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Using pine shavings as a growing media

Posted by homehydro (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 9, 12 at 7:53

This thread is created, and only for people who have used pine shavings as a growing media, wish to use pine shavings as a growing media, or are interested in using pine shavings as a growing media. No other replays will be tolerated. Any reference to hydroponic systems or anything other growing media other than pine shavings will be dealt with harshly. That's simply to make sure the thread does not GET SIDETRACKED, AND/OR BECOME OFF TOPIC.

Anyone else use pine shavings as growing media before?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

In response to your question,
I have not.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

You can use anything as a grow medium as long as you feed with all the needed things in the right ph level. Not sure what the point is?


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Is there a specific reason for using Pine, as opposed to a different species of tree? I need to fill some net pots, I was thinking gravel, though wood shavings are an interesting idea.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Using pine shavings is on my list of things to try, and other than a small few exceptions I have only seen it used in commercial operations. To be honest I'm not sure how other species of trees will work, however I do know cedar shavings or bark wont work. most wood ground cover is pine bark because it inhibits plant growth, keeping weeds and things from growing.

I personally think it's just called pine shavings, but it in a lot of cases it's really a mix of different species of tree (other than cedar). Typical pine is the most common species used in wood products, and the shavings are a byproduct of the wood progressing (like sawdust). So it just really maters where you get it from, whats in it. That's really what I'm interested in in this thread. if people have used it, where they got it (the source product), and how it worked for them in the type of systems they were using, as well type of plant (don't think type of plant matters, but could be interesting).

Not all pine shavings are made equal. I have located many sources for wood shavings/chips, but determining if it has fungicides, pesticides, chemicals and other such things in it sometimes is difficult. Even weather it's made from pressure treated wood etc.. I haven't found any sources that sell pine (wood) shavings specifically for hydroponics. Again I have found many sources that sell the pine shavings as well as pine bark (I know pine bark has been used in commercial hydroponics too). Some list it as organic, so that dosen't have the unwanted things in it, but I would need to have it shipped because they aren't local.

Pine shavings are a very low cost growing media, and I really want to find a good local source for a good quality product. I have seen it used from everything as hamster cage bedding (but again generally don't list or say if the product has chemicals in it to reduce smell), to horse stall bedding, playground covering, ground cover etc.. We don't have any local saw mills in the area (in the desert) where I live either. So bottom line it's a very good cheep growing media as long as there aren't unwanted chemicals in the product. As an example of how cheep it can be, $6 worth would fill a horse trailer at least 3 feet deep (the stuff sold for horse bedding) I found out after talking to local rancher.


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Correction

Correction
I wrote "most wood ground cover is pine bark "

But meant to say cedar bark.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Using saw dust for a grow medium sounds like somthing I want to try because it is almost free!


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

I tried pine shaving last year for a while in one of my systems. Had a lot of trouble with the pH. The shavings also turned the water brown and smelt bad. I ended up taking the plants (tomatoes) out and replanting them in a pelrllit/vermiculite mix.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

TheMasterGardener1
Sawdust is basically the same material, but with a finer particle size. The larger (particle size) pine shavings allow the roots to get more oxygen. That's why I like using coco chips better than coco fiber.

ratherbboating,
Can you elaborate?

What was the source of the pine shavings you used?
What type of system were you using them in (watering cycle etc..)?
What nutrients were you using?
What pH adjusters were you using?
When you say pH trouble, can you give specifics?
How often did you change the nutrient solution?


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Also

Also the size of the plants, and reservoir?


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

ratherbboating,
Can you elaborate?

What was the source of the pine shavings you used?
They came from the sawmill who chipped trees for horse shavings.
What type of system were you using them in (watering cycle etc..)?
A timed water recovery system, sort of like flood and drain.
What nutrients were you using?
Using a commercial nutrient (with cal nit and magnesium sulfate) balanced out for tomatoes. It was in the range of 6.5-6.8 in pure water.
What pH adjusters were you using?
Using muriatic acid.
When you say pH trouble, can you give specifics?
I would test then add acid to bring it with-in a 6.2-6.8 range. Check after seveal hours and it would still be correct. Two days later it would be very off.
How often did you change the nutrient solution?
I only changed the solution about every two-three weeks. As it was summer time and had a lot of water evaporation (and loss from leaks in the system) having to add 5/6 gallons of solution every other day to a 35 gallon tank to keep the system filled.

I am getting my system ready for this coming spring, one thing that I will change is to add a filter system to my water. Maybe this was part of the problem, the water, but I don't think it was a major part as I didn't have the problems when I switched back to perlite mix. I would have liked for it to work, pine shavings is $15 a pick up truck load.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Maybe since you're adding 5 or 6 gallons of water every other day, that is causing your pH swings.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Don't think so, it had the correct ph. As noted, when I changed to perlite mixture, the problems went away.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

ratherbboating
They came from the sawmill who chipped trees for horse shavings.

This could be a source of a problem. Especially not knowing what wood it was, where it came from, if it was diseased or treated wood etc. could be an issue. Also I've read references to only using kiln dried wood shavings for hydroponics (forget the name of it). Thus would kill any living organism's that could cause a problem. That's one of the issues I would like to know more about.

A timed water recovery system, sort of like flood and drain.

Especially in a flood and drain system I would be concerned about good drainage. Poor drainage could be another source of a problem. In commercial operations I have only seen pine shavings used in drip systems. That would be my choice as well, including crushed rock at the bottom for even better drainage.

Using a commercial nutrient (with cal nit and magnesium sulfate) balanced out for tomatoes. It was in the range of 6.5-6.8 in pure water.

The reason I asked was I was wondering if they were of an organic nature. In which case I would wonder about how the microbes would react with the wood.

Using muriatic acid.
I have never herd of muriatic acid being used as a reliable hydroponic pH adjuster, and would wonder how stable it would be. I would try using trusted hydroponic pH adjusters first. Even if the muriatic acid seems more stable using perlite, it may not react well with the wood shavings.

I would test then add acid to bring it with-in a 6.2-6.8 range. Check after seveal hours and it would still be correct. Two days later it would be very off.

I'm not sure what you mean by very off, everyone's definition is different. Besides the thought that the pH adjuster you are using may be a problem, have you done any control testing of the pH with the wood shavings?

I only changed the solution about every two-three weeks. As it was summer time and had a lot of water evaporation (and loss from leaks in the system) having to add 5/6 gallons of solution every other day to a 35 gallon tank to keep the system filled.

The older the nutrient solution gets, it looses stability (even if nothing else is affecting it). Two to three weeks is at the edge of usability (depending on how big/old the plants are). I cant help but wonder how much that was affecting the issue. also every time you need to add fresh water to replace used water, it will affect the pH if it wasn't adjusted before adding it.

Your water quality could be a big issue if not using a good quality water as well. Especially with regards to microorganisms, bacteria, fungi etc. They would use the organic wood as a food source and thrive. That's what causes the water to smell bad in any system (microorganisms, bacteria, fungi etc.). Obviously there were unwanted microorganisms, bacteria, or fungi in the system, but knowing why is important. Also they could cause pH to change.

Personally I would think your problems were mostly due to the source of the wood shavings you were using. and again, that is one of the big issues I would like to know more about with regards to using pine shavings successfully.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

The problem is wood shavings are decompsing and degasing not to metion the chemicals used to pretreat. Soak the wood first and ph test after a few days. I know it seems cheap but it isn't. Perlite is reasonably cheap and reusable. Less mess all around.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Of coarse, the wood shavings will decompose. Their a organic material, so is coco fiber. I don't know, perhaps per-soaking might help, but it wont change the source of the material. I per-soak coco fiber, but mostly to dilute the color tinting of the water. Going by ratherbboating's reply, it sounds like the wood shavings were from fresh cut tree logs, and where they cut the logs into boards before treating them with any chemicals if any. Thus untreated with any chemicals, and before being kiln dried. That's why the source of the wood shavings is an important factor, and one thing I'm really interested in.

Where I live Perlite isn't cheep at all. The best deal I have found is $20 for 2 cubic feet worth (twice that of coco fiber). In small amounts I can see using Perlite, but not on the scale I'm planing. As an example it would cost $20 to fill 5-3 gallon buckets using Perlite. To fill 30-3 gallon buckets would cost me $120 using Perlite ($60 for coco fiber). To use pine shavings would cost about $6-$12. Then on a even larger scale (as I'm planing) that cost difference will be much larger. The lower the cost of production I have, the lower the cost of the product to the customer will be, and that's a very important factor to me, right along with the product quality.

P.S.
Perlite is only reusable if your willing to use dirty growing media. It's imposable to restore Perlite to its pre-used (clean) state without an extensive and labor intensive process (if at all possible). In which case any growing media is reusable (even coco fiber and pine shavings), but not worth the time and money if you want to use a clean growing media.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

An autoclave won't make it look nice, but will sterilize it.
It's only labor intensive if you have a small one with a large amount that needs sterilizing. And then not terribly so.
I'm not sure how the high heat would affect shavings or coco fiber though.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

I didn't really know what a autoclave was, but I looked it up. From the ones I saw they start at about $2,500-$3,500 for small ones. The size I would need would be larger than a refrigerator if I wanted to be able to sterilize 50-60 gallons worth of growing media at a time. Thus probably cost well over $10,000. But going on the principal of how it works, it's very similar to a plan I had a while back to make a steam chamber for cleaning growing media (grow rocks in particular). I came up with the idea after using one of those steam mops for cleaning floors.

The real difference is I wasn't planing to pressurize it. Basically the autoclave is a pressure cooker. Though I have no doubt that a autoclave would initially sterilize growing media, I cant see it being practical. Even if able to be built fairly inexpensively, if used on pine shavings or coco fiber (organic water absorbing material), it would also still need to be quickly dried in a drying system as well (kiln). Otherwise mold/fungus can grow, and thus defeat the purpose of the sterilization. I would say that's the advantage of kiln drying in the first place, kills both problems at the same time.

Also for reusing the growing media, beyond the cost of buying a autoclave (and or building one), it still wont solve the labor intensive part. That is separating the old root and leaf particles from the growing media first (even if just soaking it in bleach-water or some other sterilizing agent like H2O2). Sure putting it all in will initially sterilize it all. But the easily broken down root and leaf particles wont stay sterilized for long as they continue to quickly decompose, and thus become quick food for pathogens/fungi/bacteria etc..


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

If you're using a water that has been enriched by chemicals readily metabolized into food(nutrient solution), it's incorrect to think that removing decomposed material will keep pathogens from having food. They already have fresh food from your nutrients. The reason for cleaning old medium isn't to get rid of vegetative debris, it's to kill pathogens that may be living there. Removing old root and leaf particles (completely) is only important if you're using a system that can't pass small particles through your pumps or lines.
The argument could be made that with DWC the medium isn't moistened and thus the roots are food, but then:
a. pathogens can't grow without water
b. you'd be using such a minute amount of medium the labor intensiveness is removed.
the reason to use an autoclave or pressure cooker is the get the temperatures high enough to kill spores. In order to do that with steam, you'll still need to have a pressurized chamber.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Once more homie you show how little you actually do hydroponiclly. Even the newest members know that you can sterlize Perlite in the oven for 90 minutes at 350 degrees and it cleaned. AND the amount you use is another show that you aren't really doing anything hydroponiclly. Damg homie I buy a bag of Perlite for $4.00 it makes 24-32oz inserts.
And why are you afraid of pathogens their nesscary to the life cycle. If you look at that picture of the China Doll you see pathogens at work in concert with good microbes just as Nature planned it. That's why there no nutrient build up in the Pods. They balance each other out. Oh wait is that another page from the Book of George.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

From talking to homehydro I can see he knows way more about hydroponics then you do georgeiii. From seeing your pictures of your systems you can not grow. I would not want anyone to be misled to think you know what your talking about.

Sterilizing using heat would not be something a PRO hydro grower would want to do. Like home Hydro said "even if just soaking it in bleach-water or some other sterilizing agent like H2O2"

I agree with HomeHydro 100%.

As stated above:

"Once more you show how little you actually do hydroponiclly"

You never heard of a hydro "cleaner"? General Hydroponics makes one to run in the system with your nutrients at all times. You know General Hydroponics? It is what you use in hydroponics, not soil fertillizer ;)

Washing hydroton in a 1;10 of bleach water is what PRO growers do, not that you would know anythig about that based on what I just read above.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

grizzman
If you're using a water that has been enriched by chemicals readily metabolized into food(nutrient solution), it's incorrect to think that removing decomposed material will keep pathogens from having food.

That's my point exactly. And why I worded my statements the way I did to say "initially sterilize" the growing media. Once any media is sterilize it can be subject to contamination. Even form how it's stored, to what's introduced once it's put back into use again. I never said that by eliminating the dead organic material you'll eliminate Pathogens. Just reduce their food sources the more you get rid of. And that it's imposable to get rid of 100% of it from used growing media such as pine shavings, Perlite, vermiculite, coco fiber etc. once used. Thus I used the term "dirty growing media" instead of clean growing media there. The term dirty wasn't saying full of pathogens, just referring to having more food sources for them than clean (unused) growing media. More food, the more it will thrive. Less food, the less it will thrive.

The reason for cleaning old medium isn't to get rid of vegetative debris, it's to kill pathogens that may be living there. Removing old root and leaf particles (completely) is only important if you're using a system that can't pass small particles through your pumps or lines.

I disagree grizzman, that may be your reason, but only part of the picture. Sure sterilizing the growing media is meant to kill the pathogens. But cleaning the vegetative debris from the used growing media will reduce food sources for pathogens even after it was sterilized. Once the material is out of sterilization it's subject to any microorganisms from then on (unless sterilized again). The point of removing the vegetative debris isn't to sterilize it, it's to reduce food sources for NEW pathogens that WILL find there way into the system through water sources, airborne sources like airborne dust/dirt, insects, small animals etc.. Even from handling care. Once you sterilize the growing media, it's still subject to pathogens after it leaves sterilization.

The argument could be made that with DWC the medium isn't moistened and thus the roots are food, but then:

Only if they are not alive or diseased.

a. pathogens can't grow without water

untrue, all life on planet earth needs water to survive. There is plenty of moisture at the exposed roots in a DWC or areoponic system to support microbial life.

b. you'd be using such a minute amount of medium the labor intensiveness is removed.

I am kind of at a loss here because I'm not sure what you mean. I cant justify spending thousands of dollars to try and reuse a few dollars worth of growing media. Even the 10 liters of grow rocks (about 2-1/2 gallons worth) took me hours to separate from the vegetative debris (dried roots) to reuse it (that isn't including sterling it). Separating other material like coco fiber, Perlite, Vermiculite, wood shavings, pine bark etc would be 100 times harder to do. I look at it like if you needed to pay someone to do the job how much would it cost? If the answer was more than the growing media itself (or even more than 50% of new growing media), then what's the point? that's a lot of hours of labor that would be better spent elsewhere.

the reason to use an autoclave or pressure cooker is the get the temperatures high enough to kill spores. In order to do that with steam, you'll still need to have a pressurized chamber.

I forget what the requirements to kill spores are, but you may be right. I'm not sure if it is higher temps in pressurized steam, or just using steam just takes longer (how long it's subjected). Assuming that the pressurized steam is the only 100% effective way to kill spores. That still dosen't justify spending upwards of $10,000 to sterilize a few hundred dollars worth of growing media for reuse to me. Especially when you consider that you still need a kiln to immediately dry it in or it will be contaminated as soon a you take it out of the steam (pressurized steam) box.

georgeiii
georgeiii, georgeiii, georgeiii,
Even the newest members know that you can sterlize Perlite in the oven for 90 minutes at 350 degrees and it cleaned.

First off heat wont clean debris from anything. Second it will sterilize it, but see above statements about that theory (I hate repeating myself).

AND the amount you use is another show that you aren't really doing anything hydroponiclly.

Just how do you come to that STUPID conclusion? I prefer using drip systems, and I want to give my plants plenty of root space to grow (well what I can anyway). I know how to judge the amount of root space needed, and that tells me how big the containers should be as well as how much growing media it will take to fill it.

Just because all you do is DWC systems, you think anything else is not hydroponics? Expand your mind beyond your own backyard.

Damg homie I buy a bag of Perlite for $4.00 it makes 24-32oz inserts.

Ya, when you mix it with soil. Even so:

24 x 32oz= 6 gallons (when not mixed with anything)

2 cubic feet equals about 15 gallons.

The cheapest place around here to buy Perlite is Home Depot, at $19.95 for a large 2 cubic foot bag (same price for Vermiculite). Lowe's sells it but only in small bags that would cost about twice as much for the same amount.

And why are you afraid of pathogens their nesscary to the life cycle.

Do I really need to define the term pathogens---it's a microbe or microorganism such as a virus, bacterium, prion, or fungus that causes disease in its animal or plant host.

If you don't care about intentionally introducing disease to your plants, that's fine. But to answer your question the plants will be healthier without pathogens, and I try not to intentionally introduce disease to my plants.

If you look at that picture of the China Doll you see pathogens at work in concert with good microbes just as Nature planned it.

Are you really that blind? Pathogens along with all microbial life are invisible to the human eye, much less in a picture (reality please). I wont disagree that there are both pathogens as well as beneficial microbes in nature.

But claiming to be able to see them, much less tell how many of each there are anywhere (without scientific methods) is quite a stretch (much less just plain stupid) And just another one of your bogus claims georgeiii.

That's why there no nutrient build up in the Pods. They balance each other out. Oh wait is that another page from the Book of George.

Ya, now your getting it, you must of had a brain fart to be able to see reality. I'm sure that wont last. But have some cabbage, perhaps you'll fart more often.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

I can not find Perlite that cheap at my home depot, only those 8 qrt bags. My local hydro shop is a rip off compaired to some of the prices others have told me.

If I was going to use dwc or nft I would for sure use Hydroton. Lasts way longer then perlite, not to mention way easier to clean and work with.

I grow soilless in containers so you can consider it hydroponics. I will be using medium bark this season, I will be sure to post some pics.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Here is that Bark medium I am using this season. Just messing with the camera.

Bark

It works well!!!

roots


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

TheMasterGardener1
If your Home depot dosen't have the 2 cubic foot bags on hand, you can probably order it from another store, at the same time not pay shipping through "store to store shipping".

What type of bark is that? I cant tell from the the pictures for sure, but it looks like it has soil mixed with it. If so the soil will be a source of contamination even after you sanitize it. If not I most likely would still wash and or sanitize it thoroughly (if not sold for hydroponic use). I just use a trash can I used as a old nutrient reservoir to soak it in. It has holes in the lid to strain the water when I tip it over to empty the water.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

If you sterilize dirt, any dirt, it will not be a source of bacterial contamination.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

No soil, that is small parts of the barks. If I add any fine partical it will flow to the bottum and cause a perched water table. That size bark is good to use by itself. I use this as a soilless medium in 2 gal containers with a hydroponic fertilizer program. I would never add any fine partical to this ever.

Homehydro,

Thanks for the tip on the perlite, lucky me I have some now.
Don't you use hydrogen peroxide? I do at all times, every water and fertilize I put H2o2 in the water before my nutes. When using H2o2 if you smell the roots, they will smell life fresh radishes. Compaired to the brown roots in a none treated system. Please look up how to use it all time in your system because once you see you will never stop using it. I am all drain to waste, no pumps so fine particals that come of the bark will not matter.

I have only tapla to thank over in the container forum for inspiring me.

Now I am waiting for the same place I got it to get more of the mulch in.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

grizzman
If once you sterilize something there's no chance of infection from bacteria/pathogens/fungi. Then why is it that people in this day and age still manage to get Staph infections? Even though hospitals sanitize everything daily? Not to mention beyond hand sanitizing floors and walls (etc.), hospitals also use air filtration systems to combat the airborne spread of bacteria/pathogens/fungi? The reason is no mater how much/often you sanitize bacteria/pathogens/fungi, they can always still be re-introduced into the environment (even environments that have already been sterilized). Hydroponic systems don't have anywhere near the sterile environment controls a hospital does? Just because you sterilize it once dosen't mean it will remain that way forever.


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Forgot to mention, I do use H2O2

TheMasterGardener1
Yes I do use H2O2 all the time. I generally use between 5mL and 15mL per gallon (3%). But I don't really even measure it anymore, simply because I have never seen any negative results. I won't use it in my commercial setups, simply because of two reasons. One it dissipates quickly, and two I would need a large supply. But I will be using UV light in combination with beneficial microbes.

For anyone concerned, yes I do know that UV light will kill beneficial microbes as easily as pathogens. But that is only true when it's subjected to the UV light. Beneficial microbes will be living/introduced to the growing media (coco fiber) and the growing media will never be subjected to the UV light. The light will be inline with the flood and drain system to protect the reservoir/s. The growing growing media will act as a bio filter (and thus protect the plants at the roots from seedlings).


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Yea same thing I do not mesure it anymore just a nice good squirt in each gal jug before watering. Let me know how that UV works out.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

You know in my time children were dying from Polio. The best cure that they found was just moving air. They brought the children out into the open and the Polio susided. It's what we don't mean to leave behind that causes trouble. That's why every where you go employees more that customers are asked to clean their hands because of the nuber of people they'll come in contact with. A hospitail can't help be zones for pathogens. That's their business. But now their are other centers for desiese noteably GMs. Their another source of pathogens. Don't forget that fellow gardeners.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

georgeiii

I am very sorry for saying:

"From talking to homehydro I can see he knows way more about hydroponics then you do georgeiii. From seeing your pictures of your systems you can not grow. I would not want anyone to be misled to think you know what your talking about. "

It was because it seemed like you were calling homehydro on what he knows I think he he seems knowledgeable. Just take everything I say as constructive criticism. I have so much to discover in hydroponics myself.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

Fresh/moving air is no cure for Polio, and it never was. The mandatory vaccinations for children is the cure. Fresh/moving air is no more a cure for Polio, than opening windows is the cure from deadly mold in homes. What was found was that by containing the Polio disease (most any disease for that matter) all in one area like where they warehoused the Polio patients all in one area, just continues to perpetuate the disease through the air. In fact it was the discovery that diseases can be spread through airborne microbes (many, many, many years ago) that led to the mandatory air filtration systems in hospitals today.


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RE: Using pine shavings as a growing media

For several months, I have been using pinewood shavings for clivia seed germination. I bought the pinewood shavings from a petshop. Before using as a plant medium, pour boiling water on the shavings, drain and repeat several times. For the final rinse, add 3% hydrogen peroxide to the boiled water, pour it on the previously washed shavings; let it sit for a minute or so; drain and rinse a final time. I am new to growing clivia from seeds and have lost very few since I started using pw shavings. Germination and root growth greater than in coconut chips.
In December I placed a small clivia seedling in pw shavings Growth seems faster than the bark/chip mix in which it previously grew. I grow plants fronting a window.. I read about and borrowed the idea from the Chinese growers on the


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