The Midland Florist and Suburban Horticulturist, 16(11): 120 (October, 1862)
edited by John Frederick Wood


For agricultural and sanitary purposes the value of peat charcoal can hardly be overrated. "Sewage matter filtered through peat charcoal, which in itself an excellent manure, leaves in the charcoal all its fertilizing principles, and forms an inodorous, solid substance fit to be carried off in sacks, annoying nobody, a manure infinitely cheaper, and decidedly better guano." It renders the soil light and friable, and sucks in abundantly all which plants require. Other manures impoverish by keeping; charcoal is always adding to its wealth. In hospitals, alleys, and filthy cellars, peat charcoal thrown about absorbs the gases that are in the air. A large and most offensive cesspool, in a central part of a large city, was emptied with the use of peat charcoal, and its contents carted off in broad day, without the slightest idea being entertained in the neighbourhood of the nature of the operation that was going on. In stables, &c., charcoal upon the floor would keep the animals in health, and save the loss of volatile manure.

By a succession of trials, it has been incontestably established that peat charcoal is one of the most valuable general fertilizers now known: one that cannot produce injury by over-use, while almost the smallest quantity will yield a certain amount of good. Diseased potatoes planted in pulverized peat charcoal have produced an abundant crop, perfectly free from disease.

Wheat, beans, oats, peas, turnips, mangold wurtzel, bailey, grass, hops, carrots, cabbages, vetches, potatoes, &c. &c., manured with peat charcoal, have all thriven most luxuriantly.

The use of peat-moss charcoal for horticulture is not less efficacious, the growth and beauty of Geraniums, Fuchsias, and other garden plants, so treated, being very remarkable. It has been proved (by the most eminent chemists in Europe) that the prepared peat-moss charcoal is nearly a pure carbon; and incontrovertibly proved that, as a constituent, it may be averaged at 90 per cent.; that the peat-moss charcoal possesses the power of absorbing at least one hundred times its volume of those gases which arise from decomposed animal or vegetable matter. It has been proved that carbonized peat charcoal has the extraordinary power of drawing to itself, so long as it rests in the land, all the ammonia, salts, &c, which every shower of rain brings down, still enriching itself more and more, and, according as it gives out its store of nutrition to the plant, it becomes the vehicle to receive a new supply from the atmosphere. It is, in fact, at all times, a reservoir of manure and moisture combined. It will take up above 80 per cent, of water, above 90 per cent, volumes of these volatile gases, which are the food of plants. Here the components of carbonized peat moss, with excretia, urine, stable manure, &c. &c. (which I shall be happy to give you afterwards), which contains the finest anoloses known, it is richer in fertilizing than any manure that has been produced.

It has been proved by eminent authorities that the charcoal of hard woods, such as teak, oak, &c, has scarcely any chemical power, such as that described in that made of peat charcoal.

Sanitary Improvements.—Patent peat charcoal may be used with the greatest advantage in all cities, &c. Its intermixture with night soil completely deodorizes that matter, oxidation takes place, and the mass becomes perfectly inoffensive. When masses of impurity become, or lie exposed, they may be rendered inoxious by slightly covering them with granulated peat charcoal.

It has been proved that even when saturated with water it will still absorb those gases, in fact, so strong is the affinity between them and carbonized peat that they will under almost every circumstance, coalesce. P.

[We appropriated some of the charcoal sewage manure from Stanley Bridge Works, to Roses, Dahlias, and ordinary vegetables, and there is no doubt of its efficacy, nor of its testing qualities, and for one we regretted when the works stopped for want of the peat charcoal.—ED.]