September 21, 2009

Peat-Free Potting Soil for a Sustainable Garden

Many organic gardeners believe potting soil should be peat free. While peat is an organic substance, there are several good reasons for building a peat-free garden. Let’s discuss why you might want to go peat free and what you can use instead.

What is Peat?

Peat is a collection of partially decayed vegetation matter. This rich matter forms in wetlands and bogs and really is a rich soil additive that’s good for plants. However, there are three big drawbacks to peat.

The first drawback to peat is that in order to make it to your garden or houseplants it has to travel thousands of miles. When there are so many other alternatives to fertilize your garden and enrich your soil, there’s really no reason to ship something by airplane and truck thousands of miles across the globe. That wastes fuel, as well as wasting resources harvesting the peat.

Additionally, when peat breaks down, it emits carbon. Yep, that matter contributes to greenhouse gases and it sucks up the oxygen around your plants, thus decreasing their environmental value.

Finally, to harvest the peat, the world’s wetlands are being destroyed. Inside these bogs, moors and marshes, valuable wildlife lives and thrives. Take away their wetlands and they suffer. Harvesting peat is an environmental disaster.

Alternatives to Peat

With those three important drawbacks, many sustainable gardeners have opted to utilize peat-free alternatives. They include composting your own soil and soil fertilizers.

Composting at home doesn’t need to be a large production. You can create wonderful fertilizers with a small box in your laundry room.

Enrich your soil with worm tea. Worm tea is made by adding water to worm compost. You can also buy it at your local farmer’s market or at your local nursery.

If composting and worm tea aren’t your thing, you can buy peat-free potting soil at your nursery. Most likely, this is made from a larger scale composting operation and is very a rich and sustainable product.

While there are still people who believe peat is an okay product for gardens and plants, many are beginning to become more conscious of sustainability practices. To make your garden and houseplants thrive you don’t need to use potting soil harvested from a bog in Russia. You can make it yourself or buy it from a local operation, thus reducing carbon emissions and improving the health of your planet.

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Alexis Rodrigo