Over the past few months, increasing discussions about peat-based compost products have taken place, and the Government has announced that it wants a ban on peat in compost by 2024. The negative effects of peat-harvesting on the environment, and the ongoing climate crisis, has called for change. The Environment Minister Rebecca Pow has said “We’ve given the voluntary approach a chance and it hasn’t worked” calling for more drastic action towards banning peat-based products.
How is peat production damaging to the environment?
Peat is made up of partially decayed vegetation and other organic matter. It is very slow growing, at a rate of 1-2mm per year! Peat is good for plants as the dense carbon structure locks in moisture, preventing plants from drying out.
When harvesting peat, however, about 20cm of peat is removed from the top layer each year, a whole century of growth! The peat oxides and releases vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, which contributes to global warming.
What is the UK doing to work towards peat-free products?
More and more peat-free products are becoming available at an affordable price. Initially this was a much more expensive product due to the price of other composting materials. Now, peat-based products are being made of natural by-products such as bark and coir and is becoming more easily accessible.
Introducing a ban on peat-based compost will not completely stop peat production, however it will contribute significantly to reducing peat consumption in the UK.
What are we doing to help?
Over 30% of our plants grown at our nursery in Little Hay are grown in peat-free compost, and this number is increasing every month.
We sell peat free composts and reduced-peat composts.
Use the Westland New Horizon Peat Free Multipurpose compost for all plants, or use the New Horizon Vegetable Planting Compost for fresh, juicy vegetables all year round.
Top tips for growing in peat-free compost
Carefully monitor your watering schedules - some peat free composts which contain composted bark may look well watered on the surface however the roots may be dry. Check the lower soil to know when your plants need watering.
Feed your plants with a liquid feed. This is easier to soak up when watering in peat-free composts as there is less moisture-locking substances. Add feed if your plants begin to grow slower or if flowering slows.