Sphagnum peat or red peat is a result of the partial decomposition of the sphagnum moss. It has a big celular structure that allows to absorb the air and water like a sponge. Even if peat does not contain any nutritional substances, it absorbs the added nutrients and it releases them gradually into the soil for the plants. Because of these characteristics there are being saved valuable nutritive elements, which otherwise - in a soil with a lower capacity of absorbtion, are lost through leaking.

The red peat is being harvested from swamps in which the sphagnum moss has decomposed slowly over thousands of years. In Europe, the largest surfaces with these swamps are located in the Baltic countries: Latvia, Estionia and Lithuania. The process of peat harvesting starts with the digging of some large ducts that drain the water and lead to the draining of swamps. On the drained surfaces, the special combines that drill deeply, can extract the peat. They suck it out into bunkers and then transport it onto sorting and processing platforms. The red peat is an organic soil reliever, which is an essential part in regulating the level of air and water around the plants’ roots, thus creating ideal conditions for growing.


The use of red peat as a culture substrate or in the soil mixtures has the following advantages:

  • Saving water - the peat retains (absorbs) a quantity of water 20 times its own weight, which then releases gradually for the plants.
  • Ventilating the soil - the peat, mixed in different proporsitions into the heavy, clayey soils, leads to the loosening and ventilation of them. This way, the soils become more and more suitable for the growing and developing of plants.
  • Binding the sandy soils - mixing the peat into the sandy soils increases their cohesiveness degree and rises the water retention capacity.
  • Reducing leaks - due to to the large absorbtion capacity, the red peat functions as a sponge, substantially reducing the water leaks from the soil. This way the nutritional substances from the irigation water will be available for the plants longer. This capacity of the peat leads to saving fertiliser, used for the plants./li>
  • Soil protection - the use of peat in soil improvement protects the soil from curing, compaction and it rises the concentration of organic substance of the soil.
  • Ideal for composting - using peat to make different composts is welcomed. It accelerates the composting process, reduces smell and optimizes the report of air and water from the pile of compost.

Red peat decomposes over several years, slower than the compost that usually decomposes in a year. It has an acid pH (3,8-4), and it is free from any weeds seeds and insects. It does not have salts or other chemical residues.

Gardeners use peat for soil improvement in vegetables gardens, the qualities of this soil improver being highly important for a healthy and profitable culture. Soil loosening and also aeration, water retention in the soil, very important for sandy soils, that peat binds, reduction of leaks and increasing the organic substance, are unquestionable advantages that essentially contribute to the growth of flowers and vegetables production.

To make some color spots in the middle of your lawn, cut out the desired surface, marking its contour with a hose or string, if a sinuous contour is wanted. Cut off the lawn and the garden soil at about 6-8 cm in depth. After that, add 2 cm of red peat and start digging again so the peat can blend in with the soil. If the soil is low in nutrients, a well fermented compost can be supplemented, in the same quantity that the peat was added. Seed or plant the seedlings of flowers, add water frequently and in moderation. To improve the soil in the already existing flowerbeds, remove the soil around the plants, being careful at the roots. Then add the peat, the compost, and eventually some controlled-release fertilisers. To give everything a neat look, settle and smooth the ground, then water it.

A green, luxuriant, dense and vigorous lawn is the dream of any garden lover. For this to happen, the roots of the grass must grow in an organic, well-ventilated and with enough humidity soil. This can be done with the help of sphagnum peat. For broad lawns, adding the peat supplement is usually done after the scarification of the soil, in the middle of spring or autumn time. After trimming the lawn, the soil is scarified with a powerful plowing machine that removes the dried grass and clay soil fragments. After getting rid of these remains and raking the grass, the peat is scattered all over the surface, insisting on the places where the grass growns less or with empty spaces. A compost can be added to the peat, thereby increasing the amount of nutrients in the soil. It is spreaded all over the surface or only in the empty spaces, then being rolled out and watered. Increasing the quality of the soil by adding peat, will be felt in the maintenance budget of the lawn, because it will reduce the water demand for irrigation and much smaller quantities of fertiliser will be needed. To make a new lawn, a quatity of cca 1-2 cm of peat before the soil milling woul be ideal. This will be spread all over the surface which is about to get seeded or where the lawn rolls will be installed. Therefore, for 100 square feet of lawn is necessary a quantity of cca 1-2 mc (4-8 packages of 250 litres). This can be seen as a real investment, but the costs will be recovered in a few years by a significant reduction in the maintanence costs of the lawn.

In order for the trees we plant to catch roots in the ground and grow correspondingly, it is necessary for the roots to find a good, loose and rich in organic substance soil, for their first phase of growth. The red peat is an ideal solution for achieving this goal. The steps for a successful planting are the following: digging a hole 2-3 times bigger than the dimension of the roots (roll or container), aerating the bottom of the hole with a spade, then putting a layer of sand/gravel, in case there are planted species that do not support the stagnation of water in the soil (usually fir tree or pine spruce); is estimated how much soil is needed to fill the hole and then a mixture of two parts soil and one part peat is made. Compost can be added as well, and for clay soils add sand (cca 10%); the plant is positioned in the planting pit and layers of soil improved with peat are put in successively. In the end, a circular elevation made from the digged soil is put around the hole, in the shape of a plate, which will retain rain or irigation water. The mixture of improved soil with peat will have a greater capacity of retaining water and a much more friendly texture for roots than the usual garden soil. This will create ideal conditions for the growing of the tree or shrub. To remember that for this kind of uses, a peat with a larger granulation will be used.

For acidophilic plants, like rhododendrons, azaleas, ericaceae, bilberry and conifers, the red peat is an ideal culture substrate, because its pH is acidic (3,8-4). For conifers, it can be used a planting mixture of cca 50% acidic red peat, for bilberry and other acidophilic plants pure peat can be used, eventually in a mixture of compost (10-15%) and whitewood sawdust. In the acidic soils, the use of peat must be done with caution and amendments with limestone are required in order to increase the pH, if the plants used are not acidophilic. The majority of black soils from the plain and hilly areas have a slightly alkaline pH, so the red acidic peat intake regulates the pH to neutral, which is ideal for most of the plants. Also, it must not be forgotten that chimical fertilisers lead to the alkalinity of the soil, so the use of the acidic peat counteracts the effect of the fertilisers when it comes to the pH, bringing the acidity level close to neutral, making it even more likeable for the majority of plants.

The compost is named, among the gardeners, the black gold. To make a large quantity of compost with less smell, and which ferments faster, adding the sphagnum peat is an ideal solution. Add to every layer of organic matter that will be composted, a layer of peat 4 times smaller. Shovel periodically (in the beginning at about 3-4 days apart and then weekly) and water it so the pile of compost is always relatively wet inside. In just a few months, you will have a black, crumbly and nice smelling compost that will be extremely useful in your gardening activity. Generally, it is recommended to use a mixture of compost and peat. The peat decomposes slower than the compost and so it reduces the tendency of compression, keeping the ventilation of the substrat.

Growing plants in pots is almost inconceivable without using red peat. It does not matter how much we struggle to make recipes for mixtures of soil, no matter how many ingredients we would use- compost, celery soil, forest soil, sand, perlite, none of these can equal the qualities of peat, when it comes to the water retention, maintaining the loosening and ventilation of the soil propreties. Plants have different requirements for the pH, texture and humidity of the soil, so the recipes for mixtures of soil in pots are distinct. Mostly, the more acidophile a plant is, the more red peat will be required in the composition. The quantity of peat will reduce for species that have a more compact texture (for example geraniums) as well as for the ones that need a less humid soil (portolac flower). The mixtures of soil are made by specialised producers, or homemade by gardeners. For this reason, peat and substrates producers market 3 types, as follows:

  • the red pure acidic peat (pH 3,8-4), grinded and in different granulations (0-7 mm, 0-20 mm, 0-35 mm, 20-40 mm etc) unfertilised or low fertilised.
  • substrate made out of peat, similar to the grinded and granulated peat, but with a pH at 5,5-6, relatively neutral; it is good for most plants, with an addition of fertilisers and aditivs with a role in the increase of water absorbtion capacity.
  • soil mixtures, based on red peat, black peat, compost, sand, made with specific recipes for various categories of plants (mixture of soil for geraniums and petunias, mixture for pot flowers, mixture for orchids etc)

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