Alternative Media and Mixes Suitable For Growing Container Vegetables
The suitability of alternative media and mixes for the production of container vegetables was evaluated in the green house of the Faculty of agriculture, Ebonyi State University. The design of the experiment was a completely randomized design, (CRD). The treatments included 3 growth media (Top soil, Saw dust and rice husk) and their amended mixes; with Poultry droppings, Urea and NPK 15:15:15 respectively. These treatments were replicated 3 times; giving a total of 36 treatments unites. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) was the test crop. The parameters measured were: soil texture, media chemical properties, Lettuce growth and yield. The data collected were analyzed statistically, using Analysis of Variance. Results showed that native top soil had superior physical and chemical properties for vegetable production compared to saw dust and rice husk. Mixing the saw dust or rice husk with poultry droppings, urea or NPK 15:15:15 improved the fertility status of the media. The results also showed that Lettuce performed significantly (P<0.05) better on the native top soil than on sawdust and rice husk. When the media were mixed with amendments, the lettuce grown on rice husk mixed with poultry dropping, top soil mixed with NPK 15:15:15, top soil mixed with poultry dropping, top soil mixed with urea and saw dust mixed with poultry dropping respectively, in that order produced significantly higher (P<0.05) Lettuce fresh weight (75, 66.20, 65.40, 53,20 and 48.30 grams) than the other treatments. Lettuce grown on rice husk mixed with poultry droppings, top soil mixed with poultry droppings and top soil mixed with NPK 15:15:15 had significantly larger (P<0.05) leaf area (18.27, 15.44 and 14.66 cm2) than the lettuce grown on other mixes, whereas number of leaves were significantly higher (P<0.05) when lettuce was produced on rice husk mixed with poultry droppings, top soil mixed with poultry droppings, top soil mixed with urea, top soil mixed with NPK 15:15:15 and either top soil alone, rice husk mixed with urea or saw dust mixed with poultry droppings (18, 14, 12, 10 and 8) in that order than the lettuce grown on other mixes. In all, the best lettuce performance, in terms of significantly (P<0.05) taller plants, leaf area, higher number of leaves and fresh weight lettuce yield in the study was obtained by treating the rice husk with Poultry dropping than the other treatments. It was concluded that growing Lettuce on either Rice husk or saw dust treated with Poultry
dropping could serve as alternative to soil in container vegetable production.