Peat moss is dead fibrous material that forms when mosses and other living material decompose in peat bogs. The difference between peat moss and the compost gardeners make in their backyard is that peat moss is composed mostly of moss, and the decomposition happens without the presence of air, slowing the rate of decomposition.
Benefits of Adding Peat Moss to the Soil
- Excellent for increasing water retention in your soil. It can hold up to 20 times its weight in water.
- Good for holding onto nutrients in the soil.
- Good source of organic matter, which will slowly degrade over a year or two to feed your soil.
- Improves soil structure, promotes good drainage and prevents compaction.
- Good for adding to acid-loving plants since it has a pH of 3.5 to 4.5.
- It is also naturally weed-free.
How to Use Peat Moss in the Garden
- Apply peat moss in a 2–3 inch layer in your garden, and incorporate it into the top 12″ of soil.
- For containers and raised beds, use between 1/3 and 2/3 peat moss mixed with potting soil or compost.
- To use for starting seeds, you can mix it 50/50 with perlite, or 1/3 each of peat moss, perlite and a soilless mix such as Quickroot. Sphaghum does not contain sufficient nutrients of its own so you will need to fertilize your starts regularly with a liquid, such as with Liquid Fish.