Soil vs. non-soil mixes. Ken Hixson's notes

Adam Fikso
Tue, 07 Mar 2006 09:55:21 PST
I'd like to endorse the entire text of Ken's last thoughtful and 
scientifically sound comments. and they deserve to be promulgated widely. 
The soilless mix ideas, (as I remember), can be traced back to  University 
of California at Davis experiments on seed germination and control of 
disease in greenhousesand hydroponics  back in the 30s and 40s.

I would add only:  Learn about the provenance of the plants you want to 
grow.  If the plant is found in clay, or rocky clay, do not put it in a 
"nice bed" of enriched peat and fertilizer to give it what the "poor thing" 
lacked in nature--you are thereby likely to make it "go to sleep in its bed" 
forever.  If it grows in scree--make a scree before you try to grow it.  At 
least try to approximate similar conditions.

Can't get serpentine?  Try decomposed granite. Add a handful of Epsom salts 
to your broken concrete and sand mix.

 Also, re woodland plants, if the plant  is known to grow in deep shade--be 
aware that it may well have germinated and grown in shade long before the 
trees became a dense canopy above it.  I am finding that most arisaemas can 
take about twice the amount of sun that one might expect, given adequate 
moisture and either sharp drainage through porous soil, or clay (depending 
on the species) where moisture content is limited by water's  draining off 
the surface because the surface is slanted.  Cheers from Glenview, IL where 
the snow is melting and the high will be 44° F. 

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