Sunday, May 14, 2017

The great peat debate (in my head anyway)

The other day I was searching for information about how to substitute for peat moss in the new pumpkin patch raised bed I am putting in the yard. I made the soil mix from Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening when I installed my first raised bed five years ago. It has worked well for me as you can see on the progress of the spring crop in the photos, but I have since heard that peat moss is not sustainable so I do not want to use it again.
Clockwise from top left: Lettuce and arugula, kale and tendersweet and nantes carrots in the background, Stuttgarter onions, Cherry Belle radishes, Bloomsdale spinach

Some of the things I had read in my searching – from sources that I felt were reputable – offered so many contradictory answers like (1) justification for using peat moss, (2) explaining that peat and peat moss are different, (3) try using coir, the fiber from the out husk of a coconut, and (4) coir may have salt in it that will kill your plants—are you sensing my frustration? 

Well, the next day, this story appeared in the Washington Post, “Peat Moss: Good For Plants But Bad for the Planet?”, timing is amazing sometimes, right?

What have you used as a peat substitute in your garden? There is no easy answer. So my solution is trying coir and increasing the compost. My other lesson is to take a breath, it will be okay!

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