Peat Moss as Preservative
Inspired by the discovery of a fully preserved ancient human body in a peat bog, Dr. Terrence Painter, professor emeritus at Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, is studying the use of peat to preserve fish. His intention is to come up with an economical way to expand the market for Norway’s nutritious cold water fish. The current method of preservation, filleting and flash freezing, is very expensive.
A millennium ago, the Vikings used water from peat moss bogs because it would stay fresh during their months at sea. Scandinavian freshwater fishermen traditionally preserved their catches in peat bogs. In Scotland, tubs of butter have been found in peat bogs – intact after 1,800 years.
Peat bogs have long been known for preserving organic material. Researchers believe organic materials lasts in peat bogs due to a lack of oxygen or the presence tannins. In tests, fish buried in peat moss or treated with a moss extract stayed fresh weeks longer than untreated fish.
That’s all good news for preserving and shipping, but the report accidentally proves why peat moss is a poor choice of organic matter for potting soils and bed preparation. We don’t want antimicrobial matter. Just the opposite. Compost is cheaper, recycles local or regional organic waste products, is alive, full of nutrition and makes plants grow and stay healthy.
This may all make peat moss sound like a good soil amendment, but that’s not the case. We want to use soil amendments that stimulate microbe growth rather than prevent it.