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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.

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  1. Rob Woodman

    2nd October 2016 at 10:06 pm

    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.

  2. Timeless Environments

    28th October 2016 at 9:07 am

    Every kind of Big Business Lobbying interest has a hold of politicians over there. Look at the GMO industry and the ideologically driven bad science that has resulted in undisciplined move to push them despite not knowing totally the consequences of such dangerous gene pollution technology.

  3. Timeless Environments

    24th November 2016 at 8:25 am

    “Is there really no other media capable of nurturing seeds and hard-to-grow plants?”

  4. admin

    28th November 2016 at 4:59 pm

    I hope this helps give Coir the boost that it needs to become more readily available and affordable. I’d use it all the time if I could get it without spending 5x what peat costs!

  5. UrsulaV

    28th November 2016 at 8:47 pm

    The previous owner left a big bag of peat moss in the garage. I saw it and thought “Okay, it’s already bought, might as well use it and get it out of the way.”

  6. Ray Eckhart

    29th November 2016 at 6:50 am

    “Is there really no other media capable of nurturing seeds and hard-to-grow plants?”

  7. Diana

    29th November 2016 at 9:59 am

    This is very interesting to me, as a grower; I have looked for alternatives. See what our friends at Desert Canyon Farm found when comparing peat and coir:http://desertcanyonfarm.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/october-5-2012-soiless-mix-trial-shoe-fence-free-market/

  8. David

    29th November 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Its great that peat is being phased out in the UK. Can’t help thinking that it might be a good idea to try and persuade the Irish government to close their three peat fired power stations, I would have thought horticultural use pales into insignificance compared to burning it for electricity 24/7.

  9. admin

    29th November 2016 at 6:52 pm

    That anything–anything at all–gardening-related could make the front page is what amazes me. Couldn’t happen here!

  10. Jason

    30th November 2016 at 2:21 am

    I still use mostly peat-based mixes for my containers – frankly, it’s difficult to find stuff that isn’t mostly made of peat. I’d be happy to buy alternatives, though.

  11. Debra

    30th November 2016 at 4:41 am

    In the Pacific Northwest, we’re lucky to have pretty acidic soils, so adding peat as an amendment to garden soil isn’t really necessary most of the time. I do use it with blueberries and heaths when I’ve brought in a garden soil mix. I’m not sold on coir in potting mixes as my experience has been that my plants don’t do as well or I get a lot of rot. Here’s a study by Utah State University on comparing plant performance between peat mixes and coir mixes.

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