DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Samples of growing media compared. Garden soil (left; here from a garden in Norfolk UK ) comprises a mixture of mineral components from clays up to small stones, together with humus from plant remains and a large population of micro-organisms and soil-living animals. Peat (right) is the product of anaerobic decay of bog mosses, particularly Sphagnum spp. It has a high humus content, a good water-carrying capacity, but is low in plant nutrients and minerals. Peat is the basis of many commercial growing composts, being light to transport and clean to handle. Its use is falling out of favour due to the damage that peat mining causes to the natural environment in both upland a lowland bog habitats.
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