Peat Free Gardening

by David Bundy

Peat Free Gardening has been a passion of mine for many a year, although the composition and success rate without the addition of nutrients has not always been any better, other than knowing I am not destroying the natural peat. In other word many peat free composts have been a result of a negative reaction rather than a positive one.


The reasons not to use peat are many. Peat is a unique natural habitat that supports an important biodiversity of flora and fauna, and peat is an important carbon store that exceeds that of the world’s forests. The removal of peat leads to the release of carbon, speeding up global warming and climate change. Peat also plays an important role in the hydrological cycle helping to maintain water quantity and quality, and helps in the role of flood prevention. The Royal Horticultural Society supports the DEFRA initiative to abolish the use of peat based composts by the end of 2020.


In recent years there have been many positive developments, most notably with the use of bracken and wool. The use of bracken is very important, not only because there is a surplus of this natural resource in the UK, but it is naturally rich in potash.


The addition of sheep’s wool allows greater water retention and a slow release of nitrogen. One company producing such peat free compost is ‘Dalefoot Composts’. They offer a wide range of products including, mulch, bulb compost, seed compost, ericaceous compost and tomato compost. In independent tests of ten peat free composts, based on yield, the bottom three were Sylvia, Wickes and Westland, while the top five were all Dalefoot products.


Full details are available at

David Bundy