Black peat - Tips for use in the garden

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How does Schwarztorf come about?
Black peat is created by natural degradation process in the moor. The plant residues deposited in the bogs decompose slowly, and as the decomposition progresses, the calorific value also increases, which is why the individual decomposition stages are classified with the designations H2 to H9 (H stands for calorific value). Black peat is the most decomposed and most compacted peat, with the heating values ​​H6 to H9, and the subsequent decomposition stages are called coal.
It takes a long time for the black peat to form: whenever the soil conditions allow stagnant, shallow water to accumulate in lakes and streams, nutrients accumulate over time, leaving the area silted up by dead plant remains. This creates a nutrient-rich fen, which, under the right conditions, gradually decouples its surface from the groundwater because deposits form. If this happens, it is called Hochmoor: The bog water has now only a low pH, contains hardly any nutrients and low oxygen, which is why the decomposition of plant substances slows down significantly. New plants are formed, these bog plant communities are adapted to the harsh conditions, their deposits now form the peat bog. This takes unbelievable periods of time: On average, a peat layer of 1 mm per year is deposited in a moor, a raised bog like the northern German Teufelsmoor near Worpswede was created in about 8,000 years.
This is referred to as peat, if the degradation product contains at least 30 percent organic matter, the precursors with a higher nutrient content are referred to as humus or peat soil. The black peat that is added to the potting soil is exclusively peat bog, the oldest layer of peatland in these ever-expanding peat bogs.
Usual use of black peatAlthough this black peat contains little nutrients, it is often used as part of potting soil. Peat has a high water storage capacity and makes the soil very airy, it is free of pollutants and diseases. However, the Hochmoortorfe are so nutrient poor that they can be used in natural form really only for relaxation purposes and otherwise worsen the soil rather. Therefore, the peat in the potting soil must be artificially adjusted with fertilizer so that it corresponds to the nutrient content of normal garden soil. Quite ordinary compost naturally contains all the nutrients that good garden soil needs. So why is so much peat added to potting soil when simple compost is just right for the garden soil and does not even have to be artificially altered?
Worthwhile removal
Peat is often eaten because it is light, easy to transport and pack, which means little cost in handling - and because the mining is very cheap. For the dismantling of fossil raw materials is no payment for the climate damage or for what matures, which is taken from nature forever...
Often now the argument is opposed that peat is not a fossil, but a renewable resource. You could certainly see it that way - if people did not live 100, but 100,000 years. Then it would not matter if a person consumed a few meters of peat in the course of his life, in the meantime new peatlands are growing. Unfortunately, because we humans are not so durable, we destroy the bogs with unrecoverable speed, for us the peat is a unique resource.
Useful peat
It should not be forgotten that peat can use us humans in the moor much more than on the garden soil:

  • The bogs are important factors for maintaining a healthy climate, they store about one-third of the soil-bound carbon (at about 3% worldwide area). Moors are thus the largest carbon sinks per unit area, binding six times more carbon than forest. The bogs therefore have a considerable impact on the global climate, bog protection is important climate protection.
  • When arable farming is practiced on bog soil, bound carbon is released into the atmosphere, which is devastating to the greenhouse gas balance.
  • Dry-laid marshy soil also almost precipitates as a water reservoir, so it holds no more water back, which then seeps into the groundwater. This may have consequences for regional flood protection.
  • In the raised bogs unique species develop, they are an irreplaceable habitat for these animals and plants.
Peat-free earth as a substitute
The functions that the peat perceives in the commercial soil can be taken over by many other substances. Xylitol or perlite loosen the soil, compost brings nutrients and can be adjusted to the right ph value. Wood chips or bark or Kokoshumus or simply sand are also available for mixing, grape esters or special fertilizer bring special ph values, and these are just some of the substances that can be mixed in the production of a potting soil.If you are a little concerned with the topic, you will soon be able to mix your optimal potting soil quickly and for little money.
But there are also many ready-to-grow soils that manage without peat. Since 2002, W. Neudorff GmbH KG from 31860 Emmerthal has been developing a wide range of peat-free soil, sources of supply and other information at Also for use in special areas there are peat substitute, z. B. peat-free terrarium humus by Vitakraft, which can be ordered at
In addition to the existing offers, there are many exciting approaches to replace the peat: For example, the targeted cultivation of peat plants such as peat moss and cottongrass is explored as peat substitute, which are planted in the rewet of raised bog.

Video Board: Gardening Preparation Tips : How to Mix Peat Moss & Topsoil.

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