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  • Author or Editor: G. J. Bugbee x
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Abstract

Sewage sludge, pharmaceutical fermentation residues, cranberry wastes, and food flavoring wastes that had been composted by in-vessel techniques were tested as substitutes for Canadian sphagnum peat in a Cornell peat-lite mix-A. Marigolds (Tagetes erecta L. ‘Lemondrop’) were grown in a medium containing 50% (by volume) vermiculite, and 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50% compost, with the remainder comprised of Canadian peat. Marigold growth was improved when any or all of the peat was replaced with composted sewage sludge. Except for media containing 40% and 50% composted food flavoring waste, plant growth in nonliquid fertilized media containing the other composts was equal or superior to conventional Cornell peat-lite mix. Except for media containing 50% pharmaceutical, 50% cranberry, or 40% or 50% food flavoring compost, plant growth was improved by supplemental liquid fertilizer. Improved growth was related to increased levels of plant nutrients, while decreased growth, at the highest proportions of compost, resulted from excessive NH4N, pH, or soluble salts. Differences in aeration, water holding capacity, and other physical media properties were small. We conclude that many types of organic wastes, composted by in-vessel techniques, can be used as a substitute for part or all of the peat in a conventional peat-lite potting media.

Open Access
Authors: and

Abstract

Eleven species of potted foliage plants, eight species of potted flowering plants, and four species of vegetable seedlings were tested for their response to irrigation with chlorinated water containing 0, 2, 8, 18, 37, or 77 mg·liter-1 residual chlorine. Growth and appearance were determined after 12 weeks for potted plants and after 6 weeks for seedlings. When compared with the control, growth of geranium and begonia declined at 2 mg·liter-1; pepper and tomato at 8 mg·liter-1; kalanchoe, lettuce, and tradescantia at 18 mg·liter-1; broccoli, marigold, and petunia at 37 mg·liter-1; and Swedish ivy, impatiens, madagascar palm, and english ivy at 77 mg·liter-1. The appearance of the plants followed a similar pattern. Germination of vegetable seeds was not affected by any of the chlorine treatments. Thus, current water chlorination practices with residual chlorine concentrations <1 mg·liter-1 should not adversely affect either the growth or appearance of most potted plants and vegetable seedlings grown in soilless media.

Open Access

Copper (Cu) is typically adequate at 0.5 μM (0.03 ppm) in hydroponics and at 2 μM (0.125 ppm) in soilless media, but elevated levels can be used to inhibit pathogenic fungal growth. We studied the effect of elevated Cu on the growth of lettuce and tomato in peat-based media and deep-flow hydroponics. Lettuce growth in hydroponics was not hindered until a concentration greater than 4 μM (0.25 ppm) Cu was used, which is eight times greater than the adequate level. Tomato was more tolerant of elevated Cu, with no growth suppression up to 8 μM (0.5 ppm) in hydroponics. Organic matter tightly binds Cu, and bioavailability is thus determined by organic components in soilless media. We confirmed an adsorption capacity of 19 mg Cu per g of peat, which explains why there was no inhibition of lettuce or tomato growth up to 1000 μM (64 ppm) Cu in peat-based media. When chelated with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, Cu binding to organic matter was reduced and growth was decreased in lettuce but not tomato. Both species tolerated a 100-fold greater concentration of Cu in peat-based media than in deep-flow hydroponics. Elevated Cu in solution increased concentrations 20 times greater in root tissue than in leaves. These solution and tissue concentrations are greater than identified toxicity thresholds of pathogenic fungal and fungal-like organisms, and could thus be used to suppress root-borne fungal and fungal-like diseases.

Open Access