During #PeatFreeApril, we began a trial with some of our professional and amateur gardening customers, in order to improve the knowledge and understanding of peat-free alternatives.

We’ve been working towards peat-free gardening for many years now and are entirely peat-free in our own nursery, but we’re committed to taking customers with us on this journey, rather than removing peat overnight and putting people off gardening altogether. Different growing medium require different watering and feeding regimes, so it’s important that we understand these in order to give the best possible advice to our customers, alongside the provision of tried and tested peat-free alternatives.

Our team of intrepid gardeners have been trialling nine different peat-free products, and while it’s too early in the growing season to draw strong conclusions, we are very pleased with early reports. With some performing better than others at this stage, products like Sylvagrow MP with John Innes has impressed with its texture, water retention and structure, deemed to be suitable for sowing seeds as well as more mature plants, while Dalesfoot Lakeland Gold has been described as moist and easy to handle with a good natural texture that might be good for trees, shrubs and perennials.

Gardeners will of course need to adapt their practices as we continue to move towards the removal of peat from horticulture by 2024, so we’re also gathering tips and guidance from our triallists that can be passed on. The need for more regular watering and earlier feeding has been identified for some products, with more feedback due as the growing season progresses.

In the ‘room for improvement’ column, our peat-free panel have reported some concerns over texture and seed germination with certain products. Of course, with the government’s upcoming ban in sight, we can expect to see further product improvements coming at a rapid place. We will of course report back as the trial progresses and keep researching into the latest products that will help everyone make the transition to peat-free gardening.

Beyond continued success in the garden, we must also make sure that peat-free alternatives are as eco-friendly as possible, so as not to simply shift the environmental impact to another fragile part of our planet. This is where the Responsible Sourcing Scheme comes in – a new initiative that will assess all materials for their environmental impact, using a whole range of criteria including energy use, water use, social compliance, biodiversity, pollution, renewability and resource use efficiency. Giving each product an overall rating from A-E (Green to Red), these indicators will be appearing on bags and signage from next year.

So while the transition to peat-free gardening may be daunting for some, rest assured that we’re doing everything we can to provide the products and education you’ll need. Ask our team for advice on peat-free gardening any time and we’ll help you to make the switch without too much impact on your borders and veg patches!