Thursday, 2 June 2011

A peat free apocalypse

There seems to be a grand debate on the use of peat in horticulture in the press and on gardening blogs.The general consensus, at least on the more excitable wing, is that users of peat are the spawn of Satan. I don’t have strong views, though I accept that it is a finite resource, and more importantly, acts as a carbon sink.
When we started the nursery about five years ago we decided, wherever possible, to avoid using peat-or most pesticides. Consequently, we have used various types of peat free compost: “consumer” green waste compost, coir and currently a mix of topsoil and peatfree. The consumer product started well, but became very variable, so we moved onto a coir based product. This performed better, but again was variable, and water holding characteristics were challenging. The demise of our suppliers earlier this year prompted us to investigate the topsoil route. A well respected local firm is able to mix to our spec, and deliver in dumpy bags. So far, we are very pleased with the product, and the plants look well. However, the elderly ladies tend to find our pots “a bit heavy”! We do use a John Innes seed compost, which does contain peat.
On Sunday, we are taking our plants up the road to Biddenden Vineyards, who are holding a Kentish produce event in aid of Kent Air Ambulance . Entrance is free-come and enjoy Kent’s finest and marvel at the helicopter.
The much heralded rain at the weekend was derisory-what fell was burnt up by the confounded wind:selling plants was most unpleasant. Grass growth is negligible, and the wheat is really suffering. The cattle look well, but the future is bleak, to say the least.

Baptisia australis

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