Peat, no thanks - environmental destruction by peat extraction


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For potting soil with peat content is currently required by horticulture and hobby gardeners in the year about ten million cubic meters of peat. If the consumption behavior of industry and consumers does not change, then the moor resources could be exhausted in 50 years and thus also these species-rich ecosystems disappeared forever (source Nabu). How can consumers influence the destruction of bogs? We introduce well-known alternatives for peat so that the planting season can begin without a guilty conscience.
What is peat?
Peat consists of little decomposed preserved plant residues. Depending on the age of the peat, the plant remains are still recognizable (younger peat) or not at all (very old peat). Peat always arises in wetlands with vegetation. If the vegetation dies in the wetland, then it is not completely decomposed in the water. Through ever new dying plants creates a pressure on the dead plant remains in the water, which preserves them in the absence of air. This is how peat is made.
What makes peat so valuable?
Moorlands have emerged in millions of years. In 1000 years, the peat layer in the moor grows by about one meter. Growth is between one and ten millimeters per year. To create a bog many thousands of years are necessary. However, peat extraction is progressing faster than the peat can regrow. In potting peat is a reservoir of water and serves to loosen the substrate. It makes the soil sour, so peat is an ideal base for rhododendrons and azaleas. Peat is a very pure plant substrate without weed seeds. Last but not least, moors harbor a unique flora and fauna that is lost with the removal of peat.
AHA! Moore are not only drained but completely destroyed by the mining.
Peat mining as climate killer
In order to win peat, moors are being drained in Germany and the Baltic States and in Russia. In doing so, the CO2 stored over millions of years of the rotted plant parts is released. So much CO2 is stored in a 15 cm thick layer of peat. It corresponds to the amount of storage capacity of a hundred year old forest on the same area. The CO2 emissions of dry bogs amount to about six percent of total CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide, which is considered extremely harmful to the climate, contributes to global warming. The gas rises into the atmosphere and prevents the emission of geothermal heat into the atmosphere in higher air layers. Only intact bogs can continue to store carbon dioxide. Once peat has been drained, it loses its storage capacity. Dried moors can not be watered again.
AHA! Even from flower pots with peat-containing potting soil, the harmful CO2 escapes.
Alternatives for peat
Commercially available potting soil receives peat in a proportion between 80-90 percent. Peat is also found in organic potting soil. Even in peat declared as "peat-free" peat has already been found. Consumers can restrict the removal of peat by mixing their potting soil by themselves. Substitutes for peat resemble peat almost 100 percent. Only the function of the water reservoir can usually not replace it 1: 1.
Tip! Better to do without peat and water the plants more often!
Known peat substitutes

  • Garden compost has more nutrients than peat. It improves the soil and reduces the use of artificial fertilizer. Compost accumulates in every garden or can be bought in a composting plant. Another advantage of compost is that the soil, as with the use of peat, does not acidify.
  • indenhumus consists of shredded composted bark. The substrate is available with or without a nutritional supplement. Bark humus rotted much slower than peat. It is a reservoir of water and makes the soil slightly acidic.
  • Leaves and spruce compost is a substitute for the acidic effect of peat. In this way plants that need an acid soil can be planted without peat.
  • Coconut fibers can replace peat very well. They store a lot of water and decompose only slowly.
  • Wood fibers are extracted from wood chips. They have a consistency like peat and are therefore a good reservoir.
  • Hemp fibers / Chinese silks and pumice
These additives store a lot of water and serve to improve and loosen the soil
Tip: In potting soil, wood fibers and pumice have proven to be a peat substitute.
Tip: Compost and bark humus loosen the soil!
Coconut soil as peat substitute
Coconut earth consists of shredded plant fibers of the coconut palm. It can completely replace potting soil with peat if sufficient nutrients are supplied by fertilizer, because coconut soil is nutrient-free. A loose consistency receives coconut soil by the addition of chopped coconut shells.It is free of pollutants, insect eggs, larvae and mold spores, because it is sterilized and compressed before being packaged. Cocaine weighs only a fraction of potting soil and is available in the size of a tablet, from seedling pots to compact blocks. It stores large quantities of water and, with the addition of water, develops many times its volume.
Buy soil without peat
Potting soil that is made without peat is marked with the words "without peat" or "peat-free". Some well-known manufacturers already have them on offer. It is suitable for hobby gardeners who can not produce a plant substrate themselves. The Federation of Environment and Nature Conservation (Nabu) regularly publishes a shopping guide for peat-free soils, which can be downloaded for free on the Internet.
frequently asked Questions
Is the extraction of peat really that bad?
Yes, the brown areas of the former moors are already visible on Google Earth.
Can not the bog be replaced?
It takes a lot of time. To compensate for the climate footprint six times the forest would have to be reforested and 100 years waited.
Does peat also have negative aspects for the garden?
Yes, it contains hardly any nutrients and makes the earth sour.
Where are the individual ingredients to mix a plant substrate yourself?
Hardware stores and garden centers carry coconut, wood and hemp fibers. Similarly, expanded clay, split or pumice stone is available at the hardware store. Compost with various ingredients is packaged at regional disposal and composting facilities available. Finished coconut is available at the garden shop or online.

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