Have you ever slogged a bog (a new term we made up to describe walking through a bog)? If not, you have missed a unique, very fun experience to learn about the benefits of bogs. They are one of the most important and oldest (some are thousands of years old) ecosystems on our planet. Yet very few of us have actually experienced being in one.
What is a Bog?
So what actually is a bog? They are stagnant freshwater wetlands filled with decaying (rotting) materials. Sounds inviting! Made up mostly of peat, they are simply decomposing plants and other organic material. Since they only get water from rain or snow, bogs are very acidic and devoid of most nutrients.
So what are the benefits of bogs? One, they absorb a lot of water which helps control flooding and water accumulation. Second, they are huge carbon sinks removing and capturing carbon from the air. When you destroy the bog by draining it, you release all the stored carbon back into the air which is not a good thing.
What Lives in a Bog?
Plus, they have really cool plants like carnivorous pitcher plants that catch insects and eat them for nutrition. Blueberries (one of our favorite fruits) along with cranberries, orchids and many mosses also live in bogs. Not to mention many cranes (as in the bird) nest in bogs along with the critically endangered bog turtles, beavers, snakes and other animals which make the bog their home.
And walking through one? What is it like? Think about putting your foot in about a foot or two of muck in which your boot gets stuck and comes off. Then you fall down in the muddy, stagnant water. It is very fun and muddy!
If you like making mud pies as a kid, you will be in heaven. If you hate getting dirty, we suggest you pass. To read more about our first bog slog, read “A Passion for Wildlife” under Loti’s lens.
And a final note. Peat (the kind you use in your garden) is harvested from bogs and takes thousands of years to form. Current methods of harvesting peat are unsustainable.
We are just now learning about alternatives to peat so we don’t become part of the problem of depleting peat sources. Check out this article on the pros and cons of the various alternatives. Coir (or coconut husks) is one alternative we are going to try but compost and leaf mold are readily available and will probably be our go-to substitute. If you have tried something that works well, let us know.