Hochmoortorf as potting soil - PH value & use

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Hochmoortorf is still mixed with potting soil and sold on the grounds that this substrate could not be replaced by any other substances. It would also be in the interest of every gardener, if the bogs important for climate protection would not be further destroyed. When deciding whether peat addition in the soil is really indispensable, a look at ph value and use of peat bog in potting soil helps:
The ph value of the Hochmoortorfe
Bogs are formed when accumulations of water accumulate over time with nutrients, and gradually eutrophication and rotting plant remains result in silting up. The first step is the creation of a fen with low-peat village rich in nutrients. Therefore, the Niedermoortorf is also referred to as Feuchthumus or peat soil. If the conditions are favorable, deposits build up on the surface of this young moor, it dissolves over time from the groundwater. The bog water then gets a low pH (about 3.4 to 3.7), it contains little nutrients and hardly any oxygen, the decomposition of the plant substances is considerably slowed down.
This has created a raised bog that will soon house a plant society that is adapted to its specific conditions. The types of peat occurring in raised bogs are differentiated according to their degree of compaction, since these also signify the previously important calorific value, the peat type is still characterized by the calorific value, going from H2 (hardly decomposed) to H9 (completely decomposed under high pressure black peat).
The potting soil is mixed with white peat or black peat. The bright white peat, which still reflects the structure of the plants, forms on the surface of the bog, the ph value is similar to that of the bog water, between 3 and 4. The black peat is the oldest layer of peat, the lowest layer a peat camp that was subjected to greater pressure and vented during its formation. It is more advanced in decomposition than the upper layer, the ph value is between 5 and 6.
ph value and task of potting soilThe quality requirements for good potting soil were assessed by the G├╝tegemeinschaft Substrate f├╝r Pflanzenbau e. V., it should have essentially the following characteristics:

  • The potting soil should give the plant hold.
  • Good potting soil must be able to store and re-supply water and nutrients to ensure healthy growth.
  • The substrate should have a pH between 5 and 6.5, in this range, the nutrients can be used by the plant.
  • The earth should ensure the supply of the plant roots with air, so the mixture must be loose enough.
  • The substrate must be easy to moisten even after complete dehydration.
  • Good potting soil should be as free of foreign seeds and pathogens as possible and should not contain any substances that could damage the plants.
  • The substrate should also be weatherproof in heavy rain and stable in structure.
Black peat has the right ph value and also fulfills many other requirements, but it only brings very few nutrients; if full garden soil is to be mixed, fertilizer must be added artificially. The older the peat is, the more decomposed it is - and then it is not very spatter-resistant, too much moisture is often not reliably dissipated. An admixture of too fine peat also promotes mold growth in the substrate. For other reasons, white peat is only conditionally suitable for mixing with a potting soil: its ph value is between 3 and 4 and thus clearly in the acidic range, in its natural form it could at best be used to make the pH value in the soil bearable for some bog plants to do (but there are some other methods, see below). For the requirements of most plants, the white peat in the potting soil must be neutralized with lime, then the pH is artificially adjusted so that it corresponds to the normal garden soil. Both types of peat thus do not meet all the requirements in the natural state, which are made of a good garden soil, they must be artificially adjusted.
Other substances as a substitute for the peat in the potting soilThere are quite a few other substances that naturally fulfill the requirements of a garden soil in terms of ph value and nutrient density, starting with simple compost. For loosening and structural adjustment of an earth numerous other substances can be added, eg. B. xylitol or bark mulch or simple sand. Acid soil can be mixed with grape ester or acidified compost, nutrient-poor soil can also be produced by adding perlite or cocoshumus. These earths can be mixed easily and inexpensively even after a little information, but there are also peat-free substrates to buy for any desired application.
Actually, it is rather surprising that the only moderately suitable peat is mixed in such large quantities under the potting soil. From an economic point of view, however, the situation is different: peat is inexpensive, easy to disassemble, easy to package and easy to transport, and financial compensation for the high bogs destroyed by the mining does not have to be made.
Useful and fascinating raised bogs
The peat would be much more useful to humans if they are allowed to stay in the raised bog:
  • High bogs, with only 3% areal, bind about 30% of the soil carbon, so they are one of our most powerful climate protectors.
  • In addition, intact moors store enormous amounts of water, which are released into the groundwater very slowly, dry-laid peat soil can no longer perform this function - this can have consequences in the areas of flood protection.
  • The raised bogs provide an irreplaceable habitat for numerous animals and plants specialized in the prevailing conditions.
Also, the idea that a peat layer does not grow more than about 1 mm per year should motivate responsible people to use peat substitutes first.

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