Friday, April 13, 2012

For Peat's Sake

I found this opinion piece in the NYTimes well-intentioned, but silly. I'll start with the laughable notion that anybody is really using peat for ground cover. Dry as a bone, it would blow away at the slightest breeze, it is nearly impossible to wet down with a hose, and it acidifies our soil that already leans that way. You might add some to the blueberry patch soil or your new rhodi bed, but it's hardly a common purchase and hardly something you can "fork."

Oh, wait -yes, the way we really use peat is as the major component of potting soil and starter mixes. Yep, but that wasn't mentioned at all.

If it weren't for the convenience, I wouldn't use peat one more time. Maybe I will use compost, without peat, for starting my seeds next year. If I fill any pots, I can do it with compost. It'll work, it'll be fine. We got used to peat because it holds water well after it has been wetted, is light weight in the sack, and it's ubiquitous in the marketplace. But it's time to stop, not because we must, but because we can. Compost is naturally full of humus, which is just as friendly to seed starting as peat-based starter mixes. I mean, we're not professionals, right? We don't demand 100% germination rates. And can't our potted plants survive a lower water-holding capacity soil mix? Sure they can, we've got drip systems attached. As for weight on our rooftops and terraces? How much more weight is a comparable compost mix compared to fully wet, peat-based planter mix? I cannot say, but we should find out.


  1. Yes sure these things are the major part of our garden and A truly important step for self-sufficiency and independent living, saving seed is also a powerful tool to gain a more even hand with the likes of Monsanto.
    Thanks for posting...

    Garden Centre

  2. I don' have exact numbers anymore Frank, but I used to have weights for MetroMix 360 and 510 compared to topsoil, saturated. The soil was more than twice as heavy. I bet a compost mix would be somewhere in between.

    1. That sounds right to me Ellen. Now who wants to add weight to their back carrying something other than potting soil up to a roof or terrace?


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