Re: Soils

>From: Elizabeth Worobel <eworobe at cc_UManitoba.CA>
>Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 16:37:08 -0600 (CST)
>Subject: Re: Soils
>Thanks for the post Paul. I always assumed that when you mentioned
>composting that you put the soil underwater! This is what I used to do
>when I needed large amounts of uniform soil for experiments. I also
>enjoyed reading that at times you have left out the top layer of sand ...
>Ive never had the nerve to try that one. Obviously its worked for you.
>Ive been reading abouts Crypts lately and its suggested that they need
>peat in the substrate, yet you have success with a much richer soil ...
>have you compared peat and nonpeat substrates?

I have soil without gravel on it in tanks without any fish or with fish
that don't stir up things.  Guppies, platys, and other small livebearers
don't disturb the soil and make the water muddy.  Actually, The presence or
absence of 1/2 inch to 1 inch of gravel on top of the soil doesn't seem to
matter much to the plants.

I have grown crypts and other plants in a 50:50 peat-soil mix which I
composted for several weeks.  Everything did quite well.  I also have had
some crypts in a 50:50 peat-soil mix which I did not compost, and they did
pretty well, but they seemed more prone to having meltdowns for the first
several months.  (I wouldn't consider this definitive evidence that a
soil-peat mixture ought to be composted. However, I think, "Why take
chances?", and so I compost.

In comparing peat and non-peat substrates, the former being a composted
peat-soil mix and the latter just being topsoil, I have the impression that
the plants do well longer in the peat-soil mixes.  In the plain topsoil,
they do well at first, but after 6 months to a year, they start to benefit
from additions of chelated iron.  Again, these are impressions, and not, by
any stretch of the imagination, definitive observations.  If I only didn't
have to work for a living I could try to get definitive results.

By the way, When you compost stuff in soil, mineral nutrients get released,
and these can be extracted to make a nutrient solution.  I have been
experimenting with this process for about 10 years, and have an article
submitted to The Aquatic Gardener about making your own nutrient solutions
by composting stuff and then extracting the solutions.  I have not had any
kind of complete analysis of these solutions, but, considering the
chemistry of the nutrients needed by plants, they ought to contain
everything except those nutrients (iron and manganese, primarily) that
exist in insoluble forms under aerobic conditions. I do get good growth
responses in deficient aquaria with these extracts, and also I get very
good growth with potted plants.  I also get a lot of enjoyment developing
DIY (do it yourself) stuff, where I don't have to pay, and I like the idea
of cranking out my own nutrient solutions from composted weeds.  As far as
iron, though, I don't have a good way of making DIY soluble iron, so I buy
the chelated form.

Paul Krombholz                  Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS  39174

Where I am wondering what happened to my spring break!