Beech Leaf Mould - Where to find? Suitable substitutions?

Moderator: SCMurphy

Beech Leaf Mould - Where to find? Suitable substitutions?

Postby Purrbox » Sat Feb 24, 2007 8:09 pm

I suppose it should have been expected that with an increased interest in Crypts I'd reach the point where I'd want to try more varieties and therefore would need to investigate suitable substrates for a blackwater setup. As I understand it Beech Leaf Mould is ideal for this purpose. After a little research it appears that there is a tree in Iowa called the Blue Beech - American Hornbeam - Carpinus caroliniana. Further searching seems to indicate that this isn't in fact a Beech tree, but rather a Birch tree and therefore probably wouldn't be suitable.

So this leaves me with the question of what would be suitable for me to use that would be available in Iowa? If at all possible I'd like to try something that is known to work, rather than pure experimentation. Then perhaps once I have an established setup, I can try other things to see if I can get better results. So, suggestions anyone?
User avatar
Purrbox
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:27 am
Location: Iowa, USA

Postby SCMurphy » Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:28 am

Actually if you can find a grove of the tree, the leaf litter may be just fine for our purposes.

viewtopic.php?t=700

I'm still trying to get Kai to tell us how and what he tested for when he did his beech tree leaf mould study, to give us a set of parameters to work with. What I can tell you to do is to get some of the 3 year old leaf litter by sweeping away the top layer of whole leaves, then soaking this in distilled, rain, or RO/DI water. Then (this is where I get foggy on his presentation) testing the water for acidity and ....

Best advice I can give is to make sure you are not in an area with a lot of limestone when you collect the litter. Then give it a test with some wendtii to make sure it will grow crypts. :)
"したくさ" Sean

Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

If you've got bait, I've got wasabi!

That IS an aquascape, it's titled THE VACANT LOT.
User avatar
SCMurphy
 
Posts: 107
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:37 pm
Location: Maryland

Postby Purrbox » Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:06 am

I was aware that there is a possibility that Leaf Litter from other trees might work. It's that "might" that makes me uncomfortable. I'd be perfectly happy experimenting with other types of leaf litter later, but for now I'd hoped to be able to start with something that is known to work moderately well even if it's not ideal. This would at least give me a base line to test against when I'm ready to try different types of leaf litter. I'm hoping that this will improve my chances of rescuing my C. pygmaea, which is still rather unhappy at the moment.

I believe that I'd also read something about using peat mixed with sand as a possibility. Not sure if this provides passible results or not, what type of peat I'd need to use, and what ratio to mix with the sand.

Thanks for suggesting testing with C. wendtii, unfortunately I actually don't have a lot of that particular plant available to use for testing. Would C. x willisii be a good alternative Crypt to test with? I've got quite a bit more of that one on hand since it's absolutely loving my emersed setup.

Guess I'll join the boat of those waiting for Kai to post more detailed information on prepping and testing leaf litters. Plus I'll need to figure out how to ID both the trees and limestone. This hobby sure is a good way of learning about a whole host of subjects I never would have expected to be interested in.

Something else that would be helpful is a list that shows which crypts need to be grown in blackwater conditions, which ones can be grown in blackwater conditions, and which ones can't be grown in blackwater conditions. Anyone have a good link to this information in a quick reference format?
User avatar
Purrbox
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:27 am
Location: Iowa, USA

Postby SCMurphy » Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:43 am

Yes, you could try that one too, it's a cute plant emersed, isn't it. I suggested wendtii because most people have it in excess. I have your address, I'll send you some excess that you can play around with.

I have some in the water in my emersed setup that is growing out of the water, with the leaves already aerial it could adjust quite quickly to your testing.
"したくさ" Sean

Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

If you've got bait, I've got wasabi!

That IS an aquascape, it's titled THE VACANT LOT.
User avatar
SCMurphy
 
Posts: 107
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:37 pm
Location: Maryland

Postby Purrbox » Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:23 pm

I've been reading through the older back issues of TAG that are availble on CD and have found a few articles that have information that could have bearing on this subject.

TAG Vol 5 No 5
"The Cultivation of Some Difficult Cryptocoryne Species in Humus-Rich Beech Leaf-Mould" by Niels Jacobsen
TAG Vol 7 No 2
"Using Dead Tree Leaves as an Aquarium and Plant Keepig Technique, Part 1" by D'Alessi Fabio
TAG Vol 7 No 3
"Using Dead Tree Leaves as an Aquarium and Plant Keepig Technique, Part 2" by D'Alessi Fabio
TAG Vol 7 No 5
"Peat Moss and Related Topics" by D'Alessi Fabio
(This last article is actually a documented conversation between the Editor and the Author as a result of the author's prior two part article.)

Sean - Thanks for the offer on the C. wendtii. Unfortunately it's probably not a good idea to send plants to me for at least another month unless you want to mess around with making sure the box is well insulated and include a heat pack. I find that the weather in the Midwest loves to go for an unexpected cold snap right after someone has put some plants in the mail for me.
User avatar
Purrbox
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:27 am
Location: Iowa, USA

Postby Purrbox » Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:53 pm

After talking with my husband tonight, it sounds like I've got a probable spot to collect some leaf litter. There's a park not to far from us that has good number of hardwood trees. He didn't remember which one's off hand, but I plan to check it out after the weather warms up.

I've also checked out the online library catelog, and it looks like they have a book for identifying Iowa Trees, so I'll probably try to get ahold of it for my outing so I have a better idea of what I'm actually collecting.
User avatar
Purrbox
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:27 am
Location: Iowa, USA

Postby Kai Witte » Fri Mar 02, 2007 4:47 pm

Sorry, folks - I've been out of the loop and didn't received notifications from this forum... :o

Don't spend too much effort on identifying your local trees (although this can be pretty interesting from a botanical point of view... ;) ) - it's pretty unlikely to have a decent amount of dipterocarps though! ;)

From my experience it's more important to look for areas with no limestone/dolomite or other rocks with carbonates in them - so check geology maps of your area! Then you need to find a dense stand of dedicious trees where as many leaves as possible have accumulated (search for depressions which tend to get filled with autumn leaves). Take samples from as many different localities as possible.

I'd recommend to mainly test for pH an conductivity after at least 1 week of incubating with really pure water. (I'll try to get that essay done on *how* to do that...)

However, those measurements will not allow to select the best source with certainty - you really need to test it with those plants you're interested to grow. If you plan to grow blackwater crypts, testing with wendtii won't give you very much information! While I prefer the most acid soils with the least conductivity, there's really no strict correlation with these parameters and horticultural success. So, don't be afraid to test soil samples which are not very acid - Chris' stuff from a pond's edge is about neutral and most blackwater crypts seem to quite well so far!
Best wishes,
Kai
Kai Witte
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2006 12:22 pm

Postby Purrbox » Sat Mar 03, 2007 7:52 pm

Thanks for the extra input Kai. I'll keep your tips in mind when I have a chance to go leaf collecting. Unfortunately we're rather buried in snow at the moment, so I doubt I'll be able to go collecting for awhile. Here's hoping the pH and TDS pen meters that I already have will allow me to do the necessary testing.

I redid my emersed setup tonight, so it's going to be a lot easier keeping the different species of crypts (and other plants) separate going forward. Now I just need another container for the blackwater crypts (and a place to put it), and I'll be set.
User avatar
Purrbox
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:27 am
Location: Iowa, USA

Almond leaves

Postby rfriday9 » Thu Mar 08, 2007 3:33 pm

Before I bought a RO unit I used to lower the ph of my water with almond leaves (Where I come from the tap water reads about 8.5ph). A friend of mine makes a tea from the leaves to produce a black water effect in his tank. It works fine so long as you don't use chemical filteration which seems to strip the tannins out of the water.

For my crypts I have a substrate which consists of a 2 inch layer of potting compost which contains no fungusides and two inches of children's play sand mixed with 5mm gravel in a 70/30 ratio. I only put the gravel in to stop the sand clogging. I also run a cable heater under the sub to try and keep a flow of water going through the sub.

I purchased some willisii about a month ago and they have doubled in size already under these conditions.

I have no idea what the rules and regs are in the US regarding labeling of potting composts but here in the UK I had to contact the manufacturer to be sure I had a compost without fungiside.
rfriday9
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 4:36 pm

Re: Beech Leaf Mould - Where to find? Suitable substitutions

Postby johnson33 » Thu May 02, 2013 9:35 pm

I wonder whether the picture editor would let you include photos of 'diseased' leaf examples - round here, nearly every tree however healthy supports a whole subculture of insects, scabby things and fungal ones, so that it seems to me impossible to pick & choose which leaves are fit for good leafmould.
johnson33
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu May 02, 2013 9:23 pm


Return to North American Cryptocoryne Society

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron