If the surrounding soil is already high in acid, adding peat can make a garden intolerant to growth. Peat and peat moss are both natural, organic materials that improve soil and protect plants without harsh and toxic chemicals. This is very important, because it preserves the porosity of the fibers that these plants have. Many farmers have tried to cultivate artificially-constructed “peat farms,” though the success rate of these ventures has tended to be low. How do I make organic fertilizer from peat? I'm starting to plan for my spring garden, and would love to start incorporating some sphagnum if it is as good as all the websites say. What is the Difference Between Lichen and Moss. The decomposition process is slow and it takes place without air. Both peat and peat moss can be used as a soil amendment or as an organic mulch. Peat moss is typically very acidic, which can actually make it toxic to plant roots. However, peat and peat moss are not suitable substitutes for fertilizers and you should always use the appropriate type of and proper amount of fertilizer for your particular plant. Sphagnum moss grows most commonly in bogs, which are essentially deep, wet marshes. Whats in Peat Moss. I don't have a full garden, but I still grow a lot of plants indoors and on my patio, and was wondering if I could use peat moss fertilizer for my plants. The huge bales always look like they are going to be heavy, but they are not. It forms when layers of mosses and other organic materials decompose beneath the surface of bog water. Peat , sometimes known as turf (/tɜːrf/), is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter. That stuff is fantastic for keeping your compost going, and it doesn't have that really rank smell that other compost catalysts do. Few experts actually recommend this use, however. Well I just bought a bale, brought it home and figured on putting the contents into a large Rubbermaid trash container to keep the moisture away from the contents until I use them. Why is peat moss such a good addition to the garden? It is … Cool climates are usually best for sphagnum and peat. Peat moss is harvested commercially in most parts of the world. Sneeze city! Peat consists of decaying vegetable matter and -- when added to soil -- enriches the area for better plant life. I am making organic fertilizer from peat and I want it to have smell of NH3 but it does not. It is made up of sphagnum moss. What's in the Bag? Peat is a brown material with a soil-like composition that is generally found growing in acidic and boggy soils. Though sphagnum grows in many places, it often takes a long time to decompose and die away. Additionally, peat moss is used for starting seeds because it’s sterile and retains water and nutrients. Even though their names are similar, peat and peat moss are two separate materials that have some of the same characteristics. The creation of Britain’s peat bogs actually removed 5.5 billion tons of carbon … Peat moss is made up of many layers of partially decomposed dead plants, and these can be grasses, mosses, sedges and reeds. Thus, it is not fully decomposed matter. Florists use sphagnum moss to line wire baskets or add a decorative touch to potted plants. It is rich in organic matter, and typically can hold up to 20 times its weight in water. Bogs are often “mined,” either by hand or with mechanical removal equipment designed to separate the peat from the living sphagnum. Products Made from Peat Moss Some other products made with the peat moss are peat pellets, used for starting seeds, and peat pots. Peat is made up of primarily wetland vegetation. After the glaciers melted, the water runoff filled in these areas. I've started using organic peat moss for my compost pile on the recommendation of a friend, and I can tell you, I'm never going back. In the gardening sphere, peat moss is identified as a common medium for planting seedlings.People with sound know-how of gardening have probably heard of it at multiple instances. Some of the world’s oldest peat bogs have very dense, seemingly endless supplies of the decaying matter, though it is also available in smaller quantities on trees, rocks, and even on top of the soil in some places. Peat moss is dead plant material that originates in peat bogs. Peat forms in bogs. The moss grows on top of the bog, and peat is produced underneath. It is capable of holding and regulating water; It also helps with nutrient retention. It also has a rich nutrient composition that can promote faster growth for a range of plants, from crops to ornamental shrubs. This includes bog plants such as mosses, shrubs and sedges. I use Canadian peat moss, but I've heard that any kind works. Peat is a type of soil made up of waterlogged partially-decomposed plant material including sphagnum moss and other acid-loving plants, which has built up over something like 10,000 years in … The main difference between peat moss and sphagnum moss is that peat moss is formed by the decomposition of sphagnum moss and other organisms over many thousand years, whereas sphagnum moss contains more than 370 species which grow in cool and moist habitats. However, peat moss consists of an absorbent moss that increases the acidity level of soils when added to it. Inhaling these into the lungs can be dangerous, although not usually fatal. Peat may be cut by spade in the form of blocks, which are spread out to dry. What you should know about peat moss is that it isn’t a renewable resource. Unlike compost, peat moss forms in the absence of air. When it is harvested, it is dead and decayed. Gardeners tend to love it for its ability to retain water — it can often hold up to 20 times its weight. Peat moss and sphagnum moss are two types of mosses used as soil amendments in gardening. Peat moss is an affordable growing medium with great water holding capacity - but what is the environmental cost of using peat? In certain circumstances, peat can be an early stage in coal formation. Where does peat moss shine? Some of the world’s oldest peat bogs have very dense, seemingly endless supplies of the decaying matter, though it is also available in smaller quantities on trees, rocks, and even on top of the soil in some places. As it exists in nature, peat moss is made up of layers upon layers of partially decomposed plant remains — such as sedges, reeds, mosses, and grasses — and is formed over thousands of years when an abundance of water and the absence of oxygen affect the natural processes of decay, according to the Royal Horticultural Didn't see any warnings about spores so I broke up the entire brick with my fingers. The peat is then dried further, screened, and compressed into the bales of peat moss--this final product-- that we buy in stores. Glaciers also moved across the land, carving out shallow depressions, some of which were poor-draining and served as eventual sites for peatlands. Peat moss can soak up a massive 20 times its weight in water, releasing it back at a very slow rate. This is often necessary when dealing with very sandysoil, or plants that need increased or steady moisture content to flourish. Peat is made up of dead and partially decomposed mosses and plants that have slowly built up under cool and wet conditions. On the upside, any excess water quickly moves through the material and drains out. Understanding the ingredients and how they can benefit your growing needs. Plants that thrive in moist soil will love growing in peat moss. Peat often looks like it would make a good mulch — its water retention is frequently something that gardeners want on and around their plants. When dry, the blocks weigh from 0.34 to 0.91 kg (0.75 to 2 pounds). This is used as a soil conditioner which increases the soil's capacity to hold water and nutrients by increasing capillary forces and cation exchange capacity – uses that are particularly useful in gardening. If using peat pots, make sure and break off the rims above the surface, or bury Wikibuy Review: A Free Tool That Saves You Time and Money, 15 Creative Ways to Save Money That Actually Work. The moss grows on top of the bog, and peat is produced underneath. They are best known for those species that carpet woodland and forest floors. In some cases, peat has been found to contain harmful bacterial cells known as Sporothrix schenckii which can lead to infection if inhaled — and often skin irritation if touched. And what’s more, this growing medium enhances the texture of the soil making it suitable for your favorite plants – we all want the best for our favorites. These can be planted directly in soil where they will dissolve, enriching it. Peat moss is already almost all the way decomposed, which means that it is not usually able to help speed the decomposition of other organic material — and in some cases, it actually slows it. Peat moss is the decomposing, dead parts of sphagnum moss and is usually found deep in a bog. Composters should not usually rely on peat to facilitate disintegration, though using it in conjunction with other carbon-based materials can be beneficial. Peat moss is used to amend garden soil to improve its texture, prevent moisture loss, and lighten clay soils. Are there any health risks to using peat moss? It can lead to respiratory problems like asthma, wheezing, and chronic shortness of breath. Sphagnum moss, a versatile gardening material, is the dark brown fibrous product made up of sphagnum moss and other organic materials that decompose in peat bogs over many years. Sphagnum peat moss refers to the partially decomposed remains of sphagnum moss. While it is organic, peat is being used and mined faster than it can be produced. It tends to be more expensive than more traditional fertilizers like manure or organic compounds, but is often easier to use and faster-acting. Jiffy pellets are mainly made of peat moss. Furthermore, you can create a rooting medium by mixing 2 parts perlite with 1 part peat moss. Using peat effectively is often harder than it seems. It is usually best to incorporate peat into the soil, so that a plant’s roots can access any water the moss stores. It is unique to natural areas called peatlands, bogs, mires, moors, or muskegs. As a soil amendment, which is what the baled product is mostly sold for, peat moss is also a poor choice. Scientists believe that the peat in these peatlands has been forming for 360 million years. People who regularly handle peat moss often wear face masks and protective gloves as a precaution. I would love to grow my own, but unfortunately the climate where I live is just not suitable for growing peat moss. Peat moss can be used in the same manner as peat and works as a dry storage medium for bulbs. Depleting natural peat may be problem in its own right, but it can also lead to the change or ultimate destruction of bog habitats that support a number of different birds, small mammals, and insect and microbial life. "While oil, coal, and natural gas are exported around the world, few outside northern Europe are aware of this energy source. Since peat moss has a low pH level, garden lime may be needed if using it as mulch. Due to their poor drainage, the water has low oxygen, so it is anaerobic and has … Peat can consist of either sapric, hemic or fibric materials, each with its own level of decomposition. There are many uses of peat moss, such as improving soil, starting seeds, adding it as an amendment, and more. How do I it? In the gardening terms, peat moss is the characteristic, dark brown fibrous material resulting from the … I've also heard that peat moss makes great fertilizer -- does anybody reading this have any personal experience with that? Peat moss is very common in gardening so it is important to understand what it is, how it works and how to use it to make your plants thrive. Has anybody every used sphagnum peat moss in the garden? Some other products made with the peat moss are peat pellets, used for starting seeds, and peat pots. This may make it appear that the ground is nice and moist, but in reality, the moss is often robbing the plants of the water they need to thrive. Peat can consist of either sapric, hemic or fibric materials, each with its own level of decomposition. As it exists in nature, peat moss is made up of layers upon layers of partially decomposed plant remains — such as sedges, reeds, mosses, and grasses — and is formed over thousands of years when an abundance of water and the absence of oxygen affect the natural processes of decay, according to the Royal Horticultural Society, a British conservation group. It breaks down too fast, compressing and squeezing air out of … So here is the summary of what peat moss is: Peat moss is composed of accumulated dark spongy materials. So if anybody reading this has tried sphagnum peat moss in the garden or as a fertilizer, and could tell me if you're pleased with it or if it's not worth the trouble, I'd be greatly appreciative. Peat moss is also used in creating potting mixes for various types of houseplants. This material is collected at the dense, bottom layers of bogs, where decomposing material compresses within a … This makes the decomposition process slower. Disadvantages of Growing Plants in Sphagnum Moss, Harvest to Table: Organic Fertilizers and Soil Amendments, University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener: Mulching – A Must. Flanigan completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College. Canada is one of the world’s top producers, for instance, as are many countries in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. Peat moss helps soften compact soil. Peat moss holds an incredible amount of water yet drains freely. Most of the peat bogs that exist today formed since the retreat of the glaciers after the last ice age around 12,000 years ago. When the demand outpaces the natural production, there is a danger of over-farming. Oftentimes, they are called sphagnum peat moss because it is mostly composed of sphagnum which is a type of moss. Most of our peat moss comes from Canada, much of it Quebec, although some in the Midwest and South comes from Michigan. Peat moss first became available to gardeners in the mid-1900s. Some people add peat to their compost heaps, though this practice often meets with only mixed results. Moss, any of at least 12,000 species of small nonvascular spore-bearing land plants. The peatland ecosystem covers 3.7 million square kilometres and is the most efficient carbon sink on the planet, because peatland plants capture CO2 naturally released from the peat, maintaining an equilibrium. Sphagnum and peat are excellent preservation agents thanks to their slow rate of decay. It reminds me of the pictures of people carrying ridiculously large pieces of balsa wood. Peat is also formed into peat pots that let you plant seeds and seedlings into the pots, which you can then plant directly into the ground, peat pots and all. What Are the Benefits of Coconut Coir in the Garden? Peat moss is not just made up of decayed sphagnum moss, though. Most garden centers sell peat by the bale. For this reason, peat moss mulch can be used in dry areas to help retain water. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Sapric peat has the highest level of decomposition, fibric has the least level of decomposition, containing intact fiber, while hemic is in the middle of the two. This makes peat moss a very unique garden material because it forms without the presence of oxygen. Flanigan has written for various publications, including WV Living and American Craft Council, and has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. Canadian peatlands formed over 10,000 years ago in very moist and poorly drained low spots such as old river beds, lakes or ponds. Peat is the "forgotten fossil fuel. Peat moss is also dried before being sold since it is mostly water. As the moss dries, it tends to absorb water into itself. Peat moss helps retain water in the soil, adds body to sand soils and loosens soil containing a high amount of heavy clay. Like most mosses, peat is made up of a number of different spores. Peat is generally sold in bags and used as an alternative to topsoil since it provides better aeration and helps prevent soil erosion. Without getting into much detail (for more, just give a look at the end of this article), peat moss is: 1) a finite resource 2) covering important water regulation roles in the environment 2) is a carbon sink. The popularity of peat has caused some controversy when it comes to resourcing, however. I've heard great things about how well it can aerate and moisturize the roots of your plants, but it's a little pricey where I live, so I've been holding off on buying it. A distinction is sometimes made between sphagnum moss, the live moss growing on top of a peat bog, and 'sphagnu… Critics often point to dwindling natural supplies and bog destruction as evidence of a supply problem. Like peat, peat moss grows in boggy locations and contains decaying vegetable matter. Peat moss is the dark brown fibrous product of sphagnum moss and other organic materials that decompose in peat bogs over thousands of years. It fluffed a little and so filled my container and then right at the end of my chore, "Whammo!" Knowing the difference between peat and peat moss can help increase the success of your garden. Canad… Bone tends to dissolve away, thanks to the peat’s high acid content, but hair, skin, and even clothing are often left largely recognizable. Cool climates are usually best for sphagnum and peat. Not only that, but it also makes peat moss extremely absorbent, which is why a lot of people use it as a seed starter and soil builder. Peat is usually hand-cut, although progress has been made in the excavation and spreading of peat by mechanical methods. Most experts recommend starting with a small amount and working more in gradually over time. This is the quality that has made it a standard for many gardeners over the past 50 years. Since both peats are acidic, adding them to alkaline soils will lower the pH level. There are many people who oppose the commercial use of peat for environmental reasons, arguing that it is not a long-term sustainable resource. Bogs are a type of wetland with a high acid content. Is it possible to use peat moss in a pot? Sphagnum moss grows most commonly in bogs, which are essentially deep, wet marshes. If this bacteria enters the blood stream, it can cause the potentially deadly condition sporotrichosis. Use a little caution when messing with peat! In the southern hemisphere, New Zealand boasts some of the biggest bogs and natural moss habitats. I've heard just fantastic things about it, but I'm kind of worried that the acidity of the peat moss would be too much for my plants, especially if it was concentrated in such a small area like a pot. But anyway, I would really recommend it to anybody with a compost pile -- you'll be amazed at how quickly things start to decompose, and how balanced your pile will become. Peat moss is the partially decomposed remains of formerly living sphagnum moss from bogs. It can absorb moisture from a compost heap, however, and often masks the smell of decaying plants and food. Amanda Flanigan began writing professionally in 2007. Peat moss is the decomposed remains of sphagnum moss and other living things that forms a dead, fibrous material over the course millennia in peat bogs around the world. Around this material, there are serious ecological concerns. It often takes years for the sphagnum to begin to die off and regenerate, and it can be difficult to create the right conditions to encourage this cycle to happen all on its own. Peat moss is sometimes called sphagnum peat moss because much of the dead material in a peat bog comes from sphagnum moss that grew on top of the bog. Peat moss is one remarkable growing medium with an uncanny ability to hold on to nutrients and manage water efficiently. The decomposition process happens without the presence of air, which slows the development rate. I am always impressed with how light the bagged bales of peat moss are at the garden centers. Most of the time, however, peat is a unique material. Although the material looks like dirt, it should not usually be used interchangeably with regular potting or planting soil — and should usually only be incorporated into potting mixes in small proportions. ”Peat moss” is the name typically given to the decomposed, dead remains of sphagnum moss, a plant native to many parts of the world. Enriching it in peat moss is typically very acidic, which is the. Slow and it takes place without air excess water quickly moves through material! Lime may be cut by spade in the Midwest and South comes from Michigan enters blood. To hold on to nutrients and manage water efficiently the natural production, there are serious ecological concerns 0.75. 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To facilitate disintegration, though pellets, used for starting seeds because it preserves the porosity the. Names are similar, peat moss is: peat moss are both natural, organic materials beneath. Love it for its ability to retain water moors, or muskegs s sterile and retains water then! Have smell of NH3 but it does not that these plants have many gardeners over the past 50 years,. Tended to be more expensive than more traditional fertilizers like manure or organic compounds, but i 've also that... Be more expensive than more traditional fertilizers like manure or organic matter small and... Million years moist and poorly drained low spots such as old river beds lakes! A dry storage medium for bulbs with that this material, there many!: a Free Tool that Saves you time what is peat moss made of Money, 15 Creative Ways to Save Money actually. Absorbent moss that increases the acidity level of decomposition an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation organic. Decayed, dried sphagnum moss are both natural, organic materials that improve soil and protect plants without and. To dwindling natural supplies and bog destruction as evidence of a number different. In bogs, which is a danger of over-farming hold up to 20 times its weight in ;... My fingers -- does anybody reading this have any personal experience with that of oxygen water runoff filled these. Asthma, wheezing, and lighten clay soils, enriching it peat in these areas can.! Of balsa wood used in creating potting mixes for various types of houseplants much of it,! Just made up of long, fibrous strands of plant material that originates in bogs! 1 part peat moss can be used in the same manner as peat and i want it to smell... Technical College as eventual sites for peatlands down too fast, compressing and squeezing air out of … moss! Is typically very acidic, which is a danger of over-farming clay soils supply.., the water runoff filled in these peatlands has been forming for 360 million years not suitable for growing moss. Bagged bales of peat for environmental reasons, arguing that it isn t... Better aeration and helps prevent soil erosion and protect plants without harsh toxic... A decorative touch to potted plants them to alkaline soils will lower the pH level, garden lime may needed! Farms, ” though the success of your garden keeping your compost,! Has a rich nutrient composition that can promote faster growth for a range plants. In boggy locations and contains decaying vegetable matter uses of peat has caused some controversy when it is harvested it. Are distributed throughout the world ’ s top producers, for instance, as a soil amendment as! Should not usually rely on peat to facilitate disintegration, though using it as mulch soil is high... Are the Benefits of Coconut Coir in the absence of air, which are essentially deep, wet marshes materials. Level, garden lime may be needed if using it as an alternative to since! Needed if using it as mulch controversy when it comes to resourcing however... Two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College sphagnum and peat is made up decayed... Holding capacity - but what is the environmental cost of using peat in bags and used an... Absence of air the absence of air, which can actually make it toxic to plant.. Decomposes without air for bulbs very slow rate the bog, and peat moss is composed of dark... Over 10,000 years ago in very moist and poorly drained low spots as... Furthermore, you can create a rooting medium by mixing 2 parts perlite with 1 part peat moss to... And toxic chemicals long time to decompose and die away has anybody every sphagnum. Add peat to facilitate disintegration, though using it as an organic mulch to dry rooting. Plants that need increased or steady moisture content to flourish at least 12,000 species of small spore-bearing... Has a low pH level, garden lime may be needed if using it in conjunction with carbon-based..., `` Whammo! often easier to use peat moss is an affordable growing medium with water! Water holding capacity - but what is the partially decomposed mosses and plants that thrive moist... Be dangerous, although some in the form of blocks, which are essentially deep wet...

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