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Tristan



Joined: 29 Dec 2004
Posts: 392
Location: North Gloucestershire
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 05 12:50 pm    Post subject: Peat  Reply with quote    

I know I'm probably preaching to the converted here, but this should explain why we should avoid peat-based composts:

http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/last_chance_see.html

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 05 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The problems with totally avoiding is that while someone who grows their own fruit & veg may reduce their yields there are still so many people buying disposable bedding plants etc which use peat.

IMHO another thing that will only be solved by the government banning peat use in the majority of uses.

Tristan



Joined: 29 Dec 2004
Posts: 392
Location: North Gloucestershire
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 05 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Sadly true, but on the current figures gardeners use 66% of the peat consumed in the UK, and there are incentives for producers to grow nursery stock in peat-free alternatives as the major retailers bow to consumer pressure (B & Q now claim that all their bedding is peat free).
The experience gained by these growers will help others to make the transition more easily.

The government is afraid to act as banning peat would potentially affect the competitiveness of UK producers abroad, and also the horrendous cost of compensation for the revocation of mineral rights to the peat producers.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 05 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

There is a product called Moorland Gold which apparently contains peat deposits from Yorkshire reservoirs, they say this doesn't harm peat moors, and as it's being washed down is a sustainable source.

However, looking for it, I found a page from the Carnivorous Plants Society about other sustainable alternatives. It's got an interesting selection so I thought I'd post the link here as well as in the thread Treacodactyl started on it sometime ago:

http://www.thecarnivorousplantsociety.org/cpsconservation2.html

Treacodactyl
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 05 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The trouble I have is I grow a few acid loving plants and I would love to use peat free stuff. Then I see people leaving the garden center with several bales of peat that they then use as a mulch for their flowers.

I have always tried to use as little peat as possible but I don't think much will happen until it's either taxed heavily or banned.

Peat is still one of the cheapest soil conditioners.

Tristan



Joined: 29 Dec 2004
Posts: 392
Location: North Gloucestershire
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 05 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Peat is probably the worst of all soil conditioners. It decays it the soil in under 6 months, adds nothing to the nutrient levels and usually dries out and blows away. Even spreading what would go in the compost heap directly on the soil and raking some soil over it would be preferably to using peat.
Adding a little sulphur to a bag of leafmould will produce a good acidic top dressing to use around ericaceous plants.

One of the sad facts about growing media is that most consumers are unaware of what is in it, there is no legal obligation to state the content or place of origin.

I have nothing against peat itself, what I do resent is the peat producers strip mining Areas of Special Scientific Interest in order to muke a huge profit. It is unfortunate that they seem unwilling to use areas that are already damaged by previous uses such as agriculture or forestry, but I suppose this is because they would have to process the product more prior to packing, which would be unacceptable in an industry where price is all important.

Rant over

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 05 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The issue isn't as simple as all that.

A fair whack of the peat used in the UK is imported from places like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Those countries don't have many really big export markets, but they have a lot of peat. Yeah, it's worth preserving the bog habitats of those countries, but it's alwo worth helping them get some economic prosperity going so they can be rich enough to make the choice to save their habitats themselves.

As ever, the issue isn't black and white. FOE (responsible for the website cited above) do tend to portray things with something of a slant.

Treacodactyl
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 05 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Tristan wrote:
Peat is probably the worst of all soil conditioners.


That doesn't stop people selling it as a conditioner and people buying it. I would like to think education would help but only some sort of ban would change most peoples ideas.

Tristan



Joined: 29 Dec 2004
Posts: 392
Location: North Gloucestershire
PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 05 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Cab wrote:

A fair whack of the peat used in the UK is imported from places like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
.


A good point Cab, at present the imports from Eastern Europe make up about 12% of our consumption and I agree that we should not be blocking income for a developing economy, but can we also, in good conscience, export our environmental issues? Or force them to compete in such a hugely price led market when this will only force their labour to be devalued?

Treacodactyl wrote:
That doesn't stop people selling it as a conditioner and people buying it. I would like to think education would help but only some sort of ban would change most peoples ideas.


As a ban is never likely to happen then I think we ought to be lobbying for compulsory and accurate labelling. Coir cannot be sold as organic, nor the produce grown in it!, yet peat from SSSI's can be

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14972
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 05 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Why can't coir be sold as organic? (if it's organically produced, obviously!)

To my knowledge, I don't use peat for anything, even though I have a sack in the shed, which I bought about 6 years ago (before I knew any better) The only thing that I have which needs it is the venus fly traps which I plan to grow from seed later this year. it says in the instructions there is no alternative, but I'm going to try coir and composted tea leaves and things, as I have a whole packet of seeds, and can afford to experiment!

My heathers are fine, even though we garden on chalk here - I just chuck tea and coffe grounds on them, and they get watered with rainwater!

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 05 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Tristan wrote:

A good point Cab, at present the imports from Eastern Europe make up about 12% of our consumption and I agree that we should not be blocking income for a developing economy, but can we also, in good conscience, export our environmental issues? Or force them to compete in such a hugely price led market when this will only force their labour to be devalued?


Yes, we can. We must at all costs avoid the kind of patronising 'west knows best' attitude that has prevailed for the last half century when dealing with developin/Eastern block nations.

These are countries now associated with the EU. It's critically important that we allow them to develop at a pace they choose, and that means that they must choose for themselves how to balance environmental and economic issues. Sure, we could stop importing raw materials they produce, at a heavy cost to their development and therefore ultimately increasing their net environmental impact if we're not careful.

Quote:

As a ban is never likely to happen then I think we ought to be lobbying for compulsory and accurate labelling. Coir cannot be sold as organic, nor the produce grown in it!, yet peat from SSSI's can be


So rationally we should abandon the organic label entirely for all such products. It isn't working for the consumer and it isn't working for the environment.

Tristan



Joined: 29 Dec 2004
Posts: 392
Location: North Gloucestershire
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 05 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

[quote="Cab
Yes, we can. We must at all costs avoid the kind of patronising 'west knows best' attitude that has prevailed for the last half century when dealing with developin/Eastern block nations.
[/quote]

I couldn't agree more, this attitude has done more to damage our standing in the rest of the world (iraq debacle) than any other. I'm not advocating a ban on imports, simply that we should share what knowledge we have to help them in coming to informed choices. I wouldn't mind so much if the revenue raised is returned to the area the product originates from, unlike in the UK, where most of the profit goes to an American company

I have quite strong views about the organic labelling system, but this is not the place for them. Suffice it to say that they don't seem to work for anyone but the supermarkets.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 05 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Tristan wrote:

I couldn't agree more, this attitude has done more to damage our standing in the rest of the world (iraq debacle) than any other. I'm not advocating a ban on imports, simply that we should share what knowledge we have to help them in coming to informed choices. I wouldn't mind so much if the revenue raised is returned to the area the product originates from, unlike in the UK, where most of the profit goes to an American company


Welcome to international trade, where we as a nation benefit massively from our own people making money overseas also. If you don't like it, ovewrthrow the state and accept that Britain will be much, much poorer.

As for sharing knowledge with other countries, the Baltic states aren't stupid, they know that peat cutting on any kind of large scale isn't sustainable. They're making informed choices to develop theit nations and recover from the best part of a century of imperialist communism.

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