Potting & propogation mixes...

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by milifestyle, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Has anyone made their own potting or propogation mixes using charcoal ?

    I am trying a few different mixes, mainly equal parts of charcoal, perlite and cocopeat.

    Would the type of wood used for charcoal have an effect on the growth of plants ?
     
  2. trimnut2

    trimnut2 Junior Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    milifestyle:: I regularly make potting and propogation mixes using charcoal.
    Two issues : charcoal sizing is important as is the "inoculation" process of the inert/fresh charcoal .
    Mainly mix charcoal with composted sawdusts and or other composts, bush mould and sharp sand.
    Bush mould can also include the decomposed centres of old trees.

    I have mainly used hardwood charcoals and don't notice any difference within that narrow spectrum.
    Different woods make some difference in sawdust compost production.
     
  3. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    Thanks, Trim.

    What else would make a good potting mix ( seed / weed free ingredients - i.e. soilless mixtures).

    Has anyone used cat litter as a reliable supply of perlite ?
     
  4. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    I always make my own potting and propagtion mixes
    i am still experimenting with charcoal
    I have made two mistakes so far
    1 Using highly alkaline char ( pH9)
    2. Using too much.

    I am using about a handful to the pot at the moment.

    i am also experimenting with Zeolite for water holding in pots, again i used too much. it is amazing how far that stuff goes and how much water it holds when it looks like sand!

    I thought the char might help with water too, but I suspect that charcoal only does this over time by building up all the "wee beasties" -bacteria and fungi (esp glomalin)- that in fact hold the water in the soil

    i think it is the way the char is made rather than the feedstock that is important. For it really to get the soil going it needs to be produced at low temperatures. That way wood retains most of its bio-oils which seem to be one major thing that jump-starts soil biology. Also it may be that chars produced at lower temperatures also have a lower (closer to 7) pH.
    Of course if the biochar was made from chicken manure there would be fertiliser issues to address. However most chicken litter char is only produced, at the moment, for experiments. Most charcoal on the market is made from wood
     
  5. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    Millie this is an excellent article too.
    well worth reading/studying.
    I agree with them re coco peat. i replaced real peat in my cutting mix with coco peat and found it did not work. It is just good marketing for some left over coconut rubbish. I now have a bale of Lithuanian peat (!) on order as it seems the only way of getting the stuff these days.
    [​IMG]
    https://www.hortjournal.com.au/backissue ... tember2009
    pages 14-17
     
  6. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    Thanks Michael... as usual, a very informative post.
     
  7. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    Cat litter in NSW is mostly Bentonite or Attapulgite/Montmorillonite although I have seen some expensive silica and compressed paper or sawdust.
    I have experimented with Cat litter (I am obsessively compulsively looking for the "perfect" potting mix- i have been doing this for 30 years!)
    Results? well, disappointing It seems to decompose into slimy mess. Again i may have used too much. It should work theoretically.

    My potting mix starts with Coles/reliance cheap potting mix, $2.50 on special, $3.25 normally for 25L bag.
    They have improved the mix lately and it is very good for the price.
    Then I add either things for drainage (river sand, perlite, char chips) or things to hold moisture (peat, vermiculite, zeolite). What i do depends on what i think the plant wants. (eg., I put sage in cactus mix in terracotta as it can't cope with our sub-tropical humidity).
    I also make plant presents for non-gardening friends and try to make them idiot proof. So ,if i know they never water enough, i will change the mix accordingly.
    I have to find a cheaper source of vermiculite and perlite. I am thinking of going to nursery wholesalers and buying huge bags of it. It is essential for seeds-especially organic ones- as it is guaranteed totally sterile.
     
  8. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    I wish forum threads could be converted to PDF... some topics, like this one i'd like permanently saved on my PC.

    Thanks Michael.
     
  9. gbell

    gbell Junior Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    Get the Scrapbook plugin for Firefox. Or get PDFCreator (its open source) and print webpages to PDFs...
     
  10. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    Yeah, i have a PDF printer. I was thinking of something that converts content without background images etc.... Like a "Print this page" button.

    Anyway, it was just a thought...
     
  11. pmorrison2588

    pmorrison2588 Junior Member

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    Re: Potting & propogation mixes...

    No, the type of wood is going to affect, because once it becomes charcoal, it gets out of it's properties, and becomes just Carbon. So you can relax about that factor. Do not forget to mix some Bokashi Tea in your pot mixture, for better results.
     

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