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Jute, sisal, or similar type fibers in potting soil?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Would jute or similar fibers work as a replacement for peat in a potting soil? Would a fiber of this type be producible from a temperate climate plant without an insane amount of work? How fast would these sort of fibers break down compared to peat?
 
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Jute and Sisal break down fairly fast compared to peat. I had a sisal rope that laid outside for only two months and it was already breaking down enough that I had to stop using it as a rope.
Now, only 6 months later, it is gone, decomposed into the soil.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I wonder if sisal or a similar fiber could be treated in some way to make it more rot resistant? Why is peat so rot resistant, anyway? Is there some way to speed up the process of "making peat"?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Peat is so resistant  because of the acidity that occurs from the anaerobic decomposition the heathers and other plant materials go through to become peat.
If you treated Sisal or Jute to be rot resistant, the method needed would introduce some things we do not want in our soil.
You can however soak them in a borax solution which will slow the break down by fungi and bacteria.
 
pollinator
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What about making biochar? For potting soil, the amount you could make on a small scale would make for a lot of excellent potting mix, remaining relatively inert, insofar as being eaten or degraded by anything, and would retain the structure of the soil much better than even peat. In a sealed retort process, you could even select the specific texture of the biomass you convert for specific textural qualities as biochar.

I would also suggest a test with spent coffee grounds. They are likewise moisture retentive, slightly acidic, and nitrogen-packed. I would just put coffee grounds in place of the peat and see what happens. My compost leans heavily towards coffee grounds and undyed, unbleached, recycled-stream raw wadded paper rabbit bedding and waste; I don't even use peat anymore.

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The only place I've ever used peat is for our acid loving berry plants, I use it to make up the soil I put back in the new plant hole (super wide but shallow).

For air layering I do use sphagnum moss but that is a different product all together.

Redhawk
 
Gilbert Fritz
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What about making biochar? For potting soil, the amount you could make on a small scale would make for a lot of excellent potting mix, remaining relatively inert, insofar as being eaten or degraded by anything, and would retain the structure of the soil much better than even peat. In a sealed retort process, you could even select the specific texture of the biomass you convert for specific textural qualities as biochar.



I'm experimenting along these lines; I mixed up some biochar potting soils, but they didn't do quite as well as the peat ones. I'll keep trying. In any case, I like soil blocks, but don't like buying peat or coir, and I think the blocks probably need something fibrous to hold them together.
 

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