I needed to share

Yesterday I visited a nursery that I hadn’t been to before. We needed compost and on their web page they specifically mentioned that they stocked peat free compost. Always a martyr when it comes to plant shopping opportunities, I thought I would pop in on the way home and see what they had to offer.

After a quick scoot around, muttering to myself “keep moving, don’t be tempted, keep moving, don’t be tempted”, I went to the counter to ask the price of the compost. Which is where it all got a bit bizarre.

I was told, by the gentleman in charge, that because Monty Don had mentioned it, peat free was now trendy and therefore more expensive than anything else. That it had only become popular since last year and that all the local allotmenteers had changed back to peat-based as they had all suffered a significant reduction in their productivity and a plague of copious weed seed. That any impact was overblown and Ireland would not disappear into the sea in the foreseeable future.

Slightly taken aback, and verging on the hangry side, as it was well past pasty time, I listened to his diatribe, smiling sweetly. Then he moved onto the subject of diesel cars vs electric and that as he was ex-military he wouldn’t be bullied into changing anything about the way he lived his life. Still smiling sweetly, hopefully with a hint of menace, I told him that I had been using peat free for a considerable number of years, that indeed there had been quality issues in the past but that standards were improving all the time and that I thought any potential shortcoming was a small price to pay for saving the planet. I then asked for 3 bags of his peat free compost.

He took it upon himself to help me with the bags and said if I opened my boot he would put them in for me. I told him my boot was full of tools as I am a professional gardener. Cue instant change in attitude. Not quite so confident now, he shook my hand and told me how wonderful the nursery is and the fine quality of the plants. Still smiling sweetly, I took my leave.

Like many things, is all about education, not about blame or finger pointing, which can result in the blinkered mule-ish behaviour that I was subjected to. I recommend to all my clients that they should buy peat free, as I do, and I explain why. Ultimately it is their garden, and they do as they please (within the confines of the law, obviously!) and I can only advise and explain. And I can always vote with my feet.

Will I be returning to this nursery? Probably. I am not sure I have convinced him yet.

19 thoughts on “I needed to share

  1. You realise that your approach is decidedly difficult for any gardener named Pete. All education needs to be in writing for that reason. (Currently in peat-free year 14. And that includes ericaceous ((dig!)).)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I hardly think it’s Monty’s fault, he is passing on good ecological sense! It sounds like an excuse to put up prices. You keep going, as many as possible need educating on this. I’ve been peat free for years and have got used to using the composts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting. Coming from the other end of the world, I didn’t know there was such a thing as peat v no peat, but I can immediately understand the reasons behind it. Your post reminds me of the day when doing a bit of volunteer work I was subjected to a completely unsolicited rant about plastic bags v reusable Woolworths shopping bags. The ranter was in favour of plastic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a Richard! I wouldn’t be going back there again. TBH I had very mixed results with peat free compost last year. My tomatoes didn’t perform well at all, but it was an odd summer and lots of plants failed to thrive.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m with you on this. I’ve been using Mal’s allotment compost for yonks now. And yes I get weed seed coming up but I’m quite vigilant when my plants are growing in the pots. I weed lots but once in the ground I don’t see the weeds till they are bigger and more easily pulled out. Sue

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is not much of an issue for us. We used to use small volumes of peat for propagation of rhododendrons and azaleas, but that is about all. Otherwise, peat is too expensive. There are no local sources. Although I would not object to using it, and I realize that it could be quite practical for our naturally alkaline soils, there is not much of a need for it. Rhododendrons and azaleas perform well here among the redwoods, but I would simply refrain from growing them where the soil is more alkaline in town. It is not an aversion to peat. It is merely responsible horticulture.
    Nonetheless, I must again ask why this Monty Don guy has so much influence? I like to think that the information that I disseminate is mostly accurate and somewhat helpful to those who read it; but I am also aware that some of it is inaccurate for some or many situations. What I write about pollarding and coppicing, for example, is very appropriate for American horticulture and arboriculture, but useless in Europe, where there are still arborists who know how to perform such techniques properly. I suspect that Monty Don feels the same way about his writing, and does not expect it to apply to every situation.


  7. Last year I asked local gc to stock peat-free compost, and they obliged. However, they’re not permitted to have it on display beside the other stuff. When I asked, they mentioned (hush hush) the peat company call the shots.
    Not for much longer, I think. 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

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