Peat moss is the decomposed product of moss. Most of what is sold commercially in North America is from Canadian sphagnum moss.
Whether or not sphagnum peat moss is a sustainable (renewable) resource is still up for debate. Good points can be made on both sides.
A Market was Created
Peat moss was not used in scale until the 1940’s. Someone had to literally create a market for it, since it’s close to being completely unnecessary for horticultural use and is devoid of nutrients.
Currently, it’s used in most commercial potting soils, used to start seeds , and sold to be mixed with garden soil.
My Experience with Mixing it in Garden Soil
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the list of what I thought I needed to add to my soil in my first decade of gardening was endless! Peat Moss was on the list.
Our first garden had clay soil and I’d read that the peat moss would make it more friable or crumbly. Put another way – loose.
That 3.8 cubic foot bale didn’t seem like it had that much stuff in it, until we got it in the garden and opened it. I’d had naive visions of just spreading it on the soil and then turning the soil. Once the bale was opened it didn’t take long to realize how powdery it was, how fast it could blow away and how hard it was to get wet.
All I remember is we finally got it wet and turned it into a small section of the garden. I obviously was not impressed with the end results, because that was the end of my buying peat moss to incorporate into the soil.
Peat Moss was something extra to buy and something extra to do. It wasn’t necessary and it added not one bit of nutrients to my garden. Over time my compost or raw kitchen scrapes, pine needles, or straw, or leaves and/or cover crops have always made a beautifully friable soil texture from clay soil or sandy soil without any additional work or money required.
Organic gardening is easy, efficient, effective — and it’s a lot healthier.
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