Finding ingredients for Al's gritty mix in Eastern Iowa

qcmike30(z5 Iowa)February 22, 2012

Hi everyone! I live in Eastern Iowa (the Quad Cities), and have been keeping houseplants for roughly 32 of my 38 years. I have read people's posts in this forum for years, and recently decided to start using Al's gritty mix. Now, to find the ingredients...

I have found the cherrystone grit from Farm and Fleet for $7.99/50# bag, and got Oil Dry (a baked clay, which I assume is the same as Turface(?))from Ace Hardware which was $11.99/50# bag. I am having a lot of difficulty trying to locate pine fines. I noticed in other posts that some people are buying the Zoo Med Repti Bark. I found this online- 24qt bag for $18 (usually $27). Is $18 a fair price for this type of bark, or should I keep looking?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you're close to River City Turf in Bettendorf (563) 370-2515, they should have Turface MVP. If ever you get over in the Chicago area, you'll find perfect fir bark, presreened 1/8 - 1/4, at Oak Hill Gardens, NW of Chicago in Dundee. Currently, it's $20/3 cu ft bag, which is about 100 quarts.

There's no rush to repot, unless your plants are doing poorly. Summer is the best time to repot houseplants, so you can afford to be patient a while longer. ;-)


    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 9:15PM
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qcmike30(z5 Iowa)

Hi Al- Thanks for your quick response!

I already bought the Oil Dry and the grit- I purchased the Oil Dry because it appeared to be the same thing (or at least similar) as turface- baked clay that will not break down when wet and will hold water. Would it be alright to go ahead and use this product?

I ask, because I have already potted up a half dozen small cacti and succulents (2-4" clay pots) in a (insect screened) mix of 1 part each: Oil Dry, grit, and perlite. I am hoping this mix will allow me to water thoroughly, yet be fast draining.

Thank you for the suggestion for turface in Bettendorf. I'm about 2.5 hours west of Chicago, so pine fines will probably need to be ordered online. I ask the greenhouses around here and they have no idea what I'm talking about- except to offer 4 and 8 quart bags of "orhid mix".

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 9:47PM
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Hi Mike, I live in Davenport. I got my Turface at John Deere Landscapes in Rock Island (out on John Deere Road, about a mile west of K-mart). I got the Cherry Stone grit at Blain's Farm and Fleet, and the bark at Wallace's (Middle Raod and Devil's Glen) in Bettendorf. Wallace's bark mix is the best I have seen around here, after searching for 'just right' for weeks. They have it labelled as plain 'pine bark mulch'. No one around here has the Foliage pro, I had to order that online from Amazon. Be careful with the oil-dry stuff at places like walmart and menards, it's NOT the same stuff and breathing the silica dust from these products is a no-no.

The turface will be 15.00, the bark should be about 4.00.
Hope this helps you out.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 1:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What a gal!


    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 3:17PM
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Ya know.. JD didn't have MVP, they said it's all-sport now. I didn't know about the river city turf. If they have it, I wonder if it's any less expensive..

I didn't have an account here before today, but i was reading the forums and Al has helped so many out, I figured I should get one so I can pay it forward.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 4:17PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I didn't realize you were new! If I did, I would have welcomed you!

Thank you for the kind comment. I didn't have any idea I had some part in your being here helping others, but one thing that always make me feel good is when I see people going out of their way to do that - help others. I've had a lot of people write me, or I hear through the grapevine that they are sending out something to help someone who can't find something or because they want to try something, just because some one had done the same for them. I realize that might have sounded confusing, but if you reread it and look for the idea they're paying it forward, it'll be clearer.

I already know we're lucky to have you, so welcome. I hope you're around for a while.

Take care.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 6:10PM
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qcmike30(z5 Iowa)

Thanks a lot Al and Shari for all your valuable info.

Al- I ended up buying a 3 ft3 bag of fir bark from Oak Hill Gardens- paid almost $40 with shipping, but it is exactly how you describe- perfect. It is the 1/8-1/4" size, so it appears to need little to no screening.

Shari- Like you, I got the cherrystone grit from Farm and Fleet for $7.99/50# bag. I'll check out the pine bark at Wallace's- I might use that for my outdoor plantings.

I'll check out River City Turf and John Deere Landscapes for the turface.

I'm going to be all ready to plant this summer, thanks to your help!


    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 4:55PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)



    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 7:17PM
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qcmike30(z5 Iowa)

Just an FYI- I called River City Turf in Bettendorf, and got a guy who says he works for RCT. He told me the business is physically located in Silvis. He said they carry Turface MVP for "about $9/bag". I asked about the address from Google that says Davenport, and he says it's where he lives. I think I'll try John Deere Landscapes instead...

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 11:48AM
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