Peat is one of the most used materials as a substrate in both gardening and agriculture. We have all heard of this type of soil so widely used on most occasions, but fewer people know it in-depth and know where it comes from and what its properties are.
Do you want to know more about peat for plants and how it is used? Join us in this practical GreenEcology article where you will see a gardening guide on what peat is for plants, its types and how to use it.
What is peat for plants
We use the word peat to refer, in a generic way, to a whole range of materials whose origin is found in the partial decomposition of plants and whose specific characteristics depend on the exact circumstances of their formation.
For an area to be considered a peat bog , that is, a place from which to extract peat, it is necessary to meet two basic conditions: low oxygenation and excess humidity. When organic matter accumulates under these circumstances, at a rate greater than that microorganisms can degrade it, it cannot be fully decomposed and, as a result, accumulates in what is called a peat bog. These bogs, however, produce the peat very slowly and it is estimated that organic matter only accumulates at about 10 cm per 100 years in them.
Peats are one of the most widely used plant substrates and, despite being very poor in nutrients such as nitrogen , their properties are ideal for the development and growth of the vast majority of plant species.
Types of peat for plants
There are two main types of mobs according to their origin and characteristics:
The black peat originates in low areas, with a high base content, so that its pH is much higher , typically between 7.5 and 8. They are peats in which organic matter is decomposed enough, so They are very poor in nutrients, but they are also ideal for the development of all types of plants if they are provided with the necessary nutrients.
The blond or white peat , also called moss peat or tall peat , forms in areas of mild temperatures with a high rate of precipitation. The large amount of rain carries out an intense wash of calcium and other minerals from the material, leaving a high content of spagnol, a substance present in mosses that no known microorganism can decompose.
In reality, it is not peat as such, but a plant mantle that is thousands of years old that forms on top of black peat. Its pH is much more acidic , between 3 and 4.
What plants need peat
Practically all plants can benefit from a peat-based substrate , although depending on their specific needs we will use black, blond or a mixture of both, the latter being the most common option.
Horticultural plants, flowering plants and trees appreciate the use of black peat , as long as more nutrients are provided in the form of compost .
Acidophilic plants , that is, those that need acidic soils for their proper development, will find their best ally in blond peat , since it adapts the pH of the soil to their needs as well as providing a substrate with high moisture retention. Acidophilic plants will also need an extra supply of nutrients, except in cases such as carnivorous plants or cacti , which need soils poor in organic matter. When we use the peat moss to acidify the soil, the usual thing is to mix it 50% or 40% with black peat.
How to use peat for plants
If what you want to know is how peat is used when applying it in your garden, pots or orchard, it will depend on the exact environment in which you are going to plant.
- To know how to make peat for seedlings , it is best to take black peat and mix it in equal parts with coconut fiber and worm castings, which make the substrate lighter and with even better moisture retention properties. You can add vermiculite and perlite to the mix to further enhance its properties.
- If it is about how to make a good substrate for pots , you can imitate the seedbed formula if the pots are going to be in the sun, or simply use peat and worm castings if they are going to be located indoors, since they will not suffer severe heatstroke that may overdry the substrate. Again, perlite and vermiculite are always a contribution that the earth will appreciate.
Remember that, even if you use worm humus in your substrate, the plants will deplete the nutrients in the soil sooner or later, so it is important to renew the supply of organic matter and transplant the plants whenever necessary.