Does 'green gardening' mean growing without peat?

HW took the views of exhibitors and visitors at last week's RHS Greener Gardening Show.

NO: Anne Godfrey, owner, Daisy Roots

"For us, green gardening does not mean growing peat-free.

"We don't use pesticides and we try to encourage biological controls such as ladybirds, but peat use isn't something we have looked into.

"Growing plants is difficult enough and our customers have not asked about it.

"The National Trust used to insist on peat-free plants but there simply weren't enough nurseries that were growing that way, so the trust has relented."

NO: Richard Godard-Key, managing director, Fibrex Nurseries

"We have trialled peat-free growing media but (we haven't found) a good, reliable one.

"The companies haven't done enough research on them - they still break down and sometimes they are even still hot when they are delivered.

"You can get away with (peat-free compost) for some herbs and shrubs, and other growers do manage it, but for pot plants you have to be able to control things such as fertilisers, which peat-free doesn't allow.

"We still supply to the National Trust, though - it doesn't ask and probably couldn't get the plants otherwise."

MAYBE: Jekka McVicar, owner, Jekka's Herb Farm

"I've been peat-free since I started more than 25 years ago.

"The peat and organic issue wasn't really around then, but I had been reading about the Victorians' growing methods - they mostly grew in coir and I wanted to try that.

"So it was more about tradition than sustainability, although I have also been using wood waste from sawmills mixed with compost and loam.

"But quality has never been an issue - 61 RHS gold medals are proof of that."

NO: Louise Peters, owner, Foxgrove Plants

"We still use a John Innes mix and have not gone into looking for alternatives - it's not something our customers have been asking for.

"We do store rainwater (run-off) from the buildings rather than using Thames Water and we don't use herbicides or pesticides unless we really have to, although we're not organic by any means.

"The RHS has branded this show as 'Greener Gardening', but I don't think it's something that regular visitors to the show would be aware of. We are here to sell plants."

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