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Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Posted by TheMasterGardener1 5B (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 20, 12 at 19:45

I used peat to amend some of my row. I have used peat in the past and though it does really loosen the soil, will it help?

My soil now is very easy to work and drains well. Who else uses peat? I used a little lime in it to help with ph.

My soil is really rich and clay like but not too heavy. The peat really seemed to help. Was it a good choice?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

for us we have never used it and we get what you claim to get, we see using peat moss as environmentally unfriendly and non sustainable, and one way of destroying habitat.

we use lots of gypsum, lots of mulch and compost pretty much anything then topped with spent mushroom compost, in our no-dig gardens we plant as soon as the bed is built.

we pretty much pay scant regard to what soil is there already, we just pile our stuff on top, too easy really.

check out our bale garden:

len

Here is a link that might be useful: lens straw bale garden


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I am finding I made a bad choice. I just made the area a wet bog now!!!!:(


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

The area where I used pine bark is very loose and dry. The area I used peat is is wet and like a bog!!!!!!!!!! I payed money to ruin my soil :( It was only a few feet of row :)


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

How much Peat Moss was put there? There are three basic soil particles that make up our soils, Sand, Silt, and Clay and what soil type you have is determined by how much of each you have. I would suspect that you have a clay soil which is difficult to drain if there is not enough organic matter in it or if there is too much organic matter in it.
To kind of get a perspective about soils think of sand particles as similar to billiard balls, fairly large and round, and silt particles as marbles, kind of more or less round and much smaller. Clay soil particles are quite flat and fit tightly together and if clay is the predominant soil particles that shape can make movement of things like water and plant roots through the clay pretty difficult.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

That's a very good example, kimm.

Most of the places that I added peat moss to I also added medium/coarse sand at the same time. They make a perfect counterbalance together in clay loam/silt soilll mixed well together.....gorgeous!


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Peat is from an anaerobic environment, not necessarily the organic matter you want for your (hopefully) very aerobic soil beds, especially with so much else OM available to gardeners. Is it any wonder a healthy soil food web struggles to form when surrounded by a significant quantity of matter that's mainly used during germination for it's sterile properties?

AS Len noted, the mining of peat is an ecologically questionable practice. I never use the stuff.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

dicot, Why would you think that peat would remain anaerobic after mixing with the soil, other organic matter, and time?

I would say that the mining of copper, platinum, iron ore, coal, gas, oil, and a hundred other things might have some drawbacks, but I don't want to live in the Dark Ages either.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Peat is from the dark ages of gardening.

Wayne, I believe your analogy is not comparable. There are many options available in place of peat in the gardening realm, and almost all are considered superior. The other substances you mention are raw materials for specific purposes that exist only because the raw material is available. You can still garden without peat. You can't make copper wire without copper.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I thank everyone for your great advice. I did not use that much peat at all. I have native clay/sand like soil. I just added some pine mulch and it changed everything. Pine bark really helped. As wayne said, I added something coarse so it helped a great deal. It is perfect now after adding that pine bark. My radish I just planted there are taking off so it must have worked!!

Thanks again.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Keep in mind that many of the universities that teach soil science will tell you that adding sand to clay will do little unless you add anywhere from 45 to 75 percent sand.

Here is a link that might be useful: Adding sand to clay soils


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I never added sand?

"dicot, Why would you think that peat would remain anaerobic after mixing with the soil, other organic matter, and time?
I would say that the mining of copper, platinum, iron ore, coal, gas, oil, and a hundred other things might have some drawbacks, but I don't want to live in the Dark Ages either."

Ha!! :)


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Peat would be less anaerobic over time, but it isn't microbe free in those bags, it's just pathogen-free. It still holds large anaerobic biotic communal associations amongst in the cellulose even at the end user/retail stage. It's not perlite.

It's my understanding that peat is chock full of bacteria bacillus, micrococci and pseudomonas, streptomyces and arthro-bacter, trichoderma, cephalosporium, mortierella, fungi penicilliumm, ortierellac, ladosporum and aspergillus. The streptomyces and trichoderma in particular are known to control the spread of fungal pathogens in peta-rich media, like fusarium and pythium. That's fine in germinating situations, but those antagonistic biochemical properties of peat aren't helping mychorhizzae or other important mutualistic fungal soil associations in your garden beds.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Hey really good point dicot!!!!!

I learn every day!!! Thanks!!


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

What are peat alternatives that are as good or superior? I'd like to know particularly for use in soil block formulas.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

A very good, even superior, alternative would be those tree leaves that fall from the deciduous trees all over New York, renewable and chock full of nutrients your plants can use.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I just don't see a need to use peat as a soil conditioner. I do use it in seed starting mixes- as little as possible- but nothing works as well as it for seed starting. I use a peat based mix with some ground bark and stuff mixed with sifted compost so it reduces peat.

Adding any kind of humus to the garden is better than peat, which is very low ph and water insoluble. There are way better organic, green ways of lowering ph too.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.USA (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 30, 12 at 5:39

I agree that leaves that are shredded will work like peat.
I think if you drive a gas powered automobile, you should not talk about peat usage harming the planet. They now make car that do not run on gasoline.
Wayne 5 I like the ideal of mixing the two together, before adding to the soil. The peat/compost will keep the sand from amassing in one place.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

jolj, it is the harvesting of peat moss that is destroying habitat as well as using large amounts of non renewable resources to do that. It is the harvesting of the peat moss that is not sustainable.
Driving a gasoline powered vehicle is also not sustainable and if you can come up with a better method of moving around do so. But even if I drive a gasoline powered vehicle and live in a house that uses electricity and natural gas, all non sustainable materials, I will still rant and rave about not using peat moss, especially by people that have alternatives and that still throw that alternative away, producing evenmore pollution.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I tried peat even though I knew it was no good. It appears to me that it may have antimicrobial properties. I have to pile on more compost in the bed that I put peat into two years ago to keep the plants happy. It also is trickier to water as it has hydrophobic properties when the bed gets a little dry. That's good enough for me to not ever use it.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

As far as peat moss being antimicrobial I think before making that claim one should research a little. If you did you may find that much of the testing of microbes and even shipping of rhizobia is done with peat moss.
As far as peat moss not being renewable, this is not true. Although it is slow it is renewable if the production areas are planted back.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

As peat beomces less hydrated, it's physical properties transform. At a high enough moisture level, peat exists in a hydrophyllic state, as peat loses moisture between rains, it enters into a hydrophobic state, effectively transforming itself from a growth medium into a dessicant.

It takes a lot of moisture to get peat back to a hydorphyllic state, once it enters into a hydrophobic state, becuse it strongly resists efforts to rehydrate. As it gets just a bit too dry, peat begins to suck the protoplasm right out of a cell. That's why in it's drier state, it is used as a meat preservative. Antimicrobial properties...

As a growth medium peat is also selective about what it favors in the microflora. The predominant fungi in peat are more specific to peat than soil, and this pushes out other important fungal strains. So peat narrows the diversity of the microflora within the soil, when it is hydrated, and it kills microflora within the soil, when it is not.

So, I did some research to try to disprove that peat was a bad idea. I was not able to diesprove this hypothesis. As a scientist, I dispassionately share my knowledge with you, Dr. Nova. .

Mackel


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Mackel, Are you talking about peat in an isolated condition/situation? My peat moss is well integrated into the soil. I never see it dried out. My crops are what I would call splendid and the texture splendid also. Are you a dirt gardener?


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

If you lived somewhere where it doesn't rain for months, you would see it dry out.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Until you do a side by side comparison with a different carbon source, Wayne, it's not science you're supporting. What you are effectively saying with the details you have provided, is that adding carbon in the form of peat as opposed to not adding carbon is beneficial. You didn't say anything really surprising. Except for that you feel good about it.

I am a biologist, Wayne, a wildman from the backwoods. I listen to Ted Nugent music, eat squirrel meat, and hang out in bamboo groves. In my training, I learned that it didn't matter who I was, in order to be a top notch scientist.

And I daily run into people, who pretend to be one and they are usually poor actors. It's easy to spot em out, for they never developed the dispassionate outlook to be objective. So, when they get loud, I dip their pigtails into inkwells for the offense of being obtuse and fanatic. I guess some people are too young to remember that phrase.

Mackel


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

"ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2011) � The polysaccharide (sugar substance) chitosan has a documented antibacterial effect. Hilde Melleg�rd's doctoral research shows that this antibacterial activity varies according to the chemical composition of the chitosan. Her work demonstrates how chitosan can impede the growth of different kinds of bacteria -- including bacteria that cause food poisoning -- and provides new insight into the way the substance works. However, the study also shows that phenolic compounds from peat moss have little potential as bacteriostatic agents."
"Chitosan is one of the most abundant biodegradable materials in the world.It is used in agriculture as seed treatment and a plant growth enhancer."
You are right about it not taking water when it dries completely but the so do most organics at first. It is called surface tension. In its pure form it is hydrophobic it is not when mixed with soil. In its dry form it is antimicrobial. I have not yet figured how to raise plants in that environment.
In the garden it decomposes over time. That should tell you something. But it probablel won't.
So far all you have done is make statements, rudely I might add.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Peat moss is NOT antimicrobial. I have more than 30 years in the peat moss industry and I can assure you that peat moss can grow all kinds of things including microbes. Mackel you describe a very specific situation which occurs but is one that is not that common. Sphagnum peat moss contains many microbes, but the number of species isn't diverse compared with mineral soil. In an undisturbed peat bog, common microbes at the surface include bacteria bacillus, micrococci and pseudomonas and fungi penicillium, trichoderma, cephalo-sporium and mortierella. Drainage of bogs (done before extracting peat) leads to further increases in the numbers of these aerobic bacteria and fungi. Once peat extraction begins, major changes in the composition, numbers and activity of microbes occur. The most common microorganism then are bacteria bacillus, Streptomyces and arthro-bacter as well as fungi penicillium, ortierellac, ladosporum, aspergillums and trichoderma. Of these, bacillus, pseudomonas, trichoderma and Streptomyces are known to help control plant diseases.
In processed peat, occasionally there are low levels of fusarium, pythium and rhizoctonia. Their occurrence is probably due to contamination during processing or transport. Good peat producers safeguard against such contamination and maintain the pathogen-free nature of peat.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

For myself, I am talking about peat moss that is fully mixed into mineral soil. It makes little sense to use it as an isolate as I do in ground gardening. As far as side by side comparisons go...I have clay loam with some peat moss. I have clay loam with sand and peat moss. I have clay loam with clay loam. All these get other carbons such as horse manure, leaf compost mold, leaf mulch, crop residues, and organic and not "organic"fertilizers. So I do have various situations over many years.....Man, I love that local sphagnum peat moss.


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But

I guess that's not too funny. Gnight All.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

mackel, The Apostle Paul had the best teaching and learning. It only made him zealous for his religion. After he met Christ, he had to count his learning as dung to know Christ. It was the learned religious leaders who had Christ crucified.

Knowledge is good. Book knowledge can be good, but hands on experience can be the best of all.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Getting out 10-ft. pole... nah, nevermind.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I want to say the area I amended with pine bark and a little peat has very fast drainage. I can be happier with the results of the spring crop.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

There are those that have had 1 years experience 25 times and then there are those with 25 years of experience.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

  • Posted by rdak z5MI (My Page) on
    Mon, May 7, 12 at 8:15

Canadian peat is ok to use when first amending the soil but from then out you might want to use leaves, and other organic stuff from your area as a mulch.

I don't know where you live but leaves and grass clippings mixed together is about as good as it gets IMHO. (Maybe a few wood chips also.)


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

LoL...Its really funny how so many of you have bought into the talking points of the Al Gore minions....In the real world Most peat that you buy comes from Canada that is the second largest country in the world (Russia is #1) almost all Canadians live within 90 minutes of the American border. Most of Canada has never been seen by humans it is that large and if Canada increased the production of peat moss by 1000% it wouldnt come close to harvesting .000001% of what is available. To you uninformed it is a renwable resource. Its kind of like the idoits that say conserve water to watch it flow into the ocean, or to tell people not cut down trees when we replant them with hardier varieties. Get real people if you took every viehicle off of American roads the East Indians and Chineese by the year 2015 will have them replaced. In the 1400's when there was a drought and over half of north America burnt and put 15 years worth of Co2 in the atmosphere did we have global warming? Earth has been getting colder in the last 16 years and if you dont believe me then why did they have to falsify the data at East Anglia? Co2 is a good thing my garden loves it. Im going to live my life and in 1000 years when the natural resorces are waining Im sure humans will have a viable alternative. Im not worshipping at the alter of this new religion that is nothing but a wealth redistrobution scheme by the United Nation. Its a joke that those city dwellers think that excavating 500 acres out of hundreds of millions of acres makes a dent in the supply...get a life people


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Way to dig up a 7 month old post to scream about liberals and "city dwellers".

Your stats are all wrong on your Canadian peat supplies, but the bigger point is they have more than they could mine out before there was a supply issue, so let's let that one slide.

I'm not going to entertain your other theories about global warming denial, automobile usage, UN wealth redistribution, what was going on in the 1400s, etc.

For the sake of full disclosure, I live in a city, I have a life...and I can operate a combine without a GPS. *flex*

This post was edited by nc-crn on Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 23:12


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

For more full disclosure, I grew up on a farm and live in the country surrounded with large farmland about. I have been into gardening for about 70 years and have had my own garden since 1959.

I agree to some degree with what Oil Robb said though I believe some parts are a bit hyped and rude.

I get peat moss from 6 miles away. I agree that the Canadian bogs are hardly touched when looked at as a whole. It probably even makes a living for some people...horrors!


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Wayne....It doesnt matter.... throw in anything that will help aerate the soil... that fact of the matter is ,if it will help clay not compact into cement and we have fun growing vegetables and flowers its all well worth it. We dont have 20 years to experiment so TILL in all kinds wood alfalfa and leaves and yes peat moss it works well, it lasts for years and if you have to sprinkle on some 20-20-20 to cover all you bases so be it granular fertilizer is cheap and farmers use by the billions of tons per year to keep the world fed.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I second Wayne's hands-on experience. I have rock-hard alkaline clay, pH 7.7, high in magnesium. The soil is so hard that it broke my large rototiller machine, and a shovel. My husband used a pick-ax to dig holes.

12 years ago I planted 6 rhodo. and azaleas. I brought down my pH by mixing 1/2 peatmoss. I never water those acid-loving plants, they are still alive. This year I used acid-fertilizer FOR THE FIRST TIME to increase the blooms and foliage - they have tons of buds now.

I have a large rose garden with 42+ roses. Since roses are fussy, I move them around or dig them up to gargage them in my zone 5a winter. I made many holes: 1) pine mulch mixed with clay gave the fluffiest soil and best root-growth, thus most blooms. Pine bark is dry at first, but once decomposed, it retains water. A rosarian faxed me the ARS paper on field experiment on a large scale that documented dryness of pine bark at first, but once decomposed, it retains water. That's why the large Ball professional potting soil has 45% COMPOSTED fine pine mulch.

Another hole with 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 pine park, 1/3 native clay .... Six months later I dug the rose up: the soil is fluffy, but rooth growth is less.

Another hole with 1/3 coarse sand, 1/3 pine park, 1/3 clay, then topped with alfalfa meal. Six months later I dug up, and found tons of earthworms.

Several holes with 1/2 peat moss and 1/2 clay. I dug the rose up: Root growth is restrained, soil is still compact.

Another hole with 1/3 grass clipping, 1/4 peatmoss, 1/4 alfalfa meal, and native clay. This glued up badly, soil became more compact. The grass clipping is innocent, the culprit is the fine particles of peatmoss and alfalfa meal which binded with the high positive charge of magnesium in my clay soil. Alfalfa meal is high in calcium, and calcium precipitates in alkaline clay, making phosphorus unavailable for blooms.

Why I do such experiments? I majored in chemistry for 2 years before getting my B.S. in Computer Science. It's fun to use my chemistry background to experiment in the garden. I second everything Wayne wrote. He's right, experience and ACTUAL TESTING over many months is the best teacher.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

What ever happened to cover crops and "green manure"?

I've used peat moss a bit, and I have to say I don't really like it much. Each gardener has their own preferences, tricks, whatever to make their plants grow the best they can. Where we are, the soil is highly variable; there can be 8 different soil types in a 100 acre field. I've found that the best thing you can do with claybound soils is add organic matter no matter where it comes from, and only work the soil when the conditions are JUST RIGHT. (easier said than done)

I've kind of started steering away from peat; I did use it to make a mini-bog to grow lowbush blueberries in! (I used the outwash of sand from when we had a well drilled) Just scoop out a big hole in clay soil, fill it in with wet peat and sand, and you've got a bog!


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I have found that small amounts of organic matter like peatmoss, composted leaves, mulched leaves, and horse manure helps a small amount to loosen clay/loam soil. I remember the days when a heavy rain would crust the soil. Small and medium amounts of organic matter helped, but I desired soil that was "gorgeous". This kind of soil soaks up rain like a sponge. You can work it soon after a rain. It is loose and roots can spread out and down.

To get that kind of qualities in a heavish but good soil, I added about 4 inches of local peatmoss that I get in my truck. In most places I added about 3 inches of medium/coarse pit sand.

When I dig and till it all together, I have nearly a foot of soil that is IMEDIATELY loose...not 4 years later. Yes, I do believe in using other organic matter too...that is free or cheap for the gathering and hauling. I don't see it as a this or that thing, but a this and that thing.

Now you run your railroad like you want to.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Wayne I agree with you..... For vegetable gardens I think some on here look at this as an either/or situation its not. Peat and wood chips are great because they last and make you soil useable NOW. Anyone with a little common sence knows that you have to feed soil if you want it to produce well and that where tilling in as much organic matter as you can in Sept. (for one crop regions). I live in Sothern Alberta zone three and I let my garden do the composting this way. Cover crops sound real good but they like these little compost bins really do squat for a 60 x60 garden. For starters I tried a cover crop once with clover and for the next couple of years all I did was wait for the ungerminated seeds to germinate for me to hoe, and in the real world spreading a foot of dry leaves and tilling them under in 2 hours did a hell of a lot more for my soil than these little sprouts that you get in a stir fry. When people talk about composting with a garbage can sized composter Im assuming they only need enough for a really small bed because they dont make a whole lot and never preform the way they are advertized, thats why I use my garden as a composter and It all can be done in a few hours.I pile it on spread it out fire up the tiller and add 2 inches of water and forget about it untill next April. Instead of 1 wheel barrow of compost that I have to twist,turn, beg,cajoil and pee on to get it up to 70 degrees. I get 200 wheel barrows incorporated into my soil in the matter of hours. My nieghbors just love me because they dont have to pay the fee at the land fill to dispose of thier clippings and leaves and I love them because they drop them off at my garden gate.

PS I add lots of horse manure also that way I wont have to pee on my garden in the winter..lol


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

jimbobfeeny asks, "What ever happened to cover crops and "green manure"?

Well, I have 1900 sq. ft. of cover crop right now. Perhaps we can get kind of boxed in to either this OR that?


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I've used peat moss with success. But there are a lot of good points here.


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

I was just trying to make a reason to fix the soil fast when I posted this. I guess I did not understand how well just using compost works. Take a look around and see how many farms use peatmoss to "loosen" their soil! I use nothing more than crop residue and very little composted manure to keep OM a an ok level these days..

This post was edited by TheMasterGardener1 on Thu, Jan 17, 13 at 12:50


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

Farmers will not use peat moss to loosen the soil....too expensive.
Gardens might though. I have a lot of it and am quite pleased with it as it works the minute it is blended with the soil.

I get it in 3 cu. yd. loads from a local bog. It is very well hydrated and is 90% sphagnum peat moss and 10% black fines...likely decideous tree leaves as there are trees around the bog.

This post was edited by wayne_5 on Thu, Jan 17, 13 at 17:34


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RE: Using Peat Moss to amend soil?

If I got it that cheap I would for sure use it. I really like peat for container media. Even a 90% peat and 10% composted horse manure worked so well I was amazed!


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