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Re: Fertilizing


Cation exchange.  Salts are made up of two types of ions, cations (positive
charge) and anions (negative charge.  Calcium nitrate, a common fertilizer
is, made up of the cation, calcium, and the anion, nitrate. Particles in the
soil also have charges on their surfaces that can bind the ions of salts (at
least temporarily) and prevent leaching of the fertilizer from the soil
mixture.  If a soil particle is good at binding cations,  it has good cation
binding capacity (or exchange capacity).  Clay particles have excellent ion
binding capacity while sand particles have very little.  Most organic
particles have some capacity, but it varies with the component (sphagnum is
good, pine bark poor).

In containers, most growers use artificial mixes because the drainage
properties inherent to all containers is not ideal.  However, they sacrifice
ionexchange capacity and waste a lot of fertilizer.  Most growers could use
less fertilizer by adding sphagnum, but that creates other problems, so they
just add fertilizer often or use slow release fertilizers.

Probably more than you want to know about exchange capacity.

Jim Anderson
-----Original Message-----
From: Cidjohnson@aol.com <Cidjohnson@aol.com>
To: hosta-open@mallorn.com <hosta-open@mallorn.com>
Cc: VLSwan@hotmail.com <VLSwan@hotmail.com>; llund@farmington.k12.mn.us
Date: Wednesday, August 18, 1999 11:25 PM
Subject: Re: Fertilizing

>In a message dated 8/18/99 9:53:41 PM Central Daylight Time,
>wilddog@venus.net writes:
><< Dirt will actually spoil in a container but simple clay sprinkled on top
> a container does well because it has a good cation exchange numbers. >>
>Hi Butch,
>I always appreciate your explanations of how organic materials get
>incorporated into the soil and the fact that it's much better (as well as
>easier) to let the little "critters" do the mixing for us.
>My question now for you is...WHAT are cation exchange numbers and how does
>that make simple clay good in a pot as opposed to dirt?  By the way, I
>thought I'd do the work myself and look it up in AOL's dictionary....and I
>got a good chuckle to see that their definition didn't enlighten me a bit.
>So would you please explain it in terms that a novice can understand?
>Cindy Johnson
>White Bear Lake, MN
>zone 4a
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