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Adults Behaving Badly at the Ballet

posted by: kswl on 12.16.2014 at 07:51 am in Home Decorating & Design Forum

Several of our family members went for dinner and to the ballet tonight. It was our DD's fiance's first time ever seeing the Nutcracker, which is one of our annual Christmas events. (His family tends to sporty, while ours runs to fine arts.) We had great seats about 11 rows from the stage, dead center. A couple in front of us had apparently not been to the ballet before. They talked the entire time when they weren't taking selfies with their cell phones, obviously bored. Before the interval they were eating popcorn and drinking wine loudly, as though they were on a picnic. After the interval, more wine and a candy of some kind with a wrapper that rattled loudly every time she touched it. For the past few years The Atlanta Ballet has altered the choreography to make the three male Russian dancers into brightly colored buffoons, with blue hair and beards. These guys function as clowns and comic relief but are mediocre dancers and not very funny. Of course the kids In the audience love them, and most of the adults don't realize that's not part of the original choreography. The couple in front of us were hooting and hollering for the clowns in a semi-drunken haze.

In contrast, there was a child of about seven sitting on their same row who was spellbound by the ballet and very well behaved.

Moral of this story: don't attend an event you're not interested in enough to sit still, be quiet and pay attention!

Rant over, carry on with your usual Christmas programming!


clipped on: 12.16.2014 at 08:34 am    last updated on: 12.16.2014 at 08:36 am

It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 29

posted by: zenman on 12.07.2014 at 01:50 am in Annuals Forum

Hello everyone,

Welcome to this ongoing message thread. Once again, the previous part of this continuing series, It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 28, has become rather long and slow to load or read, with over 100 messages, so we are continuing the series here for yet another fresh start.

The same guidelines apply here. Anything remotely related to zinnias is fine. As always, if you have any related pictures, you are invited to post them.

Winter is essentially here, and I have been growing some of my breeder zinnias indoors, under fluorescent lights on chrome wire shelving in our utility room in the basement.

That is a current picture of one of my shelves of zinnias. I have seven shelves in service, populated with zinnias in various stages of development, ranging from half-grown seedlings and plants just beginning to get their first buds to plants in full bloom like those in the picture. I will bring an eighth shelf into service as the need arises. It is currently being used for storage of empty pots. The indoor zinnias keep me reasonably busy caring for them and pollinating them.

I am still on track to grow two generations of zinnias indoors, with some green seeds nearly mature enough to pull and place into pre-germination Ziploc bags. I hope to have a few second generation seedlings up by Christmas.

Last Winter I had a serious thrips problem in my indoor zinnias, but so far this Fall and Winter I haven't had any pest problems. However, I am remaining vigilant, and won't be surprised if pest problems do develop. Hopefully I am better prepared to deal with pests this Winter. I spend an hour or two cross-pollinating selected zinnia specimens nearly every day, and enjoy doing that.

I continue to get interesting results in my breeders. My focus is still on upgrading my Razzle Dazzle strain, but I have several other projects going as well. More later.



clipped on: 12.16.2014 at 08:34 am    last updated on: 12.16.2014 at 08:35 am

wanted: seeds for sasbe

posted by: xiangirl on 11.09.2014 at 02:52 pm in Seed Exchange Forum

I have many seeds left. Too many to plant next year. Check out my list. I'm offering the seeds I have (until they are gone) for SASBE. I added some photos of a few, but I mean all the seeds on my trade list (see end of post). I'm in the Secret Santa Swap and the WLOMWL Swap.
Allium Nigrum
White Allium photo 20140528alliumwhite_zps2617ca46.jpg
Red Profusion Zinnia
double red zinnia with yellow center photo 20141014redzinniayellowcenter_zps6c7c6f0a.jpg
Cosmos (Bumblebee Not Included)
 photo 20140901beeoncosmosmunypark2_zpse9d77701.jpg
gaillardia photo 20140624gaillardiaborder_zps638a6bad.jpg

**-means I have MANY of this kind of seed so don't hesitate to ask for extras

Allium, Nigrum White G
Allium, Afl. 3" purple globes G
Aster, Purple Dome, G
Bachelor Button, Blue Boy G**
Bachelor Button, mixed G**
Balsams (Touch Me Not) purple only G
Butterfly Weed, Orange G
Castor Bean, red G poisonous to humans & animals (bulky)
Cosmos, mix G
Cosmos, Sensation G or C**
Cosmos, Sensation Dwarf G
Cosmos, Sonata G
Daisy, Oxeye, G
Dianthus, red G
I can't guarantee Echinacea seeds from hybrid plants, but you may try if you like. I don't know if they are viable and I don't know if they will stay true. I can only offer.
Echinacea, Augustifolia G
Echinacea, Harvest Moon pale yellow G
Echinacea, Tomato Soup G** (I have many)

Gaillardia, Goblin G
Gaillardia, Yellow Mesa G
Hibiscus, Burgundy G
Hibiscus, Pink Dark (Hardy) G
Hibiscus, Pink Light (Hardy)
Hibiscus, White w/red throat G
Larkspur, dwarf G

Marigold, Disco G
Marigold, French Double G
Marigold, Kees G
Marigold, Orange Double (short) G
Marigold, Orange Double (tall) G

Marigold, Yellow Double G
Mexican Hat, red G
Mexican Hat, yellow G
Mix, Annual Cut Flower C
Mix, Easy C
Mix, Flower Garden C
Mix, Fragrant C
Mix, Old Fashioned C
Milkweed, Butterfly Weed Orange G
Milkweed, Common Pink G**
Moonflower (Datura) C
Morning Glory, Clarke's Heavenly Blue C
Morning Glory, Grandpa Ott C
Morning Glory, Tickle Me Pink G
Siberian Wallflower G**
Smoketree (American) bush G
Spiderwort, purple G
Sunflower, Mammoth Russian G (Bulky)
Sweet William
Tansy, yellow G**
Zinnia, California Giant C
Zinnia, Red Knee High Profusion G

Basil, Purple Ruffles G Beautiful purple fall color, licorice-cinnamon scent.

Tomato, German Yoder (heirloom) G
All these listed as (G) are from 2014.

This post was edited by xiangirl on Tue, Nov 18, 14 at 15:34


clipped on: 11.18.2014 at 04:19 pm    last updated on: 11.18.2014 at 04:20 pm

Cannot find answers to this question...

posted by: lovemrmewey on 10.31.2014 at 03:49 pm in Pets Forum

Do you have any experience with a cat warmer pad? I cannot seem to find any evidence about safety, or efficiency of these items. My DH is determined that our cat should have one of these but I cannot seem to get any opinions. I have tried the usual methods, even subscribed to Consumer Reports on line (which is worthless, unlike the print magazine) and I know this battle is looming in the near future. The few I can read about (Amazon) leave me wondering if these are worthwhile at all, if even safe. He has no other cats to cuddle up with and seems to crave warmth (as do all cats!). He sleeps on the cable TV box, but I would prefer a better method if available.

Many many thanks!


clipped on: 11.16.2014 at 09:24 am    last updated on: 11.16.2014 at 09:24 am

Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention XX

posted by: tapla on 07.11.2014 at 01:09 am in Container Gardening Forum

If you find value in the information I've set down in this post and feel there is anything pertaining to the topic that should be added or gone into in more detail, please contribute your suggestions. My goal was to offer soil-related information with the potential to help you increase the reward you get in return for your efforts. What might I do to increase the value of this offering?

Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention XX
I first posted this thread back in March of '05. So far, it has reached the maximum number of posts GW allows to a single thread nineteen times, which is much more attention than I ever imagined it would garner. I have reposted it in no small part because it has been great fun, and a wonderful catalyst in the forging of new friendships and in increasing the length of my list of acquaintances with similar growing interests. The forum and email exchanges that stem so often from the subject are in themselves enough to make me hope the subject continues to pique interest, and the exchanges provide helpful information. Most of the motivation for posting this thread another time comes from the reinforcement of hundreds of participants over the years that strongly suggests the information provided in good-spirited collective exchange has made a significant difference in the quality of their growing experience. I'll provide links to some of the more recent of the previous dozen threads and nearly 3,000 posts at the end of what I have written - just in case you have interest in reviewing some of the excellent conversations we've had on the subject. Thank you for taking the time to examine this topic - I hope that any/all who read it, take at least something interesting and helpful from it. I know it's long. My hope is that you find it worth the read, and the time you invest results in a significantly improved growing experience. Since there are many questions about soils appropriate for use in containers, I'll post basic mix recipes later, in case any would like to try the soil. The recipes will follow information that explains a concept that almost certainly represents the largest step forward a conventional container grower can take at any one time. The most important thing you can take from what I've written is an understanding of the concept explained here. I'm sure I'll stress that point more than once, and hope that as you start reading, you'll work toward attaining the ability to make your soils work FOR you, instead of against you.

Before we get started, I'd like to mention that I wrote a reply and posted it to a thread recently, and I think it is well worth considering. It not only sets a minimum standard for what constitutes a 'GOOD' soil, but also points to the fact that not all growers look at container soils from the same perspective, which is why growers so often disagree on what makes a 'good' soil. I hope you find it thought provoking:

Is Soil X a 'Good' Soil?

I think any discussion on this topic must largely center around the word "GOOD", and we can broaden the term 'good' so it also includes 'quality' or 'suitable', as in "Is soil X a quality or suitable soil?"

How do we determine if soil A or soil B is a good soil? and before we do that, we'd better decide if we are going to look at it from the plant's perspective or from the grower's perspective, because often there is a considerable amount of conflict to be found in the overlap - so much so that one can often be mutually exclusive of the other.

We can imagine that grower A might not be happy or satisfied unless knows he is squeezing every bit of potential from his plants, and grower Z might not be happy or content unless he can water his plants before leaving on a 2-week jaunt, and still have a weeks worth of not having to water when he returns. Everyone else is somewhere between A and Z; with B, D, F, H, J, L, N, P, R, T, V, X, and Y either unaware of how much difference soil choice can make, or they understand but don't care.

I said all that to illustrate the large measure of futility in trying to establish any sort of standard as to what makes a good soil from the individual grower's perspective; but let's change our focus from the pointless to the possible.

We're only interested in the comparative degrees of 'good' and 'better' here. It would be presumptive to label any soil "best". 'Best I've found' or 'best I've used' CAN sometimes be useful for comparative purposes, but that's a very subjective judgment. Let's tackle 'good', then move on to 'better', and finally see what we can do about qualifying these descriptors so they can apply to all growers.

I would like to think that everyone would prefer to use a soil that can be described as 'good' from the plant's perspective. How do we determine what a plant wants? Surprisingly, we can use %s established by truly scientific studies that are widely accepted in the greenhouse and nursery trades to determine if a soil is good or not good - from the plant's perspective, that is. Rather than use confusing numbers that mean nothing to the hobby grower, I can suggest that our standard for a good soil should be, at a minimum, that you can water that soil properly. That means, that at any time during the growth cycle, you can water your plantings to beyond the point of saturation (so excess water is draining from the pot) without the fear of root rot or compromised root function or metabolism due to (take your pick) too much water or too little air in the root zone.

I think it's very reasonable to withhold the comparative basic descriptor, 'GOOD', from soils that can't be watered properly without compromising root function, or worse, suffering one of the fungaluglies that cause root rot. I also think anyone wishing to make the case from the plant's perspective that a soil that can't be watered to beyond saturation w/o compromising root health can be called 'good', is fighting on the UP side logic hill.

So I contend that 'good' soils are soils we can water correctly; that is, we can flush the soil when we water without concern for compromising root health/function/metabolism. If you ask yourself, "Can I water correctly if I use this soil?" and the answer is 'NO' ... it's not a good soil ... for the reasons stated above.

Can you water correctly using most of the bagged soils readily available? 'NO', I don't think I need to point to a conclusion.

What about 'BETTER'? Can we determine what might make a better soil? Yes, we can. If we start with a soil that meets the minimum standard of 'good', and improve either the physical and/or chemical properties of that soil, or make it last longer, then we have 'better'. Even if we cannot agree on how low we wish to set the bar for what constitutes 'good', we should be able to agree that any soil that reduces excess water retention, increases aeration, ensures increased potential for optimal root health, and lasts longer than soils that only meet some one's individual and arbitrary standard of 'good', is a 'better' soil.

All the plants we grow, unless grown from seed, have the genetic potential to be beautiful specimens. It's easy to say, and easy to see the absolute truth in the idea that if you give a plant everything it wants it will flourish and grow; after all, plants are programmed to grow just that way. Our growing skills are defined by our ability to give plants what they want. The better we are at it, the better our plants will grow. But we all know it's not that easy. Lifetimes are spent in careful study, trying to determine just exactly what it is that plants want and need to make them grow best.

Since this is a soil discussion, let's see what the plant wants from its soil. The plant wants a soil in which we have endeavored to provide in available form, all the essential nutrients, in the ratio in at which the plant uses them, and at a concentration high enough to prevent deficiencies yet low enough to make it easy to take up water (and the nutrients dissolved in the water). First and foremost, though, the plant wants a container soil that is evenly damp, never wet or soggy. Giving a plant what it wants, to flourish and grow, doesn't include a soil that is half saturated for a week before aeration returns to the entire soil mass, even if you only water in small sips. Plants might do 'ok' in some soils, but to actually flourish, like they are genetically programmed to do, they would need to be unencumbered by wet, soggy soils.

We become better growers by improving our ability to reduce the effects of limiting factors, or by eliminating those limiting factors entirely; in other words, by clearing out those influences that stand in the way of the plant reaching its genetic potential. Even if we are able to make every other factor that influences plant growth/vitality absolutely perfect, it could not make up for a substandard soil. For a plant to grow to its genetic potential, every factor has to be perfect, including the soil. Of course, we'll never manage to get to that point, but the good news is that as we get closer and closer, our plants get better and better; and hopefully, we'll get more from our growing experience.

In my travels, I've discovered it almost always ends up being that one little factor that we willingly or unwittingly overlooked that limits us in our abilities, and our plants in their potential.

Food for thought:
A 2-bit plant in a $10 soil has a future full of potential, where a $10 plant in a 2-bit soil has only a future filled with limitations. ~ Al

Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention

As container gardeners, our first priority should be to ensure the soils we use are adequately aerated for the life of the planting, or in the case of perennial material (trees, shrubs, garden perennials), from repot to repot. Soil aeration/drainage is the most important consideration in any container planting. Soils are the foundation that all container plantings are built on, and aeration is the very cornerstone of that foundation. Since aeration and drainage are inversely linked to soil particle size, it makes good sense to try to find and use soils or primary components with particles larger than peat/compost/coir. Durability and stability of soil components so they contribute to the retention of soil structure for extended periods is also extremely important. Pine and some other types of conifer bark fit the bill nicely, but I'll talk more about various components later.

What I will write also hits pretty hard against the futility in using a drainage layer of coarse materials in attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the total volume of soil available for root colonization. A wick can be employed to remove water from the saturated layer of soil at the container bottom, but a drainage layer is not effective. A wick can be made to work in reverse of the self-watering pots widely being discussed on this forum now.

Consider this if you will:

Container soils are all about structure, and particle size plays the primary role in determining whether a soil is suited or unsuited to the application. Soil fills only a few needs in container culture. Among them are: Anchorage - a place for roots to extend, securing the plant and preventing it from toppling. Nutrient Retention - it must retain a nutrient supply in available form sufficient to sustain plant systems. Gas Exchange - it must be amply porous to allow air to move through the root system and gasses that are the by-product of decomposition to escape. Water - it must retain water enough in liquid and/or vapor form to sustain plants between waterings. Air - it must contain a volume of air sufficient to ensure that root function/metabolism/growth is not impaired. This is extremely important and the primary reason that heavy, water-retentive soils are so limiting in their affect. Most plants can be grown without soil as long as we can provide air, nutrients, and water, (witness hydroponics). Here, I will concentrate primarily on the movement and retention of water in container soil(s).

There are two forces that cause water to move through soil - one is gravity, the other capillary action. Gravity needs little explanation, but for this writing I would like to note: Gravitational flow potential (GFP) is greater for water at the top of the container than it is for water at the bottom. I'll return to that later.

Capillarity is a function of the natural forces of adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion is water's tendency to stick to solid objects like soil particles and the sides of the pot. Cohesion is the tendency for water to stick to itself. Cohesion is why we often find water in droplet form - because cohesion is at times stronger than adhesion; in other words, water's bond to itself can be stronger than the bond to the object it might be in contact with; cohesion is what makes water form drops. Capillary action is in evidence when we dip a paper towel in water. The water will soak into the towel and rise several inches above the surface of the water. It will not drain back into the source, and it will stop rising when the GFP equals the capillary attraction of the fibers in the paper.

There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .100 (just under 1/8) inch. Perched water is water that occupies a layer of soil at the bottom of containers or above coarse drainage layers that tends to remain saturated & will not drain from the portion of the pot it occupies. It can evaporate or be used by the plant, but physical forces will not allow it to drain. It is there because the capillary pull of the soil at some point will surpass the GFP; therefore, the water does not drain, it is said to be 'perched'. The smaller the size of the particles in a soil, the greater the height of the PWT. Perched water can be tightly held in heavy (comprised of small particles) soils where it perches (think of a bird on a perch) just above the container bottom where it will not drain; or, it can perch in a layer of heavy soil on top of a coarse drainage layer, where it will not drain.

Imagine that we have five cylinders of varying heights, shapes, and diameters, each with drain holes. If we fill them all with the same soil mix, then saturate the soil, the PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This saturated area of the container is where roots initially seldom penetrate & where root problems frequently begin due to a lack of aeration and the production of noxious gasses. Water and nutrient uptake are also compromised by lack of air in the root zone. Keeping in mind the fact that the PWT height is dependent on soil particle size and has nothing to do with height or shape of the container, we can draw the conclusion that: If using a soil that supports perched water, tall growing containers will always have a higher percentage of unsaturated soil than squat containers when using the same soil mix. The reason: The level of the PWT will be the same in each container, with the taller container providing more usable, air holding soil above the PWT. From this, we could make a good case that taller containers are easier to grow in.

A given volume of large soil particles has less overall surface area when compared to the same volume of small particles and therefore less overall adhesive attraction to water. So, in soils with large particles, GFP more readily overcomes capillary attraction. They simply drain better and hold more air. We all know this, but the reason, often unclear, is that the height of the PWT is lower in coarse soils than in fine soils. The key to good drainage is size and uniformity of soil particles. Mixing large particles with small is often very ineffective because the smaller particles fit between the large, increasing surface area which increases the capillary attraction and thus the water holding potential. An illustrative question: How much perlite do we need to add to pudding to make it drain well?

I already stated I hold as true that the grower's soil choice when establishing a planting for the long term is the most important decision he/she will make. There is no question that the roots are the heart of the plant, and plant vitality is inextricably linked in a hard lock-up with root vitality. In order to get the best from your plants, you absolutely must have happy roots.

If you start with a water-retentive medium, you cannot effectively amend it to improve aeration or drainage characteristics by adding larger particulates. Sand, perlite, Turface, calcined DE ...... none of them will work effectively. To visualize why sand and perlite can't change drainage/aeration, think of how well a pot full of BBs would drain (perlite); then think of how poorly a pot full of pudding would drain (bagged soil). Even mixing the pudding and perlite/BBs together 1:1 in a third pot yields a mix that retains the drainage characteristics and PWT height of the pudding. It's only after the perlite become the largest fraction of the mix (60-75%) that drainage & PWT height begins to improve. At that point, you're growing in perlite amended with a little potting soil.

You cannot add coarse material to fine material and improve drainage or the ht of the PWT. Use the same example as above & replace the pudding with play sand or peat moss or a peat-based potting soil - same results. The benefit in adding perlite to heavy soils doesn't come from the fact that they drain better. The fine peat or pudding particles simply 'fill in' around the perlite, so drainage & the ht of the PWT remains the same. All perlite does in heavy soils is occupy space that would otherwise be full of water. Perlite simply reduces the amount of water a soil is capable of holding because it is not internally porous. IOW - all it does is take up space. That can be a considerable benefit, but it makes more sense to approach the problem from an angle that also allows us to increase the aeration AND durability of the soil. That is where Pine bark comes in, and I will get to that soon.

If you want to profit from a soil that offers superior drainage and aeration, you need to start with an ingredient as the basis for your soils that already HAVE those properties, by ensuring that the soil is primarily comprised of particles much larger than those in peat/compost/coir/sand/topsoil, which is why the recipes I suggest as starting points all direct readers to START with the foremost fraction of the soil being large particles, to ensure excellent aeration. From there, if you choose, you can add an appropriate volume of finer particles to increase water retention. You do not have that option with a soil that is already extremely water-retentive right out of the bag.

I fully understand that many are happy with the results they get when using commercially prepared soils, and I'm not trying to get anyone to change anything. My intent is to make sure that those who are having trouble with issues related to soil, understand why the issues occur, that there are options, and what they are.

We have seen that adding a coarse drainage layer at the container bottom does not improve drainage. It does though, reduce the volume of soil required to fill a container, making the container lighter. When we employ a drainage layer in an attempt to improve drainage, what we are actually doing is moving the level of the PWT higher in the pot. This simply reduces the volume of soil available for roots to colonize. Containers with uniform soil particle size from top of container to bottom will yield better and more uniform drainage and have a lower PWT than containers using the same soil with added drainage layers.

The coarser the drainage layer, the more detrimental to drainage it is because water is more (for lack of a better scientific word) reluctant to make the downward transition because the capillary pull of the soil above the drainage layer is stronger than the GFP. The reason for this is there is far more surface area on soil particles for water to be attracted to in the soil above the drainage layer than there is in the drainage layer, so the water perches. I know this goes against what most have thought to be true, but the principle is scientifically sound, and experiments have shown it as so. Many nurserymen employ the pot-in-pot or the pot-in-trench method of growing to capitalize on the science.

If you discover you need to increase drainage, you can simply insert an absorbent wick into a drainage hole & allow it to extend from the saturated soil in the container to a few inches below the bottom of the pot, or allow it to contact soil below the container where the earth acts as a giant wick and will absorb all or most of the perched water in the container, in most cases. Eliminating the PWT has much the same effect as providing your plants much more soil to grow in, as well as allowing more, much needed air in the root zone.

In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they suffer/die because there is insufficient air at the root zone to insure normal root function, so water/nutrient uptake and root metabolism become seriously impaired.

To confirm the existence of the PWT and how effective a wick is at removing it, try this experiment: Fill a soft drink cup nearly full of garden soil. Add enough water to fill to the top, being sure all soil is saturated. Punch a drain hole in the bottom of the cup and allow the water to drain. When drainage has stopped, insert a wick into the drain hole . Take note of how much additional water drains. Even touching the soil with a toothpick through the drain hole will cause substantial additional water to drain. The water that drains is water that occupied the PWT. A greatly simplified explanation of what occurs is: The wick or toothpick "fools" the water into thinking the pot is deeper than it is, so water begins to move downward seeking the "new" bottom of the pot, pulling the rest of the water in the PWT along with it. If there is interest, there are other simple and interesting experiments you can perform to confirm the existence of a PWT in container soils. I can expand later in the thread.

I always remain cognizant of these physical principles whenever I build a soil. I have not used a commercially prepared soil in many years, preferring to build a soil or amend one of my 2 basic mixes to suit individual plantings. I keep many ingredients at the ready for building soils, but the basic building process usually starts with conifer bark and perlite. Sphagnum peat plays a secondary role in my container soils because it breaks down too quickly to suit me, and when it does, it impedes drainage and reduces aeration. Size matters. Partially composted conifer bark fines (pine is easiest to find and least expensive) works best in the following recipes, followed by uncomposted bark in the <3/8" range.

Bark fines of pine, fir or hemlock, are excellent as the primary component of your soils. The lignin contained in bark keeps it rigid and the rigidity provides air-holding pockets in the root zone far longer than peat or compost mixes that too quickly break down to a soup-like consistency. Conifer bark also contains suberin, a lipid sometimes referred to as nature's preservative. Suberin, more scarce as a presence in sapwood products and hardwood bark, dramatically slows the decomposition of conifer bark-based soils. It contains highly varied hydrocarbon chains and the microorganisms that turn peat to soup have great difficulty cleaving these chains - it retains its structure.

Note that there is no sand or compost in the soils I use. Sand, as most of you think of it, can improve drainage in some cases, but it reduces aeration by filling valuable macro-pores in soils. Unless sand particle size is fairly uniform and/or larger than about BB size, I leave it out of soils. Compost is too fine and unstable for me to consider using in soils in any significant volume as well. The small amount of micro-nutrients it supplies can easily be delivered by one or more of a number of chemical or organic sources that do not detract from drainage/aeration.

The basic soils I use ....

The 5:1:1 mix:

5 parts pine bark fines, dust - 3/8 (size is important
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)
1-2 parts perlite (coarse, if you can get it)
garden lime (or gypsum in some cases)
controlled release fertilizer (if preferred)

Big batch:
2-3 cu ft pine bark fines
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
2 cups dolomitic (garden) lime (or gypsum in some cases)
2 cups CRF (if preferred)

Small batch:
3 gallons pine bark
1/2 gallon peat
1/2 gallon perlite
4 tbsp lime (or gypsum in some cases)
1/4 cup CRF (if preferred)

I have seen advice that some highly organic (practically speaking - almost all container soils are highly organic) container soils are productive for up to 5 years or more. I disagree and will explain why if there is interest. Even if you were to substitute fir bark for pine bark in this recipe (and this recipe will long outlast any peat based soil) you should only expect a maximum of two to three years life before a repot is in order. Usually perennials, including trees (they're perennials too) should be repotted more frequently to insure they can grow at as close to their genetic potential within the limits of other cultural factors as possible. If a soil is desired that will retain structure for long periods, we need to look more to inorganic components. Some examples are crushed granite, fine stone, VERY coarse sand (see above - usually no smaller than BB size in containers, please), Haydite, lava rock (pumice), Turface, calcined DE, and others.

For long term (especially woody) plantings and houseplants, I use a superb soil that is extremely durable and structurally sound. The basic mix is equal parts of screened pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite.

The gritty mix:

1 part uncomposted screened pine or fir bark (1/8-1/4")
1 part screened Turface
1 part crushed Gran-I-Grit (grower size) or #2 cherrystone
1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil (eliminate if your fertilizer has Ca)
CRF (if desired)

I use 1/8 -1/4 tsp Epsom salts (MgSO4) per gallon of fertilizer solution when I fertilize if the fertilizer does not contain Mg (check your fertilizer - if it is soluble, it is probable it does not contain Ca or Mg. If I am using my currently favored fertilizer (I use it on everything), Dyna-Gro's Foliage-Pro in the 9-3-6 formulation, and I don't use gypsum or Epsom salts in the fertilizer solution.

If there is interest, you'll find some of the more recent continuations of the thread at the links below:

Post XIX



Post XVI

Post XV

Post XIV

If you feel you were benefited by having read this offering, you might also find this thread about Fertilizing Containerized Plants helpful.

If you do find yourself using soils you feel are too water-retentive, you'll find some Help Dealing with Water Retentive Soils by following this embedded link.

If you happen to be at all curious about How Plant Growth is Limited, just click the embedded link.

Finally, if you are primarily into houseplants, you can find an Overview of the Basics that should provide help in avoiding the most common pitfalls.

As always - best luck. Good growing!! Let me know if you think there is anything I might be able to help you with.



clipped on: 11.16.2014 at 09:01 am    last updated on: 11.16.2014 at 09:01 am

RE: YIKES please help (Follow-Up #51)

posted by: luxrosa on 10.17.2014 at 07:00 pm in Roses Forum

Because your employer likes Austin roses, which are bred to have bloom shapes which resembles that of Old Roses. , you might try introducing your employer to some of the original Old Roses, many of which do particularly well in the South, and hundreds of which
- bloom more often than Austin roses can because they do not have a period of dormancy,
- are beautiful plants, even when not in bloom.
- more information about these on the antique roses page at gardenweb
each of these roses may be seen in photos at /roses under search and plant.
or on gardenweb under search
-Old Garden "Tea" class ( a totally different class (or group) than Hybrid Tea. Because Tea roses do not go dormant in the winter, and they bloom on short flowering stems, they re-bloom faster than Hybrid Teas or Austin roses, and begin to bloom earlier in spring, and later through autumn.
a few of the more popular Tea roses that I love:
apricot 'Lady Hillingdon' a fragrant apricot rose that I've counted as being in bloom for more than 150 days, ( an average rose flush lasts between 28 and 33 days, during its first bloom cycle of the year with no less than 33% of its full bloom output during that time. (its' pollen is sterile which is why it blooms so much without ever needing to be dead-headed).
'Etoile de Lyon' my favorite lemony yellow old garden Tea, it has a scent which is called "delicious" by one author and to me smells of honeysuckle, and fresh cream with vanilla in it.
Yellow/ with some pink.
Marie Van Houtte (lovely scent, lots of prickles)
Mrs. Dudley Cross similar hues but nearly no prickles.

Golden Yellow
Reve d'Or' can be grown as a 5 and 1/2 foot tall shrub or a climber so can
Alister Stella Gray which is a creamy yolk hue, and which has smaller roses.
White Tea roses
Westside Road Cream Tea (
Ducher' is said to do well in the south,
both are very fragrant, and covered with beautiful white roses most of the year.
Mme. Alfred Carriere, a white Tea-Noisette climber which is very popular.

Pink, or pink blend.
Mrs. B.R. Cant
Le Vesuve (China-Tea) very floriferous, has dainty pink blend roses that seem to alight gracefully on the plant like butterflies.
a very attractive plant.
Maman Cochet large pink and cream roses which show some lavender tints.

Red blend
Monsieur Tillier
this and mrs .b.r. cant can grow to be more than 6' tall in two years.

Noisette class
Rosebushes from this class are particularly well foliaged, and most are fragrant, some greatly scented.
-small flowered
-scent is often sweet and spicy, like cloves and roses.
Blush Noisette is very popular in the American South, it was bred there, in c. 1803, by a rice farmer named John Champneys.
Nastarana a white Noisette.

Rosa moschata is a wild white Musk rose that is very fragrant that was used to breed the first Noisette rose. It too is a wonderful garden plant.

I'd ask locally which roses are most disease resistant in your area. The only reason, I believe, that everyone doesn't grow Old Garden Tea and Noisette rosebushes is that they cannot: roses of the 3 evergreen classes are not cold hardy, but we who are fortunate to live in California or the South can grow such wonderful roses.
Plus, roses from the evergreen group do not need to be pruned to bloom at their best.
One need only to remove diseased wood or wood that is out of bounds.
I water my largest evergreen rosebushes only once a month, because many have deep roots that reach lower levels of water in the soil.

Well thats my tuppunce.

Good luck and God bless, I'm sorry if we were rough with you,

P.S. all in all, I'd say my evergreen roses need about 1/3rd to 1/2 less care than my Austin roses.
another perk, Old Garden Tea roses grown on their own roots can bloom for more than 50 years, Mr. Austin suggests his rosebushes be replaced after ten years.


clipped on: 10.19.2014 at 09:32 am    last updated on: 10.19.2014 at 09:32 am

sunflower house

posted by: samhain10 on 01.22.2013 at 01:59 pm in Garden Experiments Forum

Hi! Still snowy and freezing here in MI, but I'm working on plans for a sunflower house this season - anyone out there have first hand experience with this so as to give me pointers for success? I'll plant in a circle 10-12 ft in diameter with a 2-3 ft doorway, with Kong Sunflowers in the inner part of the perimeter and shorter varieties in front of those. I'm also thinking of planting a mini-garden of flowers in front of the "house" in the manner of a cottage garden. The whole area is in an already established garden space which is part of my veggie garden. Just thought I'd have some fun this year! :)


clipped on: 09.21.2014 at 10:13 am    last updated on: 09.21.2014 at 10:13 am

Zinnias -- How to Pinch?

posted by: ticksmom419 on 05.17.2005 at 03:58 pm in Annuals Forum

Afternoon! I'm growing zinnias from seed for the first time and seeing that their leaves are pretty huge compared with the width of the stem. I want to pinch, but am not sure how far down to go. Mine have about 4 sets of leaves now. Should I pinch it back to about 2 sets?




clipped on: 08.04.2014 at 09:22 am    last updated on: 08.04.2014 at 09:22 am

1963 pool resurrection

posted by: dumbcluck on 09.05.2013 at 04:32 pm in Pools & Spas Forum

Hey everybody, has anyone here ever had any experience in bringing a filled in pool back to life?
We have a pool in our backyard that was filled in with dirt and trees by previous owner and we are considering making it swim able again?
Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated.


clipped on: 07.22.2014 at 09:36 pm    last updated on: 07.22.2014 at 09:37 pm

purple and yellow foliage plants

posted by: david883 on 06.16.2014 at 09:39 pm in Perennials Forum

So last year I posted about creating a yellow and purple bed. Well... I'm still struggling. I didn't get very far with it last year and unfortunately haven't had a chance to work on it at all this year except a few small starter balloon flowers, echinops, a clematis franziska maria (now where the stella d'oro is on the far right). I need to kind of let everything fill out so I can realize I hate what I've done and move it all around again. I need to stick in some creeping ground covers eventually but right now my struggle is with foliage colors. I've got a purple sage, purple huechera obsidian and some heliopsis with variegated leaves but I think I need something with a little more foliage WOW factor.
It pretty much gets full sun with some dabbled shade here and there through out the day but its pretty minimal. Any other suggestions for this area are, of course, very welcome. Just be gentle - its a mess :)


clipped on: 06.17.2014 at 11:31 am    last updated on: 06.17.2014 at 11:32 am

Appetizers for a chili party

posted by: lakeguy35 on 10.03.2010 at 07:09 pm in Cooking Forum

Offered to bring something for a friends BD party next weekend and they suggested appys. The main meal will be chili. Three different kinds with a variety of toppers. We will be partying in the back yard around a fire pit. Fridge, oven, and stove top access is not a challenge. I'm clueless tonight......ideas/recipes.



clipped on: 05.28.2014 at 10:49 am    last updated on: 05.28.2014 at 10:49 am

Call me crazy

posted by: asleep_in_the_garden on 09.28.2013 at 02:31 pm in House Plants Forum

...But I'm trying to root some rather large cuttings here.

Please feel free to advise,offer your own experiences,etc regarding the rooting of(perhaps impossibly) over-sized cuttings.


clipped on: 05.26.2014 at 05:14 am    last updated on: 05.26.2014 at 05:14 am