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  Soil mix!!/ wood by-products
From: "Celeste Whitlow" politicalamazon at charter.net> on 2002.04.03 at 20:31:01(8454)
According to one of my horticulture textbooks ("Horticulture: Principles and
Practices" by George Acquaah), the wood by-products that should be avoided
in a media mix are cedar, walnut and eucalyptus because even heavy leaching
does not sometimes remove the toxins or allelopathic (discouraging other
plants from growing nearby) qualities of the wood. Redwood should not be
used because it has high levels of manganese which can injure young plants.
In addition, growth inhibitors have been found in the barks of walnut,
cherry, cedar and white pine, as well. Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and
slash pine (Pinus caribaea) barks do ont have growth inhibitors and thus are
the most widely used in artificial soil mixes.

Any wood by-products used should be either well-composted, nitrogenized, or
extra nitrogen will need to be given until the wood stuff starts
decomposing. This is because of the high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of wood
products which means that the microorganisms that do the decomposing must
get their nitrogen from another source which means it puts the
microorganisms into competition with the plant for the nitrogen available in
the media/soil.

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From: Steve Marak samarak at arachne.uark.edu> on 2002.04.04 at 20:50:46(8474)
On Wed, 3 Apr 2002, Celeste Whitlow wrote:

> According to one of my horticulture textbooks ("Horticulture: Principles and
> Practices" by George Acquaah), the wood by-products that should be avoided
> in a media mix are cedar, walnut and eucalyptus because even heavy leaching
> does not sometimes remove the toxins or allelopathic (discouraging other
> plants from growing nearby) qualities of the wood. Redwood should not be
> used because it has high levels of manganese which can injure young plants.
> In addition, growth inhibitors have been found in the barks of walnut,
> cherry, cedar and white pine, as well. Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and
> slash pine (Pinus caribaea) barks do ont have growth inhibitors and thus are
> the most widely used in artificial soil mixes.

Another group of hobbyists, easily rivaling us in their obsession, who
also have a strong interest in this are the orchid growers. Strange
coincidence, I was reading a specialist orchid breeder's magazine the
other day which talked extensively about this. The author's information
matched very well with what Celeste quoted. He had obtained it originally
from an article by a Robert Ludekins in "Fruit Gardener".

According to this, cedars are the worst, containing as much as 50% by
weight of various compounds such as creosote and thujaplicin. Redwood is
close, at 35% or more in the stump and decreasing to 10% or so at the top
of the tree. Conifer barks (including fir, often used in orchid potting)
had "soluble acids up to 35% and total acids up to 50% of the total
weight", according to tests by the University of California Forest
Products Laboratories.

The "good" materials were interesting as well.

"All L.E. Cooke tests have proven rice hulls to be the best organic
material for a bare root planting medium. Plants grown in rice hulls had
better growth, better color, and most important greater viability."

Also scoring well were pine and fir WOOD (tannic acid content only 3-5% by
weight), peat moss, perlite, volcanic rock and pumice, and coir (coconut
hulls). However, another orchid grower who swears that coir is the best
orchid medium she's found yet (and managed to sell me some) repeated
several times that I'd better leach it for at least a week, changing the
water daily, before I used it or I'd kill my plants. (But that it would
last 5 years and therefore was worth the trouble. Her plants did look
good.)

Living where I do, I should have an endless supply of rice hulls just a
few hours away. Has anyone used these in their potting mixes?

Steve

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