CONSUMER magazine Which? has sparked controversy by telling gardeners not to grow plants in peat-free compost.

Largely regarded as the authority in the sector, the magazine said it could not recommend any peat-free composts for raising young plants, giving them all a Don’t Buy rating.

It also gave low ratings to half-peat soils, saying they have never had a good experience with such products in any of its trials.

Its Best Buys were those with 100% peat or composts with high content.

Peat is discouraged as a growing medium by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, because of concerns over its contribution to global warming.

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 more controversial.

Ceri Thomas, editor of Which? Gardening, defended the trial. She told Amateur Gardening, which first reported the row: “We go to great lengths to ensure that the composts we choose for testing will be the ones that consumers could buy.”


  1. Peat acts as a gigantic sponge, holding water for a long time. As a matter of interest they are STILL extracting peat from the Somerset Levels ! Something the Global warming / climate change people probably don’t want you to know.

  2. P.M. Do you mean those people denying climate change or those iterating its’ reality? The latter have been screaming against the evils of peat extraction for years. The Dutch have great success in raising young plants in horticultural rockwool. Indeed, their hydroponic techniques grow food plants in this medium from cuttings to crop.
    Hard to believe a hitherto highly responsible organ such as Which, has come out with such a damaging statement.

  3. Harry: That’s Rockwool. It’s important folk don’t try growing in the stuff used to insulate lofts. They won’t have much success. Coco coir which Ricky mentioned is even more environmentally friendly, it’s essentially a cleaned up waste product. Unfortunately, Rockwool involves carbon emissions in its production.

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