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New member from LA

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Darby Gaines, Jun 12, 2020.

  1. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    In the past i fertilized with every watering, using a dilute solution but then I realized that there is a lot of salt accumulation inside the mixer part that prevents the solution to mix with a flow of water. A lot of my plants were underfed as a result. Since last fall, I've been fertilizing all my plants once a week using an electric pump sprayer. I use 1.5 tablespoons of MSU RO water fertilizer for 12 gallons of water. It takes me about 60 gallons to fertilize my collection of about 500 plants. I've noticed that some plants enjoy more fertilizer, like bulbophyllums, some coelogynes, some Mexican laelias during summer months. To supplement them with extra food, I usually add a little bit of slow-release fertilizer into each pot. In the case with a mounted plant, I'm attaching a small fertilizer cup to the mount.
     
  2. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Ok, thanks, that makes sense. Can you show me a picture of one of the fertilizer cups for the mounts, by any chance?
     
  3. Raven

    Raven Well-Known Member

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    They are sold on Ebay as bonsai fertilizer baskets.
     
  4. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Ah ok. Thanks! I'll take a look.
     
  5. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Back again from a bit of a break -- does anyone have any experience with heating a small greenhouse? I'm in Los Angeles, so freezing isn't really an issue, but it does get into the lower 40s/upper 30's every winter here, and my little greenhouse is essentially unheated.

    Last winter I tried using a small electric space heater--but it wasn't powerful enough to make much of a difference, and it ended up burning the leaves of the nearest plant. So that was a fail.
     
  6. Roberta

    Roberta Active Member

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    Welcome back!
    I have experienced the same.... the winter of 2006-2007 (really cold for extended period), shortly after I moved into my house and installed a greenhouse (8 ft x 12 ft) I found that my electric heater could not keep up, so I backed it up with a propane heater like this https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Heater-F2...r+buddy&qid=1606790776&sr=8-3&tag=googhydr-20

    I found that the default 1-lb propane cylinders only lasted about 4 hours, so I got the optional hose, and connected it to a 20-lb tank (barbecue type)... I turned it on for particularly cold nights, downside is that it doesn't have a thermostat so you have to manually turn on and off. The following year I got a direct-vent natural gas heater (which does have a thermostat) which has worked great for me. Similar to this one... shop around. Williams 14,000 BTU/Hr Direct-Vent Wall Furnace Natural Gas-1403822 - The Home Depot but this one is too big... look for the 10,500 BTU size (I got mine from this outfit, here is a very useful "calculator" for determining size ACF Greenhouse Heaters & Heater Size + Cost to Heat Calculators.
    Also a useful accessory is this wall panel to replace the section of glazing (metal so you don't start a fire) Charley's Greenhouse & Garden Mounting Panel Kit for Gas Heater C4200
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
  7. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Ah great, thanks for the answer! I'll take a look at that calculator, that's helpful. Trying to turn that propane heater on and off manually must have been a pain indeed...

    If I can't figure out the heater situation I did think about leaving the GH unheated and concentrating more on plants that can handle low temps (above freezing of course) without a problem, but of all the supposedly 'temperature tolerant' plants I've tried only Cymbidiums, Epi. magnoliae and Cattleya/Laelia purpurata seem to be truly unfazed by the winters here. I'm sure there are others but haven't found them yet...
     
  8. Roberta

    Roberta Active Member

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    Laelia anceps is pretty bulletproof. I don't know what part of LA you live in ... there is a big difference between the coastal area and the San Fernando Valley. I am in coastal Orange County. To see what I grow outside check out my website http://orchidcentral.org and look through the Index of Plants. Even if you live in an area that is not as temperate, the list of outdoor-growers is long, and can give you some more ideas that you can refine with a bit of research. But my winter temps do go down into the low 40's F routinely. Also note that a dry orchid can tolerate a lot more cold than a wet one. In winter, water only in the morning, not at all if it is really cold.
     
  9. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    I'm in Eagle Rock, which is sort of between Pasadena and Glendale. So no, not by the coast at all--it gets far too hot here in the summers to grow things like Masdevallias here (I wish I could...)
     
  10. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Actually, I'll ask my other question here (why not).

    Earlier I was having problems with my plants' leaves being too yellow, getting too much light/not enough food. Based on advice I received on this forum I started using an RO filter (which works, but is a pain because it generates so much waste water and so little filtered) and the MSU fertilizer. Now new leaves are a better color, so, good.

    But I'm still having a problem that new leaves/growths on my plants are regularly smaller than the older ones. They do flower, but the plants seem to be getting weaker rather than stronger over time. From what I've read the usual culprits for this condition are too little light (not the case here, if anything light levels are on the high side) and insufficient food -- but I'm using the MSU fertilizer according to the instructions on the jar.

    What other factors should I look at? Roots on these plants appear healthy. Could stress from too-cold winters cause the weak growths? Again, these are supposedly temperature-tolerant varieties, but...I'm not sure.
     
  11. Roberta

    Roberta Active Member

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    Which plants? Different groups have different needs, and probably different solutions to the problem.
    RO is likely unnecessary for most plants, a bit of pH adjustment likely will work to increase efficiency for fertilizers designed for tap water.
     
  12. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Well, I only have a couple of orchids currently (holding off on buying any more until I can get these in better shape). The ones that seem to be most affected by successively weaker growths are Cattleya Arctic Star (a C. intermedia/harrisonae hybrid with some other stuff mixed in), a couple of Brassavola nodosa hybrids, and Encyclia/Prosthechea fragrans. Cymbidiums, Epi. magnoliae, and Catt/Laelia purpurata seem to be less affected. I also have a couple of epiphytic cacti and they seem to grow normally.

    I'd gladly give up the RO filter--I'll take a look again at the MSU fertilizer webpage about adjusting pH.

    One thing about the filter, though -- my misting system runs via a pump off of a 55 gallon barrel that I fill up with tap water. This works well, but eventually the misting heads get clogged up with what appear to be mineral deposits from the tap water. It would be great to be able to filter out those deposits, but there is NO WAY that I'd be able to fill up that barrel with my current RO filter, it puts out so little filtered water per hour--I haven't timed it, but it seems like it takes over an hour to fill up a 5 gallon bucket. So...some other water filtration solution would be nice, if only so that I don't have to keep swapping out misting heads so often, but that's low on the priority list.
     
  13. Roberta

    Roberta Active Member

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    For the misting heads, this stuff works pretty well do dissolve the deposits...https://www.amazon.com/Orbit-Arizon...ocphy=9031536&hvtargid=pla-319287210680&psc=1 (same product is also on the Lowe's website.

    If new growths are getting smaller, a consideration may be the medium... what medium and what pots are you using? I have found that Catts and relatives tend to resent pots, do better once the escape over the edge. So I have pretty much given up on pots, use wood baskets with very large bark (think of them as three-dimensional mounts) for the larger plants, mounts for the rest. Depending on what else is in those B. nodosa hybrids, it might be a bit on the cool side for their preference (you can compensate by putting near a block wall or house that heats up during the day) but in addition to that, they really do better for me mounted. I don't see anything there that would particularly care about water quality... My Cyms and Catts have gotten city water for years, and thrive. (I got an RO system for Pleurothallids and some other things that are more sensitive, and have increased my success rate for those) Now, this works for me because I'm a ham-handed waterer.. and have an automatic sprinkler system so that I can take a vacation. Mounted plants (and those in very open baskets) dry out very fast. Cyms are heavy feaders, I use a top dressing of time-release fertilizer to supplement my hand-fertilizing which is very light, and not all that frequent. The rest of the collection seems not to care.
     
  14. Darby Gaines

    Darby Gaines New Member

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    Ok, thanks for the tip on the misting head cleaner, that will definitely help.

    All of the plants I mentioned, actually, are mounted. That's why I put in the misting system in the first place, so I could grow mounted plants. I will say that I mounted all of them within the past year, so even though they all have grown new roots since then, it's possible that they haven't had enough time to adapt. I wondered if possibly the mounted plants aren't getting enough food -- I spray them with diluted fertilizer regularly, but I'm not sure how much they absorb. The color of the leaves is greener than before, though, so they must be getting something out of it.

    Apart from that, it does seem like I should try to get the heating situation under control.

    Thanks for the tip on the Cymbidiums -- I have just a couple but will try the time-release fertilizer, yeah.
     
  15. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You can run your RO so that it produces 1 gallon of product (pure water) and 2 gallons of waste. You can run it at one to one (I did that during the drought) but you go through filters faster. You put a valve on the waste water line and close it down so that you get the proportions you want. I just use a quick connect shut off valve on the 1/4" tubing. I use a two 1 cup measures and run both product and waste into them. It takes a little fussing with the flow to get the right proportions, but it is worth it.

    Are you checking the ppm of the product you are making?

    I run my misters and swamp coolers on RO water. It keeps the bad water off the plants and won't clog things up.
     
  16. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I forgot to mention that the unvented Southern Burner heaters work very well. Mine are natural gas but they also make them for propane. I got my first one in the late 1980's and it is still working. Never had any damage to flowers. The first one was in a 12 x 14' greenhouse. They can sit under the bench so you don't loose any bench space.