Salt on Soil (grasping at straws)

I've got 3 Rosemary plants in pots, indoors. I fully expect them to drop dead sometime soon, even though I read the recent thread in which many of you contributed good ideas. Two reasons for my pessimism, one comical/imaginary (maybe), and the other....who knows?
1) The plants are on a table right near where my son drops his sneakers when he comes into the house. I can't prove it, but I think this could be contributing to the plants' demise. I can smell those sneakers across the room. I can't imagine how the plants must be suffering.
2) The important issue: Along with all the other things that make Rosemary unhappy indoors, there's quite a bit of crust on the soil's surface. Built up minerals from tap water, obviously. I always age the water for a couple of days before using it, although this addresses the chlorine issue. We won't have especially hard water here - the water authority data says we're sort of in the middle. But still, I wonder if that the buildup is bad for the plants, especially when they're already having a bad time.
There hasn't been enough rain or snow to collect, and who knows what's in it anyway, considering what it does to lakes and ponds and trout. So, I decided to use only water that's been through the Brita filter. See what I mean about grasping for straws? The filter's not designed to remove minerals. But, I figured...I don't know. Couldn't hurt, right? OK. It's pointless.
Yesterday, I poured 4 jugs of water through one of the pots, which got it nice & clean. Of course, this was done at the risk of making the soil too wet for a plant that's lost 2/3 of it's leaves in 6 weeks. Now the roots will rot. I could move the plant to a smaller pot while it's indoors, but that risks stressing the thing even MORE.
Anyone know anything about mineral crust on potting soil? HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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I know just about as much as you do. I know nothing about the minerals in city water. I know most places put flourine as well as chlorine in the water. And then alot of stuff comes off the pipes that the water is traveling through. I wonder what grows upon the inside of water pipes.
I know I'm not helping anything and I'm making things more confusing but I'll continue anyways, because sometimes a lightbulb lights up...
Now if there is a small hole in a water pipe somewhere on the way to your residence... Okay okay, I'll stay off that topic, because it really does confuse the issue.
What about creating a distillation deal? I don't know the full details about this, but somewhere in a Genetics class a full century ago, a wise man indicated that pure water could be obtained by heating the water to a boiling temperature, and I always suspected that that was untrue, but maybe it became pure enough to be classified as pure? I think a coffee pot does this.
Furthermore, the United States army trains people stuck in the desert to pee into... I forgot the details but the basic idea is to use a piece of clear plastic as an umbrella over a cantine and as water rises to the plastic, condesation and gravity forces the water to the middle point of the plastic, the plastic being soft and pliable bends whereby the middle of it becomes the heaviest and it drips into a cantine or what not, ready to be drank. I think the coffee pot is your best friend in this case. I think it'll remove the heavier minerals and thus the mineral problem disappears.
The Genetics professor claimed that he had 200 proof alcohol. And he also claimed that it left no hangovers. He laughed when we asked him how he knew that.
-- Jim Carlock Post replies to newsgroup.
I've got 3 Rosemary plants in pots, indoors. I fully expect them to drop dead sometime soon, even though I read the recent thread in which many of you contributed good ideas. Two reasons for my pessimism, one comical/imaginary (maybe), and the other....who knows?
1) The plants are on a table right near where my son drops his sneakers when he comes into the house. I can't prove it, but I think this could be contributing to the plants' demise. I can smell those sneakers across the room. I can't imagine how the plants must be suffering.
2) The important issue: Along with all the other things that make Rosemary unhappy indoors, there's quite a bit of crust on the soil's surface. Built up minerals from tap water, obviously. I always age the water for a couple of days before using it, although this addresses the chlorine issue. We won't have especially hard water here - the water authority data says we're sort of in the middle. But still, I wonder if that the buildup is bad for the plants, especially when they're already having a bad time.
There hasn't been enough rain or snow to collect, and who knows what's in it anyway, considering what it does to lakes and ponds and trout. So, I decided to use only water that's been through the Brita filter. See what I mean about grasping for straws? The filter's not designed to remove minerals. But, I figured...I don't know. Couldn't hurt, right? OK. It's pointless.
Yesterday, I poured 4 jugs of water through one of the pots, which got it nice & clean. Of course, this was done at the risk of making the soil too wet for a plant that's lost 2/3 of it's leaves in 6 weeks. Now the roots will rot. I could move the plant to a smaller pot while it's indoors, but that risks stressing the thing even MORE.
Anyone know anything about mineral crust on potting soil? HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Jim, you're as mixed up as I am!
Boiling water will kill microorganisms, but it will concentrate whatever else it contains. That's why chefs will simmer meat or fish stock if the flavor needs to be concentrated further. Distilled water was a thought, but I believe it's actually more volatile than your typical tap water. It'll eat through things, so I don't want to use it on plants.

when
we're
it
decided
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true, true, true, true, but <cough> http://tinyurl.com/3vau4 <cough>
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That explains everything.
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I think you will find that although distilled water is more volatile* (talking about propensity to become vapor) than your tap water, the difference is neglibile for gardening and most other purposes.
Water is an excellent solvent but to observe a difference in corrosiveness between distilled and tap water I guess you would need some cartoonish hyperbole. If anything, your tap water will have non- neutral pH and so be more likely to eat through things although you may still need time dilation or Elmer Fudd to see a difference.
Somewhere, you can actually buy distilled water in distilled water-proof gallon jugs which some people actually drink as if it were regular water. 8^@ So either you're thinking of something other than distilled water or there is a definition of distilled water that I'm not familar with.
* I thought about it some more, and maybe this is or isn't true. There is a high school chemistry experiment where you raise the boiling point of water by adding various soluable solids. I would expect something similar would happen to a much less measurable degree when you add tap water residue (not sure about gases) to distilled water, but who knows? I don't know why volatility is even a concern.
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I don't know why it's a concern, either. I'm just throwing ideas around and seeing which floats the longest.
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A water distillation apparatus (which is surely well over 100 years older than the genetics class mentioned) relies on the boiling point of water to separate it from solutes, or to say in plain English, crap, of higher boiling point. The vapor is diverted to a separate area where it condenses. The solutes (crap) largely remain at the bottom of the heated area and the pure water plus anything else that managed to hitch a ride is collected at an exit location. A typical coffee maker (and I'm not talking about J.P. Moneybag's Ka-ching Distilling Coffee Maker), boils water forcing it up a tube to the drip area, but does nothing to divert pure water vapor to a separate location and solutes (crap) can remain in liquid solution although if you have hard water, some of it will precipitate out and form scale around the heating element as the water boils away.
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when
we're
it
decided
I wouldn't worry about the salt and mineral build up on the surface of the compost, if it's unsightly, scrape off the top inch and apply some new compost.
I suspect that you may be over watering it, or it's not getting enough natural light. Rosemary is native to dry, sunny areas like the Mediterranean. As such they like a dry soil in a sunny position, so you should try to mimic this environment when growing indoors. Try to reduce the amount you water, only giving it more when the top of the compost dries out.
Do the pots have saucers under them to catch water? Is the pot sitting in water? If so tip this excess water away and allow the plant to dry out a bit.
HTH
Nick http://www.ukgardening.co.uk
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of
the
Rosemary
Built
couple
for
in
it
too
but
the
out.
Light is one of the problems here. It's been incessantly cloudy, and even though the plants are in the best window in the house, it's still not enough. I'm considering a plant light, but at the same time, I'm trying to keep the utility bills down.

They've needed very little water, but when they do, they're always watered in the sink, on a grating for drainage, without the saucers of course.
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"Doug Kanter" wrote:

What about redirecting light to it with a mirror? I think mirrors are pretty cheap at Wally World.
--
Jim Carlock
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Interesting thought, but clunky. I'll be setting up the fluorescent lights for seedlings in about 6 weeks, but maybe I'll set up just one fixture (two 40w tubes) sooner. I refuse to lose this rosemary!
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"Doug Kanter" wrote:

Flourescent lighting uses very little wattage so electrical costs of having such lights is low. If you add one or two four foot full-spectrum flourescent over your plants, that'll be as beneficial as a "grow light," but the full spectrum is healthier for humans &amp not as annoying as the blue glow of a Grow Light; the full-spectrums are nice to live, read, & work by. A full spectrum light makes good overall light for the whole room, so you could leave off a couple of the other lights if price of electricity is a question. Since the other lights in the room are apt to be incadescent using three or four times the electricity per bulb, you'll actually be SAVING electricity to use a full spectrum tubes. Full-spectrum flourescents take many years to burn out, but should even so be changed each spring because it looses its full spectrum of light as it ages & becomes more blinky & no loner ideal human lighting, but changed annually it's way closer to natural light & reportedly even helpful for "winter blues" that afflicts people getting too little sunlight. There are also full-spectrum incadescent bulbs but they wouldn't save electricity, though you could put them in a floor lamp & aim that at your plants as a stop-gap method of getting them more light during overcast days & short-day winters.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) wrote in

<snip>
Anybody use relatively new CFL reflector type flood lights? I guess most are around 18 W, 950 lumens ... don't know how that compares to total output of 4' tubes, but it should be easier to direct the output and should not need any special fixture(?). I have some of the newer mini- twist CFL bulbs (13W, ~800 lumens) and the only complaint is although they are instant-on, they don't reach full brightness immediately when the air temperature is low (say <65 F). Probably half dead rosemary will not complain as much.
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It's always my people who are the scapegoats.
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Doug Kanter Wrote:

i hope you are growing these rosamaries in terracotta rather tha plastic pots...its almost impossible to overwater terracotta...its ver difficult to grow indoor plants outdoors some reasons for this ar known...its almost impossible to grow outdoor plants indoors an no-ones quite sure why although i would guess light levels would be significant factor...these plants would need to be allowed to dry ou and become dormant if you are to have any chance of sucess...when yo water fill the gap between the top of the pot and the soil leve allowing water to drain thru washing out indissolvable salts an ..more important allowing new oxygen to enter the root zone...th central heating in your house is probably killing the
-- Eyebright
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I thought about the porous vs the plastic pots. Out of 3 plants, 1 has died, and it was in plastic. I have one more in plastic and one in a stone pot. Both seem to be doing equally well. Perhaps I'll move the plastic prisoner to terra cotta.
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Perhaps I'll move the plastic prisoner

A few years ago I grew Rosemary from seed to make topiary gifts for Christmas. They started out in cell packs, then plastic pots and finely in terra cotta. I lost more in the plastic pot stage, but the exact reason was beyond me. Too many variables with this plant, maybe because of trying to create there natural environment in the house. Out of 30 plants, I lost about 10.
Good luck! :)
Jeana
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Obviously, the only solution is to move my entire life to the natural environment of Rosemary, which, I understand, is beaches along the Mediterranean. What a horrible thought! :-)
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