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Video: How To Develop A Site In A Peat Bog
Ode to peat
Probably, in vain I decided to name my article that way, but in any business, the most important thing is the mood. Remember the phrase from the famous cartoon: "What do you call a boat - so it will float"? Very true.
At the end of winter, my husband and I purchased this plot. New. And they moved from the south of the Leningrad region, from heavy, fat clays, to the north of the Vsevolozhsk region, to damp swampy peat bogs.
The contrast was enormous. It is not known what we liked about this eight-hundredth plot of land in gardening, it was not visible from under the snow in winter. We could only guess: what would we get - a swamp or just a lowland. Or maybe you're lucky, and all these young pines grow on dry mossy sand? Well, of course, miracles don't happen, and we didn't get the sand. In the spring, snow fell surprisingly lazily from our swamp, and until summer the old stumps kept pieces of ice in their rotten core. And nothing can be done about it.
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But how strange: the soul still rejoices. You walk on white moss, it squishes under your feet, and your eyes have already found a bump with lingonberries, are already looking closely at the sluggish, last year's cranberries, are already admiring the blossoming rosemary bush. And what is the air in our swamp! It smells of pine and pine resin, smells of peat and mushrooms and, of course, blooming heather and wild rosemary.
The site is at the very edge of horticulture, reliably closed on all sides by young pines, the most solid of them are as thick as a podtok. It also has one mature spruce and two "century-old" pines. My husband was always very fond of conifers, and in this case he took under his care all the pines growing in our country, all that will not be affected by future construction, they should smoothly fit into the future garden, and that same cranberry meadow will go under the garden … "Well then, agronomist, go for it! " The main thing, in my opinion, is not to lose optimism and not part with a good mood under the pressure of reality.
When I, winding prospecting circles around the site, plunged almost waist-deep into a peaty boggy window, I almost immediately decided that there would be a decorative or catchment pond. The water was very high, and the heavy rains this year did not help it to leave. I kept repeating everything like a tongue twister: peat soils have high acidity, they are water and air permeable, accumulate and retain moisture well, and contain nitrogen in a form that is difficult for plants to access.
A husband with a chainsaw in his hands was reclaiming a site for a future road and a house, and I still wandered restlessly through "our swamp". Even a cowardly thought flashed through to call the editorial office: save, help! All this talk about drainage, reclamation, deoxidation is certainly good in theory, but in practice it only causes a feeling of confusion. It's eight hundred square meters with a hook, and everywhere ankle-deep water, well, almost everywhere. After all, an ordinary gardener most often comes across peat in the form of compost or mulch and even respects this material very much. Peat is able to make the heaviest soil loose and beautiful.
But what if there is no soil? Not at all. Thus, having admired the site outside, I began to get to know it from the inside. My husband dug a meter-long pit-hole, there was almost at the very bottom some kind of dirt, not clay, no, not loam, but some kind of dusty gray sand, more like silt. The chairman of horticulture said that it was, they say, quicksand, but refused to explain its properties in more detail. Water oozed from the walls of the pit and, in the end, stopped about thirty centimeters from the surface of the soil. Well, then the ditches will work, and that's good. Green bloom on the bare surface of the peat spoke not only of increased acidity and moisture, but also that this peat is rich in various salts, which, unfortunately, are not available to plants in this form. How do you get them?
What is generally known about peat? It is known that it is formed from not completely decomposed plants. Lack of oxygen, which, in turn, appears due to excess water, prevents plants from decomposing to the end. It would seem, what is easier, dry the swamp and get almost black soil, but no! Many bog plants contain antiseptic substances, phenols, which inhibit decomposition processes. Moreover, these antiseptics are capable of acting both during the life of marsh plants and after their death. An example of this is the well-known sphagnum moss, which is still successfully used in the construction of log houses, to protect wood from decay. In ancient times, sphagnum was even used for dressing the wounded as an antiseptic, and peat mud itself was used to treat skin diseases.
Scientists say that swampy areas consume carbon dioxide even more than forests. But for all the amazing healing properties of moist peat soils, it is not at all easier for a gardener and gardener if he is the owner of such a site.
It is worth deciding what kind of peat is on my site. It is usually subdivided into three types: lowland, highland, and transitional. If you have the same problem, then you need to make sure which waters feed the peat, what is the topography of this area and which plants prevail on it. The water that feeds the peat differs in the degree of mineralization. The poorest water is atmospheric precipitation, much more "nutritious" is groundwater, as well as the waters of rivers and streams.
The vegetation of raised bogs is very unpretentious and, therefore, is able to grow on the poorest peats - these are sphagnum moss, pine, cloudberry, "hare's legs".
But on the low-lying "fat" peats grow more whimsical: birch, alder, green sphagnum and other mosses, as well as sedge.
If the vegetation on the site is mixed, as, for example, mine, then it is transitional peat.
Modern science based on peat offers technologies for obtaining more than a hundred types of products: from feed yeast to fuel. But in practice, especially for the gardener, all peats, so different in their chemical composition, have only one thing in common - their birthplace is a swamp. Of course, peat bogs serve as a natural biological filter, of course, when applied, peat is able to improve the physical and chemical properties of the soil, it is even able to regulate the humus balance. But all this happens when it is mixed with other components.
I clarified that the content of mineral forms of nitrogen available to plants from lowland peat is 1-3%, and from high-moor peat - up to 14%. Partially accessible forms of nitrogen account for up to 45%, everything else is in the composition of humic compounds of peat and is inaccessible to plants. All my searches for the ideal way to "activate" the peat have led nowhere.
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I only learned that the peat ammonization method was used on a production scale, in which not only acidity decreases, but also polysaccharides decompose. This method consists in treating peat with anhydrous ammonia - ammonia water. As a result, the activity of nitrogen compounds in peat increases, along with this, the activity of humic compounds increases in it, giving it the properties of a plant growth stimulator. This method is now used mainly for the production of peat-ammonia fertilizers and some humic growth stimulants, using special equipment, personal protective equipment, and rather toxic compounds.
Of course, it would be great to turn peat into literally living earth like this in one go, but alas. For the gardener, there was and remains only one way to activate peat - composting, preferably with organic fertilizers, and mandatory reclamation work. Air and organic nitrogen are what makes my site truly alive. Of course, I want to, my hands are just itchy, to plant fruit trees and ornamental bushes, but you can't. We'll have to make mounds for planting, but in the meantime I brought the loam car, and my husband put me a greenhouse.
When at the beginning of June the tomato seedlings in it just rose and the second brush began to bloom, a neighbor came to me from the same area - a swamp, just across the road. “I don’t know what to do in such a swamp,” she said, “there’s no place to sit, such dampness.” I was about to answer her that everything is not so bad, why, they say, sit, there would be a desire - to look for a way out, but then she went into the greenhouse and, looking around the flowering tomato bushes, sadly said: "And I'm looking, that you have already planted the cucumbers. " "Yeah," I said uncertainly, "but still more tomatoes."
How much in our life depends on ourselves, how we perceive this or that, with what mood we get down to business, with what thoughts we grow our garden. Knowledge is extremely important, but the desire to receive it is much more important. Finding and being confident that things will work out may not be exactly as planned, but it will work out well. But ahead of me is the arrangement of a garden on the hills. There are already thuja crumbs in pots, bought by my husband for the occasion, for laying a thuja alley. White turf and Thunberg barberry with red foliage, cinquefoil and spirea flaunt. Still in pots, but already there, in the swamp, in the future garden, they get used to the microclimate. And they will grow because peat is like a starting material and great soil can come out of it. I hope that in the winter my site will go completely different.
I will tell you about all my successes and mistakes in detail, and I hope that there will be more of the former than the latter.