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The Preparation of Peat Moss for Seed Starting

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The Preparation of Peat Moss for Seed Starting

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Overview

Peat moss is ideal for starting new seeds because it is sterile and retains moisture without becoming soggy. Because it has very little nutrient value on its own, it is usually mixed with nutrient rich materials, such as compost. You can mix peat moss with other materials to create your own growing medium or use it in the garden bed when planting seeds outdoors.

Preparation

Although peat moss retains moisture quite well, it has a slow absorption rate, so you should premoisten it before mixing. Fill a bucket or container large enough to hold the desired amount of peat moss with water. (The amount depends on the number of seeds that you are planting.) You want enough peat moss to mix with equal parts of compost. Soak the peat moss overnight to allow adequate time for absorption. Drain off the excess water. The peat moss should feel like a damp sponge, but should not release water when squeezed. Store larger quantities of peat moss in a container with a lid until you are ready to use it.

Creating Your Growing Medium

To add to the nutrient value of your peat moss, so your seeds will be able to grow, mix it with an equal amount of sterile compost. (Compost can be purchased sterile or baked at 180 degrees for 30 minutes to sterilize) Equal amounts of builder's sand, perlite or vermiculite, which are also sterile, can aide drainage, if desired.

Starting Seeds Indoors

Fill flats or pots with your growing medium and plant your seeds. Keep them consistently moist for about two weeks or until seedlings are established.

Direct Seeding in the Garden

Peat moss needs little preparation to be used in a new seed bed. Just turn 2 inches of peat moss, along with other organic matter for nutrients, such as compost, into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil.

Peat Moss as Mulch for Seed Beds

Peat moss works well as mulch for new seed beds, retaining moisture while allowing good air flow. Keep peat moss moist when you use it in this manner, as dry peat moss may blow away with a strong wind. You might also throw a small amount of compost over the top to add weight. The added nutrients will leach down into the soil and benefit new plants. Continuous use of peat moss as a mulch tend to make the soil surface slightly acidic, so it may not be advisable to use peat moss as mulch for plants that like a higher soil pH.

Keywords: peat moss, seed starting, organic gardening

About this Author

Kaye Lynne Booth has been writing for 13 years. She is currently working on a children's, series and has short stories and poetry published on authspot.com; Quazen.com; Stastic Motion Online. She is a contributing writer for eHow.com, Gardener Guidlines, Today.com and Examiner.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in Computer Science from Adam’s State College