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Re: Metro Mix (Was:Re: Pro-mix (Was: Re: baking dirt))

Hello Ray. just to add my 2 cents worth etc. I have used Fafard #2 Mix
(Jim Anderson mentioned Fafard 3B earlier) for many years both for seed
starting, and as a medium for growing TC liners just out of culture.
Fafard #2 contains Peat, pearlite and vermiculite (possibly other
things, but no nutrients as far as I know). It does not contain ground
pine bark. While I truly don't want to come across as being
argumentative regarding Jim's earlier advice about the advisability of
using a mix with pine bark to promote drainage (it definitely does do
that), I don't use it in my TC operation because my liner plants don't
do as well in it as they do in the mixes without pine bark. I believe
this is due to the fact that the mix drains TOO effectively, and thus
the plants, even though they are well rooted, don't establish as quickly
as they do in a mix that retains more moisture. I know from experience
working part time (just after retirement from the FDA) one summer in a
perennial plant nursery that ground pine bark was always an additive
they used in their commercial bagged mixes. They did this to PROMOTE
drainage, but they also had extensive, timed watering systems that kept
their plants  in the greenhouses (many kinds of seedlings and all kinds
of cuttings being rooted) constantly misted. If you don't have such a
misting system (I don't) I believe the wetter mixes should work as well
for  you as they do for me. In fact, to promote an even MORE moist
condition, I cover the flats on my light racks with a clear plastic
dome. The dome comes off the TC liner flats after about 2 weeks when the
liners are transferred to the greenhouse (where the humidity is higher
than where the light racks are), and thus the plants don't show stress
from that move. The domes stay on the seedling flats for up to a month
(have left them on for 2 months with no ill effects). When I tried the
pine bark mixes I was constantly watering trying to keep the mix wet so
the seedlings wouldn't wilt here and there in the liner. This constant
watering also leached out the nutrients I had begun to use on the
seedlings. I felt all this extra effort was too time consuming. Aeration
is, of course, important, even critical, especially in a greenhouse
situation, but I have not found it to be a problem here. On occasion I
have had "moss" start to grow (due to too much nutrient and too little
light), but no significant damping off. You don't have to buy domes,
flats, plug trays etc. at a Mall retail outlet (VERY EXPENSIVE). Just go
to a local nursery and ask them to sell you a few. In the case of domes
(which they don't ordinarily use etc.) they may ask you to pay for a
case, but they aren't terribly expensive that way, and you will have a
supply for many years to come. This is just my experience, based on my
lab etc. Hope I am not confusing everyone with the differing opinions of
soil less mixes.  John Lanier
MissVitro Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory
John and Laura Lanier
Route 9  Box 908
Burnsville, NC  28714
(828) 682-4174
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