The majority of people associate peat moss with sphagnum peat moss and its use as a soil supplement. When you open a bag, the first thing you’ll notice is how dry the moss is, to the point that a puff of brown particles may even shoot into the air. You’d be restricting yourself as a gardener if you only used peat moss for this one task, because it’s much more than simply one of the soil amendment possibilities.
The dry, brown material was widely purchased in the form of bags of sphagnum peat moss when it became available in the twentieth century, although the end result is significantly different from the original plant. Sphagnum moss grows moist and green in bogs, and brighter dry forms are frequently used as a substrate within hanging baskets. The peat itself, on the other hand, is a mixture of primarily moss and a few other plants that have been slowly degrading for a long time in the bog wetlands. While this time-consuming process makes peat a great soil supplement that lasts longer than other choices, the process takes so long to re-form the peat that it isn’t considered a renewable resource.
In reality, because the thick brown layer underneath the moss does not regenerate fast, industrial scale production of the thick brown layer poses a risk of overharvesting peat. Peat moss is not something you can just grow, harvest, and re-grow.
Peat moss has been utilized in communities all over the world for ages for things like insulating dwellings and even burning as fuel, but it wasn’t until later that people realized how many helpful features it had that it became a major soil supplement.
For ages, peat has been dried and utilized as a fuel source in several nations. Because it contains a lot of carbon, just like any other fossil fuel. Peat did not become popular in horticulture until the 1940s.
Peat moss is now widely utilized as a soil additive, soilless mix, seed starting, mushroom casting, and other applications.
Peat moss has a couple advantages over compost: it doesn’t break down as rapidly as compost, so you don’t have to apply it every year, and it doesn’t contain the seeds of other plants, which may survive the composting process and grow in your soil. Here are a few more ways peat moss may help your garden thrive.
If your soil isn’t naturally acidic and you want to produce blueberries, tomatoes, or other acid-loving plants, adding peat moss is your best chance. For alkaline-loving plants, a small amount of peat moss is OK, but you’re better off using an alkaline compost amendment, which will provide some mulching advantages while not causing them to have an inappropriate pH. Plants that thrive in acidic environments, such as camellias, will thrive in a soil that has been liberally modified with peat moss.
A key issue with soil that allows water to readily flow through it is that nutrients typically follow, leaving plant roots with little to draw upon. Because peat moss prevents nutrients from being washed away with each watering, nutrients created by worms and other insects, run-off from other soil, and fertilizer will stay longer among your plants. Many individuals have noticed that this results in plants that are healthier and produce superior fruits.
Peat moss may store a lot of water, but that isn’t what sets it apart from other gardening products. Using water-retaining peat, on the other hand, does not result in a soggy soil susceptible to rot, which can harm sensitive plant roots. Instead, it steadily releases water, enabling a natural flow of water into the aquifer without causing your garden to dry out. Because of its propensity to hold and spread water, it’s an excellent amendment for sandy soil, which has a tendency to run water straight through and down into the deeper soil.
Aerated soil prevents compacting and restricts root development while also allowing oxygen and other essential air particles to reach the roots. Peat moss may be a fantastic alternative for part (but not all!) of the potting media in a potting mix. 1/3 sphagnum peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost is a fantastic example of a garden mix that will combine aeration, nutrients, and a good texture. This ratio generates a balanced pH that combines all of the favorable attributes stated above with some material that keeps water circulating through the potting mix while conserving nutrients and preventing the potting mix from drying out completely.
Because peat moss is a non-renewable resource, it makes sense to avoid using it to amend the soil in all of your beds. If a bed can grow with compost as an amendment, it’s a more sustainable and nutrient-rich alternative, according to a decent rule of thumb. However, supplementing with peat moss will provide significant benefits for acid-loving plants or beginning seeds in a fresh bed. While most peat moss is not harvestable, it is regenerated, albeit slowly, therefore peat moss might be used in a sustainable manner. Whatever reason you use peat moss in your mixes, be happy that this beneficial decomposed moss matter is available to us. Even when blended in a tiny proportion with other chemicals, it may maintain a plant bed well aerated, nutrient-rich, and hydrated.
Peat moss, unlike other organic compounds like manure compost, is devoid of nutrients. It’s also devoid of any beneficial bacteria. As a result, you may use peat moss as an amendment to the soil and other materials, but you can’t expect the plants to develop strong and correctly if you use it alone.
Even though peat moss can hold up to ten times its weight in water and is an excellent soil additive. When it becomes entirely dry, however, it takes a long time to rehydrate.
So, if you’re beginning seedlings with just peat moss, make sure it’s wet enough. Mixing it with soils and other soilless medium is also an excellent idea.
Although peat moss is ideal for acid-loving plants because to its low pH, it is not suitable for all species. To generate a neutral or alkaline atmosphere, you’ll need to add certain pH-high elements like lime. Also, keep an eye on the pH of the developing environment to make sure it doesn’t change too much. Another difficulty with soil pH is that adding too many additives to adjust the pH level might harm the soil. Natural soil is good for growing plants.
As previously stated, the decomposition of peat moss might take thousands of years. As a result, it is deemed non-renewable and environmentally unfriendly. That is one of the key reasons why many environmentally conscious producers are abandoning it in favor of something else.
Peat moss isn’t the most costly growth medium, but it’s also not the cheapest. Compost is a preferable option to peat moss, especially if you use it in quantity and cost is a problem.
Peat moss is often applied in a 2:1 ratio. This implies you’ll have two parts soil to one part peat moss. You may also apply it to your garden in a 2 to 3 inch layer, which should be placed in the top 12 inches of the soil.
You can use one-third to two-thirds of the entire volume of the mixture with extra materials like potting soil or compost, whether you’re potting in raised beds or containers.
You’ll now have one-part peat moss and one-part potting soil in your peat moss and potting soil combination.
You may make a 50/50 mixture of peat moss and perlite to use for seed beginning. Alternatively, a third each of perlite, pine bark, and peat moss might be used.
Gardeners primarily use peat moss as a soil supplement or component in potting soil; however, when blended with other substances and put to the soil, it is intriguing since it decreases watering by 50%, improves plant rooted, and even enhances production, among other things.