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Oh for peat's sake!

Why peat-based composts should be avoided

In the UK the use of peat is almost entirely related to horticulture. Approximately 3.39 million m3 of horticultural peat is used annually in the UK.

The use of peat in horticulture is almost completely unnecessary, particularly has it possesses very little, if not zero nutritional value. Seemingly, gardeners like it because it's nice to work with and it has an inert base for adding fertilisers etc. Prior to the 1960s gardeners used a wide range of alternatives to peat. Since then, aggressive marketing by companies has managed to convince the gardening and landscaping world that peat is an indispensable component of successful horticulture. For several years now this view has been challenged. As the late Geoff Hamilton put it “I think that gardeners buy peat because of brain conditioning rather than soil conditioning” . (Courtesy of

More importantly, peat extraction is unsustainable.

Major commercial companies have introduced more intensive methods of extraction. These have resulted in the unsustainable ‘mining’ of peat. The UK’s raised peat bogs have now been reduced to a fraction of their original extent. In 1996, of an original 69,000 hectares, only 5.5% (3,836 ha) of lowland raised bog could still be described as in a ‘near natural’ state.

In addition, peat bogs play an important role in the regulation of the world’s climate. Referred to as ‘global coolers,’ they remove carbon from atmospheric CO2 and serve as valuable ‘CO2 sinks.’ Unless disturbed by human activities, such as peat extraction, this carbon can be stored for near geological time periods.

What should you do?

Don't buy peat-based composts - it's just not necessary.
There are a range of alternative products in the market-place. Fairfield's compost is just one of them

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