Choosing the best growing media is an essential element in gardening. Yes, the soil is not the only option. In fact, there are a lot more choices that are lightweight and handier than regular dirt. Some plants also grow better in certain growing media types. On this occasion, we are going to teach you how to use peat moss in the vegetable garden!
One of the most commonly recommended growing media for beginners is peat moss. This dark brown fibrous material can be a replacement for soils when growing plants indoors or in limited spaces. Soilless growing media like peat moss provide good aeration, drainage, and extra water-holding capacity.
Now let’s learn how to use peat moss in the vegetable garden! But before that, let’s find out more about the characteristic of moss, how and when to use it, and what kind of plants are compatible with it.
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Moss in the Vegetable Garden
Even though peat moss is often called just peat in short, those two are different things. Peat is a general term for peat-like materials like Sphagnum moss, Hypnaceous moss, and hummus.
While peat moss is obtained from bog plants of the genus Sphagnum, and that makes peat moss and sphagnum moss closely related. The difference between those moss is that sphagnum moss refers to living plants while peat moss refers to dry and dead organic materials used for growing medium.
Both sphagnum moss and peat moss have their uses in the garden. Sphagnum is useful for growing plants that can be beneficial in the horticultural trade.
The bog plants that generate peat moss come from wetland areas. Hence, peat moss is capable of well-maintained anaerobic conditions because of its hold water capability. This condition allows organic materials to decompose very slowly, resulting in preserved peat moss.
The preservation that lasts long causes peat moss to have a resemblance to regular soil. Peat moss makes good use of the growing medium in gardening, especially in the vegetable garden that requires well drainage and a nourishing medium.
Peat moss can be included in various gardening stages, from simply growing seeds to improving water retention. Soilless potting mix like peat moss is commonly used in indoor gardening for seed starting. The lightweight material makes a better option than soil because of its fluffier texture, making it easy for young sprouts to grow their roots.
Lightweight materials such as peat moss allow young roots to penetrate easily and grow faster. Regular soil also has poor drainage compared to peat moss and is generally denser. These conditions of regular soil may cause the young seedlings to rot before they ever get a chance to grow into sprouts.
Seeds are less likely to rot when your medium comes in good hygiene. Since peat moss is also known to be sterile material, it is a perfect medium for nursery beds. It is free of pathogens!
Apart from indoor gardening, peat moss is also essential for outdoor gardening as a soil amendment. The fibrous and airy structure can improve the aeration and drainage of the planting beds. Peat moss also will come in handy when you plant vegetables that require excellent water retention, like tomatoes.
Not only an excellent addition to soil, but peat moss is also a good combination to mix with other growing media such as perlite or vermiculite. These soilless mixes will create a balance of moisture and aeration, perfect for hydroponic gardening!
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How to use Peat Moss in the Vegetable Garden: Timing!
Peat moss is an essential addition to your vegetable garden, and it will even be better if you know when to add this material to your garden. As peat moss’s advantage is in its lightweight structure, adding them to the seed starting mix before you put them into the container will give the seeds proper bedding.
Growing vegetable in a garden usually starts by preparing the soil or other growing media you’re going to use. The best time to add peat moss to your soil mix is when you’re going to cultivate the soil.
Mix them with the ratio of two-part soil to one-part peat moss. This proportion will result in fast-draining soils which capable of improving water retention. Ensure you mix them well before planting the seedlings.
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What Vegetables don’t like Peat Moss?
Not all plants can grow in peat moss. So, what vegetables don’t like peat moss?
Peat moss acidity level is low. Therefore, adding them to the soil will increase the acidity in the growing medium and affect your plants. In fact, this acidic condition also may influence the flavors of the vegetables, so it’s best to use it with acid-loving plants such as blueberries, azaleas, and tomatoes.
On the other hand, alkaline-loving plants aren’t likely to do well in peat moss. Vegetables with a neutral taste, like cauliflower, garlic, asparagus, spinach, and gourds, are not suitable to grow in acidic conditions.
Nevertheless, planting non-acidic plants on peat moss is not completely prohibited. You can still plant those vegetables with peat moss by adding an alkaline substance such as lime to neutralize the growing medium.
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Can Peat Moss be used as Mulch?
Despite all the advantages of peat moss that we have mentioned previously, this media is not 100% perfect. So, can peat moss be used as mulch? Yes, but unfortunately not recommended.
The lack of nutrients and the low level of acidity make peat moss unsuitable for mulch. The lightweight fiber structure makes it easy to dry out, forming a crack in the media. Peat moss is simply not close to mulch which is generally organic and nutritious.
The only advantage of using peat moss as mulch is its capability of holding water longer than regular soil, even though it might remain under the sun.
However, peat moss is very suitable for acid-liking plants. For example, using peat moss as mulch for blueberry or tomato plants is indeed recommended. Mulch your acid-liking plants with peat moss covered with compost to balance the nutrients. You can repeat this method every season to improve the quality of your garden’s soil.
Perhaps, that’s all you need to know to get ready to use peat moss in your garden. This type of planting media makes gardening more efficient thanks to its practicality of being light and clean. Remember that the use of peat moss must match the needs of the plants that grow in your garden. The benefits of using peat moss will become apparent if you use it precisely!
Now that you have discovered how to use peat moss in the vegetable garden, you might also want to know more about how to protect zucchini from pests!
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