All greenhouse gardeners need to use nutrient-rich soil and for many years, whilst it was in plentiful supply, peat was the obvious answer – but not anymore.
The Ecologist magazine recently investigated the threat to Britain’s peat bogs and found that 69% of peat used is by amateur gardeners who are unaware of the damage caused by Britain’s peat industry. Whilst it’s great that more gardeners are turning to growing their own vegetables, there is a need for education about the effect their green-fingered exploits are having on the very countryside that they believe they are supporting.
Campaigns have been launched by organisations such as Garden Organic whose ‘I don’t dig peat’ campaign serves to educate gardeners on why we should protect our peat bogs, why we don’t use peat, and environmentally-friendly alternatives.
The benefits of peat are that it’s cheap, light, retains moisture and holds nutrients. However, extraction from the UK’s peatlands means that reserves are extremely low and, due to its carbon-storing properties, it contributes to climate change as well as destroys rare wildlife habitats. As much as 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year is discharged into the atmosphere.
Three million cubic metres of peat are used each year in the UK by unwitting buyers of the typical garden multi-purpose compost or grow bag, which is the equivalent of over 24 million wheelbarrows. And on-pack statements such as ‘30 per cent peat-free’ don’t do anything to tell people what is going on here.
Everything that each and every gardener does contributes to the situation, so by boycotting peat and signing Garden Organic’s peat-free promise, you will be slowing the race towards full depletion to, hopefully, a halt so that nature can take a breather and begin to repair itself.
And there are alternatives available in these eco-conscious times.
Andy Hamilton, author of The Self-Sufficient-ish Bible, has penned an article in The Ecologist on ‘Peat-free compost: why to use and which to buy’ – you can read it at http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/gardening/483969/peat_free_compost_why_to_use_and_which_to_buy.html.
In line with Gabriel Ash’s sustainable and environmentally friendly western red cedar wood that is used in everything from our planters to water butts to greenhouse frames, we are behind the peat-free promise. Take a look now and at the Garden Organic website and sign up at http://www.idontdigpeat.org.uk/promise/.