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All About Sphagnum Peat Moss for your Garden

Dry sphagnum peat moss is fantastic stuff in the garden. You add it to your garden, and the soil magically becomes lighter, and more able to retain moisture and nutrients.

Peat moss comes in wrapped plastic bales. The bales are normally sold in two, four, or six cubic foot sizes. The peat moss in the bale has been dried to make the cost of shipping it lower. With most bales I find that just mixing the peat moss in with my soil will moisten it right up. However, if you have a bale that is particularly dry - perhaps because you have had it sitting in a hot shed for a few years - you might want to wet it in a bucket with some warm water before use.



ABOVE: Dry Peat Moss

Too use peat moss first break off a chunk from your bale. Then, break the chunk apart into a soil like texture. You can either do this by putting it into a bucket and breaking it up with a shovel, or by putting it right into a hole where you are planting and break it up with a shovel there. Either way, do be sure to break the big chunks up. It is not a bad idea to wear a dust mask when handling peat moss, as it can be so dry and powdery when you take it from the bale.

So why go to the trouble? Because peat moss will really improve your soil. The worse your soil is, the more help peat moss will be. If you have clay like soil, peat moss will break it up. If you have sandy soil, peat moss will help it retain water and nutrients. However, unlike compost, peat moss does not add any nutrient value to your soil. Peat simply makes your soil better.

Peat moss is acidic. If your soil is already acidic, as it is on most of the East Coast, you might need to add some lime to balance it out. This would of course depend on the soil pH your plants need.

Peat moss is made of decayed, compacted Sphagnum moss. Most of the pet moss sold in the United States comes from Canada, where it is harvested from peat bogs. Unfortunately, peat moss is a non renewable resource. The peat bogs have taken thousands of years to form what is harvested in a relatively short period of time. Some alternatives to peat moss are being developed including coir and redwood fiber.

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