I am not a gardener. If a plant needs any kind of attention from me it is unlikely to survive for very long.
However, one thing that my sustainability journey has taught me over this last year though is that I CAN actually learn to do quite a lot of things if I put my mind to it, and so gardening is my current challenge.
In order to try to avoid a bit of plastic packaging, reduce food miles and to also provide a bit of an educational opportunity for the boys we have therefore started a small vegetable patch in our garden. Due to lack of space, time and ability we are never going to be self-sufficient but it is at least the start of a big learning curve for all of us to see just what we can grow ourselves.
As I am a complete novice I therefore don’t have any advice to give as to how to actually grow any vegetables but I would just like to highlight the importance of choosing PEAT FREE compost for any purpose that you may have in your garden, be it flowers or veg.
I had never even heard of peat until a couple of months ago (during a climate change debate) and so when I saw peat free compost as an option at the garden centre I thought I had better find out more before I ordered 400 litres of it?!
Basically, peat is a hugely important natural resource that not only provides natural flood defences, important habitats for plants, insects and wildlife but more crucially acts like a rainforest for the UK in terms of absorbing and storing carbon. The issue therefore is when peat is extracted from the peat bog, the bog eventually dies and then releases all of the carbon that it has been storing. Not only that but we are depleting peat bogs much faster than it can grow (it takes 1000 years to grow 1 metre) and so it is not even a renewable resource.
The UK Government formally recognised that this was an issue way back in 2011 when they announced that peat garden products were to be (voluntarily) phased out in the UK by this year (2020) and in commercial use by 2030. But this has obviously been completely ineffectual as garden centres are still full of ‘peat rich’ compost products. As with everything it is therefore essentially now down to the consumer to show that there is a real demand for peat free compost.
So if you are looking to buy some compost for your flowers or veg please do make sure that you buy peat free. The beauty and fruitfulness of our gardens should really not be to the detriment of the wider environment. (If a product doesn’t say that it is peat free it will probably have somewhere between 60-90% peat in it.) Peat free compost can unfortunately be slightly more expensive, however the environmental costs of using peat I think far outweigh a few extra pennies.
I also fear that 2030 will be far too late for the environment to stop the commercial use of peat and so I have found a petition to sign to push the agenda further. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300368
As for my garden, we are currently trying to grow lettuce, tomatoes and peppers, and when I finally make it to the garden centre we will hopefully attempt strawberries. At least with the current rain that we are having my plants have more of a chance of surviving. Plus my water butts are quickly filling up again! Every cloud and that…….