Peat moss is a sustainable natural garden choice that is renewable. The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association adheres to the Preservation and Reclamation Policy set forth by Canada, which keeps peat moss bogs viable and allows them to be restored with no environmental impact. Peat moss provides an organic soil conditioner to naturally enrich gardens without the use of chemicals.
Canada has about 270 million acres of peatland, and as of 2010 only 6000 acres have been harvested. Bogs are restored to functioning wetlands 15 to 20 years after harvest. Canada employs 1,400 to 1,600 seasonal workers to harvest the Canadian sphagnum peat moss each year, according to the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association. The country often ranks first or second in the worldwide production depending on the year's harvest.
Living Sphagnum Moss
Sphagnum peat moss is the dead plant debris located under the living moss in the bog. Only the dead moss is harvested, due to the danger of a fungal infection known as cutaneous sporotrichosis, which lives in the living moss layers. Living sphagnum moss is sometimes used around the world in floral arrangements or to line hanging baskets, but care must be taken when handling the substance so the person does not contract the fungal infection.
Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Uses
Canadian sphagnum peat moss is often added to heavy clay-based soils to loosen it so the roots of plants are aerated. In sandy soil conditions, peat moss adds body and nutrients. Peat moss works well as a mulch by absorbing water and holding it during hot summer conditions. It also works to keep weed growth at bay.
Harvest site preparation in Canada is carried out by surveying and draining the wetland location. Ditches are dug at strategic locations to allow the peat to dry before harvest. Once the peat moss is sufficiently dry by the water's removal, sun's rays and windy conditions, the harvest begins.
The peat bed is carefully harrowed and milled, which entails breaking it up with heavy machinery designed for use in the peat bog. Once the moss is broken up, a large machine easily drives across the field to vacuum up the loose moss. Peat moss in Canada is harvested from May to mid-September.
Most Canadian peat moss is screened and packed in large compressed bales. A small percentage of it is shipped to other facilities, where it is used as a soil additive in potting soils or manufactured into peat pots for planting.