties and getting everyone's opinion."

Garden Organic doesn't think this is good enough. We applaud DEFRA's keeness to get the industry moving further. We would support suggestions of taxes or bans, as 'voluntary' agreements are clearly not sufficient to shift an industry protecting its bottom line.
Peat-free supplier, Melcourt, shares our cynicism. Managing Director Andy Chalmers said: "What will happen is 2020 will come and go, although we only need one big retailer to say they are going to go for it [peat free]. That will shake the market up and others will follow or make an alternative offer."

Peat simply isn't necessary in growing mediums. See here for how to go Peat Free. Remember:

  • If you do need to buy a bag of garden centre compost, make sure it is ‘peat free’ medium. These have improved hugely over the past few years, and many are now outperforming the peat products.
  • Check the labels – reduced peat means there is still peat there, sometimes as much as 90%.
  • Ignore claims of ‘not from an environmentally sensitive site’ – all peat bogs are sensitive habitats.
  • And the word 'organic' doesn’t necessarily mean peat free.