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Jumbo Red Peacock & Soil Mixes

13 years ago

First of all... this big buxom beauty arrived in the mail today! It's a Jumbo Red Peacock, part of a bulb order we got for the garden that includes a bunch of different Allium types. It's HUGE! It looks really healthy, and it has one bud peeking out the top. It actually has two, but one looks dried up. That's ok, though... the bulb was incredibly inexpensive, and I didn't expect this for such a low price! I'm thrilled!

Red Peacock... soaking in Superthrive!



Now... I'd like to discuss mediums for a minute, if you don't mind. This time, I've got some visual aids for you!

Let's flash back to the winter of 2007... I was using a mix of cocopeat and potting soil, and having some rather poor results. Not only was the mix holding onto too much moisture for too long, it began to compact rather quickly. This is what I was using... notice how small the particles are, and how close and compacted it looks...


And another pot of cocopeat mix...


I had heard good things about coco products, such as a slow decomposition rate and low fungal growth... but after using it for about a year, I began to notice that it was compacting in the pots. If it wasn't breaking down, why was it compacting so fast?

Another thing that happened was the growth of some strange yellow mold or fungus that I'd never seen before. It didn't seem to harm the bulbs, but it was fungal in nature, and I didn't like that.

The combination of compaction and moisture holding capabilities of the cocopeat mixture gave rise to some rot issues with several of my bulbs. I ended up doing surgery on a few, and today they're all alive and well. I may hover a bit, but I'm not in the habit of over-watering, so there shouldn't have been any rot issues. I needed to do some research before more bulbs required help... and so, off I went in search of knowledge.

I visited the Container Gardening Forum to learn more about growing in pots... and boy, did I learn! I learned about Perched Water Tables and how water, soil, and plant roots all interacted within the confines of a container. I learned which bits if information were fallacies, and which were fact. I learned about proper aeration of soil, and how important it is that there be an exchange of oxygen and gases. And I finally found a medium that works for almost any plant that lives in a container.

I've posted the links and recipes for soil before, but I've never shown the difference between what most use for potted bulbs and what I use now. Here are some photos of the new mix so you can see the larger particles in relation to the plants, pots, and my hands.

A new and better medium...







As you can see in every photo, the medium is comprised of larger, and mostly even sized particles. Pine bark fines, turface or granite chips, perlite, crushed charcoal, and sometimes a bit of vermiculite, are the main ingredients. Different items can be substituted for the turface or granite chips, and most ingredients can be found locally, or in some cases, must be ordered and shipped.

The main reasons this mix works so well is because it's mostly inorganic, so it doesn't break down much at all... it has larger particles which allows for the exchange of oxygen and gases to the roots... it doesn't compact, so the roots don't suffocate... it allows for free and quick drainage of excess water, and yet, it holds on to enough moisture to feed the roots... a good fertilizer program is completely controllable with an inorganic medium... and the reasons to use such a medium go on...

The bottom line is this... healthy roots equal healthy plants, and in order for roots to be healthy, they must be able to breathe and intake enough moisture and food without staying too wet. The only real function of soil is to support the plant, and to be the catalyst for moisture and food and oxygen. Think about that...

If anyone wants more information, I'd be happy to re-post links and direct you to some really good reading and information. Thanks for looking and listening! And as always...

Happy Gardening!

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