Tag Archives: peat moss

Friday Linkage 5/22/2015

May has been wicked cold. This week the temperatures got down into the mid-30s, which is a record in some places, and people are running around to cover plants with blankets. I am just hoping all of my vegetable starts survived.

On to the links…

105,000 Gallons of Oil may have Spilled in Santa Barbara County—When oil companies talk about pipelines in your community, be it Bakken pipelines or Keystone XL or something else, the truth of the matter is that pipelines fail and foul the environment. Why? Because the companies are driven by profit over everything else including health and safety.

This Billionaire Tried To Get University Scientists Fired For Doing Their Job—Remember, if the truth is not on your side just use your filthy lucre to try and silence critics.

Did China’s CO2 Emissions Actually Just Fall?—I am hesitant to believe any news that comes out of China. However, this news comes from Greenpeace, surely no friend of China, and there are caveats about the short term nature of the numbers but if it held true the drop would represent the entirety of the U.K.’s CO2 emissions.

12,300 Megawatts of Coal Power will Shut Down in the US in 2015, Lots More to Come—The march of progress is on. Every coal plant that shuts down is another nail in the coffin of the dirty fuel. Soon, we will reach a point where the industry no longer has a critical mass to operate efficiently and will enter an inexorable death spiral.

Renewable Energy Land Requirements To Power US With Solar—As you listen to the people behind oil sands, mountaintop removal, and fracking talk about the land requirements for renewables show them this:


Australia Could Reach 100% Renewables By 2040—Now that we know it is possible by 2040, what would it take to make it happen by 2030?

Puffy, Feathered Sticking Point of a $612 Billion House Bill—With control of both houses of Congress, Republicans have set their eyes on rolling back years of environmental progress. If you do not think the 2016 election is important you are not paying attention.

Tiny Plastic Microbeads Are Being Banned In States Across The Country For ‘Causing Mega-Problems’—Finally, the exfoliation of our faces will take a back seat to the quality of our water.

Whole Foods Calls the Shots for Startups—This article is supposed to be about Whole Foods, but I kept thinking that they were talking about WalMart. Seriously, the tactics sound eerily similar.

The Big Waste: Why Do We Throw Away So Much Food?—I think the answer is that food can be hard. In our own house we try and reduce food waste. It really forces you to look into the dark recesses of the refrigerator…okay, who am I kidding? These are total first world problems. Stop wasting so much god damned food.

Peat Moss, a Necessary Bane—Peat moss is a pretty amazing family of plants. Sure, the ecosystem is a little depressing to look at and the plants tend to take over the landscape when possible but look at the benefits.

The Decline of the British Front Garden—It’s a bloody shame that television “makeover” shows have led people to replace little front gardens with paved parking areas. Seriously, do we really need more parking for cars?

Coir in the Yard

Peat moss is bad.  This simple statement rocked my gardening world because I use so much peat or peat moss as an amendment to the sandy soil that underpins my entire yard.  The great thing about a sandy lot is that drainage is not a problem, but on the other hand there is absolutely no water retention in the soil if not adulterated.

Many bales of peat moss, mined or sourced from Canadian sphagnum moss, have been used over the past couple of planting seasons.  It’s almost second nature to mix one part peat moss with one part compost and one part yard soil.  The results have been great.

But, peat moss is bad.  Why?  It’s unsustainable as currently sourced.  Peat bogs form slowly–adding layers of approximately 1mm per year.  Given that a peat bog is not really a healthy ecosystem until it reaches depths up to sixteen inches there is very little about mining peat that is sustainable.

Peat bogs are sponges for water.  Anyone who has lived in an area that has flooded in recent memory understands that having wetlands and bogs is essential to flood prevention.

Furthermore, peat ecosystems are huge carbon sinks.  Destroying a peat bog can release carbon back into the atmosphere as it dries out.

Okay, if peat is bad what is the alternative?  Coir.  Coir is a fiber leftover from processing coconuts.  Normally, it is a waste product that might be used in fiber projects like rope or mat making.  Or, it is burned as a fuel.  However, it is also a great alternative to peat moss.

Coir is often sold in compressed bricks:

Mixed with water the brick will break apart and expand.  I have seen claims of unbelievable expansion like 10 times.  Sorry, the most I have seen with the coir I have sourced is three to four times.  In a bucket of water it is easy to see the water retention capability of coir:

Not the most appetizing picture for anyone going the humanure route.  Mixed with some compost and yard soil there is little if any difference from the amended soil I would make with peat.  Score.

Granted, not all is rosy with coir.  It is usually sourced from southeast Asian countries like Vietnam or Indonesia.  So, there is a carbon footprint with the shipping.  Sources closer to home–coconuts in Iowa?–would be great, but there is a tradeoff with everything.

Friday Linkage 4/6/2012

A little light on the links this week.  Two reasons:

  1. Not a lot of compelling stuff on the web.  It happens…
  2. A kid who gets hospitalized at 1 AM with croup.  It sucks…

On to the links…

Children Are Not Getting Enough Time Outdoors–Nature deficit disorder is real and our children suffer from it.  I can see how much happier my daughter is when she spends the entire day outdoors as opposed to how ornery she gets when she spends her day indoors.  Night and day difference.

Statistics from March that Matter–A nice rundown of some statistics from March that matter to anyone who cares about the planet.

Solar’s Golden Goal–This is a great interactive graphic.  It shows the how solar PV is coming closer or meeting grid parity in a variety of countries. Plus it shows the timeframe for grid parity in other countries as a function of the expected annual return on investment.

Gardeners Should End their Love Affair with Peat–I used to be a user of peat.  Add some to the soil with a little compost and…voila!…decent soil for plants.  Too bad it is like mining a finite resource.  I am swearing off peat.  This year I am switching to coir.  It is a byproduct of coconut production.  Essentially, I am replacing a finite resource with agricultural waste.  Sounds like a win.

Too Many Small Fish are Caught–We hardly understand the complexities of the ocean’s ecosystem let alone the role played by small fish other than they are important.

Amnesty Day for Exotic Animal Owners–Dude, why do people own wild and exotic animals that can be dangerous.  People can barely take care of dogs and cats, why do they think that they can take care of a python?  People are truly morons.

Micro-Algae Lamp Absorbs One Ton of Carbon per Year–These lamps are sweet if they can be produced economically.  Absorbing the same amount of Co2 per annum that a tree absorbs in its lifetime is a amazing feat.

Agro-Ecology Lessons from Cuba–Cuba’s “special period” following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the removal of support can offer a lot of lessons for people looking to the time beyond oil.  It’s coming.  Really.