News of a government ban on peat-based compost has rocked the gardening world recently. But why is the government clamping down on the sale of peat free compost? Are there viable alternatives, or will gardens across the UK suffer? We’ve done some digging for answers…
No more Peat?
The government ban, due to come into effect in 2024, applies to the sale of peat compost to private and domestic gardeners with plans to completely end the selling of peat compost by 2030.
Peat compost (or turf as it is sometimes referred to) makes up a third of the compost sold across the UK, with over 5 million cubic metres of peat sold in the UK in 2021.
This type of carbon-rich compost is popular for many reasons. It retains water exceptionally well and contains a lot of nutrients that are vital for growing plants.
But those benefits come at a cost: the depletion of the world's largest carbon store.
The peat ban has been brought in to help the UK government deliver on Net Zero Goals and falls in line with its 25-Year Environment Plan. The depletion of peatlands is something which seriously threatens environmental security because peat sequesters such a substantial amount of carbon.
Peatlands only cover 3% of the earth’s surface but hold twice as much carbon as all of the world’s forests combined. If we want to reach ‘net zero’, a state by which the output and absorption of carbon globally are completely balanced, restoring our peatlands is key.
What's more, peatlands provide refuge for a host of the UK’s most threatened wildlife and prevent flooding by retaining and filtering rainwater.
The UK government has committed to restoring 35,000 hectares of peatlands by 2025, and currently, only 13% of the UK’s peatlands are in a ‘near natural state’.
Hence, big changes are being implemented to drive down the destruction of peat-rich areas.
Over 95% of responders to the peat compost ban were in favour, and environmental campaigners have long been calling for such restrictions to be implemented on the selling of peat compost.
Esteemed gardening presenter Monty Don took to Twitter to praise the ban, along with many other active members of the online gardening community.
I am delighted at the news that the government - at long last - is to impose a ban on peat-based composts from 2024. I also applaud its proposals to assist reclamation and recover of peatlands.— Monty Don (@TheMontyDon) August 27, 2022
Whilst many are delighted at the government's implementation of effective climate-conscious policies, there are concerns that plants and gardens across the country could suffer.
With peat being a valuable staple of so many gardeners, how will we continue to ensure our gardens thrive in a peat-free future?
Luckily, there’s an alternative that’s affordable, effective and heals, rather than hinders the health of our planet.
Creating your own compost has not always been in fashion; for a long time, it’s been seen as laborious, time-consuming, and poorer quality.
But times have changed, and with it, the tools and products used to make compost at home! Here are our top 3 favourite composters to rival any peat-based bag of compost!
- Available in 220 litre and 330 litre capacities
- Made from recycled plastic
- Suitable for vegetable peelings, tea leaves and coffee grounds, weeds and cut grass
- Composting type: cold
- Price Range: ££
- Perfect for gardens that produce waste (weed prunings, grass cuttings etc.) consistently
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- Has an 80 Litre capacity
- Low, once-a-year maintenance
- Suitable for cooked food, raw fruit and veg, coffee and tea grounds, fish and meat
- Composting type: Hot
- Price Range: £££
- Perfect for busy gardeners who don’t have time to turn their compost
- Holds up to 600 Litres
- Made from heat retaining specially-engineered Thermolen®
- Suitable for fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds, tea leaves, eggshell (crushed), pot plants, cut flowers, spent potting soil, lawn cuttings and leaves
- Composting type: Cold
- Price Range: £££
- Perfect for larger gardens