Nutrient Poor Bog Garden

wysecj(6)May 4, 2011


I just got soil test results for my bog garden:

pH 5.0

Loamy Sand (50/50 Peat/Sand)

Nitrate Very Low

Ammonium Low

Phosphorus Medium

Potassium Medium High

Calcium Medium High

Magnesium High

I'm trying to raise Sarracenia purpurea, Platanthera blephariglottis, Calopogon tuberosus, Spiranthes cernua, Pogonia ophioglossoides, and Platanthera grandiflora.

I'm hoping this constitutes a nutrient poor bog. I only water with rain water, and the area is surrounded by drainage so that no groundwater enters the bog. I'm worried that I started with sand that contained too much nutrients.

My question is - are the P, K, Ca, and Mg levels too high?

The testing was done by the CT Agricultural Experiment Station - they test for a standard list of elements. Should I do additional testing for different nutrients?

Any suggestions or comments?


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Just what is High or Medium High? You really need a scalar reading and compare that reading to what is expected in regular garden soil for example. You probably should have all elements at the low end of the scale.
I would add in more peat moss so that you get around 30% sand and 70% peat. Also if you can afford to do so get a r/o system and use that water as it tends to be acidic with almost no salts inclusion at all.
Also you can try testing the bog by trying to grow live sphagnum moss in it. It is availabe as Live Sphagnum Moss on eBay.
How large is your bog??

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 2:58AM
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I wish I knew what High and Medium High meant. I expected a scalar reading from the the Agricultural Experiment Station. I'm sending them an Email to see what they mean. As soon as I find out, I'll post again.

It's pretty hard to switch the Peat/Sand ratio now, but if I need to rework it, I'll keep that in mind.

I'll look into getting some live sphagnum moss. I was planning on it, just haven't got that far yet.

I have an R/O system for drinking water, but I haven't been using that since I thought the rain water was better???

The bog is about 6 feet by 8 feet, and about 2 feet deep. I followed the specialized bog garden design given here:
A Bog Garden - Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Back to my original question with a slight modification - What should my P, K, Ca, and Mg levels be?


    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:36AM
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I found out the the test results are from the Morgan Soil Testing System. I downloaded a document that details the testing system, but haven't had a chance to review it and see how to convert the results into more quantitative units.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:44PM
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Maybe this will help??

Here is a link that might be useful: bog hydrology

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 8:45PM
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I have an idea for growing carnivorous plants and sphagnum moss in a nutrient-rich marsh - will this likely work?

On top of the mud, pile 6" of peat-moss and sand then plant the carnivorous plants and sphagnum moss. I suppose the roots will penetrate down the 6" of peat moss before hitting the nutrient rich saturated soil; then probably not extend deeper. This would be like a floating-mat is in nature: that you have a mass of slowly decaying wood at the edge of a swamp - the swamp seems to be nutrient-rich, black mud, etc... but the plants are insulated from the nutrients as they are rooted in the mass that towers over the water-level and apparently doesn't readily soak up the nutrients.

So, does this sound like it would work?


    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 12:44AM
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