Peat free compost

 March, April and May are fabulous months to be in the garden.

The sheer exhuberance of plant growth is a joy to behold, you can even smell plants growing!

All the plant deliveries are now going out and my plants will be growing in gardens all over the country!

I was recently reminded by the manager at Hidcote Gardens that Caves Folly had been supplying plants to National Trust properties for over twenty years.


The national Trust made the announcement that it was not going to use peat on the first day of the Chelsea flower show in May 2001.

Having made this decission they suddenly realised that there were only a handful of wholesale nurseries that grow plants in Peat Free Compost.

This was good for our plant sales ,as we had been growing in Peat Free, Organic compost for ten years previously!

We were ahead of our time environmentally but lost lots of time and money experimenting with peat free alternatives before we arrived at our present compost.

Many of my customers still ask why it matters if they use a peat based compost,so here is some useful informatoin ;

What does peat do for the environment?
Peat locks carbon and prevents it from entering the atmosphere, where it forms CO2, the main greenhouse gas UK peatlands store approximately 3 billion tonnes of carbon. If this was lost as CO2 to the atmosphere, it would be equivalent to over 20 years of UK industrial emissions*.

There’s around 100kg of carbon per cubic metre of peat, equivalent to the emissions from one car driving 2,000 miles.

Why shouldn’t we dig it up?
Peat develops very slowly, so it may take hundreds of years to replace each metre that is extracted for use in private gardens.

-at present, the peat dug up in Britain for gardens releases almost 0.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

How much peat does the UK use?
Amateur gardeners account for almost 69 per cent of all peat used in the UK, mainly in multi-purpose compost and grow bags.

  • in a recent poll of over 1000 UK gardeners, less than 29 per cent said they buy peat-free growing media.
  • over 38 per cent of the public were not aware that most multi-purpose composts contain peat (unless otherwise specified.
  • Defra has been exploring further reductions of peat use in horticulture in their Sustainable Growing Media Taskforce.

What you can do

  • when buying compost, grow bags and other similar products, choose peat-free varieties. The Horticultural Trade Association have produced a Responsible Sourcing Guide available to their members, which includes sourcing sustainable growing media.
  • good alternatives to peat include homemade compost, bark chip, leaf mould, well-rotted farmyard manure or wood waste-based soil conditioners
  • buy plants that have been grown in peat-free soil

These are a few facts to remember when you fill your containers with peat compost only to throw it on the compost heap a few months later!

Even if you have a small garden you can easily make your own free compost for potting and containers. Look at the RHS web site under composting for more information.

Happy gardening.






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