The UK has nearly 3 million hectares of peatlands making it one of the world’s top ten countries for peatlands
Yet, despite the natural benefits of keeping peatlands intact, peat is being removed from the landscape for compost – with immense consequences
Why is peat in compost bad?
Water retention is essential for healthy growing for plants, and is greatly affected by the soil’s structure.
As a growing medium, peat dries quickly meaning that it is not ideal, in comparison to the alternatives that provide a fantastic growing medium.
While peat compost may be cheaper than its alternatives, the cost to the environment is too great.
Peat bogs, the source of the peat compost, sequesters an incredible one-third of the world’s soil carbon and stores 42% of all land carbon.
By removing the peat from the bogs, it not only removes the living protective surface of the local ecosystem, but the process also causes millions of metric tonnes of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.
Peat stores 42% of all land carbon
The peatlands also play an active role in reducing flooding, improving water quality and providing habitats for rare species of wildlife – like sundew plants.
In fact, 70% of UK drinking water comes from peatlands.
It was concluded by Natural England that the maintenance of these areas is crucial to ensuring the country achieves its target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Especially as 80% of UK peatlands are damaged, we need to act now. And a simple way to help is not to buy peat-free compost.
- Learn more about peat on Bagged Peat Compost: B&Q Calls For Ban
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Quick links to the best peat-free compost
For Peat’s Sake: 5 Of The Best Peat-Free Compost
1. Dalefoot Composts: For hanging baskets
Soil Association approved, Dalefoot Composts’s Peat Free Wool Compost provides a great alternative to peat-based growing mediums.
Dalefoot Composts makes their composts sustainably with renewable, natural ingredients from their farm in the Lake District. The compost is composed of sheep’s wool, bracken, and comfrey, and is packed with nutrients.
With great structure, the Wool Compost provides natural water retention making healthier plants and less watering.
There’s even no need for plant food, as the comfrey is a plant superfood so no additional feed is required throughout the season. The bracken, harvested sustainably and then composted, acts as a fantastic soil conditioner.
Because of the water retention, this compost is ideal for hanging baskets, pots or tubs.
Packaged in recyclable plastic, only available to be recycled in supermarket bins.
If that doesn’t sell it, Dalefoot Composts are used by RHS Chelsea gold medal winners, and the Wool Compost has been recently endorsed by the Eden Project.
Pros: Great water retention | provides natural nutrients
Cons: Could use recycled plastic | packaging could be made to be easily recycled, or compostable
For 1 x 30kg bag for £11.75. View on Dalefoot Composts
2. B&Q: For added nutrients
In 2021, B&Q committed to be peat-free across its bagged growing media range by 2023, with 100% of B&Q own brand bagged compost being completely peat-free in Great Britain.
Due to the great and negative impact peat-harvesting has on ecology and climate, B&Q has called the UK governments to ban the sale of bagged compost containing peat in England and Wales by 2024.
By containing a mix of coarse and fine particles, the composts encourage healthy root growth, water retention and air.
Launched in 2020, B&Q formulated its high-quality 100% peat-free compost using coir and other ingredients to replace peat, and was consciously priced similar to peat alternatives.
- Learn more about B&Q’s call for a ban
Their Enriched Multi-Purpose Peat-free Compost 50L has additional nutrients to give crops a helping hand in growing strong and healthy.
Their peat-free composts are made from composted bark fines, coir, wood fibre and green waste.
Due to the composition of the soil, the compost feeds for up to five weeks after planting, helping to reduce garden maintenance.
B&Q’s Enriched Multi-Purpose Peat-free Compost was recommended by Which? As one of its Best Buys for peat-free compost.
Pros: FSC approved | competitive price | provides nutrients
Cons: Unsure about packaging
For 1 x 50L bag for £6.50. View on B&Q
3. New Horizon: For vegetables
Westland is slowly phasing out peat from their range of composts, with the aim of being 90% peat free by 2025. Currently, 98% of their ranges are now peat-reduced or peat-free.
Their composts are also green waste-free, due to the inconsistencies of performance and possibilities of contamination.
Likewise, where regulations allow, Westland aims to remove all single use plastic by 2023.
Their 100% sustainable, natural and peat-free compost is ideal for adding to raised best.
Westland have their own BIO3 formula, a peat replacement technology that ensures that the plants are fed – of which, they can be fed up to SIX weeks.
The BIO3 also enables optimum water management, as it absorbs, stores and releases moisture, as well as the open structure providing enough area for the roots to grow strong and healthy.
Pros: renewable energy | sustainable materials | nutrient dense and specialised | zero waste to landfill
Cons: won’t completely phase out peat till after 2025 – unknown year aim | not fully recycled packaging
For 1 x 50L for £10.49, View on Westland.
4. For Peat’s Sake: For houseplants
For Peat’s Sake, founded in 2020, is a professional quality compost brand that prides itself on its eco-friendliness and efficiency.
Innovatively designed, they sell dehydrated blocks of eco-coir, which only needs water to expand. While originally designed for houseplants, the compost is suitable for seeds, cacti, vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
The compost itself has optimum soil structure to encourage healthy root development, water retention and drainage, as well as reducing the risk of pests, disease and infections.
The compost is made purely from coconuts, meaning the source is renewable as well as utilising parts of coconuts that would otherwise be waste.
For Peat’s Sake’s compost can also be reused multiple times, due to its sturdy fibre composition.
Delivered straight to the door, For Peat’s Sake’s compost is packaged in ___ and the lack of water weight means less CO2 emissions during transportation! They also make donations to Forest Carbon to help offset any emissions.
Both For Peat’s Sake and their suppliers, from Sri Lanka, use innovative measures to reduce the environmental footprint. The suppliers are also ISO9001 and ISO14001 certified, possessing both ethical and environmental certifications.
In fact, water is recycled during production and biodegradable packaging is used, in addition to multiple social initiatives geared around the local community.
Pros: offsets emissions | sustainable and ethical credentials | recycles during production | transparent | recycled packaging
Cons: still have to add plant food | no specialised composts
From 1 x 3L for £5.00. View on For Peat’s Sake.
5. Carbon Gold Organic Biochar: For trees
B Corp Carbon Gold’s composts are Soil Association approved, meaning that they are high quality and sustainable.
Carbon Gold have recently been awarded a Royal Warrant from HRH The Prince of Wales.
They have an impressive range of products, also including fertilisers and soil improvers ideal for a wide variety of plants.
Carbon Gold’s products can be used both inside and outside plant pots, with products providing the appropriate nutrients and support for healthy growing.
For planting trees, Carbon Gold recommends their Biochar All Purpose Compost combined with their Biochar Tree Soil Improver – which is ideal for transplanting or revitalising new and established trees.
Whether used in a plant pot or directly into garden soil, the Biochar Tree Soil Improver helps defend the plant against drought stress and transplant shock.
Reducing nutrient leaching and promoting root development, the improver guarantees a healthy plant – and can be used for shrubs, roses, bare root stock as well as hedging.
Combined with the All Purpose Compost, a coir based compost that is synthetic chemical free and FSC certified, assists in sequestering carbon into the ground.
Enriched with mycorrhizal fungi, trace minerals and beneficial bacteria means that there is no need for plant food. The structure of the compost also ensures that less watering is needed.
Pros: B Corp | Transparent | Soil Association and FSC certified | can be used inside or outside of pots | carbon neutral | specialised
Cons: unsure about packaging
From 1 x 10L for £17.99. View on Carbon Gold.