Most home gardeners are familiar with Peat Moss as a soil additive. It adds humus to clay or sandy soil, helps with moisture retention, and generally makes the soil easier to work. Sold pre-packaged in bags ranging from a few quarts to several bushels, commercially processed peat moss is generally treated with a chemical wetting agent and may have ground wood chips, sand or other additives to keep it from drying out and clumping.
Peat harvesting Damages the Environment
But there’s a serious problem world-wide with the harvesting and processing of peat…a really big problem. Though many dispute the rate at which the draining or burning of peat bogs and its harvesting process are releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, there is ample proof that if continues at the present rate, peat bog destruction will be the largest contributor to global warming by 2030.
A recent summary in Scientific American explains the problem well:
Peatlands are wetland ecosystems that accumulate plant material to form layers of peat soil up to 60 feet thick. They can store, on average, 10 times more carbon dioxide (CO2), the leading greenhouse gas, than other ecosystems. As such, the world’s peat bogs represent an important “carbon sink”—a place where CO2 is stored below ground and can’t escape into the atmosphere and exacerbate global warming. When drained or burned, however, peat decomposes and the stored carbon gets released into the atmosphere.
A 2007 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) study of the role peatlands play in human-induced climate change found that the world’s estimated 988 million acres of peatland (which represent about three percent of the world’s land and freshwater surface) are capable of storing some two trillion tons of CO2—equivalent to about 100 years-worth of fossil fuel emissions.
Let’s think about what that infers—Peat bogs around the globe are 100 times larger than all the tropical forests in the world. That’s right, more than the Amazon rainforest and all the forests in South and Central America and all of Africa, Asia and Europe and North America!
Why Such Drastic Actions?
In addition to the huge release of greenhouse gasses with every swath of peat that is cut from the earth, peat bogs are gigantic eco systems, sustaining thousands of animals and unique plants. When drained for planting, they represent gigantic swaths of deforestation that is vulnerable to fire. A recent fire in a dried-out bog in Indonesia killed more than 100,000 people and released more green greenhouse gasses per day than all the emissions combined in the US and China, the world’s two largest consumers of fossil fuels.
Quality Coco Peat is a Superior Alternative
Coco Peat is not “peat” at all, but when processed into growing medium, is somewhat similar in appearance and function to “peat moss.” All Coco –based products are sourced from Coconut Coir (pronounced Coy-er) , the otherwise cast away by-product of the coconut industry. As coconut trees produce hundreds of coconuts a year, this resource is not only sustainable it sustains the economy in the areas where it is harvested and processed.
Coco Coir is processed for use in agriculture utilizes nearly all of the husk, as it is cut or ground to different consistencies, depending on the use. Let’s consider the Coco Peat from its global implications to its usefulness in home gardening.
Globally, Coco Coir is Sustainable, Renewable and Organic
Coco Coir (processed into Coco Pith, Coco Fiber, Coco Chunks and Coco Shreds) is made from the by- product of coconut production. Nearly all cultures in the world use coconut oil, coconut water, and shredded coconut as a food source, so the husk supply is veritably boundless.
The processing of Coco Fractions does not release pollutants into the air, and is somewhat labor-intensive, providing employment in the countries where it is sourced.
Quality Coco Coir is a Better Growing Medium
In addition to superior water and nutrient retention and aeration, Coco Peat products exhibit other remarkable qualities:
- Neutral pH does not require adjustment for alkalinity and acidity
- Sponge-like quality of Coco Pith absorbs 10 times its weight in water
- Small Coco Fibers act like conduits to distribute water evenly within the media
- Course Coco Chunks, Chips and Shreds allow excess water to run off increasing aeration
- Nutrients are also maintained with the moisture, requiring less fertilization
- Durable: does not have to be replaced annually, and can be used up to 5 years
- Perfect for container gardens as it does not compress and provides excellent aeration
Coco Peat Products are Convenient and Easy to Handle
HortGrow Coco Peat products are available for Home Gardeners on Amazon. For example, if a gardener wants to grow plants in mid-sized decorative pots or create a container garden in a grow Bag, GrowMax or GrowPlus would be a great mix of spongy Coco Pith, fine Coco Fibers and some Coco Chips for aeration.
The compressed Grow Block, weighing about the same as a large bag of groceries, will arrive from Amazon in less than a week. It is packaged in a sturdy bag which makes the block easy to carry and place in any location in the garden, (unlike hauling the unwieldy 2.5 cu. ft. bags weighing 20 lbs. or more).
If the Coco Peat is going to be mixed into an in-ground garden like traditional peat moss, the block can be gently hydrated in place. As a single HortGrow compressed 16” x 16” x 5” block will fluff into the equivalent of a very large bag of soil, and once hydrated it will fill a typical wheel barrow or yard cart. So it is important there is adequate space before you add water! (Please see the blog “ How to Hydrate Coco Peat” for more information).
Coco Peat is the Future of Eco-Responsible Growing
HortGrow’s Coco Peat products are proudly sustainable and approved by OMRI for organic gardening. But our products are developed by plant scientists who are also growers – – – the design of our precision Coconut Coir blends are based on real world crop production and proven “Best Practices.”
Coco Peat “Best Practices”
- Coco Coir products do not emit CO2 as they break down
- High Moisture stability reduces water and nutrient use
- Less Watering = Less Labor over growing cycle
- Superior aeration =optimum root development
GrowSure and GrowMax are available on Amazon.