Develop With Rock Wool, An Outdated Tactic Realized New. gardening recommendation

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I I’m fortunate to have met a big group of plant science teams from all around the world via a platform like Instagram. So, not too long ago, after I accompanied my accomplice, Rogier van Vugt, head of horticulture on the Leiden Botanic Gardens, about 25 miles south of Amsterdam, to fulfill small, specialty growers and collectors of uncommon vegetation throughout Europe Given the chance of a botanical highway journey, I jumped on the probability. But, to my shock, probably the most shocking truth from the specialists we interviewed wasn’t about some top-secret plant cultivation or carefully guarded rising strategies, however maybe the best of all concepts: previous rising media. However a brand new take.

Getting into Javier Gareau de Lubresse’s non-public glasshouse from the nursery Choose Orchid, I encountered a species I would solely seen in textbooks: bench after bench of uncommon orchids amongst unique aroids. Established organically in neat rows of neat pots, all of those vegetation had been established by an ideal emerald carpet of velvety moss that utterly coated the rising media. Once I picked them as much as examine a number of the most delicate flowers I noticed what lay beneath the floor.

The filling of every pot appeared like a unfastened sprinkle of packing peanuts. As I appeared round, it grew to become clear that the whole lot within the room was grown in a single combine, from the large forest specimens to the tiny med-climate-loving pelargoniums, all trying very comfortable. Lastly, Javier, referred to as a novel thinker, pulled me out of my distress with a cheeky smile, and revealed that this media was about one thing that has been fairly commonplace in gardening for many years: rock wool.

Dice Artwork: Sprout in Rock Wool. Photograph: MeeboonStudio/Shutterstock

This materials is created by melting basalt rock and rolling the molten mass right into a gentle, spongy “wool”. Its use is commonplace apply in hydroponics, the place it is available in massive bricks as a kind of passive sponge from which water and vitamins will be dripped. It’s used to develop industrial crops like tomatoes. Nonetheless, what’s completely different right here is Javier’s use of small 1cm cubes of the identical materials, dropped in pots rather than compost, to create a combination of water-retaining sponges with massive air gaps that cowl the amount of the pot. make as much as one-third.

This mixing of air and water creates the conflicting situations many difficult-to-grow species have to thrive – constant entry to an excellent stage of moisture, but concurrently right drainage and fixed airflow. Being inert, rock wool additionally doesn’t harbor many soil-dwelling pathogens that may rot vegetation. This naturally encourages an unimaginable reside prime dressing of moss, which Javier claims helps stop mildew and micro organism progress.

What about its environmental impression? Nicely, the motivation to experiment with it was as a extra ecological different to peat or coir, as a result of rock wool would not break down over time like many different natural supplies, regardless of the carbon value of creating the fabric. Which means that bigger or longer-lived specimens can reside in the identical pot for many years with out shopping for new materials or making an attempt to transplant. That is all from substances made out of pure minerals.

The very first thing I did after I received again house this morning was to purchase a bag for myself to make use of. I will replace you on how I transfer ahead with this in a couple of months.

comply with james on twitter @botanygeek



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