Choosing the right media for your plants
Growing vegetables and ornamentals is becoming more competitive. Quality standards are getting stricter. And one way of meeting these standards providing your plants with farm inputs of high quality this includes seeds or planting material, fertilizers, pesticides and growing media. Growing media plays a significant role in producing high quality products may it be fruits, vegetables and ornamentals plants. This is because growing media holds the nutrients and water that the plants need in order to grow and survive. A good media should promote root development; have high water holding ability with good supply of air; should be free from pathogens and weeds; should not constrict the exchange of nutrients from the media to the roots. And peat moss is one type of media that can be used in growing seedlings for vegetables and as potting medium for cut flowers and other ornamental crops.
Peat moss, generally consisted of Sphagnum species, is raised from bogs. Bog is a wetland that accumulates acidic peat primarily composed of partially decomposed plant material and highly acidic water. Peat bogs are abundant in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere (primarily Germany and Canada) where weather is cooler. Moss decays very slowly in this anaerobic water saturated condition and sinks at the bottom. As the moss slowly decays the bog is slowly being filled, creating ground where shrubs and other vegetation can grow and develop into a new ecosystem.
Sphagnum spp. is an ideal soil amendment and even a seedling starter because; its structure is stable, it does not change during cultivation and provides the roots with a good anchoring point; it can hold large quantities of water and some species can hold more than 20 times their dry weight and at the same time provides good air supply to the roots; it does not contain hazardous substances and does not have high concentrations of salt that affects the growth and development of the plant; and it is free from pathogens, pests and unwanted seeds. An additional benefit of using peat moss over time is that with continuous use as your seedling substrate, it can improve the aeration of heavy or clay soils or even increase the water retention and organic matter of sandy soils. This is because during transplanting, you are slowly incorporating peat moss into the field and this gradual improvement of the soil structure can increase the efficiency and yield of your crop. With this characteristics, a grower in ensured having higher survival rate since germination is high, a more vigorous, uniform and healthier seedlings because its roots are well developed for better water and nutrient uptake.
With peat moss, the plants are more efficient in converting nutrients and water for their food this cut your losses and wastage especially on fertilizers. Fertilizers are rendered useless in the soil due to leaching and volatilization and if the soil is acidic or basic. Fertilizers are normally leached due to excess water brought by rain or irrigation. If the soil has low water holding ability like in the case of sandy soils, it tends to run off or be leached contaminating ground water. If the soil is dry, nitrogen is lost as gas through volatilization. Acidic and basic soils influence the availability of nutrients from the soil. One example is Phosphorus which is rendered immobile in acid and basic soils. It reacts with Iron and Aluminium in acidic soils and with Calcium in basic soils forming insoluble compounds which the plant cannot utilize.
When it comes to peat moss, Klasmann-Deilmann is the world leader in producing high quality growing media, biosubstrates and base and peat products. Being in the substrate industry for almost 100 years and supplying over 50 countries on all continents, with production facilities and processes certified to EN DIN ISO 9001:2000. Their substrates, base and peat products conform to guidelines of the R.H.P (Regeling Handels Potgronden, NL), the world’s strictest quality standards in the substrate industry. They are processing highland peat moss from two sources; Germany and Lithuania. Because of its elevation and isolation, this kind of peat moss is not prone to contamination from other water sources such as ground water. Highland peat moss is generally rain-fed unlike lowland sources of peat where ground water could contaminate it because pesticides and fertilizers from the surrounding farms may leach to it. And if there are other sources of water it may result to different pH levels.
At the end of the day, the main goal here is to be able to compete in the market. This can be done by raising the quality of our products through the use of the right seeds, crop care products and growing media.