Derek – Monday 28th February 2022

We are crowdfunding to replace our fence. The current wooden fence was painted with a bright mural in 2016, now looking rather battered and less bright. A section of the fence on Sprowston and on Earlham, along with the front gate, got blown down by storm Eunice 10 days ago. Temporary repairs have been done, but there’s a worry that this could happen again. Added to this, it has been felt for some time that the boards shut the garden in, making us rather inhibiting. The crowdfunding is for railings, to replace the board fence and front gate, which can withstand future storms, and through which you can see the garden if you are passing by.

Should you like to contribute, here’s the link:

Poundland, by the library, are selling a peat-based compost called Moorland Multi Purpose compost. The firm is based in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Moorland claim their peat is from ‘ecologically managed licensed peat bogs’.

I query the phrase ‘ecologically managed’, as how can you ecologically manage a product which takes hundreds of years to form? Peat is created when vegetation rots down anaerobically in waterlogged conditions. Because it is created without oxygen, the process is glacially slow, forming at a rate of 1mm a year in peat bogs.

Peatlands are the biggest store of carbon dioxide in the UK. They include moors, bogs and fens. Preserving peatlands is vital to keep down our national carbon footprint. They are important habitats with plants such as mosses, cotton grasses, bog asphodel, rare sedges, cuckoo flower, marsh violet, sundews, common butterwort, marsh cinquefoil and marsh willowherb. They support a range of butterflies, dragonflies and birds, including snipe and curlews, merlins and skylarks.

Peat extraction begins by draining the wetland and then excavating several feet deep. The extracted peat is dried, screened, and compacted. When extracted the peat begins breaking down, as it is no longer in an anaerobic environment, and so gives off CO2. The under peat, exposed to air, is now vulnerable.

Drained wetland is susceptible to fire, which can subsist underground until it bursts out with sometimes devastating consequences to humans, animals and plant life, and a vast amount of carbon dioxide released.

It is claimed that sphagnum peat moss from Canada is sustainable, as the moss grows quickly, and the government allows only a minor amount of peat to be extracted each year. Extraction though destroys habitats, no matter how you do it, and once peat is dried and removed it begins giving off CO2, which has been captured for maybe 1000 years.

The UK government is currently consulting on stopping the sale of peat based composts to amateurs (that is me and you) by the end of the Parliament, and in commercial horticulture by 2030. 60% of peat in garden composts comes from Ireland, so by using peat based composts we are abetting in the destruction of Irish habitats and stored carbon.

Peat is not an essential component of composts. It can be replaced with coir (coconut fibre), wood fibre and bark, wool, and, of course, home-made compost from kitchen vegetables and garden greenery. The community garden is making another wood slatted compost bin, to add to the other two, so we can be as self reliant as possible when it comes to potting compost.

Keep the peat in the bog.

There are dwarf irises flowering in the metal bathtub, a beautiful cobalt blue. Like their larger brethren, they can be propagated from rhizomes which are fat underground stems, often lying on the surface like strings of fat sausages. Rhizomes are food stores, renewed in the warmer months, and giving the plants a good start in late winter and spring.

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