Great idea--let's compare pine needles to Sphagnum:
coarse needles that haven't been off a tree for very long would be a little similar to long-fiber sphagnum, i.e well draining but not suitable for things like VFTs and small sundews.
I doubt dead pine needles would hold nearly as much water as peat, however
a rule of composting pine needles is: wait till they are well-decomposed before using them in your garden because needles right off a tree will damage plants, visible as a burning of the leaves--therefore, plain undecomposed needles may not work for cp
but if you let the needles *rot* for several months till they're a fine humus (similar to leaf mould?) they just might work as at least a partial substitute for Sphagnum peat
keep in mind that most cp in the wild don't get smothered with pine needles--they are far more suited to growing in peat
and growers would need to experiment to find out how quickly the needles decompose into a deadly, anaerobic mush similar to cereal left out for too long
But pine needles are worth a try!
That has given me food for thought. There is a potential threat to peat supplies in the UK within the next few years and I will try some experiments with some peat free composts. I like the the idea of pine needles, decomposed ones, because in forestry land in the UK where you have streams running through, you will often see Sphagnum growing naturally in places.
Acidic sand is not a problem to get hold of either, it is sold as silver sand here and I use it with my VFT without problems mixing it with peat at the moment.
With the Sarracenias, I use 3 parts moss peat to 1 of perlite at the moment so now I think for me is to do some trials! Thanks again for you input, plus any further ideas are most welcome!
well.. just a thought if it doesn't work out... start a canadian peat import biz... [img]http://www.**********.com/iBhtml/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]
pine needles seems to me like it would be ideal
another thought, is here any how, when christmas is over, a big truck comes around and picks up all the old christmas trees, they take them to a special landfill (only trees and brush) and then chip them up into piles. You come by, pay a 5 buck entry fee, and you can take as much as you can haul, and come back as many times in a day as you want.
Texans are very big on getting this stuff, because our soil is so alkaline, you HAVE to do it in order to have any success groing stuff in the ground.
How about using a sand, pumice mix with orchid bark to add acidity, the pumice would keep it from getting too dense, making the mix more open. Perhaps 25% sand, 25% Orchid bark and 50% pumice. The orchid bark also would not break down as quickly as pine needles. You could use pearlite instead of pumice if it is easier to get. The only problem with this mix, indeed any largly non organic mix, would be that it will not hold water for long (in comparison to peat) and so would need to be watered frequently. M2CW.
could rock wool be a good substitute for peat? in green crunches mix I mean...
Rock wool might work. I am not real familiar with it but you could try putting a 6" block of it in a half inch of water for a while, if the top of the block is wet then it has enough wicking strength to keep most CPs going in a tray watering system. I suppose you could break it up some and use it to replace the pumice and part of the sand in the mix I suggested, it would be worth a shot.
Sounds like a good mix. You could also substitute the pumice with lava rock.
I think the the main hurdle would be keeping the mix moist enough. We're used to peat mixes that hold water for LONG time, and this mix would take some experimentation, and modification if necessary.
Hydroponics! Awesome idea! Hydroponics can be kept very wet and rarely need refreshing. However, I've never done hydroculture, so I can't really speculate.
Anyone here done hydroponics? If so, what do you think about growing sarrs that way?
I don't know much about it either, but I do know this: Carnivorous plants are some of the least soil nutrient-dependent plants in the world, so one would think that their roots would need little more than just pure water. I'm not sure of this, however, but even if they need something else from the soil, I would think that the right fertilizer added to the water in minute amounts would take care of that need. More research would be needed, but I would think that somebody out there would have thought of this before me. It seems so obvious it's almost silly! [img]http://www.**********.com/iBhtml/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]