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When it comes to home gardening, the compost you use is crucial to ensuring your fledgling plants have the nutrients they need to grow. But many are filled with peat, an organic material that is being extracted from peatlands, which is damaging the environment and contributing to climate change.  If you want to take care of the environment as well as your plants, it’s good to use a peat-free soil.  

Read on to find out more about this below – or visit your local Co-op to pick up a bag of Westland New Horizon All Plant Compost, then use it to grow your own produce at home!

1. Herbs 

Herbs are one of the easiest and most common foods to grow at home. Pick up a pack of seeds or a herb pot (most retailers will sell them) and re-plant in window boxes. Keep on a windowsill (indoors or outdoors are both fine) and make sure to water them little and often. The easiest herbs to grow are often tougher varieties, such as thyme and rosemary, but mint and sage don’t need much tending either.  

Recipes with fresh herbs: 

Herby ricotta omelette
Herby green risotto
Persian-style courgette and herb frittata

2. Spring onions 

Believe it or not, you can re-grow spring onions in glass jars. Simply trim the tops of the onions until you’re left with the bulb, their roots and the white bit at the bottom. Place in a glass jar (or even a drinking glass) half-filled with water and keep near a sunny window. That’s it! Make sure you change the water every few days once it starts to go cloudy.

Recipes with spring onions:

White bean broth with spring onion pesto
Spring onion carbonara
Bacon twists with spring onion dressing

3. Cress 

We all remember growing cress at school and that’s because it’s one of the easiest (and quickest) foods you can grow. Grab a small container such as a pot, tray or even a yogurt pot, and sow the seeds in well-watered soil. You should start to see it sprout within 24 hours, and be able to harvest it in 3-4 weeks.   

How to use cress: this delicate plant is delicious sprinkled over salads, served with soup or added to a classic egg mayo sandwich.  

4. Chillies 

Homegrown chillies are seriously stunning – try yellow, green and red varieties. They like a hot and humid climate, so keep them in a warm room and somewhere they’ll get plenty of sunlight. To create humidity, place a plastic bag around your pot when you sow your seeds, then remove once they start to germinate. Finally, water your chilli seeds little and often, taking care not to overwater the soil. 

Recipes with chillies:

Chilli prawn noodles 
Chilli sausage rolls 
Chinese chilli beef 

5. Tomatoes 

Start by sowing tomato seeds in small plant pots, with lots of very fertile soil or peat-free compost. As with chillies, cover with cling film or a plastic bag when you plant your seeds to create a warm and humid environment, and remove once they’ve germinated. Keep in a warm place that receives direct sunlight (this bit is crucial!), then transfer your plant to a larger pot once it’s big enough to handle. 

Recipes with tomatoes: 

Marinated tomato salad
Roasted tomato risotto
Ricotta and tomatoes on toast 

Why peat-free? 

Peatlands are crucial to tackling climate change. They act as giant carbon sinks by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Unfortunately, peatlands are currently being damaged and used for other purposes (gardening included), which means they’re releasing rather than absorbing CO2 and contributing to climate change.  

Therefore, all home gardening compost products sold in Co-op stores will be peat-free from spring 2021. We’ve sourced a range of high quality products that are perfect for home gardening from Westland, who have invested £35 million since 2006 to develop them. Alongside our whisky suppliers, we’ve also been supporting peatland restoration through early stage funding, in order to help ecosystems and preserve the UK’s natural landscapes. 

We’re proudly supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RPSB): 

“It’s great to see Co-op removing peat from all the compost it sells and leading the way to better gardening. Peatlands are special places for plants and birds and need this kind of protection from exploitation. We look forward to continuing to support Co-op with their ambitious environmental commitments to combat the climate and biodiversity crises.” –Nicky O’Malley, Head of Corporate Partnerships, RSPB 

For more information on Co-op’s commitments to sustainable sourcing, click here 

* Westland New Horizon All Plant Compost is subject to availability, available in and at participating stores only, not available online* 

Alastair Pattrick
Food Policy Officer – Sustainable Sourcing

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