Peat bogs are freshwater habitats that consist of spongy ground material and decayed organic matter — known to most as peat moss. Many gardeners use peat moss to help fertilize plants, but this method can result in soil degradation and nutrient-deficient crops. You may wonder, “Why is peat moss bad for my garden?”
Our experts at A Garden Patch can help you understand the consequences of using peat moss as a soil additive. Review the article below to learn about problems you may experience with peat moss and which alternative gardening solutions are worth considering.
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Peat Moss Is Expensive
Peat moss originates from the cold peatlands of North America. It can be costly to ship peat moss in bulk, depending on where you live.
Consider the price of alternative soil amendments, like pine bark or coconut coir fibers. These options may only cost $1 or $2 per square foot at local gardening outlets. In contrast, peat moss could cost $4 or more, making it a financially impractical solution if you own a large garden.
While peat moss is typically available at most major home department stores, prices can fluctuate at any time due to the season or changes in agricultural trade regulations. It may be wise to stick with more affordable and accessible compost options if you plan to garden throughout the year.
Peat Moss Can Crack the Soil
Soil degradation is a significant problem many gardeners face every year. It can be challenging to ensure your soil has the nutrient-dense minerals it needs to cultivate your fruits and vegetables. At a glance, peat moss may seem like a practical way to promote soil quality — however, the end result of using these products may disappoint you.
Peat moss can dry out quickly, especially in hot or arid climates. Once this fertilizer hardens, it can cause cracks in the soil and expose your plants to harmful elements. Cracked soil can also block essential nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from reaching the surface of plant roots.
You can avoid these problems by investing in Jobe’s Organic fertilizer for the GardenBox. This plant-safe option improves nutrient uptake and can help reduce soil dehydration.
Peat Moss Has Low Nutrient Levels
Why is peat moss bad for your garden if it is so effective against pathogens and microorganisms?
It is true that peat moss is relatively effective against plant disease and weed seeds. However, many gardeners do not realize that this soil amendment does not actually contain any nutrients itself. As a result, gardeners must purchase additional fertilizers to make up for this lack of nutrients.
Additionally, helpful microbes typically found in organic fertilizers are not present in peat moss due to its highly acidic composition.
Peat bogs produce few nutrients because the carbon-rich atmosphere provides the only supply of moisture to the rooting zone. In other words, water surrounding the minerotrophic areas of the bog cannot transport key nutrients into the moss.
It is possible to add nutrient supplements, such as nitrogen, to peat moss. However, this process can be labor intensive and may only provide a fraction of the nutrients conventional fertilizers can provide.
Peat Moss Has High Acidic Levels
Some plants require alkaline soils for healthy growth, like raspberries, cucumbers, and squash. Peat moss can over-acidify these plants and starve them of essential nutrients.
It’s a good idea to complete research on your crops before planting them. For instance, you may learn that peat moss is a practical additive for acidic fruits like blueberries but will cause significant harm to asparagus plants.
Peat Moss Is Non-Renewable
Now that you have an answer to the question, “Why is peat moss bad for my garden?” it’s a good idea to also review the environmental impact of using peat moss.
Peat moss doesn’t grow overnight. In fact, it can take thousands of years to form in the northern bogs of the Western Hemisphere. For all intents and purposes, most plant biologists agree peat moss is a non-renewable resource.
Peat grows at a rate of less than two inches per hundred years. Miners typically extract several feet of this organic material every twelve months. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to see why this limited resource will eventually cause problems for producers and consumers.
It will take several generations to replenish peat after extraction. As a result, the soil additive will become more expensive as bogs start to disappear.
Peat Moss Mining Contributes to Climate Change
The peat moss industry also has a negative effect on climate change.
Peat bogs act as a carbon sink — a natural biosphere that collects more carbon than it ejects into the atmosphere. When producers extract peat moss, they release these elements into the ozone and limit the bog’s ability to regulate the environment. Despite miners’ best efforts to mitigate this environmental damage, few solutions can wholly restore a peat bog after extraction.
Purchasing peat moss contributes to this environmental damage. More sustainable options, such as dolomite and local compost, are the best options to reduce your carbon footprint.
A Garden Patch’s GrowBox can also help you promote environmental sustainability with perfect plant spacing and automatic fertilization benefits.
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Why is peat moss bad for your garden? Contact A Garden Patch in Louisiana, MO, for more information. Ask about our inventory by calling (800) 519-1955.