pbs Digest, perlite and such

Adam Fikso irisman@ameritech.net
Wed, 05 Jul 2006 10:26:59 PDT
Oh, yes, Mary Sue--  It's not just the additive and its availability, but 
what you're putting into and hoping to gain from doing so. .

Pine bark is useless for me because it rots too fast.  Redwood bark is OK on 
top as a mulch to keep water in the soil.  My clayey loam is quite sticky, 
holds lots of water but dries as hard as a rock and cracks open in the 
summer.  Cracks can be an inch wide and a foot deep. I thought of using 
cypress mulch because it does not rot as fast as any other available wood 
(takes years).  But   it holds wa-a-ay too much moisture and I had arisaemas 
rot in pots with only an inch of it in there.

I found decomposed granite useful (but expensive).  Builder's sand (the term 
for the coarser (quarry run)  sand needs to be sifted to be useful for me, 
too.  Mixing both coarse bark, and other vegetative matter with sand (even 
the play sand) is better than the soil I have.  In any case, I have 
leasrnedt o NMECVER buyt "top soil"  It's often a sludge from Florida swamps 
that chokes off any air in your soil.  I am still trying to counteract the 
effects of a bag of it in my iris beds 5 years ago.   Adam in Glenview, IL--  
prehistoric lakeshore of  Lake Michigan .  Z5a

----- Original Message ----- 
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To: <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 05, 2006 11:00 AM
Subject: pbs Digest, Vol 42, Issue 8

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> Today's Topics:
>   1. Re: Perlite substitute (Mary Sue Ittner)
>   2. Re: Iris dichotoma (James Waddick)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 04 Jul 2006 20:53:05 -0700
> From: Mary Sue Ittner <msittner@mcn.org>
> Subject: Re: [pbs] Perlite substitute
> To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed
> Hi,
> I find it interesting when we revisit this subject every now and then. 
> What
> I've noticed is that we are such a diverse group from so many climates and
> situations that what works one place does not seem to work as well other
> places. In the beginning of my bulb addiction I tried whatever anyone
> suggested. Perlite made me cough so I abandoned it.  Someone recommended
> cat litter once. I tried it unsuccessfully ( I did look for one without a
> lot of additives.) I searched everywhere for Turface, calling around and
> finally found some that I could purchase I think as Profile clay soil
> conditioner or perhaps it was aquarium mix. Nothing has ever grown very
> well for me in it so I've stopped looking for it. Someone recommended
> decomposed granite so I got a bag of it at a landscape supply store. It 
> was
> so heavy and clumped too and in my wet winters I'm sure did not generate
> the air porosity I needed. Red lava rock easily obtained in Northern
> California was not a success either although I think in a bed where I 
> mixed
> it in bulbs may have done better in later years so perhaps the rain 
> leached
> something out that was not good in the beginning. When I first started
> growing bulbs I read that 1/2 sand and 1/2 peat moss was very good. So I
> bought sand and didn't realize it needed to be coarse. The definition of
> "sand" to me was what you had in your sandbox as a child or saw at the
> ocean. I am sure what I added to my mix resulted in less air in the mix
> instead of more. I never could find grit when I was looking for it when
> everyone talked of adding grit to the top of their pots. What I use now is
> coarse sand (which is like small pebbles or rocks) easily obtained at
> landscape stores  and even available here away from civilization and 
> pumice
> which I can get in bags at Orchard Supply and a place called Harmony 
> Supply
> in Sebastopol. Those places are a couple hours away so we buy a lot of 
> bags
> when we go. And it isn't cheap either. You can also get it at Charley's
> Greenhouse Supply  but it is even more expensive there (although in
> different grades.) What I'm looking for is something to add air porosity 
> to
> my mixes during my main growing season when it rains a lot and 
> temperatures
> are cool. Most of the bulbs in my collection are winter growers. Sometimes
> I add fir bark or even redwood compost and a handful of coir too even
> though I've been told that the salt content in it can be very damaging for
> some plants.  I loved Bob Werra's description of his Moraea mix when he
> asked and answered the rhetorical question about why he used what he did
> with, "just because." There are a lot of ways to grow bulbs and if you 
> keep
> trying you find what works for you. I seem to recall John Lonsdale who
> brought up this whole subject telling us he used composted peanut hulls
> with his perlite and that obviously isn't something easily obtainable 
> here.
> I'm don't mean to discourage all the suggestions since it is fascinating 
> to
> hear what works in different places, but since we probably have all levels
> of experience in our group would like to point out to the beginners in our
> group that additives are often used to create air spaces in your mix so 
> the
> bulbs won't rot and to do that the particles have to be different sizes.
> That's why perlite when it gets to be mostly fines or fine sand is a
> problem. Using some of these things can create bog conditions with very
> little air.
> Mary Sue
> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2006 08:25:49 -0500
> From: James Waddick <jwaddick@kc.rr.com>
> Subject: Re: [pbs] Iris dichotoma
> To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <p06230942c0d16d2bf0d4@[]>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ; format="flowed"
> Dear all;
> Iris dichotoma is very hardy. Easily Zone 3 and possibly
> further north. I recommend growing it from seed which is very easy.
> This is one of the parents of Candy Lilies (xPardancanda). The other
> is Belamcanda Chinensis (Now Iris domestica).
> These Candy Lilies actually show a variety of colors and
> forms-some closer to I dichotoma - others closer to I domestica.  I
> like the ones that have the I dichotoma forms, but a variety of
> colors from white to yellow, pink, red, purple etc. These take some
> careful selection of seedlings.
> A nice things is they bloom very late in the day- about the
> time you might return from a day of work, these are just  open and
> fresh. Each flower last just a day, but there may be a hundred on
> each well branched stallk and they open over a long period.  And they
> are drought tolerant too.
> Best Jim W.
> -- 
> Dr. James W. Waddick
> 8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
> Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
> Ph.    816-746-1949
> Zone 5 Record low -23F
> Summer 100F +
> ------------------------------
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