5 Reasons to Use Peat Free Potting Soil (+ 4 Viable Options)
Looking to switch to peat free potting soil?
Peat moss is the decomposing remains of sphagnum moss and is used in almost every conventional potting soil and mix.
However, peat extraction isn’t an eco-friendly practice and contributes to rising greenhouse gas levels. Sustainable gardeners may also be concerned about peat’s impact on soil health and the growth of healthy plants.
But are there any alternatives to peat?
And is there an effective peat free potting soil you can use?
Don’t worry. We’ll answer all these questions in this article.
This Article Contains:
(click on a link to jump right into a specific section)
- 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Peat Based Potting Soil
- 4 Popular Alternatives to Peat
- The Best Peat Free Potting Soil: Rosy’s Potting Mix
Let’s dig in.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Peat Based Potting Soil
Here’s the downside to using peat-based potting soil:
1. Environmental Impact
Peat is harvested from peat bogs — one of the largest carbon sinks on the planet. They store around 25% of global soil carbon, which is higher than all the forests combined.
As a result, according to Nature Journal, damaged or drained peatlands release two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, contributing to climate change. Peat harvesting also impacts thriving peat bog wetlands that serve as a habitat for rare birds, plants, and insects.
That’s why some countries have laws for peat moss harvesting and use.
For instance, the UK government plans to ban the sale of peat products like peat compost or peat soil mix in every garden centre by 2024.
2. Low Nutritional Value
Peat moss or peat based compost is often used as a soil conditioner to increase soil nutrient retention and water drainage.
However, peat moss is naturally very poor in the nutrients required for plant growth, and you’ll have to use other amendments to make up for it.
Sphagnum peat moss has antimicrobial properties. So, soil microbes don’t thrive in peat mediums, resulting in slower decomposition of organic matter and slower release of nutrients for plant use.
3. Soil Compaction
Peat moss soil mixes are usually created to last for one growing season.
What happens if you use it for longer?
Peat decomposes and becomes ineffective when used for prolonged periods. This causes a breakdown in the soil structure, forcing water and air out of the soil.
It eventually leads to soil compaction, which causes water logging and plant root suffocation. That’s why a peat soil mix often contains other amendments like perlite, vermiculite, and pine bark.
Note: Perlite and vermiculite are unsustainable resources that involve high energy mining, and pine bark can increase soil acidity. So, it’s better to use products that don’t contain them.
4. Rapid Dehydration
Peat moss dries quickly and becomes hydrophobic if not watered for a while. This means the top of your potting soil can become a water-repelling brick.
To avoid this, peat-based potting soil typically contains other (often inorganic) ingredients like perlite or sand. These soil amendments help water penetrate the soil even when peat moss becomes hydrophobic.
5. High Acidity
Peat moss is naturally acidic and lowers the soil pH when added to outdoor or container gardens.
This is fine if you grow acid-loving plants, like hydrangeas, irises, and African violets.
But for other plants, acidic soil decreases the availability of organic nutrients and hinders root growth — making peat unsuitable for healthy plant growth.
4 Popular Alternatives to Peat
Clearly, peat moss is not a great soil amendment.
But what can you use instead?
Here are four popular alternatives for peat moss:
Biochar is a highly porous carbon compound with a large surface area.
How do these properties help plants?
When used as a soil amendment, biochar boosts plant growth by:
- Increasing soil porosity - creating the airspace for roots to breathe and water to drain.
- Improving nutrient and water retention.
- Supporting the growth of beneficial soil microbes.
Additionally, biochar production helps trap atmospheric carbon dioxide in the soil. In fact, three tons of carbon dioxide are removed for every ton of biochar produced.
So, it’s an eco-friendly potting soil ingredient that benefits plants and the environment.
Want to learn more about the benefits of biochar?
Here are five biochar benefits that can save your plants and the planet.
2. Peat Free Compost
Peat-free green compost (organic compost) or potting compost is another great alternative to peat compost.
How do they differ?
Potting compost is a commercially produced growing medium with specific nutrient levels for potted plants. Green compost is made from food scraps and yard waste without a fixed nutrient composition.
In fact, any peat free compost will be rich in beneficial soil microbes and have more organic nutrients than peat based compost.
Moreover, you can create free compost at home using organic materials or garden waste, like:
- Plant matter or garden debris, like leaves or grass clippings.
- Vegetable waste.
- Wood fibre.
- Chicken or animal manure.
- Earthworm castings.
- Old garden soil.
Also, garden compost is great for the environment as it keeps waste out of landfills — which would otherwise release greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane.
Fact: Food waste generates approximately 8%-10% of global greenhouse gasses.
3. Worm Castings
Worm castings are the end product of vermicomposting.
It’s a nutritious fertilizer created by earthworms and offers several benefits for gardening, including:
- Improving air circulation in the soil.
- Increasing soil organic content.
- Retaining moisture and nutrients around plant roots.
- Repelling insects and suppressing pathogens that cause plant diseases.
And like compost, worm castings also contribute to decreased food waste in landfills. So, it has a lower environmental impact than peat moss.
4. Coconut Coir
Coconut coir or coco coir is an organic amendment made from coconut husks.
It’s often seen as one of the easiest alternatives to peat because it offers benefits like:
- Good water retention.
- Reduced soil density and improved water drainage.
- No impact on soil pH.
But just like peat moss, coco coir isn’t beneficial for the environment.
Coco coir has a high carbon footprint due to heavy water consumption, chemical processing, and transportation.
Instead, you should go for potting soils and mixes containing eco-friendly ingredients like biochar and compost, such as Rosy.
The Best Peat Free Potting Soil: Rosy’s Indoor Potting Mix
Rosy provides an Earth Positive, peat free Indoor Potting Mix that’s designed specifically for indoor plants.
The mix is a perfect blend of sustainable ingredients like biochar, vegan compost, and beneficial mycorrhizae. It provides an ideal structure for potted plants by delivering growth-boosting nutrients and optimizing water drainage.
And as it contains biochar, it helps fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas levels.
How do you use it?
Just add this peat free soil to your pots to nurture healthy plants and a healthy planet.
Moving away from peat use doesn’t have to be challenging.
All you need to do is switch to eco-friendly alternatives like biochar and compost.
Fortunately, Rosy’s Indoor Potting Mix contains just that. It’s one of the most sustainable products for your plants and the planet.
Why not try the potting mix today to see how a peat free mix can help your garden thrive?