Peat Moss vs Coir (Coconut Fiber)

Both products are used as soil amendments to improve soil structure by lightening the soil and holding moisture; neither adds nutrients to the soil.

COIR

Coir

Peat moss is harvested from peat bogs which are areas of decomposed sphagnum moss in swamps and marshes. Wetland ecologists consider peat moss a non-sustainable material because its harvesting rate is greater than its replenishing rate. Plus, it is harvested from delicate endangered habitats.

Coconut fiber (Coir) is a byproduct of coconut processing; therefore it is always available and sustainable. Coir is made from fibrous coconut husks which are water processed, ground up or decomposed, then made into Coir bricks. Most COIR comes from India, or Sri Lanka.

Differences: pH and water absorption

Product pH – Peat moss is acidic with a pH of 3.3 to 4.0. Therefore, it is used in potting soils for acid loving plants, or it’s used to acidify garden soils with high alkalinity.  A neutral pH is more desirable in most planting situations, so lime is added to peat moss to bring its pH closer to neutral.  Most commercially made peat-moss based potting mixes have added lime. In contrast, Coir has a pH range of 5.2 to 6.6, which makes it more suitable for a wider range of plants.

Water absorption –While proponents of Coir state its water retention is equal to peat moss; peat moss typically retains much more water than Coir.  Peat moss holds 10 to 20 times its dry weight in water, while Coir holds 8 to 9 times its dry weight in water.  Coir does saturate faster than peat moss, thereby using less water to “activate”.  To be fair, Coir comes in various textures and coarseness, which may increase its overall water-holding abilities, but they are not equal.

When given a choice, consider Coir for its closer to neutral pH and its environmental sustainability.

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Resolutions for Gardeners

Good read!

Article by Kier Holmes for Sunset Magazine

10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener

I really like #10 – Increase Gratitude: “…spend more time mingling with and appreciating the flora and fauna…”

https://www.sunset.com/home-garden/garden-basics/growing-gardens#non-toxic-garden-resolution

Food for Birds

We’ve heard it before, * “do not cut and remove perennial stems and flower heads in the fall.” These pictures clearly demonstrate local birds feeding on these valuable fall and winter food sources!

Photos courtesy of:  Suzanne Sky – Talent, Oregon

*Read AGC’s article: https://ashlandorgardenclub.wordpress.com/2018/10/15/gardening-prepare-for-winter/

 

Submitted by: Carlotta Lucas

Christmas Cactus

 Scientific Name: Schlumbergera

A Christmas Cactus in full bloom makes an extraordinary gift for gardeners, and non-gardeners, alike.  With proper care a Christmas Cactus is very long lived. The one shown here is over forty years old and still provides an amazing display of flowers every Christmas season.

Christmas Cactus Care:

Light/Temperature:  Prefers a warm location with bright indirect sunlight. Shade it from intense sun and keep the plant away from heater vents, fireplaces and cold drafts.

Soil:  Plant in well draining potting mix made for succulent plants. Its ideal soil is composed of equal parts of garden loam, leaf mold or peat, and clean course sand.

Water:  A Christmas Cactus is a tropical succulent, it is NOT a true cactus, therefore it requires more water than a true cactus. Its watering needs vary with air temperature and humidity, but in general keep the soil just barely moist throughout the year. But, do not over water or the stems will get flabby and droop,  and don’t under water either or the stems will be shriveled and limp. Note: if your plant tends to dry out and/or wilt frequently, then it’s time to re-pot it into a slightly larger container.

Fertilizing: Supply plant with a weak solution of houseplant fertilizer every two weeks.

Flowering:  The secret to good bud production is cool temperatures and extended darkness.

Cool temps: The best temperature for bud development is 55F-61F degrees for a period of 6 weeks.  Start providing cool temps in November for Christmas blooming.

Extended Darkness: The plant also needs 12 hours of darkness every night for 6 weeks.  You can accomplish darkness by covering the plant with a cloth each night or move it into a dark area overnight.  For cactus to bloom at Christmas time, darkness treatment should start in early October. Then, when buds start to appear increase its light exposure.  Do not move the plant when it starts blooming, because it is sensitive to location during this time.

Color:  Flower colors ranges from pink, white, yellow, salmon, fuchsia, red and any combination of these.

Rest time:  In February, after it has bloomed, the plant should have a rest period, so during this month water it sparingly and stop fertilizing.

Re-potting:  A Christmas Cactus blooms better if slightly pot-bound, so re-pot only when needed every 3-4 years.  Re-pot the plant into a slightly bigger pot in the spring when it is not in bloom.

Propagation:  Propagating Christmas cactus is easy. Cut a y-shaped segment off the tip of the plant, this cutting should have 2-3 joined segments.  Allow the cutting to dry for a few hours and then plant it in moist peat & sand soil mix, insert about a quarter of its length below the soil surface. Place it in a well-lit area, avoid direct sunlight and water it sparingly to prevent rotting.  In two or three weeks the cutting should show signs of growth at the tips of its leaves, these are usually reddish in color. Once it has rooted transplant it into a pot.

submitted by Carlotta Lucas

 

Green Wreath Care

20171204_112315.jpgWatering a green wreath depends on where it’s displayed, if it’s outside in a cool climate then no watering is required, but if it’s outside in a warmer climate, or display indoors, then watering is required.

The wreath industry recommends upon receiving your green wreath, you place it in a couple of inches of water for at least an hour to give it an initial drink.  Then once it’s displayed, you spray the wreath with water every few days, and watch for dryness.

Outdoor:  Keep your wreath out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source.  If kept out of the sun, a wreath should last a month, often longer in cold climates.

 Indoor:   If you’re having a party and want your wreath on display for the party, it’s best to wait until the last minute to bring it inside, and then take it outside as soon as the party is over.  If, however, you are keeping your wreath indoors for the holiday, soak in water at least an hour, as stated about, spritz it frequently and watch for dryness. A green wreath left indoors only last 2 weeks and be aware that green wreaths kept indoors dry out quickly, and are a fire hazard!