Soil vs peat

Dell Sherk
Fri, 03 Mar 2006 15:00:22 PST
Dear All,


            I read recipes for potting mixtures all over the horticultural
literature. In some sources, I read about "soilless mixtures" and in other
places I read about using peat in mixtures instead of soil - that soil is
"bad" or that peat is "bad." I learned in my soil science class that soil
has a mineral component and an organic component. Also, I learned that
organic matter is broken down by chemical and biological agents till it
reaches the particle size of silt when it no longer fills the role of
organic matter in the soil- that is, "buffering" soil nutrient content and
moisture.  In the long run, then, peat becomes silt and is essentially no
longer "organic." With geophytes that we grow in the same pot for years,
what are the implications?


            Here in SE Pennsylvania, we have just weathered a small ice
storm, and the weather is March-like with wind and increasingly bright sun.
In the outside garden , Galanthus nivalis and elwesii, Eranthis hyemalis,
Crocus laevigatus and angustifolius? are blooming. Inside there are many
Hipp hybrids, Ipheion, and Cyrtanthus mackenii. Clivia nobilis is trying to
bloom for the first time - I hope the scape rises above the leaves. (On a
side note, this plant arrived from South Africa under phyto-sanitary
certification with a big fat lily borer caterpillar munching on the leaves.
As curious as I was to raise it to maturity in a jar, feeding it clivia
leaves, I smashed it, out of fidelity to my USDA.)


Best wishes,



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