Orchids Magazine Article
Orchid Log
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Boarded Orchids
First published in Orchids magazine September 2010
by Mary Nisbet/California Orchids

"Sure, I take them" I said when my friend wood recycler extraordinaire Evan Shively called to ask if I wanted the cork oaks he was salvaging from a golf course in Sacramento. I had been itchy to make a big display for our covered, unheated sales area and Evan, an excellent orchid grower, understood.

But I really didn't expect him to show up with 6 - 17-21 ft. long, logs on his crane truck. The shock didn't last longI was delighted. The crane lifted them off into the road. Then Evan and my husband Tim (always game) wrestled and wrangled them into our sales area on a woefully inadequate nursery cart. They lay on the gravel like some defunct dinosaur exhibit while I pondered what to do. Over the next few weeks Evan designed 2 square steel posts with brackets to hold the center areas of the logs, the ends rest on the exposed post footings of the shade house structure. I drew pictures and made paper log cut outs to figure out which log should go where.

Northern California is a wonderful place to grow orchids. Here on the coast in West Marin County cool air comes in off the ocean cool. All you have to do to cool a warm greenhouse is get that air inside. Our sales area consists of a 3000 square foot double arch structure with 8 foot gutter height and covered with a single layer of white poly. Roof vents would definitely make things easier but there aren't any. Two sides are open but protected by buildings. The other 2 sides have walls that can be manually rolled up and down. Temperature control is blunt at best. On a hot day in the summer the temperature can reach 90°F-100°F but nights are always cool 50°F-60°F. Winter night temperatures can dip to the mid 30's, occasionally lower. I do have a heater that will go on if the temperature goes below 30°F but it is quite inefficient and can only barley avert disasters. It is typical in our area to have several weeks of fog in the summer which confuses everythingdays and nights where the temperature hangs around 55°F-65°F and everyone gets depressed (except the Masdevallias). Three fans keep the air moving.

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