On Wed, 07 Sep 2016 16:54:26 GMT, Scott Lurndal wrote:
Yeah, except that I run my own gas station at home.
There's no gas at Costco almaden (but man, I *love* the nearby combination
of side-by-side Home Depot and Hardware Freight!
So, if I go to Costco Almaden, I go there first, before the Costco opens,
and then after Costco, I get my milk and eggs at the next-door Trader Joes,
so I have it all worked out.
If I need to fill up on 70 gallons of gasoline, I go to Costco Coleman.
BTW, Costco Coleman is building next year an entire *new* gas station, up
the road a bit, in the opposite corner of the parking lot closer to the
railroad tracks (my "buddies" always chat with me there since they see me
come by once a month for my 70-gallon fill).
Yeah. Same name. Different road. Wait until you drive any road with
"Saratoga" in the name out here! :)
And, the one word that means the *opposite* of what it is, is the
California word "expressway". Back east, the BQE is an "expressway". Out
here, they call some Spanish Saint an expressway but it's nothing of the
sort. It's riddled with lights.
Lawrence was a spanish saint? Actually, a bit of trivia - there was
originally a town called Lawrence about where I280 and the Lawrence
Expressay meet. Hence the name. (Saw this on a circa 1920 bay
area map at the British Museum :-)
(And yes, I realize you're referring to the San Tomas expressway, which
out here, must be compared to surface streets, not the BQE).
On Thu, 08 Sep 2016 12:51:55 GMT, Scott Lurndal wrote:
Well, Quito must have been "something" Spanish! :)
(Only you'd get that inference.)
I didn't know about the lost town of Lawrence though; I knew about the lost
towns of Alma and Lexington - and how Holy City isn't all that holy ...
but, yes, I was referring to San Tomas where that darn thing isn't even
close to the BQE.
On Tue, 6 Sep 2016 07:22:36 -0700 (PDT), Roy wrote:
You're the first to explain that the soil I found was 'crap', as that's the
main goal, which is to scientifically approach this.
Of course I can do away with the soil on the property, but then the kids
wouldn't learn how to analyze what it is that we have, and they wouldn't
learn what they need to add to make it work better.
Consider this like the Martian Biome that was in Gravity (or whatever that
movie was where Matt Damon had to grow potatoes).
We want to approach this as "our soil" and "our food waste" and "our
plants", so, buying potting soil defeats the purpose.
I really just want an analysis of the existing soil, as "you" see it.
So far, you're the only one to analyze it from the pictures, and you called
I suspect it *is* crap - but how do you know that by looking at it?
Was it the percentage of stones?
Since I removed the stones, was it something else that triggered that
google basic soil analysis. there are many versions
of it, but one is simple enough that anyone with a
clear jar and some water can manage. it will tell you
the mix of various things in terms of composition
which is where you want to start an analysis.
once you understand the different steps and elements
that make up good soil, then you can look at nutrients
and soil organic matter, soil carbon and the active
soil community which is the basis of fertility. the
substrate of the soil (what it is made of) can be
greatly enhanced by adding organic matter to it, but
if the soil/substrate is poor and water flows through
it too quickly and there is no clay then organic
matter and nutrients are easily lost (you will use
more than is needed and lose fertility if there are
that movie said very little/next to nothing about
fungi and their role along with the various other
yes, however, it really is better in terms of labor
and time/efforts/water invested to figure out which
aspect is lacking and adjust that first before pouring
other stuff into it.
it looks mostly mineral, sandy, gritty and not any
clay or loam and almost no organic matter at all or
other forms of carbon.
color and texture.
add clay, add organic matter, add nitrogen laden
chopped up plant stuff, moisten, let sit for a few
learn how to worm compost food/paper scraps...
i use a method which is simple but also refurbishes
garden soil (using earthworms along with the other
have fun, i certainly am! :)
On Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 5:41:54 AM UTC-4, Danny D. wrote:
Forget your own soil. Buy enough of this to fill the planters:
Yes, it'll cost you money. But it'll idiot-proof your grandchildren's
If you cheap out and try to add fertilizer to gravel, failure is guaranteed.
Organic matter is required for plant growth. There's symbiosis among
plants, soil bacteria and other organisms, and dead plant matter in soil.
A user-friendly description of this is available in the novel, "The Martian".
On Tue, 6 Sep 2016 09:53:42 -0700 (PDT), Cindy Hamilton wrote:
I was remiss in not mentioning the whole point is to teach the kids.
It's best to teach them using their own stuff.
That's why we're using "our" soil.
And that's why we're using "their food waste".
Sure, we could buy seeds and buy potting soil; but that defeats the
It's ok if we fail - but it's not OK if we don't understand WHY we failed.
We want to understand the soil first - which is my main question.
Then, we want to understand how to improve the soil second.
That's my second question.
Ah, this is the second *assessment* of the soil pictures.
The first assessment was that it was "crap" and your assessment is that
I certainly would agree that half of it is "gravel"; but I already sifted
out that half, so, now it's all *not gravel*.
Is the not-gravel which is left still *gravel* in your eyes?
This is a key point!
I don't *see* any organic matter in this soil.
Would I normally be able to *see* organic matter in decent soil?
NOTE: Back east, years ago, I remember the black soil full of bugs and
roots; but *this* soil is not that way at all. Very brown. No roots.
Dunno if that's a clue (but it probably is).
How do I get *organic* matter into soil?
Do they sell organic matter as such?
Heh heh ... funny you mention this because the *movie* with Matt Damon is
partially what inspired this experiment.
We want the kids to understand their own soil, their own food waste, and to
understand how to improve their own soil to grow their own food.
It's a learning experiment. Failure is an option, but not learning is not
So, that's why I asked for an *assessment* of the soil that I pictured.
On Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 1:56:31 PM UTC-4, Danny D. wrote:
Well, it's not what I would call a prime growing medium for plants.
It definitely is.
I just googled "compost near me" and got some reasonable hits. I
live in the lush environs of southeast Michigan. Our municipalities
collect yard waste (which is illegal to dump in landfills here), compost
it, and sell it back at a reasonable price.
It's hard to tell from a picture. I'd definitely try the county
You certainly should be able to see stuff that clearly used to be plant
matter: leaves, twigs, and random partially rotted dross. Evidence
of insects is also good. If worms don't find it congenial, then plants
Amending soil with organic matter involves rounding up a bunch of
composted plant parts and mixing it in. Gardening in containers
is tough (harder than Mark Watney made it sound), which is why
I suggested buying potting mix. Too much water, and plants die.
Too little water, and plants die. The organic matter acts like a
big sponge, and is loaded with soil bacteria.
I've got pretty poor soil; a couple of inches of topsoil over 12
feet of clay (not the caliche of the Southwest, but still pretty
heavy). Every year I plant a few dozen heads of garlic. I've
got two frames that I made from untreated cedar fence pickets,
so they're about 3 ft by 6 ft by 6 inches. I plop them down
in the garden, fill them with topsoil and compost that I bought
in big bags from Home Despot, use a garden fork to mix it with
what was left from last year, and poke in the cloves of garlic.
Sorry, I'm getting a little "stream of consciousness" on you.
It just occurred to me that if there wasn't already anything
growing in your soil, it's very unsuited to your purpose. It'll
take a whale of a lot of amendment to get it to grow heavy
feeders like vegetables.
Best of luck.
On Tue, 6 Sep 2016 12:22:37 -0700 (PDT), Cindy Hamilton wrote:
Did you see my lawn in the background?
I would tend to agree with you!
You guys probably get rain, right?
We don't get rain.
Not a drop.
At least from about the end of April to the middle of November.
Not a single drop.
I'll try but I'm in a county that doesn't have farms all that much.
At least I've never seen a farm.
Some leftover orchards though.
And lots of vinyards.
No bugs whatsoever. Not a single worm in four buckets of raw soil.
No plants either. A few scattered roots though.
I looked up what plants need. They need a complex mix of stuff, only some
of which is NPK. Sigh. It's not so easy. Maybe I'll just grind up some
leftover food in a blender and mix *that* into the two 5-gallon buckets.
Hey, Can the kids plant these?
Will that old garlic grow?
I buy the big bag from Costco - and always have this much wasted.
On Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 4:19:42 PM UTC-4, Danny D. wrote:
Year round. 32 inches per year, almost evenly distributed at
3 inches per month (a little less in January and February, since
cold air doesn't hold as much moisture).
Not really a good place for gardening, then. Even I have to
water; stuff in planters with that moisture control potting
mix gets watered every other day.
It needs to be "former plant material". If you put in uncomposted
kitchen waste, it could well result in anaerobic digestion, producing
methane, hydrogen sulfide, and similar unappealing odors. Probably
not what your grands want in a gardening experience.
If it starts to sprout in your kitchen--or wherever you store it--
(a green shoot in the middle of the clove) then it's viable. Garlic
grows underground, and it likes fluffy soil, which is not what
I don't know squat about growing garlic in places where it doesn't
get cold in the winter. I plant mine in September or October,
mulch it with leaves or grass clippings (so it doesn't heave out of
the ground when it freezes solid), and next spring it pokes
up through the ground. By June or July it has formed heads and is
ready to harvest.
Frankly, your conditions are suited to weedy plants like oregano,
rosemary, thyme. Lettuce might work, although it doesn't like
the heat. It gets hot, and the plants go to seed, which makes the
leaves bitter. There's something called amaranth that's supposed
to be better in the heat.
Tomatoes are prima donnas; practically any little
thing will either kill the plant outright or make the fruit rot
on the vine. I've tried it growing them in pots and I've given up
On Wed, 7 Sep 2016 10:10:52 -0700 (PDT), Cindy Hamilton wrote:
Interesting. I *did* mix in the meats but maybe I should have kept the
The wife says my compost sucks (only she says it in a much sweeter way than
that). She won't use it anymore. She says even weeds won't grow in it.
Maybe it's because I mixed in *everything*?
On Wed, 7 Sep 2016 10:10:52 -0700 (PDT), Cindy Hamilton wrote:
The Costco garlic just turns brown.
I don't think the hairy bottoms ever get green sprouts on them.
Rosemary you are correct on!
You just can't kill that stuff out here.
We never water it but it grows (and grows, and grows, and grows).
We've got more rosemary than we know what to do with, probably, easily, a
hundred yards of rosemary scattered about in wide swaths all over the
The wife makes (what I call) rosemary pizza with it though ...
PS: Those are bay leaves in the background, soaking in water, for our
bay-leaf tea! You can't kill a bay tree either. Just not possible.
plant garlic in the fall before your rainy
season starts. down a few inches.
edible as green garlic too after it starts
growing again (bury it even deeper if you plan
on harvesting it early as that means the blanched
part of the shoot is longer :) ).
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