UK  gardeners: No peat for you!

UK gardeners: No peat for you!

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Peat bog in Scotland (Shutterstock)

“If you love your garden, you really can’t just abstain.”

That’s what the delightfully named Brit celeb gardener Bob Flowerdew says about a life without peat moss. As reported in the New York Times yesterday, the public, private, and industrial use of peat in Great Britain could completely disappear by 2030. The government is acting according to the advice of a task force of experts, who—along with environmentalists worldwide—feel that peat bogs are too important as habitat and carbon storage to be emptied out for the sake of potting media and soil additives. The task force issued a long and—occasionally—strangely worded report that could probably be boiled down to this 4-word excerpt: Sustainability is not easy.

And I’d have to agree. But not because of any need for peat moss, at least as far as my gardening requirements are concerned. I, like most home gardeners, can get along without peat moss just fine. The larger horticulture industry is another matter, as the task force admits. It proposes a lengthy step-by-step phase-out (this is the one with the 2030 target) that includes funding the research and development of sustainable growing media.

What I like about all this is how seriously the Brits are treating the issue. The task force included every possible element of the hort industry (not just wild-eyed environmentalists). There were nurseries, flower growers, food growers, and—of course—growing media producers, such as our friends at Scotts Miracle-Gro, and others.

Despite all the careful deliberation, and despite the 29-page report, however, the British reaction was tumultuous enough to warrant a front-page news story over here. Is there really no other media capable of nurturing seeds and hard-to-grow plants? Hard to believe.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on October 8, 2012 at 7:50 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.

One Comment
    • Rob Woodman
    • 1st March 2016

    I used to work at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London a good 15 years ago, in both the alpine and tropical nurseries. They had already moved from peat based products into Coir media. Though there were some problems for some of the collections, they were easily overcome. The Royal Horticultural Society has done extensive testing on peat alternatives, too. It’s funny to read that it made front page news as many UK institutions moved away from peat all those years ago. However, I guess here in the states, the peat industry has too much of a lobbying hold on our politicians to let this happen.

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