All of you probably know what peat is? Those who do not know, peat is rotten (to a greater or lesser extent) compressed remains of plants and animals. In nature, peat is formed in swamps, in conditions of high humidity and difficult air access. It is used as a combustible material (contains up to 60% carbon), fertilizer and thermal insulation material.
How peat is formed
Plants and organisms living in swamps, overgrown ponds, lakes with low-flow water eventually die, forming biomass, which is increasingly layered on top of each other every year and, accordingly, pressed. Thus, peat is formed in conditions of high humidity and lack of air.
Peat as fertilizer: “for” and ” against»
Is pure peat suitable, that is, without any third-party additives, for fertilizing the garden and vegetable garden? After all, some not very experienced vacationers buy it in large quantities. Scatter on the beds, under trees and bushes and happily rub your hands in anticipation of record harvests. Alas, this method is not recommended.
Why? Yes, because it is quite poor in nutrients. Yes, it is rich in nitrogen, but nitrogen from peat is very poorly absorbed by plants. From a ton of our green spaces, only 1-1.5 kg (2.2-3.3 lb) of nitrogen is obtained, not to mention other vital elements for plants. Therefore, never fertilize your land only with peat, use other types of organic and mineral fertilizers.
This is useful for enriching the land. Due to the fibrous porous structure, the physiological properties of soils of various compositions are significantly improved. The soil, well fertilized with peat, becomes water- and air-permeable, and the root system of plants feels more than comfortable in it. I’m talking about the lower and intermediate peat, but the upper one is not used as fertilizer, as it strongly acidifies the soil.
It should be noted that there are many plants that require acidic or slightly acidic soil for normal development. When planting such plants in a permanent place, peat is added to the planting pit from above, and then periodically they are also mulched.
So do we need “pure” peat (that is, without any additives) as fertilizer? A lot depends on the quality of the soil here. If the soil is fertile, sandy loam or loamy, adding peat as fertilizer will do almost nothing, do not waste your energy and money. But if the soil on your site is sandy or clay, depleted and poor in organic matter, adding peat along with other fertilizers will significantly improve the yield and appearance of your ornamental plants. The value of peat as a fertilizer can only be considered in combination with other types of organic and mineral fertilizing and in the form of compost.
How to make peat compost
Peat compost includes organic substances: tops, uprooted weeds with clods of earth, wood ash, sawdust, wood chips, food waste and other natural ingredients. And the compost heap is arranged very simply. Somewhere on the side of the road, away from recreation areas, organize a 2×2 m (6.6×6.6 ft) playground. Put the first layer of turf about 30 cm (11.8 in) high on it. Sprinkle sawdust (10 cm/3.9 in) on top, then put leaves, weeds, food waste mixed with garden soil, the height of the layer is 20 cm (7.9 in).
If you have manure, fine! Put it on top of the above layers to a height of 20 cm (7.9 in). Now cover the entire multilayer structure with another layer of peat (20-30 cm/7.9-11.8 in) and leave to rot for 12-18 months. Do not raise the compost heap to a height of more than 1.5 m (4.9 ft), you can sprinkle peat or garden soil from the sides to ensure an appropriate microclimate inside the compost heap. Periodically moisten the compost pile with water with the addition of superphosphate (100 g/3.5 oz per bucket).
If you have tight manure, at least find an opportunity to pour the compost with diluted slurry (5 kg/11 lb per bucket of water). Or with a solution of dry bird droppings (0.5 kg/1.1 lb per bucket of water) or fresh droppings (2 kg/4.4 lb per bucket of water), 2-3 times during the summer you need to mix the compost heap well so that the top layer gets inside, and the bottom, respectively, out.
It is very useful to close the bunch from the scorching sun rays with a special canopy. In autumn, cover the compost pile: cover it with dry leaves, earth, fir branches or other mulching material. And when the first snowball falls out, wrap a stack of compost in a snow coat.
Now we can talk about the full nutrition of plants, since such compost is not inferior to manure in its nutritional properties, and if it has not been dried and frozen, then its value for plants even exceeds manure.
Fertilize the ground with peat compost, as well as manure: distribute evenly over the area, scatter near trees and under bushes. But here it should be noted that properly prepared peat compost is a more valuable fertilizer than manure, and it takes much less to fertilize the soil.
In what quantities peat is introduced into the soil
It is applied both in spring and autumn, evenly distributing it over the area at the rate of 30-40 kg(66.1-88.2 lb) per 1 m2. Sprinkle the trunk circles of trees and under bushes, as well as places for planting at a height of 5-6 cm (2-2.4 in).
Such backfilling is especially useful on those soils where a dense crust has formed on the surface after prolonged rains. In this case, peat also acts as a mulching material. It is quite friendly to any soil and will not spoil any soil. But there is a small nuance: peat has high acidity, so it should be neutralized with lime, dolomite flour or wood ash at the rate of 5 kg (11 lb) of lime or dolomite flour per 100 kg (220.4 lb) of peat or 10-12 kg (22-26.4 lb) of wood ash per 100 kg (220.4 lb) of peat.
So, we have considered the useful properties of peat as a fertilizer for our green plants. Or maybe you know of any other ways to use peat in the country?