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Thread: Wash your soil ingredients?

  1. #17

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    elgecko,

    Did you test the ppm of the water in native cp sites yet? This summer I'm going to test Drosera and utric habitats. I'm really curious what the results will be.

    Brian

  2. #18

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    I never used to wash my soil ingredients. Then i got a TDS meter.

    I was appalled how high the TDS readings of runoff water were when i watered my plants (100-150 ppm). There was a great deal of algae and slime mold, non-sphagnum mosses, etc. Some of the plants had stunted growth.

    I flushed the pots out with rainwater until the TDS of the runoff came to 20 ppm or less.

    I found that fresh, unwashed peat had a high level of TDS in the initial runoff.

    My current soild mix for most of my indoor plants consists of 2/3 milled LFS, and 1/3 peat; I can't find pre-milled sphagnum, so i grind it myself in an old food procesor with the peat; this also breaks up lumps in the peat; i squeeza all excess water from the mixture.

    I prepare many 3" suare pots in advance with this mixture (the milled sphagnum keeps it naturally light and airy, seed them with live sphagnum, and sit them in greenhouse flats outside, where rain further leaches the soil. When the surface is overgrown with live sphagnum, the pots are ready.

    Since going this route, I have found my plants much healthier, especially since the live sphagnum helps retard algae/mold/non-sphagnum moss.
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  3. #19

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    elgecko,

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]...So then I remove the perlite from the second bucket. I measured that water. It measured 14 ppm. Again when the perlite was in the water it read 6 ppm.
    I've also noticed different readings when measuring the same sample of perlite runoff - I assume this is due to small bits of perlite in the water.

    Various particles in the sample water could cause spurious or inaccurate TDS meter readings based on the conductivity of the actual particles themselves. (think of those little floating bits as a possible 'short-circuit' in the conductivity of the water sample). According to the instructions that came w/ my TDS meter, macro particles in the water should not affect the meter readings. In practice I find that this may not be true... (perhaps they are refering to average particles found in tap water?) Perhaps the perlite has different properties that affect the capacitance of the particles.

    I plan to re-measure some of my substrate ingredients using the TDS meter, but this time I will filter the samples through a coffee filter first. I am hoping that this will provide more accurate readings overall.

    I still believe that the Scott's brand peat moss I have been using is rather high in dissolved salts (PPM). I don't think that the readings provided by my TDS meter are really accurate, but they are a great measure of relative dissolved solids. If I see lower PPM readings from the TDS meter, I know I am heading in the right direction.

    I do believe that TDS meters can be very useful, but the readings provided must be taken with a grain of salt (groan).

    If anyone if interested in learning more, here is some good information about the technical aspects of TDS meters (also, possible pitfalls of using a TDS meter to measure PPM concentrations, etc). http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/20...ture/index.php



    Drosera36 wrote:
    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]I was just wondering, but could TDS cause retard growth in cp's?
    I had TDS once, but I've been taking pills for it... [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile.gif[/img]

    Actually, this is a good question: I believe that people have shown that many CP's have issues with overly high concentration of 'salts' in their soil. Just which salts or how they affect the plants is open to debate.

    The problem with TDS meters is that they do not tell you what the 'dissolved solid' might be... what kind of salt, etc? So even though a TDS meter might read 300ppm, the plants might not mind so long as the dissolved solid(s) is not harmful.

    I personally believe that a TDS meter might be a good measure of how suitable a soil/substrate might be. This is why I use one to track the readings in my watering trays, substrates, etc. If the readings are 'high', then I dump the tray water or rinse the media...

    So to answer your question: maybe it just depends on the plants, the type of dissolved solid and the growing conditions you have. pH can also radically effect the way CP's react to different salts in solution.... food for thought.


    - Mike

  4. #20

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    Okay, now here is a question.
    How do you "wash" out the soils and perlite?
    I use rainwater to water my plants.

    Sincerely,
    Brendhan
    Sincerely,
    Brendhan



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  5. #21
    I've got a magic window! elgecko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (Brian_W @ Jan. 11 2006,11:44)]elgecko,

    Did you test the ppm of the water in native cp sites yet? This summer I'm going to test Drosera and utric habitats. I'm really curious what the results will be.

    Brian
    No. I'll be going out in spring to get some reading on natural areas.

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (Understudy @ Jan. 12 2006,7:04)]Okay, now here is a question.
    How do you "wash" out the soils and perlite?
    I use rainwater to water my plants.

    Sincerely,
    Brendhan
    I dump my peat moss / perlite / sand / etc into a 5 gallon bucket and add water. I stir and turn over the peat moss / perlite / sand / etc from time to time. I typically let it soak for a few hours. Wring the excess water out and use.
    You will be surprised at the sludge that is left in the bucket that you washed your ingredients in.


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  6. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]So to answer your question: maybe it just depends on the plants, the type of dissolved solid and the growing conditions you have. pH can also radically effect the way CP's react to different salts in solution.... food for thought.
    Based on my experience and discussions with other growers, some of whom have done some experimentation, this coincides with what I've seen/heard.

    Were I to guess, based on the above, I'd say that carbonate hardness is detrimental in most situations. Fe hardness may actually be beneficial in some concentrations but this can also be a double-edged sword as the benefits also extend to algae, slime and other nasties that aren't usually consdered good to have around...

    I'd be interested in hearing about any other's experience or experimentation results...
    All the best,
    Ron
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  7. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Okay, now here is a question.
    How do you "wash" out the soils and perlite?
    I use rainwater to water my plants.

    Sincerely,
    Brendhan
    Nylon Straining Bag (ala Homebrewing!)


    I use a cotton bag similar to the one above. My current method is to fill the bag, tie the top off and then drop it in a bucket of rainwater for 24-48 hours. I like to give it a squeeze every once in a while during the soak. When done, just wring-out the bag and remove the contents...

    I don't think rinsing is as important for plants that will be grown in a drained container and where the excess water can flow away. Most of my plants are growing in a terrarium and use a large tray... I find that watering rinses salts from the potting media that end up concentrating in the water trays (evaporative concentration). Even rainwater with TDS<5ppm slowly concentrates salts in the trays. I don't think I've ever heard anyone mention that they periodically dump the water in their trays... I imagine many successful growers do, however.


    - Mike

  8. #24

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    I think m0bius & RL7836 are on the right track here. Not all TDS and TSS are bad, but the meter can't determine what is good and bad. And like the article that was posted says, they are only testing for electrolytes.
    \"Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we&#39;re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn&#39;t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.\"
    --P. J. O&#39;Rourke
    GL

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