While peat is regarded as an excellent compost for growing, British farmers and gardeners are using it 200 times faster than it is being formed, through the gradual decay of vegetation in moorland, according to the Soil Association. Peat mining contributes to the equivalent carbon emissions of 100,000 households a year.
Peat is discouraged as a growing medium by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, while the Royal Horticultural Society and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs both recommend that gardeners use peat-free alternatives, making the Which? recommendations all the more controversial. This weekend marks the start of the sowing season under cover for many gardeners.