For Peat’s Sake? An update on the WESTLAND confusion, but we’re still a tad confused?

As we approach Easter we are oft reminded that it is sometimes regarded as the start of the growing season in terms of vegetables and flowers for our allotments and gardens.  Readers may be interested to learn that the post “When is PEAT FREE not PEAT FREE?” was one of our most visited pieces of late?  We wonder why?  Is it the fact that Westland’s labelling leaves something to be desired in terms of accuracy?  If one asks for half a pound of ham at the butchers then one wouldn’t expect to be given half a pound of beef or chicken, would you?

Are people bothered about the continued use of peat as a growing medium?  Does it matter if we use peat as long as it comes from non SSSIs?


Is it really?

Response to our enquiry made to WESTLAND HORTICULTURE

many thanks for your message regarding our GroSure Peat-Free All-Purpose Compost. We can reassure you that this product is peat free and always has been peat free.

During creation of new pack designs in late 2013 a ‘What is West+’ box part of this design, which on the rear of the pack describes the 50% West + and 50% peat base formula for the rest of the GroSure range was mistakenly applied to this product. The error was rectified in early 2014, and packs now show the correct information that this product contains no peat.

On our website you can access a copy of the product label which shows the current label design and where you will see that the error has been rectified.

We hope this clarifies the matter, but please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.



Given that this did not really explain why we were able to purchase a bag, clearly identified as containing 50% peat, in 2015 we sent a follow up to Westland :

Thank you for your reply, which does not explain why a ‘old’ bags were still available for sale?

The bag we have was purchased last week i.e. 2015 showing that the bags are still in circulation.

Did you not issue a recall in 2013 – 2014 to ensure that potential customers were not confused?

The other option of course would have been to issue retailers with stickers to place over the problematical panel on the old stock? We wonder if they will reply …. watch this space. In the meanwhile we remain somewhat confused by commerce again.  Erroneously labelled products remaining on shelves will not, in our view help their sales, but then we are not commercial marketing executives.  There might be a case made that potential customers will avoid GroSure if they are purposely seeking out genuine peat free because they will see that peat is listed as a substantive component in this product?  The moral of the story perhaps being you can’t always believe what you read?  Corporate marketing is all about brand image and GroSure, not so sure any ‘moor’?


These are PEAT FREE and we’ve had excellent results from them.

The November 2014 edition of Gardeners World contained a letter in which the author expressed concerns about Thompson & Morgan bringing out a 80% peat compost for the professional market.  T&M Horticulture Director Paul Hansord responed to the writer …. Our aim with incredicompost has been to develop a product that restores to the compost market the quality and reliability that’s been reduced by the use of green waste to cut peat use.  As our research into peat-reduced products has yielded poor results, we use responsibly sourced Irish peat produced according to high industry standards to ensure ethical bog management.  We will look to  reduce the peat content further as we develop the brand.  GW say …. Most major compost companies are committed to the current voluntary government scheme to phase out peat composts by 2020.  Many suppliers offer products labelled a specialist seed or potting compost containing over 70% peat.

According to the Amateur Gardening website, the Incredicompost will be available from February 2015,  at least the page comes with a warning …. that Incredicompost, however, comes at a price. The product will be available by mail-order only, delivered from February 2015 priced at £14.99 for a 70-litre bag plus £4.99p&p. 

We are reminded of a talk given at our 2002 Conference “For Peat’s Sake”, when conservation celebrated the Government buy out of extant planning permissions on Thorne & Hatfield Moors in South Yorkshire and at Wedholme Flow in Cumbria where the audience were reminded that it is not about the medium we grow plants in but the management of it.  Peat on its own left to dry out is a pretty poor growing medium.  It is a cheap and easy fibre that the peat industry market well as a base for additives to be introduced (such as fertlisers) and its light weight reduces haulage costs.  Peat bogs take thousands of years to grow and yet the industry would have us believe that peat can be sustainably harvested?

How should we view commercial peat extraction?  Should all minerals be regarded as a resource to be harvested?  Should all natural resources be commercial commodities?  Does sustainability really matter?  Setting aside the issue of CO2 release if the carbon sink was harvested, and the fact that politicians eventually heard the scientists message about carbon sequestration capabilities of peat bogs, why is it now that every thing have to have a financial value?  Miles King in his excellent blog “a new nature blog” recently wrote an interesting piece Natural Capital, Greshams Law and the Tainted Altruism Effect prompted by the publication of Tony Juniper’s latest book “What nature does for Britain”.  The post has received a few interesting comments, most of which seem to agree with King’s concerns, which seem perfectly reasonable but then maybe not to politicians or corporates?

Thorne Milling & BAF 3.95 (SWW)

An archive image of Thorne Moors (Colliery head gear on the horizon) showing devastation from peat mining on a SSSI.

We’d love to hear from readers about any peat free composts they’ve used, particularly those marketed as suitable for seed propogation.  Drop an email to with product details, where it is available from, price per unit and what that unit is eg 50 litres, how you got on with it and any other background information about the PEAT FREE product(s).




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