High TDS pour through method on 5-1-1 mix

Natures_Nature(5 OH)February 13, 2014

I am having TDS readings of 1500-2500 ppm when testing the 511 mix via the pour through method. My other plants that I treat exactly like the 511 mix, in peat/compost/perlite are reading 300-1000. What would cause the TDS to skyrocket like that, the tannins in the bark?

I purchased a bag of "forest pine" uncomposted pine bark mulch that I pulverized to proper size. I measured five parts of that, one part of peat, one part perlite, and a tiny sprinkle of lime.

What TDS does your 511 mix read?

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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

I've done the pour-thru for pH reading, but not TDS. Is that method considered really accurate for TDS? Do you use a meter or some special device or what to measure?

As for your quandary, we all know that heightened irrigation water alkalinity and fertilizer volume are the typical contributors to TDS. In your case, are you sure there isn't an external contaminant around that pot? Do you Windex or does the exterminator spray near your 5-1-1 pots?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

"I've done the pour-thru for pH reading, but not TDS. Is that method considered really accurate for TDS?"

I know it's fairly accurate with pH, I'm sure it gives you some a rough estimate..I use a Normal TDS meter(not sure if it's .5 ec or .7) that came with a water filter.. Some gardeners useTDS meters to measure fertilizer dosage, etc.. I figured it would give me rough estimates.. It has to say something when all your pots with 511 or any cut with bark are reading extremely high and all others are reading fairly low.

"As for your quandary, we all know that heightened irrigation water alkalinity and fertilizer volume are the typical contributors to TDS. In your case, are you sure there isn't an external contaminant around that pot? Do you Windex or does the exterminator spray near your 5-1-1 pots?"

Every pot was treated the exact same, I'm positive no contamination.. It seems as if the bark is leaching a lot of solids..

Anyone with similar results?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 2:01PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

I always associated TDS with inorganic particles only -- salts, minerals, chemicals, etc.

Sounds like homemade pulverizing of your bark might be contributing a lot of superfine particles as opposed to the "processed" or "sanitized" stuff we buy bagged from stores.

I would be interested to know the results if you flushed your 5-1-1 with a healthy amt of distilled water, then did a reading.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 2:25PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

"Sounds like homemade pulverizing of your bark might be contributing a lot of superfine particles as opposed to the "processed" or "sanitized" stuff we buy bagged from stores."

No, the runoff from the 511 never has superfine particles. The peat/perlite mix has much more "soill in the runoff.. Out of the bag the product is almost like pine nuggets 3/4-1" maybe even up to 2".. I had to screen and break down all of the bark, there are hardly any fines in the mix.. The runoff is, however, brownish in color. It reminds me when I make white oak bark tea, the dark tannin color.. That's what makes me think it's from the tannins.. But the leaves are slightly burning on the tips, just like fertilizer burn.. I wouldn't think tannins would burn plants like fertilizer.. Maybe the bark is contaminated with something? Maybe it is just the tannins?

"would be interested to know the results if you flushed your 5-1-1 with a healthy amt of distilled water, then did a reading."

I flushed the plants a few times.. Still reading 1000-2000... I have a good water filter, water reads 165 ppm out of it..

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 3:05PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

"Maybe the bark is contaminated with something?" I'm liking this theory.

Can you post a pic of your 5-1-1 mix? Maybe also post a pic of the bag your bark came in?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 3:24PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

Unfortunately I cannot take a picture of the 511 mix, i only made enough for a few pots. I do have a picture of the pike bark I purchased in the link below.

I don't know why I didn't do this yet, I thought about it but never got around to it, im going to fill a pot up with the pine bark and do the pour through test and see what it reads.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lowes forest pine rustic mulch

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 4:17PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

Ok now im really stumped.. Just filled up two pots of pure bine bark, did the pour thru test and came out to be 230 ppm, which sounds right, given my water is 165ppm to begin with. i really thought it was the bark.. So then the only other possible reason would be fertilzer, which i dilute so heavily it's stupid, which is the reason i didnt put that as priority number one. So I had a little fertilizer I left in the bottle, I said it had to be it.. So i tested the fertilizer expecting high tds and it was a mere 250.. I fertilize organically making my own fertilizer, mixing 1/8th teaspoon dry kelp, bat guano, espoma biotone. The ppm of the fertilzer never goes over 1000.. The bark just tested 230. How the hell am i getting our thru tests of 2000+? Perhaps the microorganisms are breaking down the bark, solubleizing the tannins or whatever solids? Very strange...

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 4:46PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

What did you use to 'pulverize' the bark chunks into smaller bits?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:00PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

now treat some of that bark with your lime just like you did before and run the test on that.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

"What did you use to 'pulverize' the bark chunks into smaller bits?"

I filled a five gallon bucket halfway with pine bark and went at it with a garden fork.

"now treat some of that bark with your lime just like you did before and run the test on that."

Nil, how come I didn't think of that? Yes, it was the lime and CRF(espoma biotone). The lime read at 2000-3000ppm.. I tested the fertilizer a few days ago, from what i remember it was around 300-400ppm.. So I'm thinking it was the damn hydrated lime everyone curses.. Now I know. I was going to leave the lime out to.. But everyone talked about the precious ca/mg balance,etc.. I wonder if the dolomite lime would skyrocket the tds like that.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 7:42PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

Repeated flushing can still preserve the 5-1-1 mix and plants, right? All is not lost I would think...

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 7:51PM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

Fortunately, I only dry mixed 3/4 teaspoon per gallon of 511 mix. The bag is called "horticultural hydrated lime", it calls for one tablespoon of hydrated lime per gallon of water, water plants once a year. It doesn't say anything about mixing it dry in containers, just for outdoor gardens. Im wondering if it's even usable in containers, or is it to caustic? My plants are showing signs of burn on the tips of the leaves, the new growth is looking normal, though. I flushed the plants thoroughly. They should be fine..

This is my first time using the 511 mix, I normally use a peat/perlite mix with success. I was hoping I would be blown away by the growth on my 511 plants, unfortunately the damn hydrated lime burned them and stunted them from the start. I always try to experiment with multiple setups and always try some new setups, yet stick to my proven setup as a control. My peat/perlite mixes are doing great, even the few that were cut with the 511 mix, it just so happens I didn't lime the peat/perlite, the only thing I limed is the 511 mix.. I wish I would of left some 511 mix that i didn't lime, i bet them plants would of did real good! I could always topdress/water with lime/fertilizer after they get established.. Next time, next time...

Thanks for the help guys!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 8:51PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

You definitely don't want hydrated lime.....only Dolomitic Lime.

Josh

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 1:33AM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

Why do garden stores sell hydrated lime as "horticultural lime" ?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 8:49PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

yeah, calling hydrated lime, 'horticultural lime', makes it sound good for containers. Now if you have very acidic soil it can be useful because you don't need as much. I find it useful for deodorizing the dog run and that's about it.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 11:13AM
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Natures_Nature(5 OH)

Next time you see your local nursery or garden shop calling hydrated lime "horticulural lime", explain to them how caustic this stuff really is. I used about 1/3 of the normal dosage of lime(not even a teaspoon per gal of soil) and it's burning my plants, that is anything but horticultural. On top of that, the directions for CONTAINERS say mix one TABLESPOON of hydrated lime per gal of water, water your alkaline loving plants once a year with this solution. I can't see how this is good advice, if im using less than a teaspoon and its burning my plants, how the hell they expect you to apply a tablespoon? That would of completely fried my plants.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 11:59AM
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