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Though UK-specific, this Friends of the Earth Miracle-Gone campaign describes why buying peat or peat-derived compost for your garden is a bad idea.

British peat, that is. In the US, most peat available for sale is Canadian peat (official Canadian government peat page here) is growing faster than it’s being harvested, according to the peat moss industry. Canadian peat is made from a different plant (mostly Spaghnum mosses) than the European peat bogs, and so only newly created peat, at the top of the bog, is useful for gardening and compost. When the top layers are scraped off, the bog is left to regenerate. There’s several ways to do this. In warmer climes, such as Australia, destruction of the bogs is a serious problem, indeed.

The little peat pots you buy to start seeds in (such as those made by Jiffy) contain compressed Spaghnum moss and wood fiber. I’m using a few this year, though next year I’ll probably make my own out of recycled newspaper.

The moral: know your peat. Some of it is very bad to use. Others, specifically Canadian Spaghnum peat, is apparently not bad at all. Hopefully, if there is an issue with Canadian peat, someone will read this and let me know.

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