For the Love of Peat…

By Laura Scotcher on behalf of SLH

This article was originally written for the May edition of Heatons Post, 

PLEASE DON’T BUY COMPOST WITH PEAT IN IT! When we think about sustainable gardening, we often think about planting for pollinators. However, what we choose to grow our plants in is just as important. That’s why we would like you to know about peat — organic matter sometimes found in bagged compost. Whilst many of us know peat-free is better, we aren’t always sure why.

In short, peat is pretty amazing when it comes to the environment. When peat is formed, carbon is “locked in” and prevented from returning to the atmosphere. In fact, peatlands are one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth and can store twice as much carbon as the world’s forests! Environmental benefits aren’t limited to carbon storage either. Healthy peatlands filter surface water before it reaches water processing plants and reduce the risk of flooding through slowing the flow of water. They are also important habitats for rare and endangered wildlife.

Unfortunately peat extraction destroys these incredible landscapes that have taken over half a millennia to create. When damaged, habitats are lost, carbon is emitted and water is no longer filtered or slowed. However, it’s not all bad news and peatlands can be restored. This is where you can help by avoiding the use of peat-containing products…

Buy peat free compost. Look for product information that states “100% Peat Free”.

Use alternatives. Experiment with bark chipping, coir and wood fibre. 

Make your own compost. A great option if you have available space.

Spread the word. Peat-free compost is a relatively unknown aspect of sustainable living. 

Changing how you garden this growing season is small act that can have a big impact! 

If you like to find out more, check out our longer article about peat here in the Planting and Growing section.