Using Peat Moss in Your Garden

Compost & Soil
Peat Moss Vegetable Garden

People who wish to work with peat moss wonder how to use it in the garden. The main thing you need to keep in mind is that all depends on the reason you wish to use peat moss in the first place. Remember, there are many different reasons why someone might want to use peat moss in their garden. The most common uses are soil amendment, creating potting mixes and improving your vegetable garden.

Peat Moss as a Starting Medium

Sphagnum peat moss works great as a seed starting medium. It has numerous advantages that make for a fantastic starting mix. Peat moss is sterile, homogenous and absorbent. These characteristics make a fantastic seed starting medium. The material stays uniformly moist, which helps in germination of your seeds.

In fact, most of the quality seed starting mixes already contain peat moss. However, you may also make your own starting mix to add peat moss to it. Simply mix soil with some peat moss to create a good seed starting medium. You may also use potting soil with added fertilizer, vermiculite and peat moss to it.

Peat Moss as a Soil Amendment

Peat moss also works great as a soil amendment. It can greatly improve any dry and sandy soil. Peat moss will help the soil retain moisture and improve drainage. All of this will prevent compaction, which is a common problem with many soil types.

Soil amendment properties of peat moss are particularly important if you wish to have a vegetable garden. There are often extreme conditions, from very wet to completely dry, which impacts negatively your growing vegetables.

If you wish to use peat moss as a soil amendment, keep in mind that it changes the pH properties of the soil. This is important if you wish to change pH properties of the soil but be careful if your garden pH is just right.

Other Uses for Peat Moss

Peat moss offers additional benefits. Since it is a material rich in carbon, it can be used as a source of carbon for your compost pile. Also, the fact peat moss retains moisture becomes very helpful because it allows you to water your plants less frequently.

However, these is one slight disadvantage of peat moss: it is somewhat expensive. Keep this in mind before ordering large quantities of it. Also, there are certain environmental concerns associated with peat moss. Remember all of this before you choose to use peat moss in your garden. Most of the time, however, the advantages of using peat moss are bigger than the downsides.

How to Use Peat Moss?

In order for peat moss to work, it is important to know how to apply it properly in your garden. The exact application will depend on the use and the desired effect. Regardless of the use, however, remember that you need to wet your peat moss before you add it to the soil.

Here are some quick tips on how to use peat moss:

Seed Starter: If you wish to use peat moss as a seed starter, there are many different ways to go. The goal is to make a nice potting miss for your seeds. You can prepare a soilless seed mix with the peat moss. Your peat moss becomes a base for the medium. Mix equal parts of perlite (or vermiculite) in the medium and don't forget to add tiny amounts of fertilizer and lime. Lime will lower the pH qualities of the mix and fertilizer will give your seeds some nutrients. If you want to make a starting mix with soil, use equal parts peat moss, soil, perlite (or vermiculite). Also, don't forget to add other amendments you may wish to use. Add a bit of a fertilizer, too: your plants will need nutrients to grow. Keep in mind that your first starting mix might not be perfect. Many people need to experiments with different mixes and ratios until they find the one that works the best. Don't be afraid to experiment to find the best formula that works.

Soil Amendment: If you wish to use peat moss as a soil amendment, it's best to apply it in a 2:1 ratio. Use two parts soil to one part peat moss and mix it. Make sure to mix the peat moss into the top layer of the soil, around 12 inches or so. Also, don't forget to use other soil amendments you may have. Add them to the mixture and make sure to distribute it evenly. After this, simply use this soil for planting.

Container Gardening: If you wish to use peat moss for container gardening, make sure to mix it with a lot of soil, compost and fertilizer. Peat moss works great for containers because it provides your container plants with a lot of organic material. Peat moss is also good because it preserves moisture, which is important for container plants.

Organic Gardening: You may wish to use peat moss for organic gardening. In this case, make sure to use only organic peat moss. It is always important to check the labels before you buy any product. Once you have organic peat moss you can mix it with soil and use it in many different ways in your organic garden.

Photo credit: Shannon Holman

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