Bulb-growing and wood

Michael Mace michaelcmace@gmail.com
Sat, 20 Aug 2011 15:40:51 PDT
I learned a little lesson about bulb-growing this week, and wanted to pass
it along.


I grow about 300 pots of summer-dormant bulbs, in pots that rest on pallets
on a hillside.  Last winter I noticed that in some of the pots, the plants
were suddenly turning yellow and dying back.  I had done some Roundup
spraying nearby a couple of weeks before, and I assumed I had accidentally
gotten some spray on the plants.  I was very mad at myself.


But the problem continued to spread, with some of the pallets having more
trouble than others.  Finally I decided that it might be a fungus infection,
so I watered the pots with fungicide.  That immediately stopped the problem.


But I couldn't figure out where the fungus came from.  I hadn't changed the
soil mix I use, or the fertilizer, and this is a problem I never had before.
I wondered if maybe I had gotten a contaminated batch or perlite or


Then this week, when I was repotting the bulbs, I noticed that underneath
some of the pots the wooden pallets had dried white patches of rot on them.
Although the pots are made of redwood (which resists rot) they are over ten
years old and are starting to decay.  Once I knew to look for it, I could
see dried white patches inside some of the pots as well.  I believe now that
rot was starting in the wooden slats, and then spreading up into the pots,
where it nailed the bulbs.


Lesson learned; I am putting fiberglass sheets under the pots, and I'll also
treat them with fungicide at the start of the growing season.  I am also
thinking about using pressure-treated lumber when I replace the pallets, but
I worry that the chemicals might poison the bulbs.  Any thoughts on that?


Anyway, if you grow your bulbs on wooden benches or in wooden boxes, this
may be something to watch out for.



San Jose, CA

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