Monty Don slams garden centres for selling compost made from peat

Monty Don slams garden centres for ‘actively choosing to do harm’ by selling compost made from peat

  • Intensive peat mining is also a known threat to rare and endangered species
  • Britain’s peat bogs also locked in  5.5billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere when they were formed
  • Gardeners urged to stop ‘sticking their head in the sand’ and prioritise climate 

Monty Don has blasted garden centres for ‘actively choosing to do harm’ by selling compost made from peat.

The broadcaster and writer has also urged gardeners to stop buying mass-produced disposable pot plants which are often grown in peat.

He said it was time they stopped ‘sticking their head in the sand’ and make climate change a priority over profits and convenience.

Broadcaster Monty Don (pictured) accuses garden centres for ‘actively choosing to do harm’ by selling compost made from peat

Thriving in mild climates, peat is an extremely fertile growing medium which is used in a wide variety of plants and has allowed the gardening industry to boom but not without cost.

But it is running out quickly – which is bad news for rare and endagnered species that call peat bogs their home.

Raising his concerns about the the threat posed by climate change and deforestation, Don wrote in his Gardeners’ World magazine column: ‘If you don’t care about this you are sticking your head in the sand, not least because it will affect the quality of life for your children and grandchildren.’

Directing his concerns at garden centres and gardeners, he added: ‘For gardeners, this means we have to consume less and think more about the connections… never buy peat in a potting compost. 

‘And don’t buy plants that are grown in peat. No garden centre should stock these things. If they do, then they are actively choosing to do harm.

Peat has adverse effects on the climate, as it’s the most damaging fuel in terms of global warming even worse than coal.

‘The buck has to stop right here, right now — at the entrance to all our gardens.’

Just a decade ago the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that the use of peat by amateur gardeners should be phased out by 2020.   

And Don’s not the first person to raise concerns about the use of peat.   

Last year the chief executive of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council, Catherine O’Connell said that the loss of habitat caused by peat mining  ‘on an industrial scale is a total disaster’.

And BBC Countryfile presenter John Craven said that the ‘UK’s version of the rainforests’ were being put at risk by peat usage.

UK’s ‘rainforests’: Peat takes 90,000 years to form but can be gone in just 50 

Peat is composed of dead and partially decomposed mosses and plants that have slowly built up under cool and wet conditions.

Most peat for compost is harvested from lowland raised bogs in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cumbria. Smaller scale extraction takes place in Northumberland, Lancashire and on the Somerset Levels.

Britons use 70 million cubic feet of peat each year – enough to fill 19,000 double decker buses.

The UK has 15 per cent of all of Europe’s peatlands. They are home to Britain’s largest carnivorous plant, the Great Sundew and threatened birds including skylarks, curlews and snipe.

A 10 metre deep peat bed takes 9,000 years to form – but can be cleared in fewer than 50 years.

Around two thirds of peat used in the UK is imported.

Peat forms at a rate of only 0.04 inches per year, whilst peat extractors remove up to 9 inches.

The creation of Britain’s peat bogs removed 5.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locked it in the ground.

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