Peat Lite Mixes

An inexpensive electronic pH tester is easy to use.

When planting, add one cup of line dolomite lime to each cubic foot (one ounce per gallon) of planting medium to stabilize the pH and provide calcium and magnesium.

For an accurate pH test with an electronic pH meter:

- Clean the probes of the meter after each test and wipe away any corrosion.

- Pack the soil around the probes.

- Water soil with distilled or neutral pH water before testing.

If using litmus paper, collect samples that demonstrate an average of the soil. Place the samples in a clean jar, and moisten the soil samples with distilled water. Place two pieces of the litmus paper in the muddy water. After ten seconds, remove one of the strips of litmus paper. Wait a minute before removing the other one. Both pieces of litmus paper should register the same color. The litmus paper container should have a pH-color chart on the side. Match the color of the litmus paper with the colors on the chart to get a pH reading. Litmus paper will accurately measure the acidity of the substance to within a point. The pH readings will not be accurate if altered by water with a high or low pH, and the litmus paper could give a false reading if the fertilizer contains a color-tracing agent.

Electronic pH testers are economical and convenient. Less expensive pH meters are accurate enough for casual use. More expensive models are quite accurate. Pay special attention to the soil moisture when taking a pH test with an electronic meter. The meters measure the electrical current between two probes and are designed to work in moist soil. If the soil is dry, the probes do not give an accurate reading. I prefer electronic pl-l meters over the reagent test kits and litmus paper because they are convenient, economical, and accurate. Once purchased, you can measure pH thousands of times with an electronic meter, while the chemical test kits are good for about a dozen tests. Perpetual pH-metering devices are also available and most often used to monitor hydropon-ic nutrient solutions.

Check the pH of irrigation water. In dry climates, such as the desert Southwest United States, Spain, Australia, etc., irrigation water is often alkaline with a pH above 6.0. The water in rainy climates, such as the Pacific Northwest of North America, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and maritime Northern Europe, is often acidic with a pH below 6.0. The pH and EC of water supplies in municipalities and cities can also change throughout the year in some countries. After repeated watering, water with a pH that is too high or low will change the pH of the growing medium, especially in organically amended soils. Raw-water pH above 6.0 helps keep fertilizer mixes from becoming too acidic. Climatic conditions can also affect irrigation water pH. For example, the pH can become more acidic in late autumn, when leaves fall and decompose. Large municipalities carefully monitor and correct the pH, and there are few water-quality problems. Check the pH at least once a week.

Cannabis will grow in almost any soil1*, but it flourishes when the pH is between 6.5 and 7. Commercial potting soil almost never has a pH above 7,5. A lower pH is more common, even as low as 5.5. Some potting soils purchased at a nursery are pH balanced and near a neutral 7. However, most potting soils have a tendency to be acidic. The easiest way to stabilize soil pH is to mix in one cup of fine dolomite lime per cubic foot (0.25 liters) of potting soil. Mix dolomite lime thoroughly into dry soil. Remix the soil in the container after it has been watered.

Fine Dolomite Lime has long been a favorite pH stabilizer for gardeners. It is difficult to apply too much as long as it is thoroughly mixed into soil. Dolomite has a neutral pH of 7, and it can never raise the pH beyond 7.0. It stabilizes the pH safely. Compensate for acidic soil by mixing dolomite with soil before planting. It will help

'"Cannabis is a well-known accumulator plant that takes in heavy metals and sequesters toxins in vacuoles, which are impermeable. The heavy metals remain toxic, Cannabis vras planted around Chernobyl, the toxic nuclear site in Russia, to absorb toxic heavy metals.

keep the pH stable, and maintain the correct pH when applying mild acidic fertilizers. Dolomite, a compound of magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca), is popular among indoor and outdoor growers in rainy climates with acidic soil. Dolomite does not prevent toxic-salt accumulation caused by impure water and fertilizer buildup, A proper fertilizer regimen and regular leaching helps flush away toxic salts. When purchasing, look for dolomite flour, the finest fast-acting dust-like grade available. Coarse dolomite could take a year or more before it becomes available for uptake by roots. Mix dolomite flour thoroughly with the growing medium before planting. Improperly mixed, dolomite will stratify, forming a cake or layer that burns roots and repels water.

Hydrated Lime contains only calcium and no magnesium. As the name hydrated implies, it is water-soluble. Fast-acting hydrated lime alters the pH quickly, Mix it thoroughly with warm water and apply with each watering for fast results. Many growers use a mix of 0.25 cup hydrated lime and 0.75 cup (18 cl) dolomite lime. Hydrated lime is immediately available, whereas the slower acting dolomite buffers the pH over the long term. Do not use more than 0.5 cup (12 cl) of hydrated lime per cubic foot of soil. The larger quantity is released so fast that it can toxify soil, and stunt or even kill plants. The beauty of hydrated lime is that it washes out of the soil in about two weeks. Leach it quicker by flushing pots with copious quantities of water, Hydrated lime is also used as a grow room fungicide. Sprinkle it on the floor and around the room. It kills fungus on contact.

The pH of these large saliva plants growing on a terrace Is kept at 6.5 to 6.B.

Do not use quicklime; it is toxic to plants. Calcic lime (quicklime) contains only calcium and is not a good choice. It does not have the buffering qualities of dolomite nor does it contain any magnesium.

Raise the pH of a growing medium or irrigation water by adding some form of alkali, such as calcium carbonate, potassium hydroxide, or sodium hydroxide. Both hydroxides are caustic and require special care when handling. These compounds are normally used to raise the pH of hydroponic nutrient solutions but can be used to treat acidic nutrient solutions when applied to soil. The easiest and most convenient way to raise and stabilize soil pH is to add fine dolomite lime and hydrated lime before planting. To raise the pH one point add 3 cups of fine dolomite lime to one cubic foot of soil. An alternate fast-acting mix would be to add 2,5 cups (590 cl) of dolomite and 0.5 cup (12 cl) of hydrated lime to one cubic foot of soil.

Pulverized eggshells, clam or oyster shells, and wood ashes have a high pH and help raise soil pH. Eggshells and oyster shells take a long time to decompose enough to affect the pH; wood ashes have a pH from 9.0-11.0 and and are easy to overapply. Ashes are often collected from

Outdoors, the soil temperature can climb quickly when sunshine warms the containers.

So/7 temperature should stay between 65-70'F (18-24X) for best results.

Outdoors, the soil temperature can climb quickly when sunshine warms the containers.

fireplaces or wood stoves that have been burning all kinds of trash and are, therefore, unsafe. Do not use wood ashes on indoor gardens unless you know their origin, pH, and nutrient content. You can add cottonseed meal, lemon peels, coffee grounds, or a high-acidity fertilizer to lower pH in soil to below 7.0.

Commercial potting soils and soilless mixes are often acidic and the pH seldom needs to be lowered. If new soil pH is under 6 or above 8, it is easier and less expensive in the long run to change soil rather than experiment with changing the pH. Fertilizers are naturally acidic and lower the pH of the growing medium. Sulfur will lower the pH, if necessary, but it is tricky to use, 1 advise using an acid to alter the pH. Add distilled white vinegar at the rate of one teaspoon per gallon of irrigation water, allow the water to sit for a few minutes, and then recheck it. The pH should drop by a full point. If it does not, add more vinegar in small increments. Often when using vinegar, the pH drifts up overnight. Check the pH the next day. Hydroponic growers use phosphoric and nitric acid to lower pH. Calcium nitrate can also be used, but is less common. Keep a close eye on the pH and control it accordingly. After altering

So/7 temperature should stay between 65-70'F (18-24X) for best results.

the pi I, check it, and then check it again daily to make sure it remains stable.

Aspirin also lowers the pH. However, hormonal reactions appear to be triggered by aspirin. Some growers have reported more hermaphrodites when using aspirin to alter the pH.

Humâtes Chelate l-lumic and fulvic acids chelate metallic ions making them readily transportable by water. This ability is dependent upon the pH level. Copper, iron, manganese, and zinc are difficult to dissolve. When mixed in a chelated form, they become readily available for absorption.

Soil Temperature

Raising the soil temperature speeds the chemical process and can hasten nutrient uptake. Ideally, the soil temperature should range from 65-70°F 0S-24°C) for the most chemical activity. Warm the soil with soil-heating cables or a heating pad. Fasten heating cables to a board or table and set a heat-conducting pad on top of the cables to distribute heat evenly. Set cuttings and seedlings in shallow flats or growing trays on top of the heat-conducting pad. The added heat speeds root growth when soil temperature is below 65°F(18°C).

, Soil heating cables cost much less than soil heating pads but must be installed, whereas the pads are ready to use. Most commercial nurseries carry cables, and hydroponic stores carry heating pads. When rooting clones, a heating pad or cables virtually ensure success and expedite root growth.

Cold soil slows water and nutrient uptake and stifles growth. Growers often overwater when



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Quality organic potting soil the soil is too cold or the room cools unexpectedly, which further slows growth. Pots on cold concrete floors stay as cold as the concrete, which is always colder than the ambient temperature. increase soil temperature by moving pots up off the floor a few inches. Set them on an insulating board or piece of Styrofoam"".

Soil temperatures that climb above 75°F (39° C) dehydrate roots, and at higher temperatures the roots actually cook! It is relatively easy to heal the soil in a pot. If the light or any heat source is too close to small pots, it can easily heat up the outside layer of soil where the majority of the feeder roots are located. Once destroyed, roots take one or two weeks to grow back. Two weeks accounts for one quarter of the flowering cycle!

The more feeder root hairs there are to absorb water and nutrients, the faster and stronger plants will grow. Once roots go beyond their comfort /.one, they send stress signals to foliage and stomata via hormones to close and conserve moisture.

Oxygen is essential for clones that are growing roots. Water holds under one percent dissolved oxygen at 70°F (21°C). Bump the temperature up to 85°F (29°C) and it holds less than 0.5 percent oxygen.

Root temperatures below 40°F (4°C) make water expand, which causes cell damage. Temperatures above 92°F (33°C) cause excessive vapor pressure within the roots, which can cause damage. At high temperatures roots send stress signals to shut the leaves down before damage can occur.

Potting Soil

Potting soil fresh out of the bag often fulfills all requirements for a growing medium: good texture that allows good root penetration, water retention, and good drainage, a stable pH between 6 and 7, and a minimum supply of nutrients.

Premium fast-draining soils with good texture that will not break down quickly are the best choice. Potting soils found at nurseries are often formulated with a wetting agent and retain water and air evenly, drain well, and allow easy root penetration. Organic potting soils are very popular. These soils are often fortified with organic nutrients including readily available high-nitrogen worm castings. Potting soils are very heavy, and transportation costs tend to keep them somewhat localized. There are many good brands of high-quality potting soil. Ask your nursery person for help in selecting one for fast-growing vegetables.

Quality polling soil

Stay away from discount brands of low-quality potting soil. These soils can be full of weed seed and diseases, hold water unevenly, and drain poorly. Ultimately, saving a few pennies on soil will cost many headaches and a low yield later.

Many potting soils supply seedling transplants and clones with enough food (fertilizer) for the first two to four weeks of growth. After that, supplemental fertilization is necessary to retain rapid, robust growth. Add fine-grade dolomite lime to buffer and stabilize the pH. Trace elements In fortified soil and soilless mixes can leach out and should be replenished with chelated nutrients, if deficiency signs occur. Organic growers often add their own blends of trace elements in mixes that contain seaweed, guanos, and manures.

Although some growers reuse their potting soil, I do not recommend it. If used for more than one crop, undesirable microorganisms, insects and fungi start growing; nutrients are depleted; water and air retention are poor, causing compaction and poor drainage, Some growers mix their old potting soil with new potting soil to stretch their mix. Cutting corners this way most often costs more in production than is saved in soil.

Potting soil or soilless mix that contains more than 30 percent lightweight pumice or perlite may float and stratify when saturated with water before planting. Mix water-saturated soil thoroughly with your hands until it is evenly mixed before planting or transplanting, if necessary.

Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost is an inexpensive potting soil and soil amendment that is packed with organic goodies. Mushroom compost is sterilized chemically to provide a clean medium for mushroom growth. After serving its purpose as a mushroom growing medium, it is discarded. Laws usually require that it sit fallow for two years or more to allow all the harmful sterilants to leach out. After lying fallow for several years, mushroom compost is very fertile and packed with beneficial microorganisms. The highpower compost could also loster antifungal and antibacterial properties in foliage and below the soil tine, which helps guard against disease. Mushroom compost is loaded with beneficial bacteria that hasten nutrient uptake. The texture, water holding ability, and drainage in some mushroom compost should be amended with perlite to promote better drainage. Check your local nursery or extension service for a good source of mushroom compost. Some of the most abundant harvests I have seen were grown in mushroom compost.

Soilless Mix

Soilless mixes are very popular, inexpensive, lightweight, and sterile growing mediums. Commercial greenhouse growers have been using them for decades. The mixes contain some or all of the following: pumice, vermicu-lite, perlite, sand, peat moss, and coconut coir. Premixed commercial soilless mixes are favorites of countless growers. These mixes retain moisture and air while allowing strong root penetration and even growth. The fertilizer concentration, moisture level, and pH are very easy to control with precision in soilless mix.

Soilless mixes are the preferred substrate for many bedding plant and vegetable seedling commercial growers. Soilless mixes have good texture, hold water, and drain well. Unless fortified with nutrient, soilless mixes contain no nutrients and are pH balanced near 6.0 to 7.0. Coarse soilless mixes drain well and are easy to push plants into growing faster with heavy fertilization, The fast-draining mixes can be leached efficiently so nutrients have little chance of building up to toxic levels. Look for ready-mixed bags of fortified soilless mixes such as Jiffy Mix'»', Ortho Mix®, Sunshine Mix®), Terra-Lite1»; and ProMix n', etc. To improve drainage, mix 10-30 percent coarse perlite before planting. Fortified elements supply nutrients up to a month, but follow directions on the package.

Mcike a seedbed from line-screened soil.

This soilless mix contains 10 percent perlite and 90 percent peat moss. It holds water very well and the perlite assists drainage.

Soilless components can be purchased separately and mixed to the desired consistency. Ingredients always blend together best when mixed dry and welted afterwards using a wetting agent to make water more adhesive. Mix small amounts right in the bag. Larger batches should be mixed in a wheelbarrow, concrete slab, or in a cement mixer. Blending your own soil or soilless mix is a dusty, messy job that takes little space. To cut down on dust, lightly mist the pile with water several times when mixing, Always wear a respirator to avoid inhaling dust.

The texture of soilless mixes-for rapid-growing cannabis-should be coarse, light, and spongy. Such texture allows drainage with sufficient moisture and air retention, as well as providing good root penetration qualities. Fine soilless mix holds more moisture and works best in smaller containers. Soilless mixes that contain more perlite and sand drain faster, making them easier to fertilize heavily without excessive fertilizer-salt buildup. Vermiculite and peat hold water longer and are best used in small pots that require more water retention.

The pH is generally near neutral, 7.0. If using more than 15 percent peat, which is acidic, add appropriate dolomite or hydrated lime to correct and stabilize the pH. Check the pH regularly every week. Soilless mixes are composed mainly of mineral particles that are not affected by organic decomposition, which could change the pH. The pH is affected by acidic fertilizers or by water with a high or low pH. Check the pH of the runoff water to ensure the pH in the medium is not too acidic.

Cutting and Seedling Cubes and Mixes

Rockwool root cubes, peat pellets, and Oasis® blocks are pre-formed containers that make rooting cuttings, starting seedlings, and transplanting them easy. Root cubes and peat pots also help encourage strong root systems. Peat pots are small, compressed peat moss contain-

Mcike a seedbed from line-screened soil.


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Lightweight horticultural perlite is available in large bags.

This soilless mix contains 50 percent perlite and 50 percent coco. Drainage is rapid and water retention is good. This mix must be watered daily.

This soilless mix contains 10 percent perlite and 90 percent peat moss. It holds water very well and the perlite assists drainage.

Rockwool plugs grow strong root systems in about two weeks.

Coarse perlite is lightweight

are easy to use.

MSfWnmwm ers with an outer wall of expandable plastic netting. The flat pellets pop up into a seedling pot when watered.

Place a seed or cutting in a moist peat pot or root cube. If the little container does not have a planting hole, make one with a chopstick, large nail, or something similar. Set the seed or clone stem in the hole. Crimp the top over the seed or around the stem so it makes constant contact with the medium. In one to three weeks, roots grow and show through the side of the cube. Cut the nylon mesh from peat pots before it gels entangled with roots. To transplant, set the peat pot or root cube in a pre-drilled hole in a rock-wool block or into larger pot. Clones and seedlings suffer little or no transplant shock when transplanted properly.

Check moisture levels in peat pots and root cubes daily. Keep them evenly moist but not drenched. Root cubes and peat pots do not contain any nutrients. Seedlings do not require nutrients for the first week or two. Feed seedlings after the first week and clones as soon as they are rooted.

Coarse sharp sand, fine vermiculite, and perlite work well to root cuttings, Sand and perlite are fast draining, which helps prevent damping-off. Vermiculite holds water longer and makes cloning easier. A good mix is one third of each: sand, fine perlite, and fine vermiculite. Premixed seed starter mixes sold under such brand names as Sunshine Mix and Terra-Lite are the easiest and most economical mediums in which to root clones and start seedlings. Soilless mix also allows for complete control of critical nutrient and root stimulating hormone additives, which are essential to asexual propagation.

Soil Amendments

Soil amendments increase the soil's air-, water-, and nutrient-retaining abilities, Soil amendments fall into two categories: mineral and organic.

Mineral amendments are near neutral on the pH scale and contain few, if any, available nutri are easy to use.

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  • meaza
    What is peat lite mix?
    5 months ago

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