Peat moss.... So Mike King is going Peat free. A lot of us do a peat mix with sand,bark or perlite. And others are using 100% peat but only high quality stuff. You west coast guys seem to be the 100% peat crew. So whats really the best? What does the future hold when our peat quality gets worse and worse?
Currently at work we buy nearly 800 48x48x9' bales of peat directly from Canada. If every Greenhouse does this how long before we run out? We started trying a product called Hydrofiber that still uses peat moss but at a much lower rate.
Anyone have any input on the matter.
Last Edit: Mar 1, 2019 18:44:30 GMT -5 by dozer1028
Been looking into this for years, especially coming from a family nursery business. I remember going with my Dad to trade shows and other events where you met the reps for soil mixes like Fafard and Pro-mix and a couple times they would be a bit edgy about the negative publicity about peat moss and the environment. So I made sure to always research and see what is up with this. While my hippy environmental side was becoming more and more on the side of peatless, after really looking at the issue I've decided that for North American gardeners I don't see it as much of a concern...for now at least. Yes, areas of Canada are torn up to produce the high quality peat for horticulture but the amount produced is really really small, like .02% of the totally amount of peat bogs in Canada. And they are required to restore the areas after harvest, although the jury is still out if the restoration process is effective. those lands will never be as ecologically beneficial as they once we but they should produce more peat in decades, like timber lands being managed.
Since peat moss has been used as a medium for quite awhile in the horticulture industry, I can't really see a scenario where a huge increase in supply is necessary to satisfy an increase in demand. Maybe there will be issues with the quality of it but I don't have too much experience with that as of now.
Lastly, I don't think the alternatives really justify switching from peat moss. Coconut Coir comes from a tropical tree that needs to be shipped huge distances and risk tropical environments. Other media has to be manufactured, utilizing energy in the process.
Also, is that product HydrAfiber? Trying to look it up and I found this article which suggest it is "manufactured at Profile Products’ Conover, NC, factory, located near a large regional supply of virgin Southern Yellow pine forests". Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Really no easy answers here. You have to pot your plant in something, what will it be that won't kill them? I agree that peat is theoretically a renewable resource so in theory it could be a sustainable resource.
We have used 100% silica sand as a medium in our seepage beds with great results... but... it's still a resource that is extracted from the environment.
Our sphagnum IS a sustainable resource at Meadowview and we grow record amounts of it in our pots and during habitat restoration. However, 100% sphagnum has problems of its own because it is so light (pots fall over in wind) and it's a great habitat for vermin (voles) in the winter to devour your plants.
I do absolutely understand the travesty of strip mining peat bogs for the use of peat as a mass market garden product, but it seems to me that CP growers are not in the same bracket. Firstly, this is the medium these plants grow in naturally and it is perhaps not surprising if that is what they will do best in. Secondly, the volumes used by CP growers has to be absolutely minimal. Given I spend an enormous amount of time and money on this hobby I do not feel embarrassed about using the best medium I can for them.
Firstly, this is the medium these plants grow in naturally and it is perhaps not surprising if that is what they will do best in.
Is that what they really grow in? you can say that for purpura which I have only see growing here in 100% pure sphagnum, but those leucos growing in the sand and what else in the forest, is that even mixed with peat?
I tried it for one season and was back to peat the next. The material cost to do peat free mix was extremely high, and my rewards was soil that didn't retained water, and caused an eruption of black mold that spread throughout the collective (Long Beach CA 1998 season). It broke down way to easily and the plants hated it.
Your hobby or your consciousness...............choose.
Two stage mix for all has worked great for me here; zone 10. (VFTs, Sarracenias, Droseras.)
First.... 2 parts peat, 1 part perlite, 1 part sand
Second.....2 parts peat, 1 part perlite
Repeat......first and second...over and over. The stages separates the media evenly...
Dry 60+ mph Santa Ana winds have uprooted plants and blown them clear across the yard to their deaths. I only use sand to anchor the plants. Otherwise peat perlite mix is my preferred. Some plants prefer layered soil.
(At local nursery I grab the bales that are in between other bales protected from heat and sun exposure. Those are the bales that had the lowest ppm readings...eight bales so far upon test. The local nursery keeps the pallet shaded but not entirely from heat and sun. Don't come back and screw me, it's just an observation I've been following.)
osmosis said: Given I spend an enormous amount of time and money on this hobby I do not feel embarrassed about using the best medium I can for them.
I do so agree with this statement. It's NOT just an addiction it's a lifestyle....
If successful these plants can be a revolving source of side income annually. Divide grow, divide grow. In cultivation repetitive good methods and optimum conditions one GP rhizome from 1987 can go 35 years plus and counting and produce about 10 plants every three years then times that by six pots. Thus is so with peat but instead of pots, look at it in acres. These Canadian Growers are so aware of their lively hood. There are photos on how they grow and harvest peat and its very interesting to study how it's done.
Epilogue We are top of the chain, human population. Our prime directive is to populate and consume in lieu of habitat preservation. (Warnings from our own future - The Lorax) It is human not to give a sh*T. (A.I.) and the machines humans work so hard to create will make the balance right. (Depeche Mode)
It is so true, it is the inevitable............in the mean time I'll enjoy growing my plants.
Supposedly Mike king has had good results with his peat free mix. BUT that is under his conditions and he has had to work at it for a while.
I personally still use peat, I no longer use perlite however and have replaced that with a molar clay. So it's more or less in a 50/50 ratio.
The impact of peat for private cp growers is minute compared to the fact that it is still burnt as a fossil fuel in some places. Indeed I had a random banner ad offering "peat logs for my home fire" (I guess looking up peat in the context of cp cultivation must've tripped googles ad algorithms) as apparently it's cheaper than coal. That worries me more as my 2 bales in the garage have looked after my modest collection for a couple of years. Using it as fuel would have burnt through the lot in days.
We experimented with many mixes which contained less sphagnum peat moss. Having about a 20% "Pine Bark Finings" seemed to be OK, but it did not hold water as well and the root systems didn't seem as robust. Since we do not use standing water, i.e. everything drains, our mix is about 1/3 sand and 2/3 peat. The sand, called "Brick Sand" here, is washed, light brown river sand. Because it does not bleed minerals, it's favored for mortar.
Back to peat: Really, the sphagnum component of peat is not the whole story. Sure there are particles of tannic-preserved sphagnum, but the more fibrous Ericaceous plants, growing with sphagnum, contribute a lot to what is called, in the trade, "coarse" or "grower grade" peat. Cranberries, blueberries, etc. decompose at a slower rate. You can see evidence of this in many bales. These other plants contribute important tannins as they shed parts and die. The bottom line is peat is a tannic saturated cellulosic material. Surface tannins wash down over centuries, and much of these get trapped in the molecular mesh of compressed cellulose, in varying particle sizes. With this in mind, it should be possible to create a synthetic peat substitute.
Macerated wood, particularly from species with loose xylem morphology should be absorptive enough to hold water; think coarse, .5-1 mm sawdust or pulverized/retted wood/plant fibers. Partly rotted shredded oak mulch might work. This would rot in a heartbeat if used directly, but if a concentrated tannic solution was saturating it and reduced, the pH could drop to 3-3.5 and microbial decay would be severely hampered. By concentrating the tannic solution, the material could effectively be sterilized. This would require certain parameters in the tannic solution.
The tannic solution could be obtained from pine bark, oak bark, oak leaves, etc. The solution would need to be very hot, if I remember, 180 degrees F is about the limit to preserve certain, smaller tannic compounds (fulvic, humic acids). These temperatures can be achieved in a solar oven. Once the tannic "tea" is made and the wood fiber soaked in it, it can be further heated and evaporated until dry. If the tannic solution was strong enough, the wood fiber would be saturated and residual tannins, etc. present.
Since tannins are much more soluble in hot water, much of the tannins should remain in the "synthetic peat" after the product is leached with cold water to remove dust and tannic residues not caught in cellulosic fibers. Experimenting with the process and monitoring the Electrical Conductivity of ingredients and resulting product could yield the data necessary to create an effective "recipe".
My point is that a peat-like product could be created, probably quickly, by processes which mimic nature, but speed up the process. The raw material for the tannic solution could be obtained in industrial quantities. I worked near a sawmill and the truckloads of bark going out were impressive, huge mountains of the stuff. High pressure might help in the process. Who knows? Water absorption shouldn't be a problem, e.g. paper towels, synthetic sponges, etc.
Our solar oven eventually fell apart, after years of use, but if it were still working, it wouldn't be that hard to load it, let the sun do its work, and experiment. I made "peat tea" using a combination of sphagnum, peat moss and acidic wood "duff", used to recharge old media used for Nepenthes and Sarracenia; it also boosted color in some Sarracenia. Those goals were different, but it was cool to watch the pH dive down (pH 6.5> 4.0 or lower) as synthetic, concentrated "blackwater" was being made.
Most Sarracenia, in the wild, are not growing in ancient peat beds, are they? Their roots are not that deep. The wet Savannahs of the southeastern USA don't have a subsoil like Canadian peat. Many are growing in mostly wet sand that is soaked with acidic water, made acidic by reasonably current vegetation. The trick would be to create slow-release, acidic/tannic particles which are water absorptive and coarse enough to allow air exchange.
As a side note: We have seen no evidence that oak leaves have a toxic effect on Sarracenia. We used them as winter mulch for many years. The main danger, as Phil points out with Sphagnum, is the ease with which Voles can turn your collection into a pile of rodent scat! ..and more Voles
There has been more effort to try and find alternatives in the UK because our peat comes from Ireland where peat extraction has been very damaging. The government has also indicated that it is only a matter of time before peat for sale to consumers is banned completely over here.
The alternative of choice is a very specific product from one particular company, so you'd have to start from scratch trying to find an equivalent pine bark product in the US.
Sarracenia are very forgiving when it comes to mixes, but dionaea doesn't do as well in the pinebark as in peat. So if anyone can find a media that flytraps thrive, you're doing well.
There is some evidence that sarracenia put on more root growth in the pinebark mix. I have also found root growth is curtailed in pure peat in comparison with divisions potted up in a peat/perlite mix at the same time. So they definitely appreciate aeration to the roots. Despite being more forgiving, there does seem to be scope to improve growth in different mixes.
(This got to be one of the most interesting threads posted on TSF. Talking about future of growing Sarracenia in cultivation. A nice change from breeding hybrids and that of SHOW N TELL. Thanks dozer1028 for starting it)
Rockwool - primary issue is water logging, not enough air circulation at the bottom. (my experience, my verdict) Plants didn't seem happy even with it mixed in the peat and I didn't pursue the use long enough to study it and make reasonable judgments from short observations. The problem was for me is that it was an addition cost. When considering this hobby as a lifestyle, cost is always a factor. WE support this hobby and obtain suitable results with-in OUR own reasonable means. (Suitable - not optimum in cultivation, not perfect all the time unlike wild.)
OK so let's face it ,this hobby cost money, period. If you can obtain desired results with just peat and perlite, then that would be the more optimum less expensive way to go. Hence why I gave up trying out the use of synthetic-peatless mix. The increased cost just outweighed beneficial results, well with-in means to sustain this hobby.
Some of the well known members here on TSF can get good results growing these plants in peat alone, nothing else. That would be the optimum cost effective way to go. I wish that were so for me here in zone 10.
bogman ......question please referring to any of your ventures?
1. Use of bark materials as oppose to using peat; the breakdown and decomposition times. The question, is there any means to slow the de-comp of bark to that of peat? Use of other types of bark that are slower in de-comp than others? The duration's is my focus, 1 year duration's with bark, 2 to 4 years with peat?
2. What is your take on growing sarracenia using hydroponic means and methods? Is it possible to replicate this outside of greenhouses?
summit: Hey guys, I'm about to sow some seeds and I was curious to know what everyone thinks 'too hot' for Sarracenia seeds would be? Having them in the dome bumps up the temps a bit.
Oct 2, 2019 13:36:15 GMT -5
DirtyDivisions: summit I’ve been fine at a constant 95° F under the dome. Once the tiny seedlings have two pitchers I remove the dome and temps go down.
Oct 5, 2019 20:28:05 GMT -5
summit: @dirtydivisions Thanks for that! I'm sitting around 87-88F with the dome fully sealed but I wasn't doing that and sacrificing humidity to keep it cooler but I'll go ahead and close it down now!
Oct 7, 2019 14:10:11 GMT -5
Hello, I want to buy some seed: Hello, I want to buy some seeds
Oct 16, 2019 8:28:32 GMT -5
Hello, I want to buy some seed: email@example.com
Oct 16, 2019 8:30:52 GMT -5
Tian Jingfa: If you have time, please come back to me. Thank you.
Oct 16, 2019 8:38:00 GMT -5
red wave: Enter your reply here...
Dec 9, 2019 20:05:53 GMT -5
Skirt: Sarracenia can grow in Miami, right?
Feb 12, 2020 0:35:25 GMT -5
DirtyDivisions: Yep, Sarracenia will grow anywhere! In your toilet even...if have the proper amount of light etc...
Apr 4, 2020 23:49:51 GMT -5
mikee: I have just joined this forum so will make a few mistakes - So here goes I have recently started my collection and now have some 150 to 200 plants during my first year. I have some very nice flowers spikes and would like to propagate.
Apr 18, 2020 4:57:24 GMT -5
mikee: So I would like to know the different properties for colour - vigor - size etc I don't have the time due to my age so would not be able run over many years can someone help or guide me
Apr 18, 2020 5:00:48 GMT -5
mikee: Thanks you chofah, there is a great video from The Pitcher Project with Phil Faulisi this was what I was looking for. However it still appears to be wait and see what results come from the cross. Many thanks
Apr 21, 2020 3:41:45 GMT -5
Willy: It would be rather silly to expect totally predictable results from a cross. The individual plants grown from the seeds will vary, sometimes quite a bit, even with carefully protected hand pollination. If you open polinate, the variety may be even greater.
May 22, 2020 21:30:15 GMT -5
petrb: However, my web is in Czech, but you can find there many photos
May 24, 2020 1:48:38 GMT -5
superstressed: Recently purchased a s. purpurea from Mike and I am so impressed with the quality of the plant that arrived. My Purpurea is now one of the larger plants in my collection! Mike also included an beautiful Flava var. for free. I will absolutely buy again.
May 24, 2020 21:27:00 GMT -5