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Thread: Soil exhaustion?

  1. #17
    herenorthere's Avatar
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    Sphagnum peat has some terrific properties that make it very valuable for bog (and CP) gardeners. They are unusual people and rare enough to only use a miniscule fraction of the annual peat harvest. The problem is that the bedding plant and nursery and garden supply industries can make slightly more money with peat than with any number of less damaging substitutes. So they consume vast amounts of the stuff. And many of the substitutes would provide superior results for the customers.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

  2. #18

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    Jim,

    I can't speak with authority for anything other than Drosera, and you have already heard it regarding that genus. It may be Sarracenia are more tolerant of higher TDS, or that different levels in different batches of peat produced varrying results for those trying the tea. All I can state are the observations, independently confirmed, that water squeezed from wet peat had TDS in the range of 300-1000 PPM, and common advice stresses that ober 100 is not healthy for most CP, and probably the reason for much of the moss and algae contamination that growers experience. So, with this in mind, I have never been tempted to experiment with it, and really find no need to since all my Sarracenia thrive and are well colored. I certainly have less incidence of moss and algae using my protocol:

    Peat from the bale goes into a 5 gallon bucket, half full. Rain water is added to fill the bucket, and the peat is brooken by hand and kneaded. It is allowed to sit and hydrate for a week or two, and then the water is sqeezed from the peat. This peat is then placed in another 5 gallon bucket and the process is repeated. The resultant peat will now be mixed with pre-washed silica sand that has been rinsed until the water runs clear 50/50 or higher as fits the need. Pots are then filled, and these are placed on wire racks outside for the seasons rains to leach through. The oldest pots are the ones selected for planting when need arises. In the fall, the pots of mix are brought inside where they stand dry until ready for use. If I anticipate they wil be needed, they are put into water trays to hydrate well in advance of the arrival of the plants, or the sowing of seed or gemmae. The process is best done early in the season to take full advantage of the seasons rains.

    Microwaving the mix kills any problem spores present and is good for scenarios like seed sowing where any moss will jeapordize the seedlings, but the process does not affect the TDS content. Microwaving does not remove anything from the mix, these salts must be dissolved out.

    Note as well that both Pinguiculaman and I receive comments about the quality of our plants, and both of us use this protocol (and incidently arrived at it independtly of each other in the course of our experience). I feel that this protocol along with the use of abundant light are the main factors in our success with cultivating these plants.

    Now we need PAK to put this in the article section so I don't have to keep explaining it. If you study bog ecology you will come to know how anaerobic bacteria fix carbonates into the lower layers of the bog. Lower peat is usually bad stuff. This is why the UK folk have such a hard time with mosses growing in their pots. Their peat resources are sorely depleted, and they are mining the lower layers. Canadian peat resources are more extensive, and less deeply mined. The upper layers of the bog are well oxygenated, and anaerobic bacteria cannot proliferate. As a result, there is less nitrogen and carbonate fixation in the upper peat strata. We are fortunate to have access to good peat, but there is no way to tell just hoe good is good, hence my protocol which takes away the guesswork and danger. Drosera do not appreciate mineral presence, and will let you know it in short order. Once the process accelerates to the point where there is freely growing moss and algae, the plants will decline even if they are not being crowded out my the actively growing moss. This is because the bacteria are proliferating, and just as in the lower bog they are fixing nitrates and carbonates into the mix. They may do well at first but this is because the salts only accumulate over time, as the bacteria prosper.

    One of the products of algae is agar, and this is a perfect substrate for fungi and mold to colonize (especially in terrarium settings). With fungi come fungi gnats and their larvae which can feed on sensitive root tips already compromised by low oxgen reserves. Damaged roots are also easily attacked by the fungi now present, which parasitize the plant, stealing its sugars as they are produced. Also I would not be surprised to find that thrips some how fit into this thriving microcommunity. Many CP must have pristine conditions to thrive, most Drosera do. WHen things progress as above the plants invariably decline.

    When such decline is observed, then serious measures of leaching by syringe from above, or total transplant are called for. Otherwise the plants die. A "runaway" pot is an ugly site to see for me, so I take strong measures to prevent its happening.
    "Grow More, Share More"

  3. #19

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    In case anyone is curious, peat tea is made by boiling peat in pure water. The boiling leaches the tannins out. I don't think Tamlin's(and Pinguiculaman's) soaking leaches tannins out(just possible salts, ect).
    I think lfs/perlite sounds great for Sarracenia seedlings. The really small lava pebbles are super expensive around here and pumice is non-exixtant ,so I have to use perlite. The sand around here is very fine also, so I don't use much sand.

    Cheers,

    Joe

  4. #20
    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Tamlin & Joe: Thank you for your respective recipes and educating!

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    William,do you use the black sludgy peat that sinks to the bottom as well or just the floating stuff?
    [img]http://home.**********.com/users/pondboy/Neps/Neps%20sig..JPG[/img]

  6. #22

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    I use both once it has been well rinsed, but I prefer the lighter material.
    "Grow More, Share More"

  7. #23

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    Ok thanks I guess the gunk goes to the tougher plants like sarrs,vfts and neps and the floating stuff goes to Droserae.
    [img]http://home.**********.com/users/pondboy/Neps/Neps%20sig..JPG[/img]

  8. #24

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    Oddly enough, I soak my orchid bark for neps, and there is about 20% at least that falls to the bottom and does not float.

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