Barnsdale Gardens 30 Years On & Still Peat Free


Peat … it’s a hot topic these days!  To protect peatlands and the natural environment, Defra is expected to announce a ban on peat for use in the amateur gardening sector by 2024.  But did you know that Barnsdale Gardens has been growing in a peat-free compost for 30 years and have had great success with the wide range of plants using this peat-free medium? 

Geoff Hamilton (seen above), the much-loved BBC Gardeners World presenter was a firm believer and pioneer in organic gardening and Barnsdale was his ‘great experiment’ in peat-free and chemical-free growing. These techniques have been continued and the gardens at Barnsdale remain an outstanding example of these organic principles.

Geoff’s son, Nick, who now runs Barnsdale offers these tips for peat-free gardening.

1. Remember that this compost is a different growing medium from peat, so don’t treat it the same.

2. You will probably need to feed your plants a bit more.

3. If the compost dries out it’s much easier to re-wet than a peat-based compost.

4. Multi-purpose peat-free compost is great for raising seeds and growing on, although we add pelleted chicken manure to it when potting on seedlings.  

If you decide that you would like to know more about gardening in an organic and sustainable manner, the Barnsdale Gardens’ Advisory Service is a natural extension of the practical advice and ideas that have been given to visitors over the past 25 years.  This one-to-one consultation with Nick Hamilton enables garden owners to have their own particular gardening challenges addressed using an on-site consultation process.  Details of how to book can be found on the website at

There’s plenty to see and do all year round at Barnsdale Gardens!

Barnsdale Gardens is open every day, 9 am – 5 pm.  Nick Hamilton’s new book ‘The Right Genes’  is available to buy here:

Image credit to Stephen Hamilton

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