What is peat? Well in simple terms peat is a mixture of organic material that has accumulated in a water-saturated environment and has mostly decomposed with little or no oxygen.
Across the globe, peatland covers about 3% of the global land surface and is one of our rarest and most vulnerable habitats supporting a myriad of wildlife, insects and plant life. Peatland is also an important natural water store holding up to 10% of global freshwater.
A peat bog grows very slowly developing around 1mm per year so a peat reserve that is 10 metres deep will have taken 10,000 years to develop and for every metre that is extracted it will take 1,000 years to replace. Peat is also a enormous source of carbon and, in the UK, holds almost four times as much carbon as forests. When a peat bog is drained the carbon is released back into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.
For many years, peat-based potting composts have been used to raise and grow-on plants and we currently we use around 3.4 million cubic metres of peat every year in the UK; 32% comes from the UK, 60% from Ireland and 8% from Europe. We have already lost up to 94% of the UK’s lowland raised peatbogs and there are only 6,000 hectares in pristine or near natural condition left.
In order to protect this vital resource, many horticulturalists are moving towards peat-free or reduced peat products as an alternative. The Government have also announced that by 2020, if targets are reached, all growing media for home gardeners will be peat free.
Here at Devonshire Lavenders we have been growing the majority of our plants in peat free growing media for over 20 years with great success and will continue to do so.
Did you know?
Just over 3% of the earth’s land surface is covered in peat
We have already lost 94% of the UK's lowland raised peat bogs
In the UK, peat bogs hold almost four times as much carbon as forests
A peat bog only grows by 1mm per year so each metre that is extracted takes 1,000 years to replace!
Amateur gardeners use 66% of the total amount of peat consumed in the UK, most of it in growing media such as multi-purpose compost and grow bags - that's over 24 million wheelbarrows of peat!
An assessment of growing media carried out by Which? Gardening magazine compared 26 brands by price, peat content, and effectiveness. Of the top-rated 13 products, the 4 best options were peat free. The worst product contained significant levels of peat