You’ve heard your gardening friends talk about peat moss, you’ve read about it in gardening blogs, and you may have even used it in your garden once or twice. But what is it about this magic moss that offers so many benefits to your landscape plants? Let’s dive deep into all the basic uses of peat moss and its many useful applications in the garden!
What is Peat Moss?
Peat moss is marketed as an alternative to compost, often sold in bags or bales. It is made of a large, absorbent organism that grows in dense masses in bogs, also known as “peatlands.” Used most often as a soil amendment, peat moss and garden soil usually serve as a two-man show, complimenting one another.
Why Use Peat Moss?
Although different from potting soil, peat moss is an excellent soil additive for potting soils and seed starting mixes. It efficiently manages your soil pH, keeps plants hydrated, and releases moisture to your plants’ roots in a gradually controlled manner. It also aids in retaining nutrients within your soil so that they don’t get washed out when you water it! This magic moss is rather fascinating, isn’t it?
Peat Moss in Raised Garden Beds
When mixed into the soil of your raised garden beds, your peat moss will promote optimal drainage and help retain water so that your plant roots can stay well-hydrated longer between waterings. If your soil is extra packed within your raised beds, mixing in some peat moss with your hands will also help to loosen it, which your vegetables’ delicate roots will greatly appreciate. You can also add peat moss to the soil of your flower beds before the growing season begins. During the transition from winter to spring, till your flower beds and mix it in generously until it contains around 30 percent peat and 70 percent garden soil. With just a few shovel-fulls of peat moss, you can save yourself many waterings throughout the growing season!
Which Plants Will Benefit the Most?
Many plants are well-adapted to growing in peat moss, from classic leafy houseplants like pothos to decadent flowering shrubs like hydrangeas. Epiphytic plants, like moth orchids, are happiest when grown in light, soilless mediums like peat moss. Moreover, since peat moss is acidic, it works wonders when applied to acid-loving edible plants, like blueberries, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes.
Is Peat Moss Bad For The Environment?
It wouldn’t be very green-thumb of us not to acknowledge the environmental effects that peat moss can have on the planet, which is why we’ve also outlined some alternative options that are more eco-friendly and work just as well. Peatlands are delicate habitats that consume a lot of the world’s excessive carbon emissions, and peat moss harvesting disrupts these natural systems. This is why some gardeners opt for other compost options, like pine needles, composted manure, and other organic materials. If you prefer not to use peat, try adding coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, evergreen needles, and citrus peels to the soil in the areas you want to acidify.
Peat Moss Application
When using peat moss, mix it into the soil rather than applying it on top. It is not recommended to top dress with peat since it will blow around and stiffen after rainfall. If peat moss is well-integrated with your soil or potting mixture, it will improve nutrient access in your Des Moines garden like no other!
From retaining nutrients within your soil to balancing out pH levels, peat moss truly is the magic ingredient inside your soil. For more information on how to mix peat moss into your garden routine, visit us at Ted Lare Design Build in Des Moines, Iowa, today!