DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A sample of a commercial peat-based compost on a background of garden soil in Norfolk, UK. Peat is derived from anaerobic decay of plants of moss in bogs, principally Sphagnum spp. Mining of peat is damaging, since the process of peat formation takes many years, and its removal from the landscape can lead to erosion. Although peat is still used as a fuel for electricity generation, its use in horticultural composts is declining. It is a valuable medium for seed sowing and plant propagation; clean to use, water-retentive and light in weight. It has a high organic content, but low fertility, requiring the addition of artificial fertilisers for sustained plant growth. Compared to peat compost, garden soil has more particulate mineral components ( stones, sand particles ), but less humus. It also carries a large population of animal life, including micro-organisms and small animals.
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