How gardeners ditch emissions-heavy peat and explore new plant soils

By Isaac Phan Nay, National Observer, July 14, 2023

Since Stephanie Rose found a way to make her own potting soil mix, the gardener has never gone back to those that rely on peat moss.

Sphagnum peat moss has long been a popular soil ingredient for gardeners, thanks to its ability to retain moisture and drain excess water to keep plants healthy. But the peat is harvested directly from Canada’s peatlands, degrading powerful carbon sinks that regulate Earth’s globe-warming greenhouse gases. Peat soil’s carbon footprint has inspired some gardeners, like Rose, to explore peat-free alternatives.

“Frankly, using this peat-free potting mix is so much better for the health of plants,” Rose said. She now mixes local soil with compost, ground coconut fibres — also known as coir — and rice hulls, which she buys from local breweries. She published her recipe in her book on gardening, Garden Alchemy.

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