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overwatering, rainforest soil, and Wruk53's seedling mix and mulch.


Well-Known Member
Feb 23, 2023
Thanks to Wruck53 getting so many crops per year, his grow blogs have shown me where I've gone wrong.
My seedlings have NEVER looked as good as his. He mentioned what he started his seeds in, and I copied him.
2 parts peat, 2 parts perlite, and one part vermiculite. He uses peat with added nutrients, but, I just copied him and used a 1/4 strength
all purpose fertilizer with plain peat (But with 1tablespoon of dolomitic limestone per gallon of peat).
My seedlings are now much improved in health, vigor, and speed of growth.
3 crops a year, using Cypress mulch, watering with soluble "triple 20" fertilizer and Epsom salts- a soilless/hydroponic system.
I can find the fertlizer and Epsom salts, but the bark was rare, and expensive. I just stumbled onto an alternative growing media that I will be trying:
Orchid bark!
After a few quick searches online, I've found a great deal about orchid planting mixes that has much to recommend them for tobacco.
A loose, very airy mix, that is porous enough to retain some water, without drowning the plant- much like rainforest soil, the source of this
versatile, awe inspiring, and frustrating plant we are all working with.
One tropical plant grower says "when we say 'I overwatered my plant', what I really mean is 'I'm using a potting media that is too dense, and
holds too much water, drowning my plant.".
Think about a rainforest- do they die off during the rainy seasons? No, of course not. Why? The soil is too loose. I watched soilless mix levels in
my containers drop an inch or so after heavy rains, as the "dirt" compacted under the heavy water load, and the plants' growth slowed....
I've started some Rustica Aztec seeds in Wruck53's seedling mix, and they've sprouted. Once they get a bit bigger, I'll transfer them to identical
containers, one with my old soilless mix, and one with an orchid mix I will water with "Triple-20/Epsom salts":
50% Bark (Pine, or commercial "Orchid bark")
25% sphagnum peat moss
15% Pumice/Perlite
10% Charcoal
This mix is recommended for summer blooming Phalaenopsis orchids, which prefer some dry cycle time, rather than constant moisture.

My "old" soilless mix:
10 liters Coconut coir (hydrated with full strength triple-20 and 1/4 that amount of Epsom salts)
5 liters perlite
5 liters vermiculite
5 liters compost or worm castings
2 cups fine sand

I am racing winter with this, but, I am merely testing growth speed, rather than attempting to get a final ripened leaf.
(Pictures will be coming....)


Staff member
May 25, 2011
near Blacksburg, VA
The N-P-K number represent the percent by weight of the specified elements. So 100 grams of a 20-20-20 would contain 20 grams of nitrogen, 20 grams of phosphorus, and 20 grams of potassium. Since they all are provided as salts (minerals) of various sorts, rather than the pure elements, their actual weight as a salt within the fertilizer is much greater. But for computing their usage, just the N-P-K is important.

If, for a given area of garden soil, a recommendation is to apply 1 kg of 10-10-10, then you would need only 0.5 kg of 20-20-20 for that same area, or 10 kg of 1-1-1.