Peat-Free Pitfall: Gardeners Cautioned Against Overwatering Risks with Peat-Free Compost

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Those who opt for peat-free compost have been cautioned about the potential harm of overwatering their plants. The latest compost options may not appear moist after watering, potentially leading gardening enthusiasts to overwater their plants. The Royal Horticultural Society issued a warning in a guide for gardeners on how to manage the upcoming ban on bagged peat compost.

This ban aims to safeguard peat bogs, which require thousands of years to develop and play a crucial role in combating global warming. Monty Don from The Daily Mail strongly supports the ban, stating that using peat compost in a garden is harmful to the environment. Starting from the end of this year (2024), gardeners will no longer be able to purchase bags of compost containing peat. However, these compost bags will still be sold for trade purposes until 2030.

Peat has long been utilized in compost for its water retention properties.

The RHS cautioned that after irrigation, new peat-free varieties deviate in appearance, which could cause accustomed peat cultivators to overwater their plants, thereby causing damage or death.

Gardeners were advised by the RHS to water their plants cautiously. Gardeners accustomed to using peat may need to adjust their watering habits when using peat-free mixes due to the different watering requirements.

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Alternative Options

Peat-free composts may appear dry on the surface, leading to the risk of over-watering. Feel the moisture levels under the surface with your fingers if you can, or lift the container to gauge its weight.

New types of compost are being developed to replace peat, such as wood waste, bark, coconut fibre (coir), green waste, and composted garden waste.

It indicates that gardeners may be able to cut costs on store-bought compost by using shredded cardboard and hedge clippings on borders.

According to RHS, consider creating your own compost as a soil enhancer instead of using store-bought compost for your borders. Combine ‘green waste’ like grass clippings, annual weeds, and kitchen peelings with ‘brown waste’ such as chopped hedge trimmings and shredded cardboard.

 

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