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DEFRA consultation on the use of peat


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#21 Tim Bailey

 
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Posted 17 March 2011 - 23:23 PM

I asked this question for a number of reasons. The main one was to ensure that the CPS was aware of the consultation and to make representations on behalf of the members. I also wanted to discuss the issue, and gather other people's views.

As professional ecologist working in nature conservation, I am strongly entrenched in the "preserve the peat" faction. If you open the link to the peat consultation there are some very interesting background documents from DEFRA which outline the overwhelming arguments for not continuing to harvest peat. The most basic argument, as carnivorous plant growers, is that we should not be destroying the habitat that the plants we love grow in!

The writing has been on the wall with respect to peat for a long time. I wrote my "peat free" article for the CPS in 2004 & indicated that peat would be very difficult to obtain in the future, a statement which was questioned by a few people but look where we are now! I have not bought peat for about 17 years now, so it can be done. It is not always easy, and it is not always cheap or convenient. I very much feel for other growers who do not have easy access to alternatives. I acknowledge that a small amount of carnivorous plant growers using a small amount of peat will have an insignificant effect on peat bogs around the world, but maintaining peat harvesting on a small-scale just for carnivorous plants, ericaceous plants and some orchid growers is very unlikely to happen.

So what do I think the CPS should be responding with? Probably something like:
- we strongly support the proposals to phase out the use of peat
- would point out the specialist requirements of carnivorous plants as a group in requiring acid, low nutrient composts
- would point out that some members of the CPS have been carrying out research into alternatives, although on a small-scale, but would share information we have on alternatives such as moorland gold, Coco peat and Sphagnum derivatives & hydroponics
- acknowledge that currently peat is the only viable option for many growers, both financially and logistically
- would like to see collaborative, funded research into peat-free alternatives for minority plant groups
- would like to see a levy on peat used to subsidise research into alternatives
- would like to see a levy on peat used to subsidise peat alternatives to make them `significantly cheaper than peat products

What do others think?


Hi all

Been off the Forum for a while getting ear bleeds from all the EEE work and working on the Defra peat consultation. Oh, and also trying to lead a normal life which seems to be escaping me.

The CPS will be responding positively to the Defra consultation, in the same vein as Stephen suggests. I haven't been peat free for as long, 4 years against 17, but the only problem I've encountered is a couple of Alata and Darlingtonia. I can't put that down to coir as other factors may have come into play. I've been re-potting quite a few plants I grow in coir and perlite and the roots look very healthy in my Sarracenia.

As mentioned in my recent Journal article a mix of organic coir and Moorland Gold would be a good start as an alternative, perhaps with some perlite - it makes a nice mix.

To preserve threaten cps in cultivation we will be asking for an exception, though this would need to be linked to a formalised registration process to get one.

Hydroponics will have a place, but only if a large scale easily adopted and cheap to run system can be developed (also must not reduce plant growing space, as we do like to pack our plants in). I've set up a large system this year (flood and flow system), with the smaller version on show at the EEE. The growing medium is expanded clay and sustainably sourced sphagnum moss. Early days, but my Darlingtonia and Disa are ahead of the rest of my plants already.

The CPS will develop an action plan, or road map as Defra put it, towards becoming peat-free in the time frames outlined in due course.

The CPS response will be published on the website shortly, and when it is I'll announce it on the Forums.

The implications of the consultation will be worrying for a good number of growers, but it's very important we do not bury our heads, take a positive attitude and for everyone to start trying alternatives on a few spare plants.

Tim

#22 Alexis

 
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Posted 18 March 2011 - 10:42 AM

To preserve threaten cps in cultivation


I think that's an important point, especially where you have named location plants from sites that no longer exist.

#23 Vic2

 
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Posted 18 March 2011 - 11:19 AM

Been off the Forum for a while getting ear bleeds from all the EEE work and working on the Defra peat consultation. Oh, and also trying to lead a normal life which seems to be escaping me.
The CPS will be responding positively to the Defra consultation, in the same vein as Stephen suggests.
To preserve threaten cps in cultivation we will be asking for an exception, though this would need to be linked to a formalised registration process to get one.
The CPS will develop an action plan, or road map as Defra put it, towards becoming peat-free in the time frames outlined in due course.
The CPS response will be published on the website shortly, and when it is I'll announce it on the Forums.
The implications of the consultation will be worrying for a good number of growers, but it's very important we do not bury our heads
Tim

Well done, Tim! :wub: (And I mean, just Tim, and probably also Dennis).

Good to know that the CPS hasn't missed the DEFRA deadline, thanks to your solo work.


I'd refrained from asking what was happening, as I knew it would just be dropped into your lap once again, and you have enough on your plate.

Best wishes,

Vic

P.S.
Please don't let your own life suffer doing CPS work. You do more than enough outside your remit.
Shame some others who should be helping you, but look after their own interests instead. :yes:

Edited by Vic2, 18 March 2011 - 11:43 AM.


#24 Phil Green

 
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Posted 18 March 2011 - 13:56 PM

I did hear some time ago of growers in the SE USA growing their plants in large open beds consisting of silver sand and pine needles, but they are lucky enough to be able to grow their plants outside. I don't know that such a soil would be suitable for pot culture though I suppose it could be worth a try.

Having read up a lot on pine needles, it seems to be an 'old wives tale' that they acidify soil. They actually decompose (like other organic matter) to a PH above 7.

Here is a full and long article.
http://www.pinestraw...icalTesting.pdf

An extract from it -
"The remaining tests were performed on soil native to my area to determine the long
term impact of pine straw leachate on soil pH over time.
My initial soil test was performed on clean soil not exposed to any pine straw or its
leachate with a pH result of 6.5.
The second test used soil obtained in the same area, but from under a five to six inch
deep pine straw mulch layer that consisted of one year old decomposed pieces of pine
needles. The pH result was 7.4. Due to the unexpected results of this test (expectation
was that it would be equal to or lower than the first test), the pH meter was recalibrated
and the test was repeated on a new soil sample taken from a different location in the
same general area. The result of that test was identical to the original test, returning a
pH of 7.4."

So as you see, the pine needles made the soil less acidic, not more.

Edited by Phil Green, 18 March 2011 - 16:26 PM.


#25 pwilson

 
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Posted 18 March 2011 - 14:30 PM

Hi Phil,

Interesting reading. I'm trying to work out if the writer has some sort of vested interest since he seems to be attempting to promote the use of pine needles as a mulch/soil conditioner. I guess not everyone is interested in acidic growing media!

I think the answer is to do some tests of my own at some point. I do know that I've seen Sarracenia growing among pine forests but of course that doesn't neccessarily imply that the plants get any additional benefit from the presence of the pine needles.

Thanks for digging this out. I'm always interested in exploding old wives tales, particularly those that I've started. :wub:

Phil

#26 Phil Green

 
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Posted 18 March 2011 - 16:18 PM

Phil,

vested interest I don't know.

But I found a lot of info online (because I was thinking of giving them a try) from gardening sites and others, mostly all saying the same thing. This link is just the most comprehensive.

Phil

I'm currently using a mix which just cut's down my peat use.
I was using 6 parts peat, 3 parts perlite (or 2 perlite, 1 sand) - so 66% peat.
I've now tried 2 peat, 2 grit, one perlite - 40% peat
and 1 peat, 1 grit, 1 perlite - 33% peat.

But I'm also wondering about using tea leaves in place of some peat. Anyone tried tea leaves ? - used or not.

Edited by Phil Green, 18 March 2011 - 16:23 PM.


#27 James O'Neill

 
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Posted 18 March 2011 - 17:23 PM

But I'm also wondering about using tea leaves in place of some peat. Anyone tried tea leaves ? - used or not.


Phil, Someone tried it.
http://www.cpukforum...amp;hl=capensis
I can't find the post that says so, but I don't think it ended well. I believe the plant died/was repotted back into normal compost after showing signs of great stress.
Of course, that is one little experiment. One could try it on Sarracenia and others.

#28 manders

 
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Posted 18 March 2011 - 17:28 PM

Tea leaves may have quite high NP or K content, people used to use it as fertiliser for house plants.

#29 Vic2

 
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Posted 18 March 2011 - 18:24 PM

Tea leaves may have quite high NP or K content, people used to use it as fertiliser for house plants.

Bit off topic - rich coming from me, I know :red33: - but I use coffee grounds from the local coffee shop. Works pretty well on cats and slugs, too.

Wouldn't put coffee grounds on a DEFRA-protected peat bog, though! :biggrin:

Vic

#30 Tim Bailey

 
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Posted 22 March 2011 - 10:35 AM

Well done, Tim! :wink: (And I mean, just Tim, and probably also Dennis).

Good to know that the CPS hasn't missed the DEFRA deadline, thanks to your solo work.


I'd refrained from asking what was happening, as I knew it would just be dropped into your lap once again, and you have enough on your plate.

Best wishes,

Vic

P.S.
Please don't let your own life suffer doing CPS work. You do more than enough outside your remit.
Shame some others who should be helping you, but look after their own interests instead. :wink:


Can I please assure CPS members that the Committee has compiled the Peat Consultation response to Defra as a unit. I took the lead as I'm use to working with Defra consultations in my day job and because I'm a soil scientist (amongst other things agronomic). I asked to take the work on and the Committee agreed. Taking the lead also follows on from the peat-free conservation minded work I've been working on to help members over the last 4 years, which I presented in a large article in the last Planta Carnivora. As expressed in my article I don't claim to be the leading light here, Stephen deserves that accolade from work he has been doing in this field for many more years than me.

The EEE work is also a joint Committee exercise and I have no complaint from the support I've been given by Committee members. I've got myself knackered as I'm trying to do lots of extras to make the EEE an event to remember. For one I've designed and made 20 posters for a display covering most of the genera - the quickest one took 4 hours. I'm also indebted to the support Stewart McPherson has given me in that respect and I would also like to thank Alexis again for his help re the EEE logo and those who commented on the Forum. The brochure we published also turned into a very long-winded exercise and with general organisational duties the whole process has worn me down - my choice. Dennis and I are the high profile Committee members by the nature of our current roles, but we would not want that to hide the help and support we get on a regular basis from the rest of the Committee. This joint work will be apparent at the AGM and on the 2-3 July.

Finally, and my personal comment, I find the Committee a happy and joined up unit. We have made several strides forward in the last 18 months and I'm proud of what we are giving members, though totally accept we have further things to do.

2011 is a year to really celebrate our hobby, and I would urge everyone to get behind the Society - members and non-members. Of course, that doesn't mean members shouldn't keep us on our toes!

My best wishes to you all

Tim

#31 Tim Bailey

 
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Posted 26 March 2011 - 17:19 PM

Can I please assure CPS members that the Committee has compiled the Peat Consultation response to Defra as a unit. I took the lead as I'm use to working with Defra consultations in my day job and because I'm a soil scientist (amongst other things agronomic). I asked to take the work on and the Committee agreed. Taking the lead also follows on from the peat-free conservation minded work I've been working on to help members over the last 4 years, which I presented in a large article in the last Planta Carnivora. As expressed in my article I don't claim to be the leading light here, Stephen deserves that accolade from work he has been doing in this field for many more years than me.

The EEE work is also a joint Committee exercise and I have no complaint from the support I've been given by Committee members. I've got myself knackered as I'm trying to do lots of extras to make the EEE an event to remember. For one I've designed and made 20 posters for a display covering most of the genera - the quickest one took 4 hours. I'm also indebted to the support Stewart McPherson has given me in that respect and I would also like to thank Alexis again for his help re the EEE logo and those who commented on the Forum. The brochure we published also turned into a very long-winded exercise and with general organisational duties the whole process has worn me down - my choice. Dennis and I are the high profile Committee members by the nature of our current roles, but we would not want that to hide the help and support we get on a regular basis from the rest of the Committee. This joint work will be apparent at the AGM and on the 2-3 July.

Finally, and my personal comment, I find the Committee a happy and joined up unit. We have made several strides forward in the last 18 months and I'm proud of what we are giving members, though totally accept we have further things to do.

2011 is a year to really celebrate our hobby, and I would urge everyone to get behind the Society - members and non-members. Of course, that doesn't mean members shouldn't keep us on our toes!

My best wishes to you all

Tim


Hi all

The CPS response to the Defra consultation can be downloaded from our website.

We will be looking at the best way to engage members as we have a lot of work to do. As a start I've ordered a load of bags of Moorland Gold and the CPS will hand out of few litres of mixture at the AGM to members attending who wish to give it ago. I'll be doing a mix of 60% Moorland Gold and 40% Fertile Fibre.

Tim

#32 mobile

 
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Posted 29 April 2011 - 09:24 AM

Tim, what is 'Fertile Fibre'?

OK, I found it on a Google search. It's coir: http://www.fertilefibre.com/

#33 gardenofeden

 
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Posted 29 April 2011 - 11:08 AM

I got some fertile fibre cocopeat and am mixing it 50:50 with moorland gold at the minute

#34 mobile

 
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Posted 29 April 2011 - 11:32 AM

Probably be a few more years before Fertile Fibre gets here. I've only been able to get Moorland Gold locally within the last month.

#35 sumatra

 
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Posted 29 April 2011 - 22:39 PM

I don't know if I have missed it, but I don't remember anybody suggesting the use of unfertilised coir blocks from Garden Direct (UK). If soaked in rainwater these quickly break down to a fine and even medium which I use almost exclusively as a 1:1 mix with horticultural grit/sand to make a lime-free compost in which I have grown all my CP's (Sarracenia mainly, but also Darlingtonia, VFT and a few 'basic' Drosera for several years. I find this very simple & satisfactory - the coir blocks are very easy to store and are very convenient - entirely peat free, and I can't be fussed with anything more complicated these days!
I think growing problems are much more likely to be caused by factors other than compost (assuming the compost is acid with a reasonable structure).

#36 Vic2

 
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Posted 30 April 2011 - 04:38 AM

I don't know if I have missed it, but I don't remember anybody suggesting the use of unfertilised coir blocks from Garden Direct (UK). If soaked in rainwater these quickly break down to a fine and even medium which I use almost exclusively as a 1:1 mix with horticultural grit/sand to make a lime-free compost in which I have grown all my CP's (Sarracenia mainly, but also Darlingtonia, VFT and a few 'basic' Drosera for several years. I find this very simple & satisfactory - the coir blocks are very easy to store and are very convenient - entirely peat free, and I can't be fussed with anything more complicated these days!
I think growing problems are much more likely to be caused by factors other than compost (assuming the compost is acid with a reasonable structure).

Is THIS the right link?

I can't find any details of shipping costs;
What do they charge you?

Thx

Vic

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 08:25 AM

Is THIS the right link?

I can't find any details of shipping costs;
What do they charge you?

Thx

Vic

There's a shipping cost estimator in the shopping cart, but it doesn't work. Possibly due to them having the weight as 0lbs.

#38 gardenofeden

 
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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:10 AM

Probably be a few more years before Fertile Fibre gets here. I've only been able to get Moorland Gold locally within the last month.



I don't think they are shop based at all, just Internet orders. Price very reasonable. The dried blocks make a huge volume of compost. This is the link to the webshop
vat and delivery are included in the price.

Fertile fibre is just a brand of coir/cocopeat. I'm sure any other brand will do, such as garden direct unfertilised coir, as long as it has been washed in fresh water, not salt, during the manufacturing process.



#39 Tim Bailey

 
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Posted 04 May 2011 - 11:22 AM

I don't think they are shop based at all, just Internet orders. Price very reasonable. The dried blocks make a huge volume of compost. This is the link to the webshop
vat and delivery are included in the price.

Fertile fibre is just a brand of coir/cocopeat. I'm sure any other brand will do, such as garden direct unfertilised coir, as long as it has been washed in fresh water, not salt, during the manufacturing process.



Agreed re Fertile Fibre and other brands. I use Fertile Fibre as it is certified by the Soil Association as 'organic' and free of contaminants. Provided you are satisfied other brands are free of salts, etc then they will be fine to use too.

Tim

#40 mobile

 
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Posted 04 May 2011 - 11:31 AM

Hydroponic shops often stock coir. Many towns have a hydroponics shop nearby, so you might be able to save a little on postage. Make sure that it has no additives and/or fertilisers though.