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Potting soil without peat – climate-friendly gardening | > – Guide – Garden

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Potting soil without peat – climate-friendly gardening |  > – Guide – Garden

Status: 05/10/2023 11:34 am

If you garden on the balcony or in the garden, it is difficult to do without potting or potting soil. But the vast majority of products contain peat. This is a big problem for the environment.

by Christian Lang

In order to gain peat, moors are drained. This releases significant amounts of carbon and nitrous oxide, which are bound in the dead plant remains of the bogs. The habitat of rare animals and plants is being lost. The The Federal Environment Agency estimates that drained and, above all, agriculturally used moors are responsible for around five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to calculations by Olivier Hirschler dated Thünen Institute, peat use in horticulture releases between 10 and 15 million tons of the climate-damaging gas CO2 worldwide.

Moore are slow to regenerate

Peat is still a component of many garden soils, although mining is very harmful to the climate.

Once destroyed, bogs are very difficult to restore to their role as carbon sinks. Because bogs grow extremely slowly. Since one hectare of bog binds about six times as much carbon as one hectare of forest, much of the potential for reducing greenhouse gases is lost through the destruction of bogs.

95 percent of the previously intact moorland in Germany has already been destroyed. The The Federal Government’s climate plan 2030 therefore stipulates that the use of peat in garden soil should be minimized in the coming years through education and other measures.

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Organic does not mean “peat-free”

Products marked on the packaging as “peat-reduced” or “peat-farm” still contain up to 80 percent peat. The designation “organic” is not a protected term for potting soil. This designation says nothing about the peat content of the product. In most cases, however, organic soils are not mixed with mineral fertilizers, but organic substances are used, some of which are of animal origin. For example guano or horn shavings.

Soil with peat: disadvantages of gardening

Gardening experts and environmentalists point out differences when gardening with peat: it stores the water well, but releases it less well to the garden plants. Once dried out, peat soil even has a water-repellent effect and can only be put back into absorbent garden soil with difficulty.

The proportion of peat in potting soil is already falling

In recent years, the proportion of peat in the garden soil has already decreased. In the meantime, the proportion in the garden soil for the hobby area is 43 percent on average. Since extensive research has found substitutes for peat, recreational gardeners can easily switch to peat-free soil.

Alternatives: compost, bark mulch, wood fibers

The main components of peat-free garden soil are common Green waste compost and bark mulch. There are also water-storing and drainage-promoting materials such as wood fibers, coconut fibers or clay minerals. Products with predominantly green waste compost, bark mulch and wood fibers are preferable to those with coconut fibers – due to the long and therefore environmentally harmful transport routes of coconut. Depending on the application, peat-free soil is mixed with appropriate fertilizers. However, peat-free products are still slightly more expensive than conventional soil.

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Peat-free soil dries out faster

The properties of peat-free garden soil differ from soil containing peat mainly in the storage capacity of water and the need for fertilizers. The more airy structure of peat-free soil ensures that it dries out more quickly. It is therefore advisable to water at shorter intervals, with the amount of water remaining roughly the same.

In addition, a layer of bark mulch counteracts drying out. Microorganisms break down the organic matter in peat-free soil over time. This consumes nitrogen, which can be added to the substrate as fertilizer. If wood fibers are contained in the substrate, the need for nitrogen increases.

Further information

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This topic in the program:

The Tricks | 05/15/2023 | 9:00 p.m

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