Beginner gardeners may be wondering: what exactly is Peat Moss? Peat Moss is a growing material made up of dead moss and other materials that form in the inside of Peat Bogs. The growing material is composed completely of moss, and develops over a period of several millenia. It is considered to be a 100% organic growing material.
However, because it takes decades to form this growing matter, it can often be expensive, hard to come by, and even harder to find! So, let’s talk alternatives! Here are 5 things I love to use as an alternative to peat moss.
What the heck is perlite? Well, Perlite is “puffed up” rock material from volcanoes. Because Perlite is course, it absorbs and stores necessary soil nutrients to help your plants retain water. Line the bottom of your containers with a layer of perlite and cover with potting soil as an alternative to peat moss. Purchase Perlite here!
#2 Dried Leaves and Sand
You read that correctly! Dried leaves and sand work to recreate the effects of peat moss, for a much cheaper price! Crumbled up leaves provide unhealthy soil with an infusion of nutrients. Add a layer of sand to the bottom of your container to improve drainage! SUCH a cheaper alternative.
Coconut Coir is composed of the outer fibers of a coconut ground up finely. Coconut Coir is a terrific alternative to Peat Moss because it absorbs and stores moisture, while lightening the load of the soil (promoting good drainage!) Many potting mixes have Coconut Coir included in their mixture, but you can buy it by itself through Amazon.
Wow, that name is quite a mouthful! Vermiculite is a soft and spongy growing material that is derived from heated aluminum iron magnesium. Vermiculite actually has the ability to expand to FOUR times it’s original size when absorbing water. Not only does Vermiculite have seriously insane water retaining skills, but it can retain necessary vitamins and minerals to supplement your plants as they grow. You can buy your own soil additive here !
Instead of gardening with Peat Moss, just add a healthy dose of compost to your soil! Use compost made of crushed eggshells, corn cobs, coffee grounds, and fruit scraps in the place for best plant growth. Check out this guide from Gardeners Path for more tips on using compost as a soil supplement!
If you’re new to composting, these composting articles from Bees and Roses may definitely help you!