Cathy Craig
Tue, 26 Nov 2002 14:04:13 PST
This will probably be a topic for the whole week. Sand is the most tiresome thing to track down! IMO, regardless of who is marketing sand as 'builders' sand', 'plaster sand', 'washed sand', 'sharp sand', the sand is almost invariably common 'play sand' (or worse, may be beach sand perhaps washed once but still containing salt!). Play sand is rounded and either too uniform in size or has many 'fines', the other sands listed above (all more-or-less the same kind of sand we want), is neither rounded nor uniform in size, has few 'fines', and has sharp corners.

Major retail outlets are not going to have good sand for gardening/bulb/drainage purposes. Neither are nurseries. Your best bet for finding really good sand is to ask a local good plaster guy or a good cement guy. They must have good sand (like what we want) because the plaster sand is used in their stucco/cement/etc. to help hold sticky stuff together and the coarse sand they use has a lot more surface area and sharper corners which perform this function.

If you can't find one of these guys or are too timid (polite) to chase one down on the road, then try any local company that list's it's name followed by the words Builders (or Building) Supply. You might also try to call a local quarry and see to whom they sell their sharp sand or if perhaps they will sell you some directly. It may be possible to find some decent sand at a Farm Supply too.

What further complicates matters is that sand is quarried and not manufactured. Therefore, even if you do find a local source, the quality of their sand from month to month will vary; sometimes really great, sometimes not so hot. So you may want to investigate enough to develop a couple of local sources.

I don't know about Riverside (where you live), but around here the very best and sharpest sand has a lot of orange bits in it and appears very orangy. It's pretty easy to spot the good sand with a little experience looking from place to place. There is a great place up in Mission Viejo for sharp sand (not Sepulveda), one that is so-so in San Juan Capistrano, and one here in SC that is very good and has a great idea. I bought 10 bags of sand from them at $1.50 each (something under 100 lbs each) and when I've used that up (about 6 weeks), I take the empty bags back and they fill them back up for only $1 each. Easy to carry in the trunk and the used bags hardly take any space (since they're no longer burlap).

I hope Patty Colville or any other geology person will comment on this topic. I'd like to hear what they have to say.

Cathy Craig Zone 9b MaritimePacific Bulb Society President

>Where do you all get the sand you use to encourage good draining for South African bulbs

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