On 9 Nov 03 at 17:57, Jane McGary wrote: > Rodger Whitlock's question about my potting mix is difficult to > answer in the detail he asks for, but I will try. Your reply is pretty good! I'm satisfied, for whatever that's worth. > >And as for the forest humus: what species contribute to it? > > Alder (Alnus rubra), vine maple (Acer circinatum), thimbleberry > (Rubus parviflorus), trailing blackberry (Rubus sp.), and a little > Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and herbs such as Dicentra > formosa and Montia. In other words, the same plants Rodger probably > has in his woods if there is some surface moisture. Alders are > nitrogen-fixers, so the soil under them is quite rich. I put it > through a coarse sieve to get the large chunks, bugs, etc., out, but > it is not sterilized. In fact, it is probably loaded with nematodes, > fungi, and bacteria -- yet it seems to be better for the bulbs than > any other organic component I've used. I prefer to get soil from the > woods rather than the fields because the weed seeds are less of a > problem. (Footnote: Acer circinnatum is uncommon on Vancouver Island. There's a stand along the San Juan River upstream from Port Renfrew, and that's about it afaik (as far as I know).] Your description is very helpful. Along the east coast of VI, the climate is pretty dry and the ecology subtly different from what you describe; your description suggests (indeed, you say so explicitly) that the forest humus you use is quite rich. The presence of critters, sensu latu, is undoubtedly beneficial. In her "Gardening and Beyond", Florence Bellis extolled the virtues of having good lively microbial flora in one's soil. Sounds like I need to make an expedition toward the west where it's wetter to get some good forest soil. > I don't think my soil mix has much to do with whatever success I > achieve, although it does provide a lot of air space and rapid > drainage, which is important for some bulbs. I'm half-way persuaded that the mixes I've used for a long time are too heavy and airless. These days I pour in the perlite until they start to feel more open and airy. > Probably regular repotting in fresh soil, application of > fertilizer, good air circulation, and managing moisture are more > important than what the bulbs are growing in. Don't forget putting them in a sunny enough position. You simply can't grow sun-loving bulbs in the shade! -- Rodger Whitlock Victoria, British Columbia, Canada "To co-work is human, to cow-ork, bovine."