What Is Peat Moss? Should I Use It For Gardening?

What Is Peat Moss? Should I Use It For Gardening?

You've probably seen peat moss in your beloved garden, or even used them. So, do you know what peat moss is and the purpose to use it in the garden?

Peat moss was first used by gardeners in the mid-1900s, and since then it has become a revolution for cultivation. It has the ability to retain nutrients and water efficiently for the soil. It also improves the consistency and texture of the soil. While peat moss is useful in hydroponic growing and soil mixtures, it can cause some environmental problems.

Many growers regularly use peat moss in their garden but do not know the nature and how to use it. This is why we give out this article. Keep reading to discover these things below.

What is Peat Moss?

Peat moss is the dark brown fibrous material formed when sphagnum moss and other organic substances are decomposed in peat bogs for thousands of years. Due to the fact that peat moss is so anaerobic and also this procedure takes extremely gradually, it does not actually decompose. It just gains less than 1 millimeter in thickness annually. Because this process occurs so slowly, peat moss is considered nonrenewable resources.

One day, the manufacturers appear up and exploit the peat moss layers by draining the bog. They proceed to process it, make it dried, packaged in bags and sell to gardeners.

What is Peat Moss

There is significant conflict over the mining of peat moss. Despite the fact that the mining is controlled, and just 0.02% of these reservations are offered for harvest, groups like the International Peat Society explain that the mining procedure release substantial amounts of carbon into the environment, and also the bogs continue to emit carbon long after the mining ends.

What Are Peat Moss Uses?

So, what is peat moss used for? Gardens make use of peat moss primarily as a component in potting soil or a soil amendment. It contains acid pH, therefore it is excellent for acid-loving plants, like camellias and blueberries. For plants that prefer alkaline soils, compost might be considered a much far superior choice. Unlike poorly processed compost, peat moss does not contain weed seeds or harmful microorganisms. As it is very durable and less variable, the use of peat moss can last up to a number of years.

Peat Moss Uses

Peat moss is a significant element of potting soils and germination of seeds. It releases the moisture into the plants' roots as required, also holds many times its own weight in moisture. When you sprinkle the plant, it additionally holds onto nutrients so that they aren't washed out of the soil. Peat moss cannot itself create a potting medium. It needs to be combined together with different ingredients at a rate ranging from 1/3 to 2/3 of the total mass of the mixture.

Peat moss is in some cases called sphagnum peat moss because a lot of the dead product in a peat bog originates from sphagnum moss growing on top of the bog. Do not confuse sphagnum peat moss and sphagnum moss, that is formed from long fibrous strands of plant stuff. Florists utilize sphagnum moss to line wire baskets or add a decorative focal point for the plant pots.

The Origin of Peat Moss

Peat was dried out and employed in a number of nations for centuries as a supply of fuel. Since, like any type of fossil fuels, it contains a lot of carbon. Then, the peat has been used in gardening since 1940.

Now, peat moss is quite popular utilized as soil modification, seed starting, soilless mixture, mushroom casting, and so on.

Potential Areas

Peat mosses are found in the peatlands and peat bogs of the earth's northern hemisphere. This is a special kind of wetland on where decomposing moss has collected to a minimum thickness of 16 inches.

All the peat moss offered in the United States come from the large sphagnum moss region in Canada.

However, Russia has peatland across the world's biggest quantities.

Canada is the place comprising the world's second largest quantities of peat moss, about 25 percent of the world's moss. This can be followed by plenty of countries, such as Finland, Sweden, etc.. Approximately 3 percent of the surface of the earth is comprised with peat bogs which were formed over a period of centuries.

Mining Process

Any type of peat mined in Canada is thoroughly evaluated initially whether it has any long-lasting impact on the surroundings. Plus it has to be mined in conservable and sustainable manners.

The method is as follows:    

  • 1
    Dig a system of ditches across the peatland so that the water drains out in the wetland as well as the bog starts to dry out and die.
  • 2
    After that occurs, the surface vegetation is eliminated to get the peat revealed. Sunlight and wind will dry the surface peat layer.
  • 3
    Next, make flat the crop field to reduce drainage of the surface runoff. 
  • 4
    Harrow the topmost layer to quicken the drying out procedure of the peats.
  • 5
    After a few days, people commonly use a large vacuum harvester or similar equipment to collect the dry peat layer.
  • 6
    Finally, the collected peats will be carried to a processing company for drying, cleaning and screening into packaging and labels.
peat moss mining

Which Are Differences Between Peat & Peat Moss & Sphagnum Moss

Peat is often confused with peat moss although they have many differences. Peat is the product generated from organic materials that sank in the bogs.

Peat moss is the product that most of the peat is made of sphagnum moss.

Sphagnum moss is a plant that grows on the upper surface layer of the peatlands, swamp or soil. It grows well in wet and cold weather. As time passes, the old components penetrate the lower layer. The procedure of decomposition occurs very gradually in the layer that is oxygenless. However, it really is patient, and during a length of millennials, a homogeneous thick layer of dead material is created and is called peat moss.

The Benefits of Peat Moss

  • Peat moss is cleaner than other organic materials. If you accidentally drop a wet moss, simply pick it up, dried or sweep up.
  • Sterility is one of the characteristic features of peat moss. It does not contain fungi, bacteria, toxic chemicals and even weed seeds. This feature is an advantage for seedlings that are vulnerable to the environment.
  • Peat moss can soak up and keep water effectively. This makes a terrific area for seed beginning and as the combinations with other materials.
  • Peat moss is available in most nurseries or the garden stores in the United States.
  • Nearly all of peat moss low in pH from 3.5 to 6 on average based on the origin of the peat moss is collected. It is really appropriate for acidic plants such as blueberries, strawberries.
  • Unlike soil, peat moss does not compact. It is difficult to create any space for water and air to pass through which causes problems with compaction. This problem will be solved by mixing it with other compact materials as well as makes the growing mixture drain much better.

The Disadvantages of Peat Moss

  • Peat moss is quite poor in nutrition and also does not contain any useful bacteria. So, it can not be used to help plants grow fast and properly. However, you can use moss peat to modify the soil and mix with other materials.
  • Peat moss is an excellent supplement to the ground and holds water very well, can be up to 10 times of its weight. Nevertheless, when it gets dry, it requires a very long time to moisture back. So when using seeds with peat moss make sure you get it moist enough or mix it with soil and some other material.
  • Although acid-craving plants are suitable for peat moss with its low pH, you also need to add some high pH materials such as lime to make an environment that is neutral or alkaline. On the other hand, do not change the pH of the soil too much, this will affect the soil. Natural soil is ideal for the growth of plants. So monitoring the pH level of the soil environment to make sure it doesn't drift too much.
  • Because the decomposition of peat moss takes thousands of years, it is considered non-renewable as well as not environmentally friendly. So gardeners are gradually leaving it and finding alternatives.
  • In case you use peat moss in large quantities, the cost is a problem. It is quite expensive, so compost is a better alternative in this case.

How to Use Peat Moss Properly

Although there are many benefits, peat moss is not used as a stand-alone product for growing plants. It is usually mixed with other ingredients in 1/3 to 2/3 of the total amount to enhance the quality of the mixture.

How to Use Peat Moss

Soil amendment

Since peat moss has so much to offer, it has been utilized of as a soil modification for a long time.

It softens the structure of clay and heavy soils that are easy to compact, and it also helps to improve the drainage system.

For sandy soil, peat moss assists hold nutrients and moisture for plant roots.

It is typically used with the ratio 2:1, ie two parts of the soil mixed with one part of peat moss.

Keep in mind peat moss changes the pH of the soil, so if you intend to use it for soil modification then you need to measure if the pH level is washed away excessive.

Hydroponic growing

Peat moss is also a good way to grow without soil. But people don't use it independently, they typically use it in combination with other planting materials such as perlite, vermiculite.

There are a few reasons why peat moss is not suitable for pure hydroponic growing that you should know. Since peat moss is an organic material, if supplied with loads of nitrogen and oxygen, it is going to begin to decompose. If that occurs, the substance will compress the roots and choke off the plants. So it is better to mix peat moss with different materials. Peat moss is often mixed with other materials such as perlite, vermiculite to stabilize the aeration and balance the moisture.

Seed starting

Sterility is one of the most useful features of peat moss that improves the seed starting. It has a natural antiseptic that prevents fungus and bacteria from the seeds. Additionally, it provides superb drainage, fine texture, good aeration, and reduced fertile, which makes it rather perfect for germination. Also, you can use aspirin to speed up the seed sprouting.

For this use, you can make use of the peat moss independently or mixed with some types of soil, or even obtaining the peat pellets offered on the marketplace.

Others prefer to mix peat moss with vermiculite, perlite, coconut coir and the different types of materials. This will help prevent diseases, bacteria, fungi, weed seeds, and other problems generally found in the ground.

Growing acid-loving plants

Peat moss is quite ideal for fruits and vegetables that need an acidic environment due to its low pH. These consist of blueberries, azaleas, camellias, pieris, heathers, tomatoes, potatoes, and more.

Environmental Problems

The most worrying thing is that peat moss takes thousands of years to renew a little. So it is considered as non-renewable and not environmentally friendly material.

An additional issue is that collecting peat moss is not considered a lasting technique and must be managed and evaluated carefully.

Many environmental groups are wary of the exploitation of peat moss because the peatland stores a large proportion of carbon. The International Peat Society pointed out that the process of harvesting releases a huge quantity of carbon into the atmosphere. Moreover, the emission does not stop even after the peat moss mining.

There are thus many disagreements between peat moss producers and environmentalists concerning the long-term impacts of peat moss.

The Alternatives of Peat Moss

Because of some restrictions on quantity, cost, and environmental impact, many people are looking for alternatives to peat moss. Some alternatives have great quality compared to peat moss and also mixed with other materials to optimize their best features.

Compost

Composts are made from decomposed organic materials such as rotting plants, decomposed leaves, vegetable residues, and even animal manure.

Similar to peat moss, compost also has water holding and great soil modification capabilities.

Compost is caused by organic matter decomposing in the presence of air. Meanwhile, peat moss is formed when there is no air.

Any gardener can self-compost or buy it at the store.

Compost is usually compact, pH neutral, does not retain water as well as peat moss. Its composition varies depending on the sources that are recyclable organic materials. It is rich in micro-organisms and keeps many nutrients. It may contain weed seeds if not heated and handled properly. However, it is cheap, even free if you can create it yourself.

Coco Coir

Coco Coir is a great alternative to peat moss for more than 20 years. It is a by-product made from the outer husk of the coconut in the coconut processing industry.

This material is coarser and easier to aerate because of the larger spacing between its particles. Coconut is grown a lot in Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Vietnam. So it is usually produced in these places.

Coco coir is easy to find, pH neutral. It has good water holding capacity and high porosity. It is also more sustainable, better aeration, and cheaper than peat moss.

It is a good substitute for peat moss but is often combined with other materials to complement each other.

Other alternatives

There are a number of different alternatives, which may be some materials like PittMoss, Rice hulls, pine bark, etc.

Should I use peat moss for gardening?

One thing is sure that peat moss is an excellent material for gardeners with all the benefits as mentioned above. Besides, there are also environmental concerns about the use of peat moss in their gardening projects.

using peat moss in garden

People are pondering between the benefits and environmental concerns to decide whether to use peat moss. But only you can decide whether to use it or not in the specific case below:

SHOULD:

- It should be used for seed starting.
- It's great for soil amendment.
- It is appropriate for most of the acid-loving plants.
- Only invest a small amount of peat moss wisely and economically.

SHOULD NOT:

- Not use peat moss alone. It is better to mix it with other materials.
- Peat moss should not be used in large projects because the price is not cheap. Compost is probably a good alternative in this case.
- Peat moss is a non-renewable material, so do not use it for gardening in large quantities to avoid affecting the environment.

Perhaps only you can determine the total investment cost for use in your beloved garden. Therefore, consider the impact of using only a small amount of modifying this soil wisely, economically and effectively for your gardening projects.

Conclusion

Now I think you grasp almost everything on peat moss. You also understand the use of peat moss, mining process, benefits and the impacts of it. More important is how you use it to grow your garden. We would love to hear this from yourself as well as your ideas of the soil amendment or similar things.

If you like this article please like, share with your friends and other gardeners. If you have any questions please write comments below. We will reply as soon as possible.

What Is Peat Moss? Should I Use It For Gardening?
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