Peat: what is white peat and black peat? Properties and use

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Peat: what is white peat and black peat? Properties and use: garden

Peat for the better flourishing of plants in the garden is often used. A distinction is made between two species, black and white peat. But how are these types of peat combined, are there big differences? And when should one or the other species be used for their own garden bed. The following article deals with these questions.

Origin of the peat types

In general, every type of peat is formed from the deposits in a moor. Here the plant remains collect and decompose over the years in standing water. Thus, over time, more and more nutrients are accumulated, through the dead plant remains the lake silted up over the years more and more. The first is the fen, under which the groundwater is still located. Only when the surface of the groundwater dissolves, then arises the raised bog. In the raised bog under the individual peat layers there is no groundwater any more. The lowest first layer is coal, only above can the different types of peat be used for the garden. These are the following:
  • above the coal lies a layer of black peat
  • over it lies the brown-village-layer
  • on top is the white peat
A moor needs up to 10,000 years, until all the layers have formed. Since other plants have settled in the bogs, which deal well with the soil conditions, the emergence and the development also do not stop. On average, however, only one millimeter peat layer can be expected in the year.
Tip: Worldwide, 271 million hectares of bogs are known. In Finland, about one third is peat soil. Nevertheless, the use is especially controversial in local private gardens.

Black peat origin

Black peat is a very old substance that has ripened for thousands of years. So you can find this in the bogs, which have arisen from stagnant water and dead parts of plants. The bogs are made up of different layers, with the black peat forming the lowest layer and thus being subject to greater pressure and being more advanced in its decomposition, as it is also the oldest layer in a bog. Moorland is everywhere in the world, but here is a distinction between low and high moors. The black peat for garden use, however, there are only in the bogs.
The black peat requires at least 30% of organic substances to be labeled. The remaining 70% consist mainly of water and minerals. Everything under organic substances is called moor earth or wet humus. In addition, this peat has a very low pH between 3 and 4 and is therefore often used for very calcareous garden soils to reduce the very high pH.
In order for the black peat in the garden bed can be used, it must be frozen through the winter wet. Particularly high-quality garden peat from the trade was for a long time frozen. As a result, later when it is subjected to garden soil, it shrinks less and can absorb more water. As a rule, he can then store four times his weight in water. As the garden peat lowers the pH of the soil, it is needed for a variety of plants, including:
  • all azalea species
  • rhododendron
  • many vegetables
  • some potted plants
  • blueberries
  • all bog plants

Moor - peat

However, caution should be exercised in plants that require a higher pH to thrive, and peat species should be avoided in all respects. Especially loamy and sandy soil, the various types of peat are added, so that the water absorption capacity is increased.
Tip: The main feature of black peat is the storage of a lot of water. Often the peat content in the potting soil is now replaced by compost, wood fibers and humus. Granules are mixed in for water storage.
Not frozen black peat
If the black peat is not frozen through after the sting, then it is as good as useless for the garden. This can also be found under the name industrial village in the trade. Because it has not been frozen, it shrinks strongly after drying and absorbs almost no water. In addition, after drying, a very hard, so-called Presstorf, which is mainly used as a fuel.
Tip: Especially in whiskey production, the dry peat has a great importance. because the drying of the malt is done here above all by a peat fire. This is an important flavor carrier for the smoky-phenolic taste.

White peat origin

White peat is the highest layer in the raised bog. Here are the decomposed parts of plants still clearly visible, this kind of peat is not so pressed and old, as is the case with the black peat, which is stored a few shallow layers below.The degradation happens in two different ways:
  • Layer by layer is roughened
  • Milled, so to speak
  • dried
  • then collected and transported away
  • This is how the fine white peat is won
  • Coarse white peat is obtained by the lancing process
  • this is the expensive variant of mining
Tip: Due to the environmental protection and the preservation of the bogs not too many peat species should be used in the own garden, especially since there are good alternatives of compost and humus. Therefore, when buying ready-made potting soil should be paid attention to a low peat content.
The so-called peat moss is still largely undecomposed and has a pH of 3 to 4, normal garden soil has in comparison a pH between 5 and 6.5. Therefore, white peat is quite acidic and must be adapted for use in the garden. For this purpose, lime is added during production for the trade. Since peat is also always very low in minerals, potting soil must also be fertilized. So that he can store the water ideally, the pH must be at least 3.5.
The name is a bit misleading, because white is not the highest peat layer in a raised bog. Nevertheless, it is much brighter than the very dark black peat. Due to its composition, this type of peat can store eight times its weight in water. Also, the delivery of water is very slow. The earth becomes a carbonated and loose substrate when the white peat is added. It is therefore mixed with sandy and loamy soils.
White peat is offered in the trade especially individually as a rule under the name peat or peat litter. So the hobby gardener can make his own mixture with the garden soil. White peat also has the property of lowering the pH, aerating the soil and storing water. However, this type of peat must be adapted for use in the garden and is therefore usually offered as a mixture with lime for neutralization and other fertilizer additives for a mineral household in the trade. Only if the garden soil has a very high pH value, the white peat should be used pure and underlined. Especially plants that need an acidic soil can benefit from this kind of peat. So the white peat finds the following uses:
  • for better ventilation of the garden floor
  • for a good water storage
  • Aquarists like to use the white peat
  • as a substrate for aquarium or terrarium
  • good substrate for carnivorous plants

The differences

Peat bog

There are therefore many differences between the two types of peat. Because both have a very low pH, serve the storage of water and the loosening of the existing garden floor. Similarly, both types of peat must be mixed with various other substances to be suitable for use in the garden. The differences are mainly in the following:
  • colour
  • black peat is very dark
  • Plant remains can no longer be identified
  • white peat, on the other hand, brownish with easily recognizable plant residues
  • Water storage is higher with the white peat
  • up to eight times your own weight
  • the black peat is "only" four times its own weight

Tip: In earlier times, the gardeners still swore by the admixture of the various types of peat under the garden soil. Meanwhile, the direction is away from the peat species to humus, compost or horn shavings. For all peat species have few nutrients and are therefore not so important for a healthy growth of the plants.

potting soil

Often young plants, sowing or cuttings are given in special cultivation soil. But for the cultivation of small plants, black or white peat is also suitable when mixed with a little fertilizer. Because especially the water-storing properties and the oxygen content in the soil are important for the success of a successful propagation. However, after the plants have been rooted, they should be moved to commercially available potting soil or garden soil enriched with humus and compost to provide them with more nutrients for further growth.

Further uses

There are many other uses for the peat species, but they have nothing to do with the garden and plants. So these are used in personal care and medicine. Moor packs and baths are well-known here, but even a peat sauna is nothing unusual. But there are other, many uses for the biological substance:
  • peat fibers are used to make textiles
  • Activated charcoal for medicine
  • as litter in horse stables
  • Peat beds for bedwetting
  • for mattresses, pillows, comforters as raw material

Video Board: Types of Coal.

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