During 2013, the Year of Natural Scotland, Inverflora was asked to take part in a trial run by Fife council, to see if plants could flourish just as well in peat free compost, as in standard types. Two identical barrels, with deep reservoirs were provided. One had standard compost added and the other, peat free compost. These were positioned side by side. Planting, and initial feeding & watering were identical for each. Photos are being taken and progress monitored, with notes taken on various aspects such as watering & feeding. The barrels contain a mixture of flowers, fruit & herbs - bellis, fuschia, violas, strawberries, feverfew & chives.
Standard Compost Peat Free Compost comments
Start of trial showing standard & peat free sacks.
After 5 weeks, there was no noticable difference between the plants. The tubs' large reservoirs seemed to reduce the need for watering to approx, 10 days, even in dry, windy weather.
The plants in the standard compost barrel were marginally ahead of those in the peat free barrel. There was a slight stagnant smell coming from the filler hole on the peat free tub. n.b. temp. had been in the upper 20's for around 3 weeks
The strawberries didn't do well in either barrel. Despite sun and high temperatures, they were small and hard, as if not getting enough water; colour was uneven.
The fuschias and feverfew did well, while the chives and bellis had finished flowering. Bellis were removed from both tubs.
Feverfew and fuschias are slightly better in standard compost, violas in peat free. Strawberries are showing new healthy growth & like chives are equally good in both barrels. The compost has needed very little watering despite the dry weather in August. All plants look healthy.
The 2 barrels used in the 2013 trial were placed outside the Masonic Lodge, where they were both colourful and useful.
For 2014, they were planted up with bright flowers - lavender, diascia and marigolds, plus strawberries, rosemary and sage - for use by the chef for an Age Concern group based in the building.
Results from Fife Council's Peat Free Trial
The results for the Peat Free Trial were presented by the Biodiversity Officer at a Seminar in December .
Keith Jackson, Parks & Community Events Officer for Fife Council, reports that the results from the groups taking part mirrored Inverflora’s findings, in so far that the peat free was slightly slower and less floriferous. Also the self watering Amberol Barrel came in for much praise, particularly as it was operating on an unusually dry summer!