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An Initial Mix-Up: Name of Organic Potting Soil Is LGM

June 29, 2000

I enjoyed your article (In the Garden, June 22) on watering potted plants. I had heard some of the advice before but forgot. Thanks for the reminders. I have used LGM all-purpose, all-organic potting soil for planting and germinating seeds and starting cuttings. It is the best I have used. Have you tried it? What do you think of it?

--MIKE TULLIUS

Rosemead, via e-mail

Editor's note: Times Garden Editor Robert Smaus says perhaps he was thinking of vacationing in Holland when he mistakenly called a potting soil KLM, the name of the Dutch airline. The brand was supposed to be LGM, and Smaus says, "You are right, it is an excellent mix."

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Uh, oh, please tell me it wasn't Supersoil that killed your million bells. I've been using it for years. However, I have to confess that I've never used it straight from the bag. Depending on what I'm potting up, I add one or more of the following: Sand, peat, perlite, vermiculite, my own compost, ground redwood, plus fertilizer (something like alfalfa meal or cottonseed meal).

By adding other ingredients to Supersoil, hopefully I'm elevating it to a very high level while saving a little money, although, frankly, I've never really seen anything wrong with it as is.

I have always used screening to cover the drainage holes, but trying to hold the screening in place while adding the potting mix is often tricky. Recently I learned of a way around this problem--drywall taping, which is mesh with an adhesive backing.

By the way, when I pot my gerberas, I don't use a commercial mix, I make up my own. And I would never pot one without including the soil polymer Broadleaf P4, already hydrated, which I've been using since it hit the market. It is absolutely worth its weight in gold. So is the Water-In you mentioned.

P.S.: Million bells?! Are you serious?

--ANN BEAVE

Solvang, via e-mail

Editor's note: Million bells is the name given to that tiny new petunia look-alike, botanically known as Calibrachoa.

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Close to 20 years ago, members of the American Rhododendron Society conducted a soil experiment at the UCLA Botanical Gardens, which had to do with soil mixes for tropical rhododendrons known as vireyas. We came up with a mix of coarse peat moss, perlite and redwood bark, equal parts by volume. We stress "coarse." Coarse peat moss is harvested differently from the more common finer types, which usually get rock hard when dry then shed water like a duck's back rather than absorbing it. The coarse peat does not break down, nor does it cake up.

The perlite is a natural product (unlike vermiculite, which is a definite nono) that holds water to itself as it holds the various particles apart, which allows water and air (as you pointed out) to percolate through. The redwood bark breaks down slowly. We call it "the mix." It can be used in pots or in the ground and it has worked perfectly for us and seems to last indefinitely. Try it. You'll like it.

--GEORGE KLUMP

La Crescenta, via e-mail

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