WLTM... an alternative to peat

Many of us are in a ‘compost rut’; our love affair with peat is toxic and unsustainable and we know it’s wrong but we need help...

This Easter, Plantlife has created a new downloadable guide to living peat-free, which guarantees gardeners closure from peat. So why not prepare your beds wisely and steer clear of peat, advises Plantlife. It might just be the best thing you do in your garden this spring...

Peat is dug up in the blink of an eye, stripped of vegetation and wildlife, wrapped in plastic and sold by the pallet load. Yet peat - ancient, wet plant material of bogs and fens - has been forming gradually over millennia in the UK's wild peatland landscapes. Peat is crucial for all life; it acts as a natural carbon store, its sponge-like qualities minimise flood risk, it is brilliant at purifying water and is home to a colourful and diverse wildlife; cotton grasses, cuckooflower, marsh violet and sundews support species such as butterflies, dragonflies, snipe, curlews and skylarks.

  • Our peat addiction shows no signs of slowing down – in fact we are using more peat than ever
  • Peat grows at a rate of 1 mm a year; half a century of growth is destroyed annually
  • Amateur gardening currently uses some 3,000,000,000 litres of peat every year
  • ‘It’s almost as simple as choosing between begonias or butterflies’, muses Plantlife's Dr Trevor Dines. ‘As our new guide reveals, many of our best loved flowers positively thrive in a peat-free environment. Gardening peat-free is easy: not only are there excellent, peat-free alternatives on the market but you can even go one step further and make your own peat-free recipes, adapted to your own climes and needs. Even the most bog-loving wild plants such as sundews can be grown without peat. And it doesn't have to be complicated - Plantlife has come up with some recipes and useful tips to get you started. As a botanist and passionate gardener, I certainly don’t want to forsake what’s left of our precious peatland wilderness and wildlife for the sake of a few tomatoes.’

    Gardeners don’t have long to embrace a peat-free way of life; the government has committed to abolishing peat in gardening by 2020 , so what are you waiting for?

    How to get over Peat:

  • Try Plantlife’s handy guide to living peat-free is full of top tips and advice on how to source peat-free alternatives.
  • Choose only peat-free compost from your garden centre or retailer and support establishments that are growing peat free. The RHS is currently 97% peat-free and the National Trust has been gardening peat-free for years now: all plants sold within its shops are grown in peat-free compost
  • Encourage your local retailer to stock more peat-free alternatives.
  • Fall in love with the real thing and get to know Britain’s last real wildernesses. Plantlife’s Munsary Peatland reserve in Caithness, northern Scotland, is a vast, undulating plain of blanket bog, one of the most extensive peatlands left in Europe and home to a huge variety of nature.