Need Help with 'Wetting Agent' for Sphagnum Peat Moss

rnewste(8b NorCal)November 16, 2009

After trialing 30 combinations of Potting Mix, Turface, Bark Fines, Perlite, Redwood Compost, and Cactus Mix for the SWC EarthTainer, I have settled on a 3:2:1 ratio of Potting Mix, Bark Fines, and Perlite. Here is a photo of a Cherokee Purple taken yesterday in this mix. Perfectly green and healthy top to bottom:

One "improvement" that I want to now experiment with is to make my own "Raybo-Mix" of using "virgin" Sphagnum Peat Moss instead of a Commercial Potting Mix.

I understand that a "wetting agent" must be used with the Sphagnum Peat Moss for it to properly wick, which is essential in a SWC application. Can someone point me to where I can purchase this "wetting agent", and its proper use?



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You don't need a wetting agent. Both the bark and the peat become hydrophobic around 30% moisture content. As long as they are not allowed to dry to this point they will readily absorb water.

In a SWC application it's very unlikely either would every dry to that point.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 1:30PM
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If you did want to use a wetting agent have you thought of trying Safer Soap at say 1 tbs per gal.? I have never done this because I don't like peat moss in any of my soil mixes. Good luck, Jack

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 1:16AM
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The only time I've had difficulty is when I don't use a cover; I have a few containers that do not. I don't always fill the water holding area for various reasons (such as I am growing something that doesn't like being as damp as most mixes keep the container) so it can get dry on the top several inches before I'm ready to add water again. Because of the sunshine, it's really dry and the water can just roll right off. I do have a wetting agent I use at times for this, but it doesn't really happen often. Either Cocowet or EarthJuice Assist (I think I have the name right, it's not in front of me) work in these rare cases.

As JaG said, I don't have problems when I am keeping the container filled with water, as it wicks to the top and the mix only may get a bit dry on the top inch or less (if not covered - if covered, it doesn't dry out at all).

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 6:04AM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

Thanks all for the suggestions. I will experiment with a bale of Sphagnum Peat Moss over the Winter and see how it absorbs moisture and wicks. Pro-Mix BX is made up of 82% Sphagnum Peat Moss and they don't list a wetting agent on the Ingredients label, so perhaps they don't use any. In any event, I appreciate all of your responses.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 1:16PM
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A wetting agent is a surfactant. My favorite is the organic dishwashing liquid named Method Go Naked. You will find it at Target stores on the same shelf with other dish washing products. Inexpensive and double strength compared to similar products. Use one half tablespoon per gallon. Also excellent used as a 'sticker' in sprays at the same rate. Give it a try when washing windows, too. Excellent product for garden and home use.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 1:09PM
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I do use peat in some of my propagation mixes. I store it in 33 gallon plastic garbage containers with a lock down lid. When I break up a bale of peat and fill the garbage container I add water as I fill it. When you need to use the peat it is a real pain to have to get past the hydrophobic stage when you need to make a mix. By keeping the peat always damp it is a lot easier to use. Al

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 9:19AM
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Yeah, as mentioned, a few drops of any soap will act as a wetting agent.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 10:03AM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


I picked up a bottle of Method Go Naked liquid soap, and will give that a try. As Calistoga said, I will also let it soak in the mix for several days to thoroughly wet.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 12:53PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Old thread - but a question:

Does adding the soap have a permanent or semi-permanent affect on the soil/media?

Meaning, once it's "in there" does it become easier to wet, or, do you have to add it to the water any time it becomes too dry?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 11:41AM
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