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Tapla: Questions about your gritty mix

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Tapla, can you answer two fairly easy questions, please, OR point me to a thread where they're already answered?

On your gritty mix (where I saw it mentioned, it specified "equal parts Turface, crushed granite, and pine bark"):

1) How big should the pieces of crushed granite be?
2) Same question on the pine bark -- is it supposed to be "fines" like in the container mix? Or can you use the whole bag of regular bark?

Thank you!

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Size of the particles is very important. The crushed granite I use is chicken grit, packaged under the trade name 'Gran-I-Grit' (grower size) or #2 cherrystone packaged by New Ulm Quarries. Both are between 1/8-3/16" in size. I use fir bark by Shasta Forest Products. It comes in 3 cu ft bags and is pre-screened to 1/8-1/4". It costs about $17 per bag. You might find a similar product or pine bark you can screen to an appropriate size.

It's initially sometimes difficult to locate what you need to make the soil, but once you've located the ingredients and see how well it works, I'm pretty sure you'll be ok with the extra effort. ;o)

Al

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Thank you! I have two gardening friends (one experienced, one a newbie like me) that I think I've talked into trying it.

Can I walk into a local crushed rock company and use it if they have it? Assuming they don't lie and sell me something different, crushed granite (of the proper sized particles) should be crushed granite, right? Or is there something in the packages you buy that makes it different?

Do you mail- (or internet-) order the granite and the fir bark? Shipping should be horrendous!

Edit - The bark you use from Shasta -- is it the "Mini (pea pebbles)", sized 1/8 - 1/4? There is another one sized "0 - 1/8" that they call "Fines" so I'm a bit confused. The Mini pieces look too big; the Fines is the one that looks right.

I assume that I would add lime if the plants need it, and occasional 3:1:2 fertilizer, like in the container mix....

This message was edited May 4, 2010 8:02 AM

This message was edited May 4, 2010 8:04 AM

Columbus, OH

I got my chicken grit at a feed store. It was super cheap, a 50 lb. bag was $7 or $8. Hard to carry, though--I know it weighs just about 50 lbs, which isn't normally hard to lift, it's just unwieldy.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Cool! Thank you, Celene.

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

The soil looks like what you see below. The bark pieces are about 1/4", while the grit and Turface are smaller, around 3/32-3/16". See above for more info on the granite, but I buy mine from feed stores, too. It comes pre-screened, but I still screen the dust out of it. I pay about what Celene pays - a little less because I usually buy 10 or 12 bags at a time for my own use, but sometimes get a pallet (40 bags) to split with our bonsai club members.

Al

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Columbus, OH

This is year one of the gritty mix. I have some fancy dwarfy evergreens growing in this, they were very meh when growing in Promix, but they really look great this year.

It's early to tell how the hanging baskets and mixed pots will do, but thus far, it looks promising!

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Soo glad your plants are doing well, Celene. ;o)

FWIW - I use the 5:1:1 mix for veggies, baskets, mixed plantings, ........ the pretty stuff.

Al



This message was edited Jun 2, 2010 6:58 PM

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Columbus, OH

I actually didn't believe it'd work, I am so conditioned to want something more...I don't know...potting soil-y?

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

I missed something - don't understand .....?

Al

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Columbus, OH

I was shocked when I looked at the pictures, and a little skeptical when I saw it in person. It's working well, though--esp. with the potted perennials and trees. Plumeria and hibiscus never looked better.

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Ahhh - a skeptic turned believer then. ;o)

I first started growing in highly aerated soils about 20 years ago. I wanted to share with others how easy it made growing ..... I mean "a monkey could do it" easy. I first joined Garden Web and, on the Container Gardening Forum, started talking about what everyone now calls the 5:1:1 mix now. I was met with unbelievable skepticism. There were at least a dozen entrenched container gardeners that were growing in soils having the primary component as peat or compost. I was actually/literally afraid of the firestorm I would have run into if I'd dared to suggest that you could grow perfectly healthy plants in something as weird looking to the common grower as the gritty mix. Gradually, I won over a few people to the 5:1:1 mix, but it wasn't until a couple of years later. after the 5:1:1 mix had gained such wide support that I could even START to suggest the gritty mix. Now, there are probably thousands of people using the 5:1:1 mix, and the use of the gritty mix is growing so rapidly I can hardly keep up with my email.

No, I don't sell anything, and I'm not speaking in a boastful way. It took a long time before I could simply say these soils work great and stand head & shoulders above almost ALL the prepared soils you buy in a bag or bale, because I was worried that it might be taken as prideful, but it's not that way at all. It was only after so many others started sharing their results and offering tremendous positive feedback that I felt I had permission to speak in a matter of fact way in superlative terms.

I have no stake in what anyone but my closer associates grow in, but I can offer information that will improve the success of a fair fraction of houseplant growers, which is what I've been doing for quite a long while now. ;o) Whether (the collective) 'you' use or ignore the information doesn't matter much I guess, but I always hope that you will find something useful in it so I can take my own satisfaction from the thought that my efforts have been of value to another.

I hope I didn't stray too far off topic in my musings, Gilraen. If so - I beg a pardon.

Al

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Columbus, OH

I don't think you strayed, but it isn't my thread. And who could think that the immense amount of knowledge and time that it took to learn all of this and explain it was prideful? I'm really grateful, and a better container gardener for knowing it. I am rarely sentimental (I know it's not girly) but the things I learned from you make my plants happier, and that makes ME happier. I spent the last five years cooking and cleaning for my mother, and now that she's gone I have more spare time to garden, so being better at gardening means a lot.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Agree with you, Celene. I've learned a lot from him, and am very grateful. I went from brown-thumbed to green-thumbed in a few short weeks, thanks to Al.

Columbus, OH

Celene, I live in the Columbus area. Where do I find suppliers for the gritty mix. Thanks' confussedlady

Columbus, OH

Feed stores carry the chicken grit, and I got the pine bark fines from a nursery in Granville, I know the owner. I'd try Oakland Park, Straders, or Baker's Acres for the pine bark fines if I didn't get it from Granville.

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

For Turface: Century Equipment in Hilliard (800) 346-0066

or

The John Deere Landscapes dealers in Lewis Center (740) 549-2141 or Gahanna (614) 863-4013. Ask for Allsport.

Rural animal feed stores and grain elevators that sell feeds and fertilizers should have Gran-I-Grit in grower size.

Al


Columbus, OH

If you go to Gahanna, DM me and we can have coffee, I work there :)

Columbus, OH

Tapla, thanks's for the info. i believe this is the second time you have given me this info. You are so understanding &
willing to help with anything to get the DG'S on the right path
concerning fertlizer & soil movement.

Celene, thanks' to you would love to have coffee, perhaps later this week. Will D-Mail you with the date.
confussedlady

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Al is the maestro! Al, could you tell me what the begonia on the left side in the third picture is?
Is this stuff what you guys are talking about? They sell it at the coop as 'oyster shell'. I've been using it for some succulents and calcium loving plants.

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Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

The begonia is 'Fireflush' - look also for 'Curly Fireflush'. It's gorgeous, paired with a trailing Coleus and a peach Impatiens and an Asparagus plumosa. I wish I had a better picture of an older planting. The one below was just planted when I took the pic.

We're talking about Turface, which is a baked clay granule - almost ceramic-like. You can buy it at The John Deere Landscapes dealer on Franklin Road in Murfreesboro. Call ahead and ask if they have in stock or will order Allsport (Turface) 615-907-5700. I would skip the oyster shell in my plants.

Al



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Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)


"1 part screened pine or fir bark
1 part screened Turface or NAPA floor-dry
1 part crushed granite (grower size grit) or #2 cherrystone
The latter is what I grow all my trees & long term plantings (like houseplants) in."

"Size of the particles is very important. The crushed granite I use is chicken grit, packaged under the trade name 'Gran-I-Grit' (grower size)"

Al, I am already checking into the turface. I emailed them earlier this morning. I was asking about using the oyster shell in place of granite/ chicken grit. They call oyster shell ' turkey grit'. A no-no?

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

I wouldn't use it - your call, though. The CaCO3 in the shell is largely insoluble, but there will still be excess Ca in the soil solution if you use crushed shell as a primary fraction (1/3) of the soil. Additionally, crushed oyster shells are usually very high in soluble salt. With a little searching, you should be able to find Gran-I-Grit or an equal.

Al

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Thanks, Al. I will look for the Gran-I-Grit.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

I've found the granite chicken grit. Local John Deere doesn't have Turface. Could you suggest the best substitute for Turface besides Napa 8822?

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

You give up too easily. ;o)

Dickens Turf & Landscape Supply, Inc.
Nashville
(615) 227-1111

Ewing Irrigation
Nashville
(615) 244-8870

Al

Columbus, OH

Killthwabbitt, my local john Deer (Gahanna Oh) did not stock the turface but has ordered it.

Columbus, OH

John Deere is where I got it as well, confussedlady. I'm sure they think I'm nuts, they just shrug their shoulders and load it in my car for me.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Thanks. We have a local Dickens. If they don't have it I'll get JD to order it for me. I really hate to have to drive to Nashville.

Columbus, OH

Celene you have DMail.

Norridgewock, ME(Zone 5a)

Al,
Are the NAPPA floor dry and the Turface the same material, just packaged under a different name, or is there actually a difference in composition that should make us prefer the Turface if it is possible to get it? Thanks

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

No - the floor-dry is calcined diatomaceous earth and Turface is calcined Montmorillonite clay. The floor dry holds a little more water (on a size for size basis) and has a slightly better CEC, but it's high in pH, @ 7.0 as compared to Turface @ 6.2. I prefer the Turface because of the pH, but either product will work well. If you use the floor-dry, you might wish to add extra granite - depending on where you live and what your water retention requirements are.

Al

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Al, I finally got what I think is the correct grit. 'Insoluble Crushed Granite' as you can see in the pic. Is this correct?
The floor-dry I went ahead and got though not sure it's even close to Turface or Napa. I can tell you it says on the back of the bag: 'contains naturally occurring crystalline silica as quartz." That's the only content listed.
Wrong stuff? If so, it's OK. I can look some more. Didn't have a lot of time today.

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Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Got to doing some more googling. Found this:

http://www.moltan.com/Products/absorbentsClay.htm

It has the exact pic of what I bought. It says "This premium montmorillonite clay absorbent is processed for maximum durability. Ideal for any spill."

Then I did a wordsearch on this thread because I thought I recognized that word, 'something-morillon-something.

"No - the floor-dry is calcined diatomaceous earth and Turface is calcined Montmorillonite clay."

BINGO?

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

I know this will make things sound over-complicated, but the size of the particles + the material they are made of determines suitability. The granite sounds right, but I can't see the size of the particlers. Same with the oil-dry. It dsays 'coarse', and that's good. You want almost all of the particles to be from just under 1/8" to just over 1/8". Test the clay product by freezing overnight. If it's stable and the right size, it will work great.

Al

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Al, here is a pic of the clay absorbent after I froze it overnight. It didn't change it any that I can see. Was I supposed to wet it first?

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Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Yes - put a couple of teaspoons of it, covered with water, in the freezer overnight & see if it's still stable when it thaws.

Particle size looks good.

Al

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

OK, Al. The clay did not break apart after freezing in water. Does that mean it's OK?
Here is the pic of crushed granite/chicken grit.

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Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

Yes, it's stable.

The grit looks fine. If those are fine particles clinging to the large, I think I'd rinse it well in a household strainer or over insect screen to eliminate the very fine particles.

GOOD LUCK!! ;o)

Al

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Gotcha about the granite. Ok. Now. Here is my screen. The one on the left is 1/4 inch and the one on the right is 1/2 inch. I guess you probably knew that but just to be sure.

Thumbnail by killdawabbit

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