A GARDEN centre has boosted its green credentials by switching to peat-free compost.

Many gardeners have turned their backs on peat compost because it is damaging to the environment.

But there have been concerns that peat-free compost is not as effective because it doesn't hold moisture as well and is lacking in nutrients.

Bosses at Oliver's Plants, in Earls Colne, say they have devised a solution after coming up with their own blend following trials carried out at their nursery.

Horticultural marketing boss Heidi Crowley said: "A lot of people say peat-free compost isn't up to scratch but we've come up with a really good blend of nutrients and mixed it into the compost.

"We've been trialling it in our nursery and the majority of our plants are now grown in it."

Going peat-free isn't the only way the garden centre, in Coggeshall Road, is trying to be more environmentally-friendly.

Owner Oliver Wass has put tackling climate change at the forefront of his business plan, and is looking to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible, from rainwater harvesting to using computer-controlled coloured lighting to boost his seedlings.

About 60 per cent of the plants sold at the centre are grown at the company’s nursery just a few miles down the road in Coggeshall.

That figure rises to 90 per cent in the spring when gardeners are buying bedding plants and flowers for hanging baskets.

The windows of the glasshouse operate on sensors and adjust according to wind, rain and heat to create perfect growing conditions.

And heat tables are used beneath plants when heat is needed, to save energy.

Mr Wass also introduced rainwater harvesting and collects run-off from the greenhouse roof to water plants.

Rainwater is stored in a 750,000-litre storage tank, allowing the business to be fully self-sufficient for most of the year.

Water is also harvested at the plant nursery and reused for watering stock.

The garden centre is selling bags of peat-free compost for £10. People who sign up for the company's newsletter at oliversplants.co.uk can get a free bag when they spend £10 at the centre.