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Peat Moss for Organic Gardens

Updated on March 11, 2012
East of Stake Hill on Oxenhope Moor, looking southeast towards Nab Hill and the wind farm on Ovenden Moor -- Oxenhope, Bradford, Great Britain
East of Stake Hill on Oxenhope Moor, looking southeast towards Nab Hill and the wind farm on Ovenden Moor -- Oxenhope, Bradford, Great Britain | Source

An organic garden's natural beauty comes alive when its soil is enhanced with nutrients and water. A mix of partially decayed organic matter, Peat moss is a natural soil enhancement that comes from wetland bogs, peat swamp forests and other marsh-like environments. A concern about using peat moss is its harvesting impact on the natural environment. Unless natural measures to preserve the peat bog as a renewable natural resource are taken, it may soon require stringent environmental protection. But it is the natural properties of peat moss that makes it a popular soil additive, and its use around the garden enhances the soil's ability to retain its nutrients and water and to support healthy root growth.

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Lawns

The lawn is the neutral and filler part of a landscape that accentuates its other highlighted features with a spread of natural green carpet. But in most places, outside of the natural grassy plains, the grass is not native to the lawn's spread. It is for this reason that lawns require the regular addition of soil nutrients and a regular supply of added water. Peat moss added to the lawn adds biological material that aerates the soil and acts as a store for water, as it absorbs some of the soil's moisture.

Flower Garden at Muckross House - Killarney, Ireland
Flower Garden at Muckross House - Killarney, Ireland | Source

Flower Gardens

Flowers grow very well in loose, aerate soil. Peat moss as a soil additive, introduces air to the soil and keeps it moist -- just right for the delicate roots of many types of flowers.

Prior to planting a new flower bed, spread an even layer of peat moss over the soil, and mix it in with a shovel or tiller. Balance the acidity of the soil and enhance its nutrient content with the addition of other organic ingredients, such as compost and ash. Moisten the soil to release and mix the nutrients and to activate the peat moss, a day or two before planting. Then plant the flowers, by seed or by seedling, according to their recommended spacings. Throughout their blooming season, the moisture-retaining, nutrient-rich soil will promote the healthy growth of the flowers.

A vegetable garden in France
A vegetable garden in France | Source

Vegetable Gardens

Peat moss performs well within the soil environment of a vegetable garden. Vegetables need to grow in order to produce an edible harvest. It is important to know that vegetables only grow and produce in proportion to their root growth, root health, and soil moisture content. Since hard, compacted soil restricts root growth, having loose, aerated soil is very important in the garden. The peat moss here keeps the soil soft, and with each watering, the peat soaks it in and becomes soggy to the touch. Mixed with the native soil of the organic garden, it will always act as a physical soil conditioner, and its amount in the soil directly affects how hard or soft the soil feels.

Cooling's Nurseries and Landscape Centre, Knockholt, Kent
Cooling's Nurseries and Landscape Centre, Knockholt, Kent | Source

Trees and Shrubs

Add peat moss to the top layer of soil around trees and shrubs. Existing trees and shrubs already have established root systems, so the addition of peat moss to the soil increases its moisture-retaining properties.

For new plantings, mix peat moss into the soil in and around the hole dug for the root ball. Also mix it into the soil that will fill in the hole, and also on top of the soil around the new planting. The peat moss's moisture helps to relieve some of the planting's shock and also promotes the new spread of its roots in the soil.

A compost heap for a home garden.
A compost heap for a home garden. | Source

Composting

Peat moss added to compost adds even more texture to the degradated biological material, but depending on what is composted, the peat moss may actually lighten and aerate its consistency. On the other hand, composting should remove or replace the need for peat moss. Composting leaves, pine needles, kitchen scraps and grass clipping is a renewable and free garden resource that cuts down on waste and enhances your personal outdoor environment.

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    • Naima Manal profile imageAUTHOR

      Naima Manal 

      6 years ago from NY

      This is true, Bedbugabscond. We all have to find that healthy balance between using natural resources and preserving nature. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Bedbugabscond profile image

      Melody Trent 

      6 years ago from United States

      There are some really active groups around here trying to save marshes and bogs. They have made great advances. I knew there were lots of reasons that marshes and bogs were a good thing, but this is just another reason.

    • Naima Manal profile imageAUTHOR

      Naima Manal 

      6 years ago from NY

      Thank you, Danette Watt. After one or several growing seasons, the soil changes in both its nutrition content and its water-retaining properties.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      6 years ago from Illinois

      I'm not much of a gardener myself but certainly understand the need to amend the soil at times. Good info here.

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