Author(s): M Raviv, Y Chen, Y Inbar
People have probably used organic materials as an aid for plant culture since the eve of human history, but documentation is scarce. At the beginning of the 18th century we find a detailed description of soil improvement by organic materials (148). The author has distinguished between peat moss as an amendment for clay soils and animal dung as an ammendment for sandy soils. An elaborate procedure for the use of partially fermented cow manure in a frame covered with glass to form hotbeds has been described in the 18th century (86). This procedure enabled fast germination and growth of many species as a result of soil warming. During periods of cold weather the frames were kept closed to retain the heat produced by organic matter decomposition. Loudon, in his well-known ”Encyclopedia of Gardening” listed in 1839 many organic materials used as plant growth media in greenhouses (77). Loudon also gave detailed recipes for their composting and stated that in many cases mixing different ingredients is preferable from the standpoint of plant growht. Loudon mentioned that peat per se did not possess any nutritional value but nonetheless, a grower could use only sphagnum peat, loam and sand to satisfy the needs of all plants.