Why Living Soils is a ‘peat-free’ company

What is peat?

Peat usually forms in wet areas from partially decayed vegetation or organic matter that is prevented from decaying due to the acidic and anaerobic (i.e. without oxygen) conditions. Peat is unique to natural areas called peatlands, bogs, mires or moors. Once removed from these areas, it starts to decay to a more stable humus form.

Peat moss harvesting

Why do gardeners use peat moss?

The type most commonly used in UK composts is fibrous or fibric peat called peat moss – it is a golden brown material that dries to a fluffy light material that blows in the wind. Peat moss is sometimes called sphagnum peat moss because much of the dead material in a peat bog comes from sphagnum moss that grew on top of the bog.

Gardeners use peat moss mainly as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil. It has an acid pH, so it's ideal for acid loving plants, such as blueberries and camellias. ... It also holds onto nutrients so that they aren't rinsed out of the soil when you water the plant.

Why is peat important for our environment?

There are many ‘ecosystem services’ provided by peat – these are listed below:

  • Its a ‘carbon store’

Peat bogs act as a huge carbon storage system laid down over thousands of years. The commercial harvesting of peat releases massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, and the bogs continue to exhale carbon long after the mining concludes so to continue harvesting is unsustainable. Peat holds more carbon than the combined forests of Britain, France and Germany.

  • Wildlife

Many scarce species inhabit peatlands. Once the peat has been harvested from the bog, habitats are destroyed. In simple terms, this is like chopping down a rainforest and destroying the habitats within that forest.

  • Water management

Peat holds up to 20 times its own weight in water. It is responsible for expanding wetlands and the associated habitats within them.

  • Archaeology

Peat has proved to be very valuable for preserving many aspects of the life of former cultures, which modern science is able to interpret. Bogs preserve items which fell or were buried in them thousands of years ago. From time to time during peat extraction activities, human remains have been recovered.

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