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 Post subject: Needing bulk peat moss
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:32 pm 
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I am trying to source bulk peat moss locally in the DFW area (yards at a time!), and haven't been fruitful yet. I have tried Silver Creek Materials and Clearfork Materials over in Aledo so far, but to no avail. Does anybody have a source for this? Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:24 pm 
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Why do you need it? Shipping or storing a bunch of dead stuff? We don't like it at all for the soil.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:10 pm 
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Have you compared prices of peat moss against compost? As far as I'm concerned, the only functional difference between the two is the compost has not had the microbes and humic acids washed out for 1,000 years.

What are you planning to do with the peat moss? Maybe that will suggest an alternate solution.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:58 am 
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Well I just learned something new (to me) about peat moss so I though I'd update my thoughts on this topic.

Peat moss does, in fact, have beneficial microbes attached to it. I'm going to attach a question to Dr Elaine Ingham on that subject along with her lengthy reply. There may be other reasons not to like peat moss but the argument that it is completely dead material should not be one of them.

Quote:
> Elaine: What are your thoughts on the following Attra answer to the
> microbiology of sphagnum peat?
>
> Quote:
>
> ATTRA Question of the Week
> What types of microbes are naturally found in sphagnum peat? How do
> they react to heat? At what temperature do they die? What is the
> temperature range for peat production?
>
> A.M.
> Virginia
>
> Answer: It is first important to define the types of peats available
> in the commercial trade. Peat moss is a general term that includes
> several grades of peat. The Web site of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat
> Moss Association (CSPMA) provides a resource room with "Terms and
> Definitions of Peat and Peat Moss." There can be important
> distinctions between these different grades and types of peat and
> peat moss in terms of microbial characteristics.
>
> Terms and Definitions of Peat and Peat Moss
> In: Resource Room: Horticultural Teaching Plan, Canadian Sphagnum
> Peat Moss Association www.peatmoss.com/hortprog1.html
>
> peat
> peat moss or moss peat
> sphagnum peat
> hypnum peat
> reed peat
> sedge peat
> reed-sedge peat
> carex peat
> peat humus
> fibric peats
> hemic peats
> sapric peats
> sphagnum moss
>
> Characteristics & Qualities of Peat
>
> Characteristics of sphagnum peat and other horticultural peats
>
> Degree of Decomposition
>
> Using Peat
>
> Sphagnum peat moss is a common ingredient in potting mixes and is
> widely used in horticulture. It is highly valued as an organic media
> component because it provides porosity and holds moisture. However,
> it is considered inert and does not contribute mineral elements.
> Sphagnum peat can support microbial populations introduced by
> blending with composts and pine bark. In fact, potting mixes
> containing peat moss, compost, and pine bark are valued for their
> disease-suppressive characteristics.
>
> The following excerpt from Premier Horticulture describes the
> microbial characteristics of sphagnum peat moss.
>
> Various reports have confirmed that Sphagnum peat moss has disease
> suppressive qualities against certain root-rot pathogens. This is
> due to the presence of beneficial microorganisms. Contrary to
> popular belief, most peat moss producers do not sterilize or
> pasteurize their peat-based products for three reasons. First,
> Sphagnum peat moss is essentially free of pathogens and pests
> (Tahvonen, 1993). Second, it kills disease suppressive
> microorganisms found in Sphagnum peat moss (Tahvonen, 1993). Third
> sterilization is expensive.
>
> Sphagnum peat moss bogs contain many microorganisms including
> Bacillus, Arthrobacter, Actinomyces, Streptomyces, Penicillium,
> Cladosporum, Trichoderma, Mucor, etc (Belanger, 1988 and Tahvonen,
> 1993). Of these, Trichoderma and Streptomyces are quite effective at
> suppressing certain root disease organisms (Tahvonen, 1993) due to
> their synthesis of antibiotics. Their presence in Sphagnum moss has
> been found to suppress Fusarium, Rhizoctonia solani, Phythium,
> (Tahvonen, 1993 and Chen, 1986) and Alternaria brassicicola
> (Tahvonen, 1993). The remaining microorganisms suppress root rot
> pathogens through competition. Simply stated, there is a limited
> amount of space and resources therefore, if a lot of beneficial
> organisms are present it is difficult for root rot organisms to
> establish themselves.
>
> Sources of Sphagnum peat moss vary in microbial populations and
> composition. Therefore, disease suppression is not always
> predictable (Tahvonen, 1993). Blonde, fibrous peat from the surface
> of the bog has higher microbial populations versus darker,
> decomposed peat from deeper layers in the bog (Hoitink, 1991). Only
> blonde, fibrous peat, classified as H2 to H3 on the von Post
> decomposition scale (e.g. PRO-MOSS 'TBK') provides enough beneficial
> microorganisms to promote disease suppression. Disease suppression
> lasts about 6-10 weeks (Hoitink, 1997). However, when a plant is
> planted into a Sphagnum peat-growing medium, populations of disease
> suppressive microorganisms sometimes increase (Tahvonen, 1993).
>
> Literature Cited
> Belanger, A., et.al. 1988. Peat A Resource of the Future. Centre
> Quebecois de Valorisation de la Biomasse, Sainte-Foy, Quebec.
>
> Chen, Y. and Y. Avnimelech. 1986. The Role of Organic Matter in
> Modern Agriculture. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Netherlands.
>
> Hoitink, H.A.J., Y. Inbar and M.J. Boehm. 1991. Status of Compost-
> Amended Potting Mixes Naturally Suppressive to Soilborne Diseases of
> Floriculture Crops. Plant Disease 75(9): 869-873.
>
> Hoitink, H.A.J., A.G. Stone and D.Y. Han. 1997. Suppression of Plant
> Diseases by Composts. HortScience 32(2): 184-187.
>
> Tahvonen, R. 1993. The Disease Suppressiveness of Light Coloured
> Sphagnum Peat and Biocontrol of Plant Diseases with Streptomyces sp.
> Acta Horticulturae 342: 37-42.
>
> Source:
> Disease Suppression Associated With Sphagnum Peat Moss
> Premier Press, Summer 2000, Vol. 7/No. 2
> www.premierhort.com/website/profweb/apr ... rchives/su
> mmer00vol7-2/apress7-2b.html
>
> The following excerpt from the inactive ATTRA publication Disease
> Suppressive Potting Mixes addresses the use of peat moss in disease
> suppressive potting mixes.
>
> Disease-supressive potting mixes are developed by (a) incorporating
> suppressive organic amendments such as certain types of peat moss
> and good quality composts, (b) inoculating composts and/or potting
> media with microbial biocontrols such as Trichoderma, Gliocladium,
> Bacillus, and Pseudomonas, or (c) inoculating potting media with
> plant-health promoting microorganisms such as mycorrhizae.
>
> Dr. Harry Hoitink (2), a plant pathologist at Ohio State
> University , has pioneered much of the work with disease suppressive
> composts. Dr. Hoitink started working with composted bark as a
> disease-suppressive ingredient in nursery mixes in the early 1970s.
> The research program at Ohio State University has been so successful
> that methyl bromide has not been used in the Ohio nursery industry
> in two decades (1).
>
> Through research, Hoitink and others have determined that pathogens
> such as Pythium are suppressed by general competition, while others
> such as Rhizoctonia require specific microbial antagonists. Light
> peat moss, or sphagnum peat, is known to be suppressive against
> Pythium for about six to seven weeks. However, dark peat moss that
> comes from deeper layers in the bog does not exhibit suppressiveness
> and may in fact be conducive to pathogens. Apparently, sphagnum peat
> contains naturally occuring microflora. As long as a plethora of
> microflora are present, they compete for nutrients with pathogens
> such as Pythium and Phytophthora through a process known as "general
> suppression". Thus, when sphagnum peat is used in potting mixes to
> start plugs and transplants, it often doubles as a natural disease
> suppressant for the lifetime of the seedling. Likewise, microflora-
> rich composts are generally suppressive to Pythium and Phytophthora.
>
> However, to provide reliable control of Rhizoctonia, inoculation of
> compost piles after the thermophyllic stage with known antagonists
> such as Trichoderma and Flavobacterium is required. Earthgro, a
> Lebanon, Connecticut, compost company that manufactures potting
> mixes, specializes in microbial inoculation for control of
> Rhizoctonia.
>
> There is a peat humus product brand-named Alaska Humus that is sold
> as a substrate for the production of "compost teas" in farming and
> gardening. The company claims that Alaska Humus contains an
> estimated 35,000 species of bacteria and 5000 species of fungi;
> apparently this estimate is based on molecular analysis.
>
> The Web site of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA)
> contains resources you may find helpful. In particular, see the list
> of peat moss association members, which provides Web address
> contacts for prominent horticultural suppliers of peat moss-based
> potting mixes, such as ASB Greenworld Ltd., Conrad Fafard, Inc.,
> Premier Horticulture, The Scotts Company, and Sun Gro Horticulture.
> These companies may be a source of technical information.
>
> Most of the scientific literature on microbial ecology of peat moss
> and peat bogs deals with methanogenic microbes. Some research
> concludes that 70% of the methane released into the atmosphere is of
> biogenic origin, and Northern peatlands are the source of 40 to 60%
> of the global methane budget. Several papers are cited below.
>
> Resources
>
> Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association -- CSPMA
> 7 Oasis Court
> St. Albert
> Alberta , Canada T8N 6X2
> 780-459-0939 FAX
> cspma@...
> www.peatmoss.com
>
> Alaska Humus Company
> 711 M Street , Suite 102
> Anchorage , AK 99501
> 907-258-1504
> 907-258-1525 FAX
> [Contact: Jeff Lowenfels]
> E-mail: Jeff@...
> www.alaskahumus.com
>
> Upton M., B. Hill, C. Edwards, J.R. Saunders, D.A. Ritchie, and D.
> Lloyd. 2000. Combined molecular ecological and confocal laser
> scanning microscopic analysis of peat bog methanogen populations.
> FEMS Microbiol Lett. Vol. 193, No. 2 (Dec. 15). p. 275-81.
>
> Basiliko, N., J.B. Yavitt, P.M. Dees, and S.M. Merkel. 2003. Methane
> biogeochemistry and methanogen communities in two Northern peatland
> ecosystems, New York State. Geomicrobiology Journal. Vol. 20, No. 6
> (November-December). p. 563-577.
>
> Krumholz, L.R., J.L. Hollenback, S.J Roskes, and D.B. Ringelberg.
> 1995. Methanogenesis and methanotrophy within a Sphagnum peatland.
> FEMS Microbiol Ecol. Vol. 18. p. 215-224.
>
> Lloyd D., K.L Thomas, A. Hayes, B. Hill, B.A. Hales, C. Edwards J.R.
> Saunders, D.A Ritchie, and M. Upton. 1998. Micro-ecology of peat:
> Minimally invasive analysis using confocal laser scanning
> microscopy, membrane inlet mass spectrometry and PCR amplification
> of methanogen-specific gene sequences. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. Vol. 25.
> p. 179-188.
>
> McDonald, R., M. Upton, G. Hall, R.W. Pickup, C. Edwards, J.R.
> Saunders, D.A Ritchie, and J.C. Murrell. 1999. Molecular ecological
> analysis of methanogens and methanotrophs in blanket bog peat.
> Microbial Ecol. Vol. 38. p. 225-233.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:13 am 
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Here's the key comment in Elaine's info above.

"Sphagnum peat moss is a common ingredient in potting mixes and is
> widely used in horticulture. It is highly valued as an organic media
> component because it provides porosity and holds moisture. However,
> it is considered inert and does not contribute mineral elements.
> Sphagnum peat can support microbial populations introduced by
> blending with composts and pine bark. In fact, potting mixes
> containing peat moss, compost, and pine bark are valued for their
> disease-suppressive characteristics."

You'll find this to be quite consistant with those who praise peat moss. "Blended with composts" is the important phrase. Be careful where the research comes from. Sphagnum peat moss is basically sterlile, especially compared to compost - that a simple fact.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:05 pm 
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Sterile? Then why would Dr Ingham have used the following statement in her disccussion?

> Various reports have confirmed that Sphagnum peat moss has disease
> suppressive qualities against certain root-rot pathogens. This is
> due to the presence of beneficial microorganisms. Contrary to
> popular belief, most peat moss producers do not sterilize or
> pasteurize their peat-based products for three reasons. First,
> Sphagnum peat moss is essentially free of pathogens and pests
> (Tahvonen, 1993). Second, it kills disease suppressive
> microorganisms found in Sphagnum peat moss (Tahvonen, 1993). Third
> sterilization is expensive.
>
> Sphagnum peat moss bogs contain many microorganisms including
> Bacillus, Arthrobacter, Actinomyces, Streptomyces, Penicillium,
> Cladosporum, Trichoderma, Mucor, etc (Belanger, 1988 and Tahvonen,
> 1993). Of these, Trichoderma and Streptomyces are quite effective at
> suppressing certain root disease organisms (Tahvonen, 1993) due to
> their synthesis of antibiotics. Their presence in Sphagnum moss has
> been found to suppress Fusarium, Rhizoctonia solani, Phythium,
> (Tahvonen, 1993 and Chen, 1986) and Alternaria brassicicola
> (Tahvonen, 1993). The remaining microorganisms suppress root rot
> pathogens through competition. Simply stated, there is a limited
> amount of space and resources therefore, if a lot of beneficial
> organisms are present it is difficult for root rot organisms to
> establish themselves.

You might be able to discuss the relative populations of various microbes between compost and peat moss, but the original poster was asking about peat moss, not compost. In any case to call sphagnum peat moss sterile would seem to be an exaggeration, according to the research posted by Dr Ingham. She would seem to agree with it since she used it in exactly this context.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:50 am 
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I'm not sure what Elaine used but it may have been a mix. Pure sphagnum peat moss is anti-microbial. Maybe that's a better word than "sterile" although something that won't support life is pretty much sterile. Here's just one of the pieces of research showing that microbes won't grow in the pure stuff - and that is our main concern with the product.

Peat Moss
Viking’s preservative

Peat moss could save food industry millions of dollars


By Doug Mellgren

Associated Press Writer


OSLO, Norway – Researchers are looking at an old Viking trick – peat moss – as a way of preserving foods and saving millions of dollars per year in refrigeration and transport costs.


A millennium ago, the Vikings used water from peat moss bogs because it would stay fresh during their months of sailing aboard longboats. Scandinavian freshwater fishermen traditionally used peat bogs to preserve their catches until they could pick them up on their way out of the mountains.


It still works, says Dr. Terence Painter, professor emeritus Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.


Fish buried in peat moss or treated with a moss extract stayed fresh weeks longer than untreated fish.


“Definitely, deep freezing and quick filleting are the best way to preserve fish … but it is also darned expensive,” Painter says. “We have all kinds of idealistic ideas about expanding the market for Norwegian fish in countries that cannot now afford it.”


Peat bogs have long been known for preserving organic material. In Scotland, tubs of butter have been found intact after 1,800 years; elsewhere, a loaf of bread thousands of years old was found.


“We seem to have forgotten a lot of this ancient wisdom,” he said.


But Painter, a British-born biochemist who has lived in Norway for 33 years, said what really piqued his curiosity was the 1984 discovery of a fully preserved ancient human body, known as the Lindlow man, in Britain.


Norway, a major exporter of fish caught by trawlers and raised on fish farms, has about 2 billion tons of peat. Little is used, so Painter was seeking industrial applications.


“I thought if it will preserve a body, it ought to be able to preserve a fish,” he said.


Researchers long believed organic material lasted in peat bogs due to a lack of oxygen preventing decay or the presence of a chemical called tannins acting as preservatives.


Painter and his associates Yngve Boersheim and Bjoern Christensen isolated a complex sugar in sphagnum moss, which forms peat bogs after hundreds of years. They set out to prove that the sugar, which they have named sphagnum, was the real preservative in a variety of tests in a government-funded study.





In one test, they buried salmon skins in peat moss or coated them with the extract and did the same with control skins buried in wood cellulose for nine to 28 days. After removal, fish stored in the peat or extract stayed fresh for up to a month, while the non-treated fish stank after two days.


In other tests, the researchers treated ¾-inch long Zebra fish with peat or extract and left others untreated. After two weeks, the treated fish were fine, while the untreated ones had virtually vanished due to decay.


In a demonstration for the Norwegian state radio network NRK, Christensen opened a plastic container in which a Zebra fish had been stored on peat for two years. It was intact and smelled fine.


“When you take a fish and put it on the peat, it will be preserved in a very special way,” Christensen said. “If you had put it in anything else, it would have rotted away and smelled back in a couple of days.”


Painter said freezing fish and shipping it in refrigerated ships or trucks is extremely expensive, while drying fish, although cheaper, removes nutrients.


His team is looking into ways that the fish could be shipped in peat, or even better treated before shipment with the complex sugar, which appears to slow attack by bacteria that causes decay.


Fish isn’t the only food that may be preserved. Painter said his team has had success with apples, carrots, radishes and other vegetables.


“Norwegians had a tradition of storing their root plants, such as carrots and turnips, in peat bogs to preserve them,” he said.


Painter also said there is little chance that it would be harmful to humans, since many villages in places like Finland draw all their drinking water from peat bogs.


The researchers have received a Norwegian government grant to start a pilot project testing commercial applications. Painter said it is not clear when the first commercial uses could begin.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:48 pm 
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Lets all remember that to use compost from your own backyard or neighborhood means that the biology in the compost is local, not from across the country. Seeds from your own property will eventually be adapted to your own specific soil type, same thing with your compost. Keep it local and lower your own carbon footprint.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 6:49 pm 
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Hi Howard,
It was not Dr Ingham's research. She was quoting it to make her point.

Your article is extraordinarily interesting, but I draw a different conclusion than you. You are suggesting that the water from a peat bog is antiseptic and will kill all microbes. Chlorine, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, and pure alcohol are some common antimicrobial antiseptics as well as disinfectants. But I don't think so. To me that research demonstrates that there are so many beneficial microbes in peat moss that the peat moss can preserve meat! Rather than being antiseptic, it is antibiotic and kills only pathogens. This characteristic would put the microbes in peat moss into the same beneficial class as Penicillium notatum (produces penicilin), Cephalosporium acremonium (produces cephalosporins), and Bacillus polymyxa (produces polymyxin). There are many antibiotic microbes in soil so it is not much of a stretch of the imagination to believe they would exist in peat bogs, too.

Unfortunately this feature of peat moss would make it much more valuable than ever. It would also explain why so many people around the world attest to the benefit of peat moss as a soil top dressing or amendment. That would also make the peat bog water extremely valuable - similar to sulfur springs that have been thought to be of value for soaking. Sadly the process of harvesting peat moss includes a step where they drain the water out of the bog.

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 Post subject: sustainable?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:55 pm 
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nobody talks about the sustainability for peat harvesting? I thought peat "farming"/harvesting wasn't sustainable.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:15 pm 
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You're right - that's another negative about peat moss. There are some very strange things said and written by some people who do some work for the organic movement - but the truth and the bottom line is - peat moss has no place in soil building and organic fertility.


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 Post subject: Re: sustainable?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:45 pm 
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tarheelgarden wrote:
nobody talks about the sustainability for peat harvesting? I thought peat "farming"/harvesting wasn't sustainable.

There are plenty of discussions about the sustainability of peat harvesting. To my eye it seems to be sustainable indefinitely at the rate we're using it and at the rate it is accumulating. There is so much misinformation from both sides on that I could go either way. It could be that the planet is accumulating it at an amazing rate but it is unreachable for harvest. It could be all the easy peat has been collected from Ireland and Scotland and the current bogs under harvest in Canada will be consumed according to some schedule. But there are apparently bazillions of hectares of bogs not yet explored because to do so would require extreme measures (it's dang cold up there). Whatever. I don't' think anyone has all the info to make a call about the sustainability.

What attracted me back to this discussion was that it is the first one I've seen where someone has called the quality of the product into question. I used to think peat moss was lifeless, but the research I've found recently, from real scientists, seems to conflict with my former opinion - and with Howard's magazine article.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:38 am 
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I talk about the environmental problems of peat moss all the time - the mining and shipping great distances are definitely a problem. I don't like the term "sustainability" too much because chemical pushing hacks like to hide behing that term and continue to push and use the toxic products. If peat moss isn't anti-microbial, how do you explain food and corpses not rotting in it. If you try to explain it that it's the lack of oxygen - OK that's another reason we don't want to use it in soil.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:01 am 
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I think peat moss, undisturbed in the wild, is probably much different than peat moss after it is hauled out, dried, shredded, bagged, and delivered. I believe it is relatively exhausted of microbes although some researchers are finding microbes in it. I doubt the populations compare with those found in compost, but it's worth checking within this organic community. I think there are plenty of qualified people in Texas who can test it.

I guess I would suggest more people who make compost tea and test it with microscopes should use the same recipe using peat moss and see what happens. The Texas Plant and Soil Lab probably knows something about the general nutrition and chemistry of peat moss.

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 Post subject: Re: Needing bulk peat moss
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:18 pm 
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This discussion is very interesting, over the years I have heard and read both sides of the argument over and over but to me there is valid science on both sides. I still have many of the same questions presented here. My grandfather would use copius amounts of Peat Moss and his composted cow manuer on his garden each year. He had the biggest, healthy plants I have ever seen. So, was the manuer the key, or the mix. I quit using Peat Moss several years ago, but I would really love to see a real unbiased evaluation. If I was a grad student this would be a great project. Now to find that soils major at Tech or A&M to see if it is possible to interest him/her.


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