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Re: CULT: antibacterial organics?

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: CULT: antibacterial organics?
  • From: Bill Shear <bills@tiger.hsc.edu>
  • Date: Sun, 28 Sep 1997 13:51:37 -0600 (MDT)

>I share Linda's interest in hearing about antibacterial properties of peat.
>Meanwhile, I had the impression that we had decided that bleach in moderation
>was essentially benign, and a viable approach to treating non-specific
>situational rots. Have I misunderstood?

I may be wrong, but I don't think peat has any specific antibacterial
properties.  It creates an unfavorable environment for bacteria if there is
enough peat present to lower the pH.  Bacteria do poorly in an acid
environment.  On the other hand, an acid environment favors the growth of
fungi.  I suspect that when used as a soil amendment in moderate
quantities, the value of peat is to alter the soil structure and create
sites for the growth of beneficial micro-organisms which may then suppress
disease-causing ones by competition.

Used in moderation, neither bleach nor cleanser are harmful to the
environment.  The active ingredients either quickly evaporate or wash away
and are diluted almost out of existance after they do their work.

An interesting experiment would be to clean out a rotted rhizome and
instead of using cleanser or bleach, pack it with peat.  The peat may be
able to lower the pH enough to inhibit bacterial growth, but I wouldn't
count on it.

I'll continue to use bleach and cleanser for rot.

 Moderate amounts of peat are undoubtedly good for loosening clay soil.
Leaf mold and compost are even better because they enhance more biological
activity.  I suspect the effect that Walter has referred to in reporting
his experience in Mississippi is due to better soil structure (achieved by
adding peat) rather than any specific effect of peat itself.  In other
words, I think that if Walter had used leaf mold, old sawdust, compost or
any other organic amendment, he would have seen the same results.

What do you think, Walter?  Have you tried other organic soil amendments,
and if so, how have they worked?

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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