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Why I don't use peat moss

HepaticaI  had two people ask me why I was morally opposed to peat moss, so I figured I'd do a little exposé here for those of you who aren't in the know.  Peat moss comes from peat bogs where the moss layers on top of its parents, forming a soggy, acidic environment which prevents decay.  As a result, the accumulated layers of moss may end up several feet thick after a thousand years or so, creating a unique environment full of rare plants and animals (like wild cranberries, but not including the plant shown here which is just a pretty hepatica I found in the woods yesterday.)

Harvesting peat moss to use in gardening is a lot like cutting down old growth forests to make raised beds --- in a matter of hours, we can wipe out an ecosystem which will take centuries to regrow.  For those who don't mind transporting materials over distances, coir (coconut husk fibers) is a good replacement for peat moss in the garden.  Personally, I prefer to build up my soil with compost, manure, and leaf mold.

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comment 1
You know, I once found a large gallery of 19th century women knitting socks while hauling peat moss on their backs. They used it as fuel for fire. Very interesting. I have some peat moss stored away for the garden--will you still love me?
Comment by Brandy :: Young in the Mountains Sun Mar 22 21:10:18 2009
comment 2
Of course I still love you --- as long as you don't buy any more. :-)
Comment by anna Mon Mar 23 10:24:41 2009
comment 3

The problem with the coconut husk stuff is it's no good for building up acid content. Mulching with pine needles should probably help with that.

How do you feel about sphagum (sp?) moss?

Comment by Everett Tue Mar 24 11:36:26 2009
comment 4
I assumed that sphagnum moss is the same as peat moss --- peat refers to the conditions it's growing in why sphagnum is the name of a specific genus. But I could be wrong about the two words being interchangeable. Do some people grow sphagnum moss for gardeners rather than harvesting it from the wild?
Comment by anna Tue Mar 24 13:07:38 2009
comment 5
Oops --- meant to say "while", not "why" up there....
Comment by anna Tue Mar 24 13:14:16 2009

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