We all love to get close to nature and encourage our children to plant seeds and grow flowers. We want them to get their hands dirty and feel the texture of the soil, but have you ever wondered where the compost that we buy from the garden centre comes from? Very few people look at the label. For a start, the information is on the back and the bags are heavy and slippy.
Why is Peat so precious?
Most compost contains a large proportion of peat, typically 50%. The peat has taken thousands of years to build up from decomposing vegetation in certain parts of Britain. It is easy to dig out with large cutting machines, so it is cheap to produce.
However, if the peat can be left in the ground, it stores billions of tons of carbon in a safe place where it can do no harm. Peat bogs are disappearing fast. When it is used in our gardens, it releases the carbon into the atmosphere which is driving climate change.
Peat also slows down rain runoff and prevents flooding further downstream which is even more relevant as we experience more unpredictable weather (see below).
How can we stop peat being dug up?
The Government has asked the producers of compost to make it from either garden waste, wood fibre or coconut husks, and to leave the peat in the ground. The manufacturers have been reluctant to change their ways because ‘peat free compost’ is more expensive and gardeners will not buy it. Now the Government has announced that it will be changing the law and are going to penalise the garden centres if they do not stop selling peat.
A suggestion for you
Take a look at the information on the back of your favourite compost. Next time you buy compost, you should check it out and select a peat free compost so that you can help to save the Planet – available at Yeadons Hardware store in Boston Spa (and all other responsible retailers).
See also our campaign to Say No to Peat.