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How to use peat correctly

Peat is a mixture of semi-decomposed plant residues under conditions of excessive moisture. It is one of the most popular organic fertilizers, especially for novice gardeners.

They try to acquire it as much as possible and immediately add it to the soil or use it for growing seedlings. But at the same time they often fail, tk. plants fertilized with only peat do not grow well enough, and seedlings grown in pots filled with peat alone often die for some reason. To avoid these failures, you need to know what kind of peat can be used, where and how.

As you know, peat is different - high-moor, low-lying and transitional. It is imperative to be interested in this when buying it. They are easy to distinguish from each other, because they have completely different colors.

  • Horse peat formed on nutrient-poor elevated terrain. It is light in color, with an increased amount of organic matter, very acidic (pH 2.5–4.5), difficult to decompose, very moisture-absorbing, with a low ash content (up to 5%), with a very low nitrogen content (two times less than in low-lying peat) and other nutrients.
  • Lowland peatusually dark in color (brown and even black-brown). It has a significantly higher degree of decomposition of organic matter and ash content, its acidity is often close to neutral.
  • Transitional peat in its properties it occupies an intermediate position.

Lowland peat can be used for non-composting soil application. But before being introduced into the soil, it is well crushed and “weathered” in heaps for at least six months. But this is not the best option, since the conversion of the nitrogen contained in it into a form convenient for plants will be slow.

That is why the use of even low-lying peat as a fertilizer in its pure form is ineffective, and sometimes harmful, since dry peat, when introduced into the soil, absorbs moisture from the soil necessary for plants.

As can be seen from all that has been said, there is little sense in introducing unprepared peat into the soil, because it potentially contains only nitrogen in abundance, but even in low-lying, well-decomposed peat, it is practically inaccessible to plants.

In the first years after application to the soil, such peat only increases the absorption capacity of the soil and improves its air regime. Therefore, we must remember that if the soil in the garden is well cultivated, loose and fertile, then it is practically useless to introduce such unprepared peat into it.

It's another matter if there is little organic matter in the soil, especially if it is heavy, clayey, floating or, conversely, sandy or light sandy loam soil. In this case, with the help of peat, it is possible to significantly improve the physical properties and structure of clay soil, make it looser, water and moisture permeable, and in sandy soil, on the contrary, significantly increase its moisture capacity.

To increase the humus content on sod-podzolic soil by 1%, it is necessary to add 2-3 buckets of peat per 1 sq. M. At the same time, it is better to scatter it over the soil surface in the fall, and in the spring the surface layer is gradually mixed with peat. Since peat holds all the existing substances well, it can be applied to the soil, even in winter, directly on the snow. Moreover, peat is usually relatively cheap.

Some gardeners sometimes from fresh low-lying peat with the addition of garden soil to it, arrange bulk beds for growing cucumbers and zucchini, planting seedlings in holes completely filled with good humus.

Until the roots of plants grow beyond the limits of such a hole, low-lying peat will already sufficiently lose its negative qualities. When arranging such beds, wood ash is added to the peat, 2 cups per bucket of peat and ordinary garden soil.

But, of course, it is much more useful to cover a pile of low-lying peat with a film and keep it that way for 3-4 months, occasionally pouring water diluted with slurry or herbal infusions. During this time, the peat "ripens", and it will already be "really" useful peat.

And sour high-moor peat in its pure form cannot be introduced into the soil and used for growing seedlings at all. Such peat is mainly used for animal bedding. It needs serious composting before being applied to the soil. It is used for the preparation of peat-manure, peat-faecal, peat-phosphorite, peat-ash and other composts.

"Ural gardener", No. 11, 2017