We are ever on a mission to move our greenhouse production away from peat based soiless mixes, which are not as earth-friendly as we would prefer, and in that effort last month I did a trial using a medium that was coconut hull based. To sum it up, it didn’t work very well. We have tried this before with other coir mixes with the same results. But we will keep on trying because we are determined that at some point we will find something more sustainable than peat or bark based mixes to use.
You can see in the photo above that the basil growing in our current mix is nearly 3 times the size and much greener and healthier than the trail soiless mix. They were planted on exactly the same day and growing next to each other on the bench receiving all the same exact care. Quite a difference.
The coir fiber based mixes seem to work really well if you are using them in larger size pots and with a higer fertilizer regieme than we use. We grow most of our plants in 2.5″ pots, plus all our propagation is done in small plug flats. Being certified organic we use only organic fertilizers and we do not have a feeding protocol that feeds plants constantly because we do not believe that is necessary. Well, I should rephrase that…we add fertilizer to our current soil medium when we fill the pots by mixing it into the soil (well, soil means soiless mix). This fertilizer supplies all the nutrition our plants need for 8-12 weeks depending on the plant varietiey and how heavy a feeder they are. Once that window of time is past, we supplement feeding with Daniels Pinnacle fertilizer applied with a syphojex attachement to our hose. This keeps the plants healthy and happy in their nutrition, supplying them with what they need without over-doing it.
When you over-feed herbs you get lush foilage, but fragrance, flavor and medicinal value often become compromised if the plant does not need to take care of itself more. The consituients in herbs that give them strong flavors and aroma, plus good medicinal benefit, are the very same constituients that the plant uses for itself to hone its survial mechanisims to get along well in the real world. If it is over-pampered and over-fed it will not delvelop those survial consitituients in the levels that are ideal because it does not need them. Thus, the traits that we enjoy from the herbs like delicious taste and smell, etc. will not be as strong either. Anyway, that was sort of a long-winded explanation of why we only fertilize to the degree that is necessary and ideal, but not extravagant. With the coir mediums we would need to fertilize a lot more for the plants to thrive and grow properly in the small pots where they seem to use up their nutrition faster in this coir soiless medium…more so than in peat mixes. It was also difficult to keep the watering even. So, we have put the nix on this particuliar coir medium.
We are now trialing a mix that is peat based, but also has mycorizi added, which helps to encourage a stronger healthier root structure in the plants. That in turn results in plants at are easier to care for and thrive more. If the mix preforms well in the smaller size pots and plug flats I think we may switch over to it later next year. I’ll keep you posted on what we learn from our trial, keeping in mind that the ultimate goal is still to move away from peat and bark mixes at some point.
I held my Free Market event last Sunday and it went quite well. I was able to give away nearly everything I put out, so I’m very happy about that. The most difficult thing that happens when you host a Free Market is that people do not believe the sign when they drive by…Who gives things away for free in this world we live in is what I get asked constantly. People want to know why I am doing this and giving things away for free. Bugger! I am finished with them and can’t use them anymore, so I am happy to gift them away to someone else who can put them to use in some fashion…it’s as simple as that. Rest asured that I will hold a Free Market each year and hopefully people will get used to the idea and follow suit.
Chris and I celebrated our 18th wedding aniversary this week and we took the day off from work and drove to Orient Land Trust Hot Springs in Villa Grove, Colorado. On the way there we drove past several miles of shoe fence! Each fence post of the fence was topped with a shoe. There were hiking boots, baby shoes, this boot, tennis shoes…you name the shoe and it was most likely represented along the fence-line. I thought it was great fun!!
The hot springs is in the San Luis valley on the way to the Great Sand Dunes towards Alamosa. You hike up the mountain-side and when you get to the top there is a pool made into the stream. The water in the stream at this point is about 107 degrees and wonderful. Then you can make your way back down the trail stopping at pools all along the mountain creek. The lower you go down the mountain the pools become slightly cooler. We found that the second pool from the top was a perfect temperature for our liking. We soaked under the treetops and overlooking the valley. The aspens were in peak color, so the valley and surrounding mountain sides were golden to flaming red. It was so beautiful.
Last night it got cold…down to 26 degrees at some point during the night! When I came in from work I was chilled to the bone, so I lit the first woodstove fire of the season. We heat our home with wood heat and I really love that, plus it is renewable and more ecconomical than using our natural gas furnace. We have the furnace in case of emergency, but we do not use it very often. The woodstove not only heats our home, it makes us happy. What a great way to spend a cold evening then in front of the woodstove. Even now, I’m sitting in front of the stove working on my computer. When it is cold outside I often “move” my office to the kitchen and in front of the woodstove by setting up a small table and chair to work in the warmth.
We are hoping for our fist cold moisture to come in tonight with rain and maybe a bit of snow. I’m hoping it rains a lot…nice gentle and long rain. We need it!
Stay warm yourselves. Cheers!