Author Topic: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?  (Read 2318 times)

Beersmith

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End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« on: May 20, 2021, 11:59:01 »
It is now official.  Peat based composts will be banned from 2024.

Overall I support this decision.  There are many very good reasons why we should not damage the environment by destroying peat bogs.  Still, part of me will miss not being able to use decent seed compost because as almost everyone that reads this website will know, the alternatives are appallingly bad. 

Oddly enough, the outright ban makes me slightly optimistic.  Most markets are broad enough to support the basic cheap and cheerful, the middle ground and the expensive but high quality premium product. I would happily pay a premium price for a high quality non peat based compost, and cheap alternatives are not really in the same market. If I cannot get the quality I'm not going to buy more bags of rubble and twigs just because it is cheap.

When there is a customer demand that is not being met, there is usually a producer that sees that as an opportunity to produce what is needed and make money.  But there was less incentive to develop a good product while peat was still permitted.  So vaguely hopeful.  What do others think?
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End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« on: May 20, 2021, 11:59:01 »

ACE

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2021, 12:31:44 »
I wrote to My MP a few years ago, complaining about the department that is supposed to oversee the waste industry which includes the quality control on 'composts and gardening waste. Just got a stock answer that it was well governed.  So I would not put a lot of faith in getting something remotely viable from an industry run by didycoys with a good helping of brown enevelopes.

gray1720

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2021, 16:17:52 »
What happened to coir-based compost? Is it just not named as such now? Or did the raw material suddenly become expensive?
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Tee Gee

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2021, 17:35:22 »
My thoughts are:

In days of yore once the suppliers had mastered the treatment of the raw peat to make it fit for gardening purposes it was then a relatively simple, and dare I say it, a cheap way to churn out what we all saw & knew was good quality compost.

Nowadays, it is probably not as simple a task to turn/recycle the variety of products that are now used to make what is often laughingly called  "compost" into a consistent product, hence the variations in quality we get!

Plus, I expect today's production costs could be much higher due to lack of infrastructure to turn/recycle the variety of products into a consistent product. This is obviously going to affect profits  so producers are only producing a quality that befits the price!

As Beersmith says:

I would happily pay a premium price for a high quality non peat based compost, and cheap alternatives are not really in the same market. If I cannot get the quality I'm not going to buy more bags of rubble and twigs just because it is cheap.

I agree!

But how would you define 'Premium Price' I have been used to paying around 5p-7p per litre for the last few years. Only yesterday I paid 10.71p per litre for a variety I like.

But does everyone want to pay 50% more for the rubbish that is commonly used these days.

Personally until a 'Quality Standard' is put in place I  think producers will be reluctant to invest in new infrastructure until they know what these 'Standards' will be and to be honest I would agree to them.

So I guess we will have to get used to using what is currently available! :BangHead:


ACE

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2021, 19:17:07 »
The testing of the compost properly must be missing. It all comes from licenced  local authority tips. You would think that is the ideal solution and it would be if people used the garden waste collections properly. Everything goes into the shredder then stored in heaps until it composts. Lawn clippings , xmas trees, hedge clipping etc. all loaded with modern lawn treatments, weedkillers, retardants and chemicals to stop the xmas tree from shedding needles. Because of the space needed it is made into 'compost' very quickly so as to move it on and make space for the next batch, the chemicals are still in the mix. It is  just like bark chippings and would make a good mulch but it takes its share of goodness out of the ground before it puts it back again.  I would suggest you use it to make a John Innes type compost every year about now for use next spring. I can get soil improver from the tip £12 a ton if collected, great for a winter mulch but no good to use as compost. The same stuff is also sold as compost from the same heap.

Beersmith

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2021, 19:27:02 »
Interesting comments.

I was hoping that quality standards would not be needed. After all, in the UK, distilling spirits is regulated, and must be done to certain standards, but still ranges from basic blended supermarket whisky at £15 a bottle to aged single malt at anything from £40 upwards.

I did wonder if the market for bags of compost was just not big enough to attract new entrants, or the investment and development research needed. That would be unfortunate.

But there is an additional factor. Garden centres and the like also sell huge volumes of plants, shrubs, bushes, trees, houseplants, young vegetable plants, summer bedding, and loads loads more.  That business must dwarf the market for bags of compost. So what will that industry use when the ban kicks in?  If those businesses want to maintain the quality of their retail offer I suspect they will need something much better than the "rubble and twigs" we get under the label "multi purpose". That might kickstart a few changes.
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Tee Gee

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2021, 19:45:33 »
Quote
If those businesses want to maintain the quality of their retail offer I suspect they will need something much better

I think there could be double standards there already as the garden centre in the next village from me make their own compost but it is ‘Peat based’ so even they will have to go back to the drawing board.

I have been making my own this year to the John Innes recipe and I have used my saved used compost as the loam content and the type of multi-purpose I mentioned in my opening comments has a 60% peat content so I am using this as the peat content of my John Innes mix. I suppose you could describe my compost mix as “ reduced peat”

I am finding it is working quite well! If nothing else it is consistent.

Don’t what I will do when peat is banned perhaps I might have to get it illicitly from the moors that surround me.

BTW My street address is; Moorside Road so that might give you a reason for my thinking.

So instead of dumping things on the moor I would be taking it away.....only kidding!


Beersmith

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2021, 19:49:14 »
Ace,

Your comments make grim reading for amateur gardeners, and that was my main concern when I started the thread. But we may have allies.

The garden centres and the many large wholesale businesses that grow plants to supply them will need to source decent compost to avoid a big hit to their profits. If they provide enough demand someone will try to meet that demand. Perhaps the plant growers will start to produce it themselves.  If they succeed, I suspect they would leap at the chance to make more money by selling to the public.

Not mad, just out to mulch!

Beersmith

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2021, 20:00:40 »
Oops.

My error. It seems commercial growers may be allowed several more years using peat. 

Same as always. Laws are only for the little people. Get your income tax wrong by a few quid and HMRC are on you like a ton of bricks. Trouser millions of taxpayer's money and no-one is remotely interested.
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pumpkinlover

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2021, 07:45:33 »
I was buying Petersfield peat free compost in  bulk at the allotments when I was secretary. It was excellent and a good price.
Since then I've not bought any compost but relied on my own home made till this year when I've emptied out some  very large containers at home so bought some from the Garden Centre.
In some ways the bought in compost resembles the stuff I riddle out of my home made compost!



ACE

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2021, 11:37:26 »
45 years ago I was on an allotment and one of my neighbouring plotters  worked as a digger driver. He was on a gang laying some services and they had to go through a bog. Underground it was pure peat so he had a huge lorry load tipped on his allotment. It looked lovely spread on top, but nothing grew very well on it for a couple of years. It certainly dug well though. I'm just wondering if peat is just another conditioner with not a great deal of goodness. Back then we made our own growing mediums for starting plants off. I would always sieve the bonfire site add a bit sand a cup of hoof and horn, nip down the woods and get some really old leaf mold and mix it all together. perhaps some crushed limestone if it was for brassicas. We still used to have a good return of crops and not a bit of peat in sight.

saddad

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2021, 19:11:40 »
It's true a lot of peat is very low in nutrients and we have forgotten how complex making good compost for specific purposes can be... loam based "John Innes" is the best commercial option I know of at the moment.

Obelixx

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2021, 22:20:26 »
I thought the whole point of peat is that it is low in nutrients so ideal for seeds and seedlings and not likely to be full of random weed seeds.

The RHS has pledged to be peat free by 2025 and that includes its gardens, plants grown or bought in for sale in their plant centres and plant grown for any of its shows.   That involves a large number of nurseries so the pressure is on for them too.

Meantime, the RHS has been investigating a range of sustainable peat alternatives including farming sphagnum moss as coir, one of the best alternatives, has to be shipped from warmer climes and has implications for cost of processing and transport.

As for Ace and his comments on what goes into council compost heaps and isn't adequately broken down, yes!   Just look at the aminopyralid problems some people on here have had.  Imagine that compounded by Path Clear and glyphosate and stump killer.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2021, 22:22:07 by Obelixx »
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lezelle

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2021, 14:54:24 »
Hi Ya, Since finding out about the peat ban I have been thinking of what to do. I thought peat free but looking online the cost is huge. I can make good compost on my plot so perhaps I could mix some of that with peat free. the council here take all green waste and as said it does contain some rubbish. I did go to a car park once where they were offering a free bag to each household, when i saw the state of what was on offer I walked away, it was terrible. It does say only garden centres will be stopped from selling it so I reckon the nurseries will still be able to get it and they are the ones using the most. Oh well if any any knows a good peat free compost please let us know as all the ones I have seen are poor. More thought to be given I think.

Tee Gee

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2021, 16:10:31 »
Quote
It does say only garden centres will be stopped from selling it, so I reckon the nurseries will still be able to get it, and they are the ones using it the most.

If this is the case  then as Beersmith states;

Quote
Same as always. Laws are only for the little people. Get your income tax wrong by a few quid and HMRC are on you like a ton of bricks. Trouser millions of taxpayer's money and no-one is remotely interested.

Although I agree that something must be done regarding peat usage, as I see it; this is another of those 'blanket' rules that has been introduced without (it would appear) any consideration for the ramifications it will cause to 'all users' in future.


IanDH

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2021, 17:30:23 »
I hope that this announcement is not a recycled version of the one that announced a ban by 2011.

Per - England Peat Action Plan (May 2021)
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987859/england-peat-action-plan.pdf

"We will consult on banning the sale of peat and peat containing products in the amateur sector by the end of this parliament."

As usual it appears the press has jumped with what it wants to hear.  The only actual announcement was a consultation on a ban by the end on this Parliament.  In full the specific action point reads:

Actions:
We will consult on banning the sale of peat and peat containing products in the amateur sector by the end of this parliament. We will publish a full consultation in 2021 to examine the feasibility of the following measures, to end the use of horticultural peat in both the amateur and professional sectors:
● Setting absolute deadlines to ban the sale of peat in both the amateur and professional sectors.
● Introducing a point-of-sale charge for the purchase of growing media containing peat. This could use the plastic bag charge as a model.
● Mandating all sellers of horticultural products containing peat, including plants, to publicly report on the volume of peat they sell each year (in bags or plant pots).
● Issuing a call for evidence on the wider uses of peat and peat products in the retail sector; for example - grass turf production, cosmetics and industries where peat forms part of the production process.

Beersmith

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2021, 23:53:38 »
I hope that this announcement is not a recycled version of the one that announced a ban by 2011.

It was an announcement made by George Eustice, the environment secretary on 18th May.

Mr Eustice confirmed plans to ban sales of peat products by the end of this Parliament in 2024, subject to consultation, to preserve carbon-storing peatland habitat.

So I suppose much depends on how much trust you place in what the government tells you.  I took it at face value initially.  But given the amount of pure fiction that emanates from the current government it might just be one of those promises that will be quietly forgotten in due course. Who knows?
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Paulh

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2021, 09:18:13 »
Fictions of this type emanate from governments of all hues. One set of pressure groups persuades ministers that X is the right thing to do (whether it's environmental, social welfare, education ...), it looks like a quick win, so it's announced as policy and then the government finds that the counterarguments that had been made weren't all just the negative opposition of entrenched interests.

Promoting diesel over petrol worked well, didn't it. Next up, it's electric cars that we haven't got enough charging points for and need batteries whose green footprint isn't great. No new gas boilers in a few years, we will have to rely on better insulation which most houses don't have, use electricity which will be more than renewables can supply, or hydrogen which hasn't been developed as a consumer supply yet, or use heat pumps which are like having a large, noisy air conditioning unit in your back garden.

It's never an option to improve the existing technology and leverage gains more widely off that, there's no publicity in that.

Rant over.

saddad

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2021, 09:36:00 »
How can you tell when a politician is lying....

their lips are moving...

IanDH

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Re: End of peat based composts: What will replace it?
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2021, 14:01:13 »
It was George Eustace that the Ministerial Forward for the report I highlighted is attributed to - probably only read the summary.