All this time I've been wrong?????

coxy(6)April 22, 2014

I recently purchased a viburnum from a Master Gardener who has been in the nursery business forever. He gave me a handout which stated that every type of mulch I've ever used is tantamount to poisoning my plants. I've been using a high quality root mulch (not dyed) and with the exception of my flower beds things seem to do well. He states that the ONLY acceptable type is Southern Pine Bark which is like $55-60 a yard as opposed to the $20 per yard I use. We need about 60 yards every year so that's a huge difference. The place I get my mulch suggested that I upgrade to their organic peat mulch @ $36. per yard. I got 15 yards to see what it was like and it's obviously better but I'm inclined to use it only in my prime bedding areas. Any opinions?

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ericwi

I have been using shredded cypress bark mulch on our blueberry shrubs, successfully, for many years, with good results. I have also mulched blueberries with shredded maple leaves, from a Norway maple. However, red maple leaves are said to be toxic to blueberries, along with beech and black walnut. With blueberries, it helps to mulch heavily, to maintain soil moisture around the roots. That way, you can go longer before you have to water the shrub, during the summer months. Some people mulch blueberries with pine needles, and others use shredded oak leaves. I don't have access to these materials, so I use what I have readily available to me. I will go out on a limb and say that "real gardeners" tend to use the soil and mulch that they have available, and close at hand. There is trial and error involved, and not every great idea works out as planned. Mulching helps to retain soil moisture, and it helps to keep the weeds from taking over. But it is not essential. If you want to grow a shrub with no mulch, that is very much OK-but you will likely have to water more often, and also you will have to pull a few more weeds.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 9:58PM
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JonCraig(6b)

60 yards?! Like sixty pickup truck beds? You must have tons of beautiful gardens! 3 and a half does my place!

That said, maybe try just mulching one area with the fancy stuff and see if it makes a hoot of a difference. I'm betting it won't. For me, the only way I'd pay $60/yard would spread itself and repel the neighbor's cats. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 10:41PM
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luckygal(3b)

Does this Master Gardener who is in the nursery business sell mulch? He may not be impartial if he does. My sensor goes off when people have a financial interest in what they recommend.

There are many types of mulch and often the best is what is the least expensive and most easily available in your area. Does your city have a program for composting or shredding organics where you can get less expensive mulch?

Asplundh is in the business of trimming trees and clearing right-of-ways, mulches the vegetation, and in some areas will deliver this material to your property free. Otherwise they pay to dump at landfills so if you live in an area close to where they are working you might benefit.

You can search at the link below for the office in your state and see if they have this service in your area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Asplundh

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 10:47PM
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Slimy_Okra(2b)

My first guess was similar to luckygal's, that is, this master gardener may be a snake oil salesman.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 11:11PM
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toxcrusadr

Whenever I read something like "don't do this" without any explanation of why, I am immediately curious to hear their reasoning. There are two kinds of this phenomenon. One is the myth that is perpetuated without asking why ("don't put baked goods or citrus in the compost" or "never store coffee beans in the freezer"), and the other is the one that's part of a campaign to sell you something different ("Every mulch is bad for your plants - except ours"). The latter is more insidious.

If they can't explain it to my satisfaction, they can take a hike.

If the stuff was so bad, wouldn't your gardens look terrible along with everyone else's?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:02AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

What a crock of #%.

Call arborists in the area and get cheap to free mulch.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:13AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I agree with the others, your master garden person is full of it. I wonder what other propaganda and misinformation he spouts. There are many options available for use as a good mulch.

What is "organic peat mulch "? I don't associate peat with the word 'mulch", ever. And what is a high quality root mulch?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:29AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I would agree that dyed mulches should be avoided, but this is the first time I've heard it suggested, that bark mulch is problematic. What could possibly be wrong with bark mulch? It's organic matter which all soil needs. And I'm an organic gardener and am on high alert for anything that is a worry in the garden.

So without any further explanation of the reason for why bark mulch is 'toxic', I would be skeptical of what this person had to tell you.

'Peat mulch' ??? If that is like just topping your beds with peat moss, it sounds like an awful idea. Also not very environmentally responsible because the peat bogs where peat moss is harvested, that take ions to produce, are being depleted.

I use shredded maple leaves on the back half of my beds and an undyed bark mulch on the front of them. It takes a lot less bark mulch that way and by the time everything is fully leafed out and growing, the back mulch is hard to see and it's better for the garden. We also don't add bark mulch every year. We get a thick layer and then skip a year.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 3:56PM
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gardengal48

'Peat mulch' ??? If that is like just topping your beds with peat moss, it sounds like an awful idea. Also not very environmentally responsible because the peat bogs where peat moss is harvested, that take ions to produce, are being depleted.

Most agricultural peat is harvested in a completely sustainable manner. North American peat reserves are huge (294 million acres) compared with the small amount (~40,000 acres) harvested. IOW, the total amount harvested every year is nearly 60 times less than the total annual accumulation of new peat moss. And the harvested bogs are quite rapidly renewable - they are actually farmed like other crops. Sphagnum dominated plant cover is re-established within 3-5 years following restoration. Biodiversity and hydrology is approaching pre harvest conditions and carbon sequestration should become a net sink within 15-20 years. Hardly 'eons' :-)

The idea that peat is somehow an endangered or non-renewable resource and its harvesting a major environmental affront is so totally out of date and contrary to fact. It's just a shame other natural resources are not managed with such an awareness and appreciation of the role they play in the environment. Of all the things gardeners could or should worry about, peat is not one of them.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:17PM
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toxcrusadr

I don't know why anyone would mulch with peat anyway. It seems hinky to me.

I too am curious about the OP's 'high quality root mulch'. Also why everything is doing well with the exception of the flower beds. What's wrong with them and do you think it is mulch-related?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:31PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Very happy to get a correction on my âÂÂout datedâ information Gardengal. It was quite awhile ago when I read about issues with peat. And it was about Peat from Scotland, which is where I thought all peat came from. That is amazing that there is so much in North America.

I was curious where I got the idea that using peat in the garden was discouraged and looked it up. And I see that as recently as April of 2012, the New York Times did an editorial discouraging gardeners from using peat. Linked below.

IâÂÂm still curious about the use of Peat as a mulch and the âÂÂhigh quality root mulchâ mentioned by the OP, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drop That Bog - NYTimes

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:49PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

Peat breaks down very slowly, so it doesn't do much in adding carbon to the soil when compared to other mulches. It repels water when it gets dry, and has anti-microbial properties. That's reason enough for the OP to avoid it.

Pine bark is the second worst mulch of them all, it gets hydrophobic when dry and is rife with antimicrobial chemicals, as well. It also breaks down rather slowly. and can blow around when it's dry. It's a very poor mulch, particularly in a hot climate and soils that tend to be a little low in carbon, such as ours..

Both are at the bottom of the list and a real waste of money. I would turn down either, even if they were free. I've gone back in the past and actually removed and replaced pine bark mulch with a more suitable mulch and tossed it in a corner to slowly decompose..

Native tree trimmings rank at or near the top as a mulch, it breaks down easily with a good carbon to nitrogen ratio, and is the most sustainable material of all three,due to the lower cost of transporting it (pollution). M .

This post was edited by Mackel-in-DFW on Wed, Apr 23, 14 at 19:33

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:29PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Are you stating that pine bark mulch has natural antimicrobial effects or that chemicals are added to the mulch that make it antimicrobial?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 9:09PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Gardengal, I continue to be curious about where you have gathered your information, because I have seen references that support the understanding that I had about peat bogs. As a matter of fact, in Wikipedia, which I realize is not the last word on anything, but I quoteâ¦.

" It takes centuries for a peat bog to recover from disturbance. For more on biological communities, see wetland, bog or fen."

andâ¦..

"Large areas of organic wetland (peat) soils are currently drained for agriculture, forestry, and peat extraction. This process is taking place all over the world. This not only destroys the habitat of many species, but also heavily fuels climate change. As a result of peat drainage, the organic carbon [CO2] which was built up over thousands of years and is normally under water--is suddenly exposed to the air. It decomposes and turns into carbon dioxide (CO2), which is released into the atmosphere.[38] The global CO2 emissions from drained peatlands have increased from 1,058 Mton in 1990 to 1,298 Mton in 2008 (>20%). This increase has particularly taken place in developing countries, of which Indonesia, China, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea, are the fastest growing top emitters. This estimate excludes emissions from peat fires"

This sounds a little contradictory to what you've posted. If you could send a link my way, so I can have something to compare, I'd appreciate it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peat - Wikipedia

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 9:23PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

They are produced by the DNA of the pine tree, PM. M.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 9:31PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I have used pine bark mulch and got a nice harvest of morels. Within a month it was loaded with a variety of mycelia. I wouldn't turn it down if someone offered it to me for free. It sounds like Mackel found a study that found antimicrobial compounds in pine bark and ran with the current obsession about the microherd to come to the conclusion the pine bark mulch is bad. I would love to see an in situ study showing pine bark mulch negatvely impacting the microfauna of soil.

Why are natve tree trimming any different than non-native tree trimmings? This sound like a lot of nativist woo. I've seen native oak take forever to break down while the exotic jacaranda right next to it decomposed very quickly. I wonder if local native pine bark mulch would make Mackel's head explode?

How about peat? Oh it doesn't add carbon very quickly because it breaks down slowly. Well that sounds pretty darn awesome when you live in a southern climate and can't keep organic matter in the soil because it breaks down so quickly especially in sandy soil. That plus a high CEC and peat is a winner. Oh but it is hydrophobic when dry. Yeah so is clay. Big deal.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:37AM
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Mackel-in-DFW

The phenols, turpentines, and waxes prevent the bark from breaking down, that's pretty easy to grasp, Nil (nada, nothing, what kind of name is that? ;) )

Native tree trimmings is confusing, perhaps, as it refers to all the stuff in the back of a local asplundh truck (a good mixture of species of pruned tree wastes, with lots of cambium layers from smaller branches and leaves, including pine trees).

Clay is a superior soil once it has enough carbon, we have it, you just water it slower and deeper and don't step on it when it's wet. The Japanese import red clay into cherished gardens at great expense.

These conclusions come from simply using common sense, experience, and sound scientific principle to comparitively rank three mulches. Since native tree trimmings are usually free, what other conclusion would you prefer?

Nil from the "Land of the Fruits and Nuts", I am not a Progressive! I live in Texas for heaven's sake -> LOL! M

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:54AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

I'm not sure what part is frugality and what part is philosophy, but it seems that we should all work with what we have. In some areas you have trees (plantations even) and tree waste. In other areas it is agricultural waste. For some of us it is pretty much suburban waste (tree trimmings and Starbucks?)

It seems kind of inefficient to ship our "wastes" at cross purposes.

(I see on craigslist rice hull bedding for $8 / 6 cu ft. That seems a local deal.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Rice hulls a sustainable drainage option

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:10AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I think that the peat moss taboo is mainly a 'liberal' pc thing. If I may say so..."You can't tell them anything." It's hard enough to about anyone anything too!!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:28AM
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ltilton

The unsustainable mulch is cypress, when it comes from coastal wetlands.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:33AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Mackel, you are making claims that aren't backed up by science or my decades of experience. You said you would turn down pine bark if it were free because it doesn't break down quickly, but I've seen it completely break down in a couple of years. There are soil fungi and bacteria that eat turpenoids and phenols. Those compounds don't last very long in the soil and thus offer little protection. Now maybe it lasts far too long in Dallas for your preference, but that is not a universal condition.

You should stop calling them native trimmings and refer to them as local trimmings, because native is a very loaded and specific word in the horticulture world. The local arborist mulch will also contain exotic species and ths native would be inaccurate to describe it. Local arborist mulch is fantastic.

If clay is so fantastic and is also hydrophobic when dry, why is peat terrible because it is hydrophobic when dry? That was the point I was getting at. The hydrophobic nature of peat doesn't negate the positive effects t can have on the soil and is not a reason to avoid it. As someone that works with sandy, clay deficient soils, I would love to have more clay but peat is far more available and easy to use. It sticks around for a while and increases the water and nutrient holding capacity of sandy soils very well. It's not a substitute for humus, but still has its uses.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:15AM
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toxcrusadr

I put local sourcing at the top of my list. The only thing I have against peat where I live is that it's shipped from Canada. It may be sustainably harvested up there, but I can get plenty of compost (and mulch) right here, no long distance trucking required. I've used it, Dad used it (as a soil amendment, not a mulch), and I have nothing against it performance-wise. I just choose to make or buy local compost and use that.

If those phenols, turpenes and waxes are keeping the bark from breaking down, they must be staying in it, so it doesn't seem like they would be an acute danger to soil or plants. I don't have experience with the stuff though, I use local tree chips or shredded yard waste as mulch. The latter makes life interesting when poison ivy and everything else tries to sprout out of it...

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:20AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I've also used pine bark mulch many times before. Mine takes about 2 years to break down until I have to add it again. I'm not sure what the reason is why taking 2 years to break down is a problem? That is the purpose of mulch isn't it? I want my mulch to last awhile so I don't have to keep purchasing it every year and it keeps weeds down. It does eventually break down and has to add to the soil fertility, it is organic matter. And it is the cheapest shredded bark mulch you can find around here. I don't use that exclusively, I use a lot of shredded maple leaves that fall around my yard too.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:29AM
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Mackel-in-DFW

If you're putting a lot of nitrogen down, it speeds up the breakdown of pine bark. M

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:42AM
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Mackel-in-DFW

What do you grow? I grow figs, apples, peaches, pears, persimmon, pomegranates, grapes, blackberry, Italian Stone Pine, Lacey Oak, Shantung Maple, and timber sized bamboo. Yeehaw, Pm. M

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:52AM
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Mackel-in-DFW

I can't believe,, but I fergot the biggie, plums, Nil. M

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:32PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

gardengal48 - usually I admire everything you post - it's always well-informed, thoughtful and practical. But I'm having trouble with your peat statements. Maybe the situation in the US is different and the peat bogs there are different too but it seems that the RHS and the European Union plus many other reputable organisations are 'totally out of date and contrary to fact', or possibly, pace wayne_5 'liberal' and pc.

Here is a link that might be useful: RHS and Peat

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:55PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

floral_uk, I admire your posts and they are very well done. Yes, the situation is different over here. With 270,000,000 acres of peat moss, if there is an abundant renewable source, this is one of them. I get most of mine from a bog 6ý miles away. Yes, there is shipping from Canada. That can be looked at 2 different ways. One is that using the peat is a job maker for people or that we need to hunker down in our use of products.

For myself, I am not a big spender and I try to conserve....be that good or bad or both. I think that some of the Climate Change people have an agenda and their integrity is highly questioned and that really hurts things.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:36PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wayne, if you want to make a statement about a group of people and accuse them of lacking integrity, wouldn't it be more effective if you used a few facts? I have no idea who these 'people' are who are the 'Climate Change people' and I don't know what their 'agenda' is or why you feel they are lacking in integrity.

You may have a very legitimate point of view, but no one can tell whether you do or not based on that statement. And if you do feel that is true of the Climate Change 'people', who is the group that is opposed to them? And what is their agenda and how high is their integrity? :-)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 7:36PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

prairiemoon, Those PUSHING Climate Change are ones like Al Gore, our president, some Democrat party members, and some funded grantees here and abroad. They have bought into it whether it is true, partly true, or not very true. The main thing here is that they have declared an emergency of sorts and we must believe their prognosications.
Yes, I have little confidence in their morality of what I believe is ungodly abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, and forcing more and more laws and restrictions on the people and it is pretty much a lockstep thing or you are a roadblock to 'progress'. I believe it is bringing God's judgment upon our nation. 'These people' continually are coming up with new plans to control us. Some will go along for the free goodies.

Yes, there are people who need to be better stewards in the meantime and those who fall short come in all stripes of politics and lifestyles.

Pardon the veering off this way, but you asked for an accounting and I gave some.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:15PM
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thedarkness(5)

now i really like politics, but global warming, science, and marriage are something that politicians should not be voting on. those things just simply are not in a senator's job description. saying that its democrats only is just plain wrong. instead it should be the educated congressmen that believe al gore and the statistics showing how our climate is changing.it is not the democrat's fault that some republicans dont believe scientists with phd's that have studied their fields for many years

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 12:14AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

Speaking as a retired medical and environmental engineer, I'd say that while it easy to dislike old Al, it is looking like he got the science right earlier than most.

But, that's not really why I come here. If the Canadians say their peat is good, I'll then just ask the price.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 8:58AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

While there may be some warming, a lot of warming, or not so much, I believe that there is an 100 ton elephant in the room.

I believe that as God IS pulling back His hand of blessing and protection from our country, if we get hit with some nuclear strikes as a result of our wickedness, what will the Climate Change agenda matter then?.....Please answer that.

In the meantime, just how much can we really do? I believe that there is a God who has known all about the future from the beginning, and that He is in control.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:20AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Mackel, I'm a landscape architect so if I include all the landscapes I've designed and installed the list of plants I grow would be too long to type out.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:22AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

Really off-topic, but there is a guy, Steven Pinker, who claims that we actually live in the most peaceful time in history. He claims to have run the numbers, on wars per year, and murders per year, and that's what he's come up with. A [thousand] years trend in fact.

He says we should be optimistic. Maybe so.

And, on a more on-topic subject, there is a lot more recycling going on. Most suburban regions now have the "green trash can". Of course, many home owner's don't respect them like they should. The put in a little drywall, or a little wire and say "it's ok." Then they complain about what's in the "compost" they buy at the hardware store.

What goes around, comes around, guys.

Still, better than dumping all that in a landfill (or back in the day, the ocean).

This post was edited by johns.coastal.patio on Fri, Apr 25, 14 at 11:31

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:30AM
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Mackel-in-DFW

You ain't growin' 'em, you orderin' someone to plantin' em. Hire some day laborers to do all the work, throw down some natives-- as long as the foofoo designer spaces them correctly and the colors all match, shazam, the checks in the mail. Just like the engineer who passes himself off as a physicist. All I got to say is to both of ye is God's gonna gitchya, when yer whole damn state falls off into the Pacific. Nyuk nyuk nyuk. M

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:35AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

You always have to ask though, because the engineer you are talking to might have a degree in physics (or chemistry).

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:38AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

YouâÂÂre right, Wayne, I asked. :-)

A few things about your post, I just want to comment on. One, is that I donâÂÂt believe itâÂÂs in anyoneâÂÂs interest to pigeon hole people into Democrat vs Republican with such rigid definitions. How people feel about all the different issues youâÂÂve brought up can and do certainly cross party lines. I find it less provocative to discuss what your opinions are on the issues rather than being âÂÂagainstâ a whole group of people who you think hold opinions contrary to yours. And really, this thread is not a conversation about these issues either. Climate change, maybe, but not the rest.

As for Climate Change, IâÂÂm not sure why it is important at all, who believes that we are experiencing Climate Change, rather it is whether or not you do believe there is a change in our climate. I personally can easily accept that the level of damage that manâÂÂs activity in the world is causing could definitely be having a seriously negative impact on our climate and be creating changes that will jeopardize the way the earth functions. What is so hard to believe about that, when you see the damages being done? You canâÂÂt think that they have no effect at all?

And if it is now to the point that an emergency situation is explained to us by scientists who study the condition of the environment and itâÂÂs effects, why would you not believe that? Do you think they are lying? Bottom line, though, even if you are doubtful about what is being told to you, what is it that is being asked of people in response to this emergency that you object to? And isnâÂÂt it wiser to act now and make changes that could possibly avert a disaster that would be âÂÂunfixableâ if we allow it to continue? WhatâÂÂs the harm in trying to take actions to avert a disaster, just in case they are all right? WouldnâÂÂt you rather take actions that could help and later say, âÂÂwell, I guess we didnâÂÂt need to do thatâÂÂ, then not to do anything and later say âÂÂboy, I wish we had done something to avoid thisâÂÂ.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:41AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

Here's a true story, which can maybe help reach consensus.

My sister is a chemical engineer. She works for oil companies, and lives down in Houston. She goes to climate change conferences for them. In fact I have at my elbow a cap she brought back for me. It says "UN Climate Change Conference 2007 - Bali"

Yes, it is ironic (or even hypocritical) that they all flew down to Bali.

Anyway from deep inside Texas Oil she tells me that climate change is real, and "adaptation" is the answer. At first that was hard for me to accept, because "we can still try," etc. But the truth is, there isn't really time or likelihood that we'll really get wholesale global response.

What's adaption? Probably what we as gardeners do anyway. Source locally, grow efficiently, respect the climate.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:52AM
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Mackel-in-DFW

Come and sit down in the center of my boo grove, Pm, and you will be safe. There's plenty of squirrel to fry up and homemade plum wine, plus the shoots are edible and we'll be surrounded by fruits, just like at home. We can sit and let the rest of the world go by, and pray for all of them kids we ain't claimed... M

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:52AM
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gardengal48

There is a world of difference between the peat reserves in North America and those in the UK and Europe. Where the peat moss one uses in their garden comes from is critical.......most of the peat sold in NA comes from these Canadian reserves, which are huge and located in largely remote and unpopulated areas. UK and European peat reserves are extremely limited and endangered and all cautions about them are valid.

As to the sustainability of NA peat reserves and the harvesting process, this is an area that I have done a great deal of research on. This type of information is a major element of my job as a horticulturist. I will say that much of the information out there - especially online - is based more on rumors and pass-along information than it is on fact. It's a bit like global warming I guess - you either do the research yourself and come to a rational, informed conclusion or you blindly accept what the uninformed masses have to say.

The Canadian Peat Moss Association is held as a model for the global peat industry as far as farming and harvesting practices are concerned and their focus on reduced environmental impact and sustainability of the wetlands. Regeneration of harvested bogs is one of their primary missions.

I don't care to get into any arguments about this and you can choose to use peat or not and maintain whatever opinion you care to support. And this is addressed primarily to my NA gardening friends, as flora and our other UK/European participants have very different and very valid issues. FWIW, I don't recommend it personally for a variety of reasons - it is excessively acidic, it is nutrient-poor so offers no benefit to soil biology and once dry, extremely hydrophobic. As a mulch or soil amendment I don't believe it has much positive to offer. As a base for potting soils or other soilless mixes, it has significant value.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:23PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Since my job does not require me to research peat moss and since I rarely use it and only for potting soil, and would really like to phase out using it at all, I'll save myself the effort of having to research it further.

It's always nice to know that somewhere there is a company or organization that is at least making the attempt to think about how what they are doing, effects the environment, so that is to their credit that the CPMA is making that attempt.

I guess I would still have my doubts about whether any process of harvesting can in reality restore the geography to the way it was before harvesting in a reasonable amount of time, I reserve judgment. Because that one quote that I posted, that it takes centuries for a peat bog to recover from disturbance, still sticks in my mind. So, my bottom line is supply and demand. If I'm not demanding peat moss, then there's no reason for the peat bogs to be disturbed. So that is what I'm working on, no demand.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 3:11PM
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gardengal48

"the centuries to recover from disturbance" is part of the old school of thought regarding peat farming. If left to their own devices, yes it can take considerable time for peat bogs to regenerate to anything resembling their pre-harvest condition. Yet these are highly managed operations and are intensely replanted and fertilized with a mind to rapid regeneration. Obviously, the faster the harvested bogs return to productivity the better it is all around. 15-20 years is typical for regenration, however the industry is looking to reduce that time period down to 5-8 years. Not exactly centuries :))

It is also important to know that peat accumulation in Canada is occurring 70 times faster than it is being harvested. So this is far from the non-renewable resource nonsense that is so frequently passed around. On this side of the pond at least, it really is a sustainable industry.

Lowering the demand is great but it is not just a personal, no peat moss option. If you do any container planting or if you purchase any annuals or other seasonal plants (and even some larger containerized plants) then you are using peat moss, although a bit indirectly.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 4:45PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

"Lowering the demand is great but it is not just a personal, no peat moss option. If you do any container planting or if you purchase any annuals or other seasonal plants (and even some larger containerized plants) then you are using peat moss, although a bit indirectly."

Yes, I realize that.

And, I'm always amazed at how confident people can be in stepping in and altering the natural environment and believing that they are not really disrupting things very much at all. Often the smallest changes go unnoticed and make a big difference. I can't see how 'managing' a peat bog and using fertilizer can replicate what mother nature did. Or that there would not be some unseen consequence to the ecosystem or the animals. Just as managers of golf courses will tell you that they are not hurting the environment with their huge use of fertilizers but are then very quiet on the subject of how the fertilizers are getting into the groundwater.

I don't know why anyone would think, that mother nature didn't know better and that if it takes her centuries to restore disturbed peat bogs, why is it that people think they can do a better job? Just like the fish industry who thought they had a great idea to farm fish. They are managing salmon and the funny part is, that a major reason you eat salmon is for the essential fatty acids yet, now you are advised to eat wild caught salmon, because the farmed salmon is lacking in those healthy fats.

Just my personal viewpoint. :-)

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Fri, Apr 25, 14 at 20:54

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 8:43PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

Peat makes an excellent preservative. The modern horticultural practice of using a sterile medium like peat is in order to create a hydroponic environment, that can force-feed plants into rapid production.

I've found a few nurseries who grow in-pot organically, and they avoid peat. I don't see large chunks of pine bark in their soil medium, either. Some use rainwater to irrigate, most are wholesale and at least one is open to the public.

Transplanting and establishment ease have been outstanding with these trees grown organically with a comost-based medium. Some use pots that are designed to eliminate circling roots. This is a far superior product, that establishes and plants easier, than any tree grown in peat, or in a plastic pot.

It's really a leap were speaking of, for a root to make the transition from an extremely acidic, sterile medium to a nearly neutral, live mineal soil. It ain't natural, and creates unnecessary stress on the plant when it needs it least-- during root establishment. But we grow potted plants in peat, anyways.

Modern horticularal practices do not serve the grower so well, Most of the potted trees and plants you'll find in a retail nursery, have been force fed to grow lots of pretty foliage, in a poor soil medium, with underdeveloped and potbound roots.

I know peat is good at preserving cave people and tubulars. But as a potting medium, it's used becasuse it is thought to be cheap, and that's the bottom line.

There are conflicts of interest between the grower and the hulticulturalist who pushes peat as a pot medium. A lot of the carp they teach in hort school (and ag school, and other fields), has a bias towards perceived economic benefits, and can ignore for years, better, sounder science.

M

This post was edited by Mackel-in-DFW on Fri, Apr 25, 14 at 23:01

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:07PM
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coxy(6)

Oh boy

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:19PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

I don't mean to imply that anyone here was pushing for peat as a potting medium, Coxy. I want to point out what a poor one it is, in that it's primary purpose is that it's a,cheap, and b, serves very well in a hydroponic, high synthetic nitrogen system. But this type of system pushes top growth in young trees that typically outsrips the root's ability to handle upon planting. This imbalanced young tree then is immediately more susceptible to transplant shock and disease upon planting. I'm not getting philosophical, these are field observations from planting both types, trees grown with hydroponic, peat-based mediums and trees grown with organic, compost-based mediums, side by side. The differences are significant, and verifiable-- you can see fer yerself, as they say. M

This post was edited by Mackel-in-DFW on Fri, Apr 25, 14 at 22:56

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 10:42PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

Due to more negative osmotic pressure present at the interface between peat and the mineral soil surrounding a newly planted root ball, a tree planted with a compost-based medium delivers water far more efficiently and quicker to newly planted roots with a much lower negative osmotic pressure at it's mineral-soil interface. Whereas with peat, we're dealing with an interface and a substance that becomes hydrophobic between every watering, almost forever, whereas the compost-based medium/mineral-soil interface disappears completely in short time.. M

This post was edited by Mackel-in-DFW on Fri, Apr 25, 14 at 23:40

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:26PM
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Mackel-in-DFW

Yeah, boy, coxy. Take it to the bank. M

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:58PM
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darth_weeder(z7 NY)

after reading this thread I think the only solution to save Ma Nature is Chicxulub II .

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 12:47PM
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coxy(6)

The stuff I got isn't peat moss per se. I know what that is and understand why it wouldn't be a good mulch. The man called it peat _____, I forget the word but it looks like finely chopped leaf material. It doesn't get hard or repel water. Anyway I only got 15 yards of it and another 30 of regular root mulch that I use every year.. The peat stuff looks much nicer and more conducive to planting flowers in but it's too $$$. Hope I'm not bringing the world to an end any sooner :)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 9:11PM
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toxcrusadr

Mining peat is robbing future generations (say, 100,000,000 years in the future) of coal resources. Just unconscionable! :-D

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 1:19PM
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