What to do about this rain or lack of it

tropical_thought(San Francisco)February 2, 2010

I got all ready for another super rainy week. I put down some supersoil in a bag which is not that sludgy thing, but bagged supersoil a real soil. They don't make real supersoil anymore in the yellow bag, so I bought the vegetable compost supersoil and it was mostly steer manure, I think. The ingredients on all the bags are the same in the same order, forest products, peat moss, manure, but don't reflection what is in the bags. I applied snail bait and waited for the rains to come and now they not coming, until Friday. I have to think about watering. On the other hand, things were look very sickly due to the rain and I want them dry out. I don't have a drip system. So, now I have to worry about this supersoil without any water applied to it. What is everyone else going to do this week?

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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

The ingredients are listed in the order reflecting the percentages used. You have mostly forest products which here in California would be ground up byproducts of the lumber industry. A combination of fir, pine and redwood. Peat moss is the next most prevalent and lastly steer manure. This combination would be on the acid side and for vegetables would probably have some lime added to bring closer to a neutral PH. I would be mixing it into my existing soil and add water if needed. Al

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 10:08AM
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They stopped making real supersoil about 20 years ago. Must have been change in ownership-as it really was one of the best mixes I had ever used-the sands and compost was very rich and airy. Now? its a cheap mix that needs plenty of additives to make decent.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 11:33AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Al, I was buying supersoil to fill in hole, because I donated some sand soil to a clay bound friend who wanted to have vegetable planter. But, they don't make real supersoil, but I am very dissatisfied with what I got. I used it as a top dressing to help to block the pod annua grass weeds that spring up all over, but my knee is so painful, I can not really dig it in. I only dig or turn the soil just to stop the weeds and as little as I can get away with do to my knee making it hard to get down there. I have a turning rake, but it's kind of clumsy to stand there and try and turn without hurting the shallow rooted plants.

And this rain seems to have brought me spider mites. I just lost two of the three primroses to spider mites. When the plant is very badly infested you have to take it out. I am hoping the last one which is white will make it. I don't see any spider mites on it, and I got them all at the same nursery, so it's confusing to wonder how I got so many spider mites out of all this rain. Maybe the eggs hatched? Its hard to be some what disabled and my husband likes plants, but he doesn't garden at all. He helps me move the big bags of soil amendment in but that is about it. I just keep trying to apply mulch things to the top very often for the weeds, but microbark is so expensive so I grade down to shredded redwood, but that steals nitrogen, so I downgraded to this stuff. If the soil stays covered the weeds won't germinate. I like the Black Forest brand of compost, but I have to drive to Fremont to buy it. It makes a good mulch, but it still cost twice as much as the cheap bags at home depot running about five dollars for two cubic feet. Having to buy so much really can put a dent in my wallet.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 11:35AM
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I empathize about your body "talking" to you, when you do "too much" [grin] I deeeeep mulch to control weeds in beds and on paths. I think of compost as a soil amendment and mulch as the coarser uncomposted stuff used to insulate soil, hold water, and suppress weeds.

Would that hole left from donating sandy soil to a clayee friend be used for a small compost 'pit' or is it too large? Or maybe get your friend to donate equal amount of clay to mix in with your soil and other amendments to fill the hole? But that does sound pretty strenuous. My kids half-joke,half-serious threaten to take my shovel away from me....THAT will be the day!!

Re: finding a way around aging bones, I have a "thing" that my kids got me ... turned one way it is a narrow 'bench' to sit on next to raised beds and work. Turned the other way, it is a 'U'-shaped padded kneeling platform and the legs are handles that I use to brace myself to get up off my knees. I love this 'thing'!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 2:08PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I got the whole all filled up. The hard part is mixing in the native soil and I did not do a very good job, but I survived. I already planted a Canna there. I don't thinking mixing clay soil would work, but I am thinking about running an experiment test, but it might just make my soil harder.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 7:31PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I can remember when they changed the Supersoil. I used it at that time for special plants that required a sterilized mix. Suddenly I noticed reading the fine print that sterilization was no longer mentioned. A lot of money can be saved by eliminating the "Steam sterilization" of the mix. It was originally produced by a South San Francisco orchid grower who's growing facilities had outlived their time and the real estate was too valuable for a nursery operation. I just can not remember his name. Al

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 9:27AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

It was called Acres of Orchids. I found this on wikipedia. That was the good old supersoil and my grandmother used it. She was a fanatic gardener, but it skipped a generation. I feel like supersoil is a family tradition. I used to go to Acres of Orchids, but I was never into orchids because one needs a green house for most of them. They used to have a camp in which you could send your orchid to live in their big green house and be tended by the staff. It was a hotel for orchids. Also there was a retail store and of course they sold the real supersoil. I guess Scotts ruined it.

I have not bought supersoil for a while, in fact, because I do have sandy soil, I was making compost, so I only thought to buy it when I had an area to fill in. It would have been great for my planter boxes, because it blends in well with the soil type I have.

Much of what is now South San Francisco was initially agricultural land, and was originally known as Baden. Small pockets of farmland still exist near San Bruno Mountain, but these lands are disappearing quickly because of the demand for housing and retail development. Acres of Orchids, founded by the Rod McLellan Company in the late 1920s, was one such victim of housing development. Once one of the largest facilities in the United States producing orchids and gardenias, the nursery closed in 1998.[3] A new housing tract now sits upon the land formerly occupied by Acres of Orchids greenhouses, off El Camino near Hickey.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 9:56AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

That's too funny! A winter camp for orchids. Only in America.

Mine normally spend the winter in the compost pile.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 1:59PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Actually it was not just for winter. In San Francisco the summers are too cold to grow orchids, as well as the winters, so I never grow orchids. I would if I had my own green house. Some of the orchids are very expensive so one can not afford to compost them. It takes years to build up a rare collection.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 2:56PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

you are perhaps a bit too pessimistic about not being able to grow orchids in San Francisco, as there are at least a dozen species that can easily be grown here, if you pay attention to their proper care. While it is true that warm growing orchids can't handle our local weather, things like Cymbidiums, Laelias, some Dendrobiums, and winter deciduous orchids such as Bletilla striata are very easy to grow and bloom here.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 9:07PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

There are some that could be hypothetically grown outdoors here, but I have not seen anyone in San Francisco with them growing outdoors. However, I tended to flavor the real hot house ones like Masdevallia. But, I should probably try some because I started a website about growing tropical plants in San Francisco. It's just an experiment because I am taking a class in Dreamweaver. I should be collecting information about tropical plants that can grown here. Right now, I am just starting Cannas.

Here is a link that might be useful: My website

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 11:40PM
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Dick_Sonia(Sunset 17)

Masdevallia contains a few warm-growing species, but the majority are cool to intermediate. I know of several people in the Bay Area who grow Masdevallia veitchii and other cool-growers outdoors in containers that they bring in only for the hardest freezes.
Cymbidiums are common outdoor subjects on the West Coast all the way up into southern coastal Oregon. I was in SF just last week and noticed several landscapes with outdoor cymbidiums: some as container plants on porches, and a few as front yard landscape features planted directly in the soil. It's easy to miss them when they're not in bloom unless you are yourself a grower. Their leaf blades by themselves could easily be taken for agapanthus or lilyturf by the casual observer.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 1:10AM
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i grow masdevallia outdoors in san francisco west twin peaks area which is quite foggy and cold all summer.i brought them in for the hard freeze but they stay out for frost. the cymbidiums do fine even when it snowed in sf a few years ago, there is no way i can bring those in about 30 plants.the masdevallia i purchased years ago at orchidmania.its just for fun that i grow orchid.cymbidiums do especially well in cool sf .

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 11:48AM
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"hypothetically", not.

There are hundreds of orchids that grow well in San Francisco. When I lived there and did the second to last revision of "Growing Orchids" for Sunset Books, I had quite the collection of cool-loving epiphytic types, semi-terrestrial types (e.g., Cymbidiums, Zygopetalum), and true hardy, terrestrial species including some California natives.

And during the course of researching the book, I bumped into dozens of people who had orchids outdoors in the Bay Area.

Also, you'll find out that there are a gazillion home-garden growers of "tropicals" in San Francisco (some of them knock around in this forum) and many more who grow "tropical-esque" plants. Tons of info already out there.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 12:20PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Tropical Thought,
You need to expand your horizons if you think that tropicals and orchids can only "hypothetically" be grown outdoors in San Francisco. Just a visit to the entry garden at the SF Botanic Garden, or a quick visit to Flora Grubb Nursery would show you much more of what is possible here than what you seem to think. On the other hand, most of what you are showing on your web site of tropicals are in fact subtropical plants, and mostly grow outside the true tropics. Of the tropicals that can be grown in San Francisco and Hawaii, they will mostly be cloudforest plants from higher elevation mountains that occur within the tropics, but have climates with distinctively cooler nights after slightly warmer days, but seldom freeze. This climate is very similar to what we get along the immediate coast of California where there is fog. In Hawaii, this sort of climate is only found at higher elevations where it does cool down at night.

I find it hard to believe that you wouldn't have noticed Cymbidiums at the very least as outdoor orchids in San Francisco gardens, as they are everywhere on people's decks and front porches. We have an ideal climate for Cymbidiums in particular, as they actually require cooler nights to flower, and won't flower in a hotter subtropical climate like south Florida, where it isn't cool enough at night in late fall/winter to initiate flowering.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 12:22PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I am not saying the featured plants are the only ones I am growing, in fact I am also growing black eyed susan vine and a few other tropicals. It's not supposed to be a be all of tropical things you can grow in San Francisco.

I also really like bromeliads, but I can't make them live outdoors,and I don't really like house plants. I like plants in the house, but I don't like caring for plants in my house, and I don't care for plants that have to be moved around in containers. The webpage is going to get improved as the class continues, I have to make new sections and features.

I have a friend who grow Cymbidiums outdoors in patio in the east bay (where it's colder in the winter), so clearly there are Cymbidiums around here. Hypothetically does mean you can not grow them. But, I don't want to give advice for something I have not personally grown.

I would like a pineapple tree, some of those banana leaf plants and some palms. I just don't always get what I want due to budget and time considerations.

I grow many non tropicals as well, but the website is a theme. The name "San francisco gardening" costs like 2000 dollars for a domain name, and tropicalthought costs 10 dollars a year. There is a care section I just added with growing tips for the plants listed. If you are like me and you get a new plant, you look up growing tips for that plant online. The information online varies for different subjects.

I am going to expand it to non tropicals as well after the class is over. I am growing a lot of roses and a pine tree, I mostly grow non tropicals.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 4:16PM
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sub tropical or tropical, for me if i grew the plant in hawaii and its now growing in my back yard here in sf, then i say it grows here in san francisco, such as white ginger, night blooming cereus, bird of paradise , yellow orchids which look like a spray of dancing ladies ??ocidium(sp),green ti leaf plant and pikake(jasmine).great explanation gardenguru1950 and bahia and dick sonia, ever been to orchid mania, they have a website, i've been going ever since they were in japantown years ago and then moved to ft mason, always on mothers day.check it out

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 4:57PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I do like ginger and I have seen a lot of Bird of Paradise around here. I have never grown it, because it's kind of sharp and it's big, but I would like to try that someday. I also suffer from limited space, and limited sun space, but if I take out the deck that came with the house, I could expand my garden by 30 percent, but I am waiting for the deck to rot out. I really like Canna Lucifer the red and green one. I snapped this is the east bay.

Here is a link that might be useful: east bay canna

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 5:13PM
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