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I think to put this hypocrisy into perspective, anyone driving around in a diesel car, has done far more damage to CP habitat than the average cp horticulturist.

EU diesel is currently upto about 7% biodiesel.  Much of that biodiesel arrives in the form of palm oil from asia.  The are several bio-refineries in europe, I can think of two offhand.  One is in venice and the other in sweden, there are probably several others that im not familiar with.  An average size processing unit for bio-refining of about 60,000 barrels/day capacity requires an area of tropical rainforest to be cut down and planted with monoculture palm oil plantations of about 10,000 hectares, for each processing unit.

I look forward to the CPS committee campaining for the reduction in palm oil importation into europe as is there duty as leaders of a charitable organisation aimed at protecting cp habitat.  (And if any of you drive diesels, it's time you stopped).




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The last time I got in to the peat argument here, I was pilloried for it. As a flower show exhibitor I need to be well versed in this argument, especially when faced with a representative of the metropolitan let's drive a Prius and crap in the woods club; those who feel that as long as nothing falls within their own tunnel vision, then they'll save the planet by driving an electric car. Start asking where the electricity comes from, and you can see the tell-tale beads of sweat breaking out across their Nivea softened brows.

I don't believe the sale of peat will end. Let's put things into perspective. Only a couple of percent of peat extracted is used in horticulture, nearly all of it is burnt in power stations (Ireland, Russia, China, Finland, Argentina etc.)

Hold the line...Mr Sanctimonious who was looking down his nose at me for using peat only a few seconds ago, looks concerned. They didn't mention peat fired power stations in The Guardian? No, but he'll fight his corner anyway, he knows he's right, he always is, Cressida told him so.

'They don't burn peat' he says with a shake of his head and a knowing smile, though I can see a flicker of doubt on the next wave that threatens to wash him out to deeper waters.

'Are you carnivorous, like my friends here?' I ask, waving nonchalantly towards the botanical friends on my display.

He looks confused at the Sarracenia, then back to me.

'No, why?'

'Well, I-I just wondered what you ate, and guessed vegetables were off the menu.'

'What the hell's that got to do with it?' he asks. Cressida touches his arm, perhaps for re-assurance that he has support against this troglodyte, perhaps to brush away a speck of gluten free muesli stuck like a barnacle to his arm.

I go on. 'Well, as most of the peat used in UK horticulture goes into peat plugs for vegetable production, I assumed you boycotted eating vegetables.'

That's got him, Cressida's now pulling at the arm. Before I have the chance to ask what car he drives, the amount of residual waste in his bin every two weeks which is sent to landfill, or indeed (as has been mentioned here), if he checks the ingredients of his weekly Waitrose shop for the presence of palm oil, he's gone, whisked away for a skinny organic lactose free latte to recover.

I don't even get the chance to tell him to make sure he recycles the cup afterwards.

My point is, peat is renewable, BUT before you choke on your tea, at such a pace as it should be considered finite. There are far, far, far bigger consumers of the stuff, and although we can all start small, the bigger picture is far more frightening. The palm oil issue being one of them. I argued this at one of our council meetings with a green party member. He wanted us to force our contractor to use a hot foam weed killer. Glastonbury town council had purchased one, and he was singing its praises as it uses no chemicals. It also doesn't work as it only kills the top growth, but that's another matter. When I asked what the foam was produced from, he replied 'it's just palm oil'.

Well, there can't be too many nasty wicked members from my team, who could say they'd beaten a green at their own game. Suffice to say, we kicked the idea into the long grass.

Whilst I agree that if we all club together we can achieve great things, when we're talking about a relatively tiny group of hobbyists, even if we all went peat free, it would I'm afraid achieve nothing. Unless we can lobby governments to close, rather than open peat fired power stations, nothing will change, and even if they did, what will they use instead, coal? Now that's another issue altogether.

I endorse growers who want to go peat free, and good luck to them, but feel it's more a case of feeling good about ones actions, rather than making any tangible difference.

Nigel HC


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Palm oil and it's producers are accused of some very sharp practices. There has been evidence reported on R4 of companies paying for great apes to be killed and buried as they are prohibited from disturbing them and it is more convenient if they "are not there". 

The peat issue is a double edged one. Many of these plants have specifically evolved to grow in peat soils so to some extent it is their natural medium. I have tried peat substitutes and coir but with variable success.

i would love to try the fine bark that Tim is trailing but don't want a cubic metre of the stuff. Perhaps the society can buy a bulk order and re-sell it in smaller packs?



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On ‎09‎/‎04‎/‎2017 at 8:00 PM, ada said:

i wouldn't use coir if they gave the stuff away,bring on brexit

Great point, and so eloquently put!

On a more serious note, in future, please do try to control your impulses to broadcast your moronic political views.

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I agree.  This is not the place for politics.

Neither is it the place to insult members who may have different views to your own.  Please play nicely.


A hypocritical, condescending,brain washed sheep and guardian reader (I'll admit to the latter)


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Damn those pesky leading economists, elite scientists, university professors and political commentators with their cogent, fact-based arguments and sharp analysis! These enemies of the people have robbed me of my critical faculties! In future, I shall demonstrate my independence of thought by forming my opinions on the basis of instructions issued in the editorials of the Sun and the Daily Mail.

As per the peat argument, I am certainly no expert (heaven forbid) on the environmental regulations relating to peat, but my understanding is that the domestic measures go further in this respect than required by EU law (although I stand corrected if I am mistaken). Thus, I am not entirely sure how ‘bringing on Brexit’ will assist the situation in respect of the availability of peat for horticulture, unless, of course, you envisage that our departure from the EU will lead to the immediate repeal of all laws relating to environmental protection and permit the unfettered destruction of endangered habitats that Tea Party politicians only contemplate in their wildest dreams.

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Getting back to peat for the moment, most of the trials that seem to have been done seem to be with sarracenia, which frankly are pretty easy to grow, i have self sown sarracenia seeds coming up in my strawberry tub for example.  

How many trials have been done with sundews, nepenthes and other genera?


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Heres a quote from a Disa nursery,

"We do use peat as a growing media. We have tried other composts over the years and have not found them satisfactory. Experimenting continues but if we lose peat it is probable that this amazing collection of Disas will be lost."


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As it turns, we are more likely to ban peat use after leaving the EU.  If we stayed in the EU, a ban on peat might have run foul of the EU anti-competition laws.

"An England-only ban on peat would not be possible under EU law, Defra's peat-reduction task force chair Dr Alan Knight has acknowledged."


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it all depends on how open or closed your mind is to this debate.  

You can google peat ban and read pro's and cons for both sides,it just depends on which article you want to believe and who added up the figures.

You can make the figures say anything and you don't have to believe everything you read.

i don't read newspapers anymore and have never read the sun,even though most southerners think we all do in our flat caps.



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Just adding to the peat debate, I have 2 venus flytraps growing in peat-free mix and both are doing fine. The typical VFT is producing a lot of new leaves and my Red Dragon has put on a flower stalk (no new leaves as yet though). So, from my experience and in my growing conditions, VFTs can be grown without peat... It might not work for everyone but some people can achieve good results this way. I haven't tried growing any of my other CPs peat-free yet but that's because I only got the plants this year and they're too small to divide at the moment. When they get bigger I will be planting some of them in peat-free mix to compare the results.

I'm not getting involved in the argument if going peat-free is needed/good for the environment but if peat becomes unavailable in the future, it's a good idea to start experimenting now so you're ready for when/if the bans starts.

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Some more quotes,


Specialist nurseries say a ban on peat could put them out of business – and wreck efforts to conserve plants that are now extinct in their natural habitats.

The UK government wants to ban peat use by amateur gardeners by 2020 and halt its use at nurseries by 2030.

However, other EU countries do not intend to phase out peat. And Dutch peat firms are reported to be gearing up to flood the UK market with imported plants, if UK nurseries shut up shop.

“Some of the plants we exhibit are now extinct in the wild, but we need peat to grow them,” said Matthew Soper, of Hampshire Carnivorous Plants in Southampton.

“If a peat ban comes in we’ll have to stop. I don’t know what we’re going to do. I’ve heard people say there’s no place for peat but that’s a load of rubbish.

“Of course, peat shouldn’t be used as a soil improver, but certain species need it.

“We have trialled the alternatives but had disappointing results – they just don’t work. English growers will be put at a disadvantage to the Dutch,” Matthew warned.

Dave Parkinson, co-owner of east Yorkshire-based disa orchid specialist Dave Parkinson Plants, agreed.

“We have two choices: peat or sphagnum moss,” Dave said.


“If we had to use sphagnum moss, our 40-50,000 plants would need re-potting once or twice a year, as the moss starts to break down.

“I just wouldn’t do it. We’d shut. If we lose peat, I’m finished. We’ve looked at alternatives for 20 years and there’s nothing in the same league as peat.”

Dave said that disa orchids grown in peat alternatives “stop growing and die” and claimed that compost containing recycled green waste is too high in nutrients.

“It kills them [disa orchids] within a week,” he said.

Dave, who uses 60 per cent coarse grade peat in his compost mix, summed up: “It’s ridiculous. There’s got to be a place for peat for plants that need it. I stopped hybridizing two years ago.

“I don’t see the point if I can’t get the stuff to grow them in.

“I used to do 100 crosses a year but now  I can’t see any future.


“We are the only country in the world that’s talking about banning peat. All the rest are discussing extracting it from sustainable sources.”


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Don't worry the dutch will charge us a fortune for their plants.  Seriously,people need a reality check.

One tiny island banning peat is not going to change anything, except maybe the time it takes to make some of these plants extinct in our part of the world.

just think all that bio-diversity gone .

when its gone its gone!  when serious growers are talking about packing up,it could be the beginning of the end.

these are specially adapted plants and they need peat,the powers that be on the committee should be arguing that point and fighting for exemption not rolling over,if they can't fight for the plants they grow what are they doing for them?

I know they do talks,to educate and introduce cp's to the public and schools,etc but not all plants will be able to adapt to peat free compost,this will limit what growers can grow,to keep any collection going you need diversity and new introductions.If no one breeds new plants,its the end for us all.

The committee need to take a more pro active peat stance and let the powers that be know how we feel.


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Peat can be harvested sustainably and the the world is simply not short of peat bogs.  Less than 1 percent of the worlds peat bogs have ever been touched by extraction.  Several countries in Europe sustainably harvest peat.

There is simply no scientific reason for a UK horticultural ban.

if the UK wants to protect specific sites, make them protected.  The UK can still allow imports of peat from countries that harvest sustainably or simply dont have any shortage of the stuff.

The reality is Defra is pushing this through on a CO2 reduction emmission ticket.  It's the same faulty logic that has us burning imported wood from the US in power stations.




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So it appears that Brexit will indeed have no effect on the impending peat ban. I wonder whether there is anything else for which the EU has been erroneously blamed by the ill-informed (the Human Rights Act, anybody?). Nope, surely not...

As far as the peat issue is concerned, a few points spring to mind:

1) I don't think that the argument for a blanket ban on the use of peat in horticulture is especially convincing. It may have to be that measures should be taken to ensure that that its use is restricted to niche users such as ourselves (maybe the price of peat ought to be raised a little to avoid it being used in substrates for general horticulture), but it is difficult to see the environmental benefits in forbidding its use altogether in the name of conservation whilst at the same time precluding growers from successfully cultivating certain species or varieties which are disappearing from their natural habitats at alarming rates (e.g. several species of Sarracenia);

2) I'm not convinced that the CPS has sufficient clout to lobby effectively for any U-turn on the ban (although I would be happy to be proved wrong). The CPS's policy of promoting peat-free growing would therefore seem to me to be manifestly sensible if only as a means by which to prepare for the inevitable;

3) I grow or have grown successfully without peat several Nepenthes species (e.g. bicalcarata, diatas, inermis, jamban, spectabilis, jacquelineae, glabrata and others). Ditto for several Drosera species (e.g. the tropical Queensland trio, regia, several S American Drosera), many Mexican Pinguicula species, a few Utricularia, Darlingtonia and a few Heliamphora. I have experimented with Byblis gigantea and a couple of tuberous Drosera with no success (although I have seen photos of impressive B gigantea specimens grown by Adam Cross in pure sand);

4) more experimentation may, I think, yield more promising results. I understand that the overwhelming majority of terrestrial CP species occur naturally in substrates which do not contain sphagnum moss peat (e.g.most Australian Drosera, all Australian Byblis, most Australian Utricularia, most Nepenthes species, Drosophyllum, all Heliamphora species, most Pinguicula species, Darlingtonia). I'm not sure, however, how easy or cost-effective it would be to obtain the types of substrates in which they are found. Another practical difficulty with experimentation is that many private growers do not possess the space or the spare plants to conduct meaningful research. Obvious difficulties also remain for those who are primarily interested in growing genera such as Sarracenia and Dionaea- I can't pretend to be au fait with the success of growers such as Mike King with seedlings, although the results with divisions and adult plants seem to be pretty convincing.




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Greg, did you grow the Nepenthes from seed?

It's way beyond the CPS to do anything about it, peat use reduction will be factored into the governments CO2 emission targets, no amount of lobbying by a minority interest group is going to change that.

Doesn't mean to say we have to be happy or quiet about it.



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if the cps or any of us sit back and do nothing,the powers that be will not know anything is wrong!

Its the cps's duty to bring this to the notice of the powers that be and DEFRA,what are they there for otherwise?

if they don't try,we have all lost in the long run.


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The only way this would change is if large scale commercial interests were badly impacted, which may well prove to be the case, but until that happens do you honestly think the UK government is going to change it's mind because of a few eccentrics moaning on about the impact on their slightly weird hobby?

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No, I didn't grow the Nepenthes from seed, although I have raised a couple from TC which were tiny when I got them. I think that a lot of Nepenthes growers raise when without peat, though.

I agree that the CPS is most unlikely to be able to exert any significant influence. As for the reason for the existence of the CPS, I presume that it is essentially to act in the best interests of the hobby. It seems that, even if one does not accept the scientific case for the peat ban, there are fairly compelling pragmatic reasons for the approach that the CPS has adopted.

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