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Peat: what is it, types and how to use it

Peat: what is it, types and how to use it

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, which is so widely used, but there are fewer who 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 EcologíaVerde article in which you will see a gardening guide on what is peat 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 vegetables and whose specific characteristics depend on the exact circumstances of its formation.

For an area to be considered a peatbog, that is to say, a place from which to extract peat, it is necessary to fulfill two basic conditions: little oxygenation and excess humidity. When organic matter accumulates in these circumstances, at a higher rate than microorganisms can degrade it, it cannot be completely decomposed and, as a result, accumulates in what is called a peat bog. These peat bogs, however, produce peat very slowly and it is estimated that organic matter only accumulates at about 10 cm per 100 years in them.

Mobs are one of the most used plant substrates and it is that, despite the fact that they are very poor in nutrients such as nitrogen, their properties are ideal for the development and growth of the vast majority of plant species.

Peat: what it is, types and how to use it - What is peat for plants

Types of peat for plants

There are two big types of mobs according to its origin and characteristics:

black peat

The black peat originates from low-lying areas, with a high content of bases, so its pH is much highernormally between 7.5 and 8. They are peats in which the organic matter is quite decomposed, so they are very poor in nutrients, but they are also ideal for the development of all kinds of plants if they are provided with the necessary nutrients.

blond peat

The blonde or white peatalso called peat moss or high peat, forms in areas of mild temperatures with a high rate of precipitation. The large amount of rain washes calcium and other minerals from the material intensely, 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 layer thousands of years old that forms on top of the black peat. Its pH is much more acidicbetween 3 and 4.

What plants need peat

Practically all the plants can benefit from a peat based substratealthough depending on your specific needs we will use black or blonde peat or a mixture of both, the latter being the most common option.

Horticultural plants, flowering plants and trees appreciate the use of black peatas long as more nutrients are provided in the form of fertilizer.

acidophilic plantsthat is, those that need acid soils for their correct development, will find in the blonde mob its best ally, since it adapts the pH of the soil to its needs in addition to 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 blond peat to acidify the soil, it is usual to mix it 50% or 40% with black peat.

Peat: what it is, types and how to use it - What plants need 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 earthworm humus, 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’s about how to make a good potting soil, you can imitate the formula for seedbeds if the pots are going to be in the sun, or simply use peat and earthworm humus if they are going to be located indoors, since they will not suffer from severe sunstroke that could overdry the substrate. Again, perlite and vermiculite are always a contribution that the earth will appreciate.

Remember that, even if you use worm castings in your substrate, the plants will deplete the nutrients from the soil sooner or later, so it is important to renew the supply of organic matter and repot the plants whenever necessary.

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