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Why peat for starting seeds?

 
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Hello all,

I'm looking into starting some berry shrubs, and the how-to guides I'm reading online recommend that I start my seeds in peatmoss. Sometimes they recommend a mix of peatmoss and vermiculite. I'm fairly certain this doesn't happen in nature, but I've been wrong before.

Is there a compelling reason that I should get some peatmoss, or can I use soil for starting my seeds?

Thank you for your time,
Adam
 
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You can use any medium that is not have too much nutrients. I recommend compost or vermicompost mixed with sand or rice hulls for a simple starter mix. 30% sand or rice hulls will allow for better drainage. Peat is actually a finite resource that is "mined" from peat bogs which take 1000s of years to form so not using peat is probably more permie friendly.
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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James Colbert wrote:... Peat is actually a finite resource that is "mined" from peat bogs which take 1000s of years to form so not using peat is probably more permie friendly.


My sources from the peat bog regions are telling me that the peat bogs are actually growing at thousands of acres per year. They are consuming otherwise usable lands. They seem to think that we are doing them a favor by consuming vast amounts of peat.

Peat is a nice 'neutral' medium for many growing needs.

 
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Adam Jackson wrote:Hello all,

I'm looking into starting some berry shrubs, and the how-to guides I'm reading online recommend that I start my seeds in peatmoss. Sometimes they recommend a mix of peatmoss and vermiculite. I'm fairly certain this doesn't happen in nature, but I've been wrong before.

Is there a compelling reason that I should get some peatmoss, or can I use soil for starting my seeds?

Thank you for your time,
Adam



The reason peat is recommended is that it is acidic, berry bushes love acid soil, so by using peat you are giving them exactly what they want, acidic environment with few nutrients (which can cause extreme growth and sudden death from cellular collapse). Vermiculite holds water, period.
In the USA it is not against nature to harvest peat, Unlike the UK( where most information about peat bogs comes from) the bogs here are not formed by heather so they form rather quickly and grow at an amazing rate. While it is not likely that harvesters are doing the land true favors, they are not decimating it either.
The peat bogs of the UK and Ireland have been harvested for fire pit peat (cut into logs and set out to dry) for centuries, it is only recently that the machine harvesting has taken off, which is a threat to some of the peat bogs. The UK and Ireland have instated regulations to ensure the survival of most of the peat bogs.
 
Adam Jackson
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Thank you all for the excellent replies.
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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One thing that peat and vermiculite have going for them is that they are weed free. If I use soil from my garden for seed starting mixes, then I bake it first to minimize the number of weed seeds that germinate.
 
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