My 'Fancy' 5-1-1
OK, so I want to start by saying that I'm fully aware that the 5-1-1, doesn't "need" this kind of attention, but I felt like it, so....
A while back I posted a few times about reusing and conserving resources, space, and money. I was looking for ways to consolodate materials and still be able to make great mixes. I found what I was looking for when I started talking more and more with Josh, who by the way rules, and I expanded on his idea. Josh substitutes turface for peat in his 5-1-1, and substitutes perlite for granite in his gritty. Viola! I was shown the light. A way to make a gritty and a 5-1-1 out of the same 3 resources. Shout out to Josh!
My first batch of 5-1-1 I used peat and I didn't screen anything. I figured that I'm in So Fla, and a bit of extra water retention wouldn't hurt...I also didn't have the screening setup just yet...lol. I recently found some great screening bins, at the Container Store of all places, so I figured I'd run some material through the screens. I have 1 that's ~1/8" and another that's ~1/16", they are wire mesh storage bins...the kind that would slide into a shelving tower..anywho..I have to tell you, I was surprised at just how much fine stuff there actually was...way more than what it looked like with the naked eye. I was also surprised to find out how much variance there was from bag to bag, and even scoop to scoop. I got to thinking, why treat the 5-1-1 like a throw away? Why not make it as durable and well aerated as possible? Why rely on just throwing stuff together without knowing what percentages of particle sizes your dealing with? So I set out to make the best 5-1-1 that I could, a "fancy" 5-1-1 if you will, here's what I did:
I screened the bark through the 1/8" mesh, set aside what did not pass. Then screened what did pass the 1/8" through the 1/16", set aside what did not pass, discarded the dust. So I had two piles, one > 1/8", and one between 1/8" and 1/16". I then repeated this process with both perlite and turface.
By the way, the bark that I get doesn't have hardly anything in the > 1/2" range, so I didn't bother screening for the bigger stuff, I just pulled it out or broke it up when I saw it.
My "fancy" 5-1-1 recipe is as follows:
4-1/2 parts bark > 1/8"
1/2 part bark 1/16" - 1/8"
1/2 part perlite > 1/8"
1/2 part perlite 1/16" - 1/8"
1/2 part turface > 1/8"
1/2 part turface 1/16" - 1/8"
Plus Lime, of course.
By separating the materials by size I feel much more in control of the characteristics of my mix. Not to mention the added benefit of really being able to customize my mix, just for me, however I desire. Let me tell you, the difference was noticable! The mix was absolutly beautiful! The turface makes a HUGE difference (again, Shout Out to Josh!), and limiting the finer bark really opens up the mix. It looked and felt great and it's certainly built to last! I was extremely happy with the outcome, and I think that my plants will be as well!
Just thought that I'd share that, and I welcome your commments...good and bad...lol!
Have a great day, all!