Plants are endlessly fascinating. In May I’m going to spend three days looking at how they grow, on our Botany for Gardening course

by Chloe Ward
When i was a kid i made a little promise to myself that i would never, ever be as boring as my Mum and Granny who would walk up and down their rows of vegetables discussing each one. It’s a promise I’m happy to break though. Plants are endlessly fascinating. In May I’m going to spend three days looking at how they grow, on our ‘Botany for Gardening’ course. We’ll be doing little experiments and stuff that was boring at school, but strangley is really fun now. There’s still spaces if you want to join in.

Thoughts on peat in response to questions and comments from twitter and facebook. I’d back a levy, but I’d prefer a ban

by Chloe Ward

I would back a levy, though of course i’d prefer a ban. It would be hard to sell bags of peat under the table in the pub, thought i guess it would happen. (trucks in the night?)

It astounds me on how slow the horticulture industry is to stop using peat. I’ve been a gardener for twenty years. I have never, ever used peat or felt the need to. At CAT we make up our own seed and potting mixes, but in other gardens i’ve used commercially sold organic mixes which also work fine. If you’re choosing a potting compost, they do vary in quality, so shop around until you find one which suits you. In 2010 ‘Which? Gardening’ awarded ‘Best Buys’ to three peat free potting composts – Vital Earth Tub and Basket Compost, New Horizon Mulit-Purpose Compost, and Vital Earth Multi-Purpose Compost.

Another big irritation on the peat-front is how sneaky the sellers are in their labelling. For example, recently i have seen a grow-bag labelled as “20% peat-free”. What does that mean, if not 80% peat? So, watch out for that – if in doubt, look for organic certification.