My last experiment into using alternative growing media was my use of acidified sawdust which failed dismally. It was clear the plants were dying so I stopped the experiment and planted then back into peat.
A bit of research on the natural habitat of the VFT shows that pine trees are common and pine needles make up a proportion of the substrate there, at least in some places.
I live in a ruralish area and close to many pine forests so I have decided to carry out some simple tests to see if pine needles can form part of an alternative growing media. This experiment is not going to be a truely accurate investigation as I have not used a large enough sample size to reveal any statistically significant results. However, I have tried to eliminate any control variables that may make the experiment worthless as much as possible, so the results may be of some use to anyone thinking of using pine needles or even carrying out further tests.
I have used 5 plants all vegatative divisions from the same parent, a bog standard typical VFT acquired from a local garden centre about 5 years ago. I selected this plant as it is a tough little @*~# that grows quickly. I have selected plants that are all the same size and small enough (2 cm) to give plenty of growing time before they reach adult size.
I have set up five pots with the following mixes
A - pine needles
B - 50:50 pine needles and moss peat
C - 30:70 pine needles and moss peat
D - 30:70 perlite moss peat
E - moss peat
The pots are all the same size and they will be kept in the same outside location.
D and E are really controls to see how the pine needles compare to other media generally used
I am not expecting the needles to be some sort of miracle media thats going to give huge fast growing VFTs, rather can it be used to reduce the amount of peat I use.
I am also hoping that the pine needles will help maintain the acidity of the media, as they are rich in organic acids that are a natural component of peat bogs, and so create an improved, longer lasting substrate for growing VFTs in.
Here is the first pic just after potting
This experiment should run all summer and maybe even longer
Edited by mantrid, 23 August 2011 - 21:06 PM.