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Garden expert defends peat use

Another influential gardening expert has defended his use of peat.

Nigel said peat-based compost is 'better in every respect' (credit: N&R Colborn)

Nigel Colborn, gardening columnist for the Daily Mail and chair of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Trials Advisory Committee, said he uses peat “sparingly and carefully.”

His comments come after Alan Titchmarsh admitted he “sometimes uses peat” as alternatives such as coir had “used up too many air miles” (AG, 30 April).

Following a spat with anti-peat warriors on chit-chat website Twitter, Nigel told AG he was calling for “calm, rational thought” on the peat debate. Green diktats to ban peat were “not helpful to the planet or to gardeners,” he added.

Nigel wrote on his blog: “I use some peat-free growing medium and some peat-based. I always prefer peat-based because it is better in every respect.”

Nigel, a “passionate and active supporter of wildlife conservation,” said his peat came from “non-sensitive habitats”. He never uses peat as a soil improver.

Peat extraction is controversial

Justifying why he continues to use peat, Nigel wrote: “Probably for the same reason I drive a car, eat meat, burn oil, and fail to grow all my own food: because it’s difficult to find convenient alternatives.

“And because I know that with modest consumption, gardeners can continue to use peat without causing extensive environmental damage.”

Nigel, who pointed out that peat is burnt in Irish power stations, summed up: “I could survive, just, without doing anything unsustainable.

“But in real life, as long as I watch TV, enjoy a lamb stew, go to a restaurant, buy grapes at Morrisons or take a hot bath, I’m leaving a footprint which, to an extent, is unsustainable.”

Other celebrities who still use peat include Bob Flowerdew, Christine Walkden, Charles Dowding and Peter Seabrook.

Environmentalists say peat bogs are precious wildlife habitats and claim that peat extraction is responsible for 630,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year – the equivalent to emissions of more than 300,000 cars.

The Government wants a ban on amateur gardeners’ use of peat by 2020.

* Do you agree with Nigel? Or should he stop using peat? Join the debate by leaving your comments below

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One Comment

  • Jon Knight says:
    10:04 PM on 13th June 2011

    I’m still finding it incredible that experienced gardeners are defending the use of peat. I’m very much an amateur, but even I can grow without peat. Have done for years. So if I, and many other people can manage it, what are these folk doing that means they can’t? Can’t be just acid loving plants as I can grow those as well – composted pine needles, etc seem to work fine. Must be something that’s causing them so many issues other than just stubborn refusal to move back to peat free gardening techniques.

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