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Author Topic: Trial of peat-free composts  (Read 12040 times)

Maggi Young

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2020, 04:11:06 PM »
Posting  this  on behalf  of  Neil Huntley of  Hartside  Nursery:

  An earlier post had mentioned us under our "Plants with Altitude" banner as using Dalefoots peat free compost for our plants as well as reference to the Maclennans using it for their Snowdrop collection.
We have now been using the Dalefoot Compost for at least 3 whole seasons - it is actually longer now, but we started using it with some other compost mixed in as well - we are very happy with the compost we get from Dalefoot which is made out of Sheeps Wool and Bracken - and very happy with the quality of the plants we are offering - and most importantly from the feed back we receive - happy with the subsequent growth and establishment of the plants in our customers gardens. We do mix some Melcourt Potting Bark and Horticultural Grit to the compost for our plants.
I know several other Nurseries who use the Dalefoot Composts and other well known Nurseries who use the Melcourt Peat Free Composts and get good results, so whilst I cannot comment on every manufacturers peat free composts I cannot agree with David Nicholsons generalisation that "the quality of most peat-free compost is abysmal", there are plenty plants being offered by Nurseries which are grown in peat free products with very good results. The shame is that not many Nurseries are as open as they could be about what growing medium they use. We cannot claim we are completely Peat Free as some of the "plugs" we get in - not a lot, and mainly things that are micropropagated for us as they are very slow to propagate by conventional means - or they are new and we are trying to bulk them up quickly - or they are things we wish to be able to sell to our customers that are protected by PBR's - some of these things are grown in peat plugs, so some plants we sell have a small plug of peat based compost in the middle!

I hope the above may be of some interest to people looking for a peat free compost in which to grow their Alpines.

Kind Regards, Neil

Neil Huntley
01434 381372
www.plantswithaltitude.co.uk
Hartside Nursery Garden
Alston
Cumbria
CA9 3BL

   
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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ian mcdonald

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2020, 03:49:34 PM »
The UK Government has agreed that the use of peat in composts should not be allowed for home growers after 2020 and commercial growers after 2030.

Paul Cumbleton

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2020, 05:08:58 PM »
Hi Ian,

Unfortunately these dates were only a target and the phasing out only voluntary. A visit to any garden centre shows how far we still have to go to achieve this. The government has so far shied away from actually banning the use of peat in composts and as far as I have been able to find out, their current position is still only that they remain "committed" to achieving the cessation of peat usage but with no actual plan as to how they intend to get there.

Despite an increase in interest from the public in going peat free, a large number still buy peat products. My guess is that this has partly to due with pricing but also that many - as Graeme describes below - continue to have bad experiences with poor quality, lack of consistency and sometimes herbicide contamination. I keep coming across statements from respected organisations exhorting gardeners to switch to peat free composts saying that the quality and consistency has improved enormously - see for just one example https://botanicgarden.wales/peat-free/ - but rarely do they present any evidence for this. Undoubtedly there are some good peat-free composts out there (I have only really tried Sylvagrow to any extent and found it consistent and reliable so far) but bad experiences related by growers are still all too easy to find. It seems the industry still has work to do to deal with these issues and even more work to do to convince us growers that these problems have been solved.

Paul
Paul Cumbleton, Somerton, Somerset, U.K. Zone 8b (U.S. system plant hardiness zone)

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Graeme

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2020, 07:28:18 PM »
question - is there enough sheep's wool and bracken to replace all the peat based composts - will we then end up with people wanting to protect bracken?
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David Nicholson

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2020, 08:12:53 PM »
David Nicholson
in Devon, UK  Zone 9b
"Victims of satire who are overly defensive, who cry "foul" or just winge to high heaven, might take pause and consider what exactly it is that leaves them so sensitive, when they were happy with satire when they were on the side dishing it out"

ian mcdonald

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2020, 10:38:49 PM »
Two bi-products of humans can be used for compost. Straw and sewage.

Steve Garvie

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2020, 08:26:53 AM »
Without effective and thorough sterilisation (-which is costly and would require tight “quality control”) the use of sewage in any gardening product Is fraught with dangers.
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Steve
West Fife, Scotland.

TC

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2020, 01:20:14 PM »
 
and is the bracken tick free?

David, that gave me the creeps having hosted the little b****rs on many occasion.  I have been down to the doctors on several occasions for an antibiotic fix rather than risk it
« Last Edit: August 06, 2020, 01:21:51 PM by TC »
Tom Cameron
Ayr, West of Scotland

fermi de Sousa

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2020, 11:21:39 AM »
Peat based composts are soooo last century! ;D
I think Australia went peat-free sometime in the 1980s and I remember finding it strange to go back to peat when I was in the USA in the late 1990s.
Peat for gardening use in Australia is very hard to find now and "coir peat" made from coconut husks is actually more common.
There are Australian Standards for potting mix and most of what is available in garden centres is fine for pot plants. The main ingredient is composted bark. For Alpines and bulbs I find I have to add more coarse sand or grit. Sometimes I have to sift out the larger pieces of bark.
cheers
fermi
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Victoria, Australia

Tristan_He

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2020, 07:40:22 PM »
Peat based composts are soooo last century! ;D

Hear, hear Fermi! It speaks volumes that UK manufacturors are so sluggish to develop consistent quality products, and our governments so sluggish at enforcing their development (environment is devloved so this is a matter for Scottish and Welsh Governments too). For all the fine words about sustainability, this is a clear area where concrete progress could be made.

Tristan_He

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Re: Trial of peat-free composts
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2020, 07:46:51 PM »
....... and is the bracken tick free?

David, ticks are not particularly associated with bracken - they can occur in all kinds of rural vegetation, including in peatlands.

I think using bracken for compost is a great idea - it helps utilise an otherwise more or less useless vegetation type, should reduce the useage of Asulox for bracken control, could reduce upland fire risk, could help protect rare butterflies which live in this kind of habitat, and could find a use for two waste products. Plus it avoids some of the quality issues raised by Graeme.

I really don't know if there is enough sheeps wool and bracken to replace peat, and maybe that's not the point. It could at least pick up some of the slack whilst reducing wastage, and that has to be a good thing.

I've not tried this compost sadly - the supplier is a long way away and there are no local stockists - but maybe will get around to placing an order sometime. If there are any other potential users in NW Wales that might be interested in splitting the carriage, please pm me.

 


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