Ready to get ingredients and questions

caterwallinMarch 5, 2012

We're heading out tomorrow to various places to find the things to use for the gritty mix. If I don't find something at one place, hopefully another place will have it or a suitable substitute.

I've read on here that Floor Dry at Napa Auto Parts has 8822 for the part number, but when I checked on the local store's website for that, it said "Floor Dry 5 Quart Part # 8805. Is this the right thing?

I'm also going to check out a Tractor Supply store for hopefully the Manna Pro Poultry Grit. If I can't find it there, perhaps the feed mill up the road will have grit, but I hope that it wouldn't have calcium in it (although I don't understand why farmers wouldn't want to feed their chickens grit without calcium, as it makes for tougher/stronger eggshells.

Before visiting this forum, I had never even heard of Turface and don't know the regular use for it, but from what I understand by reading on here that I could get Schultz Soil Conditioner for that part of the gritty mix. Does Lowe's sell this? Would this be better than the Floor Dry? I want to get either one or the other tomorrow.

While at Lowe's I want to look to see if they have any Garden Pro Premium in stock to fulfill the "pine bark fines" of the gritty mix.

Epsom salts won't be hard to find, but where should I look for gypsum?

I sure hope that I'll find all of the ingredients for the mix tomorrow. I'm so anxious to plant some things in this wonderful mix, but I suppose it's a little too early yet here in PA. Starting on Wednesday it's supposed to be in the 50's and 60's during the day through at least next Wednesday. Of course, we'll still be getting a few freezing temps at night though here in PA. Practically this entire winter has been warmer than usual and I'm suspecting that we'll have an early spring no matter what the groundhog said.

I really appreciate all of the information on here and I've done pretty much reading even if I don't post a lot. Thanks especially to Al and Josh who are always so helpful!


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I am told Turface or similar product is widely used in golf courses to keep the soil loose for lush greens. It is calcined clay and keeps it structure well for quite a while. Oil absorbing materials are a substitute but they hold more water I believe. They are frequently made of diatomeceous earth. This year I will be trying a natural Kitty litter which is made by Oil Dri Corp. The same makers that make those super absorbents for Car shops. I bought a small bag from a dollar store to try out.

I have never encountered Schultz soil conditioner but I have read about it frequently in this forum. Our local Lowes and Home Depot do not seem to carry any soil component worth buying. May be this spring I could be surprised. I usually try to find a local nursery or landscaping supplier.

This year I found Kambark Pine mulch for the pine fines. Kambark is the name of the brand. They seem to have a good proportion (75%) of usable size ranges of the bark. If you are close to Pittsburgh check out Best Feeds for both grit and pine mulch. At one time (10+ years back) they used to carry a wonderful selection of soil components for bonsai. Lack of interest made them change their inventory. Sad.

Gypsum should be available from local garden centers, greenhouses. The other day I found Epsom salt in one of those half gallon milk carton package at a local Ace Hardware Store. In the garden section. The package says use for aches and pains. Go Figure.

I am sure Al and others with lot more info will pipe in to get you squared away.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 9:16PM
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tropicofcancer, Sorry it's taken me awhile to reply back. The auto part store was the first store along the way on our shopping trip and I decided to get the Floor Dry, so I'm sure I have the turface part of the ingredients right, but I'm not so sure about the other two.

Another stop was at Tractor & Farm Supply to get the grit. I got Manna Pro but it has calcium in it. I mentioned that to the guy and he brought up the same thing that I had mentioned here before but that nobody really replied to and that is why would farmers want grit without calcium for their chickens. It doesn't make sense to me either, and he said they don't sell such a thing, so I got it with the calcium. I thought if it's really that bad for plants (is it?), I could always put it with the bird feed when I feed the birds.

The last stop was to get the pine bark fines, which at Lowe's are far from being fine. I got Garden Pro Mini Nuggets. Ha, what a joke! It's mostly all big strips of bark withe some nuggets thrown in here and there and too big yet at that. My husband volunteered to return them today and stop at the pet store and get the Repti-bark because I don't feel like playing guessing games with Lowe's. I even described to them what I wanted and it was still wrong (I mean the ones we already got). So hopefully the Repti-bark won't be too terribly expensive, but at least I'll know that it's what I want and should have just gotten that in the first place.

I didn't even look for the Schultz soil conditioner at Lowe's since I already got the Floor Dry. I didn't even bother to ask them about it. My problem was that my back hurt so bad and I didn't actually walk out to the outside garden section where they keep all of the bagged materials, so I didn't really see all of the choices. At least now I know better than to not go out and see for myself what they have and compare (I wonder how kindly they'd look upon someone ripping bags open lol). I never did that but now it's mighty tempting if I ever need a certain thing in the future.

That Kambark sounds good to use if it's 75% usable. Too bad I'm far away from Pittsburgh (by about 4 hours). Yes, that's too bad that they discontinued getting soil ingredients for bonsai. Maybe if things weren't so hard to find, more people would get interested in it.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:41PM
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The granite grit I have is called 'Gran I Grit' I think. Bought several bags a few years and I am just about running out of it. I have a feeling I will run into the same problem as you in finding regular granite grit. The calcium version is good for the chicken but not for plants. I vaguely remember someone mention that it is actually crushed sea shells that provides the calcium. Granite is pretty inert.

Another alternative is to find cherry stone (#2 grade). I myself have not tried that route.

Try local nurseries for the pine bark. Lowes and HD sometimes will have a product, early in the season, that could be suitable. May be in another month or so. I go around and find nurseries and buy a single bag to try out. If it is not suitable just dump in the garden somewhere.

I usually describe the nursery person what I need. Mention bonsai a few times. I check out samples with their knowledge. Lowes usually has samples. HD never does. Most nurseries will have samples of everything they carry. Just ask. Mention bonsai and they think you are serious. LOL. What they call mini nuggets is really flying saucers. Luckily when I explain what I want they tend to be more helpful.

I have not used Repti-bark but to me it sounds expensive unless you have very few plants to repot.

And if you see some house in your locality is being landscaped just stop by and ask the contractors where they get their mulch or other supplies. You may get lucky with one or more of the ingredients.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:33PM
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So if I use the Manna Pro with calcium, could it actually kill my plants? Uh boy, I wish I hadn't opened the one bag (actually got two). I might have my husband take the unopened bag back (I think they're 40-lb bags). You're lucky you were able to get the Gran-i-grit. I hope that you'll be able to find it again when you need it.
I don't remember if anyone here mentioned places to get the cherrystone. I'm thinking they didn't or I'd have written it down or else it might have been a place that we don't have around here. If only I'd know where to find it, I'd get that.

You're right, I think that the Repti-bark is expensive and technically I really can't afford it. I'll use this bag that my husband just got today, but I'm not buying any more. It was $24.99 plus tax for a bag that's not even a cubic foot (I think it said .93). When he brought it home, I said I hope it wasn't more than $10. HA! I was caught off guard when he told me the actual price! That was at PetSmart.

I'll go to local nurseries like you said and see what I can find there. This bag might be enough for what I have to pot up, but I still need to find a suitable granite/cherrystone. Where I don't know...

I'll do what you did and just buy a single bag at the nursery to try out. I'm not getting more than one at a time again. I'll be sure to mention bonsai like you said so they take me seriously. :) You sure got that right saying that the mini nuggets are actually flying saucers! They might as well be.

I remember when our Boscov's used to have a selection of bark mulch that they'd have samples of displayed out in their garden center, but I don't think that they sell it anymore. They used to have a really nice garden center, but it has gone downhill the past few years and is nothing like it used to be. I can look their for bark nuggets in another month, but I'm kind of doubting that I'll find anything at all like that there.

This running around looking for ingredients is almost like a part-time job. lol


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:24PM
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I would assume that Manna Pro has lot more calcium than it is good for plants. Plants do need calcium though and that is why it is good to add a bit of lime/dolomite to soil. Search for Manna Pro in the container forum. I think I read something about it there. Someone more knowledgeable needs to pipe in here.

Look for pine bark soil conditioner. That product is a bit more common. It may just do the job. I found it at a local nursery and I sifted it a bit. Looks like about 60% is usable. Not too bad.

Sometimes it is the quest that is fun by itself. This is the best time since nurseries do not have many customers now and they are more than willing to talk.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 9:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Cathy - you have soo much going on in this thread it might be better if we had a phone conversation. You up for that? I can prolly answer all your questions & offer some guidance. The info has been covered many times, but I realize it's scattered all over the place & not the easiest to find. ;-)


    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 12:15PM
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tropic, Okay, I won't use the Manna Pro grit that I got then if it will harm the plants. From reading on the forum, I probably mistakenly got the impression that Manna Pro comes in a calcium form and a non-calcium one, but when the guy and the Tractor & Farm Supply store acted like he never heard of any without calcium, I thought I must have misread something on here. There's so much information in so many places that I get overwhelmed kind of, but I'm glad that the information is here to be read. I do a search like you said and hunt it up on here and see what was said about it.

I'll keep "pink bark soil conditioner" in mind and I might want to strike "pine bark nuggets" from my memory for when I go around asking about these ingredients because apparently the term "nuggets" means different things to different people, as I found out from buying the "mini" *yeah right* ones at Lowe's. I saw some orchid bark while I was at Lowe's but thought that was expensive for the size. It was much smaller than the Repti-bark bag even and would probably end up costing as more as or more than that till all is said and done. I didn't get it, but it looked pretty nice. The Repti-bark looks really nice, I think, and I noticed that it said it's fir bark, which is okay. At least they're small pieces and not big strips of bark.

I guess I wouldn't mind the quest so much if I wouldn't have so many other gardening things/projects on my mind, but right now having to trek out for ingredients that end up being the wrong thing is turning out to be not a whole lot of fun for me. Ha. I guess I'll get set straight by Al since I see he's willing to call me. Thanks for all of your help, and I'll get the right things yet. I guess it's just a matter of time and gas for driving. One thing that I won't do is drive all the way to western PA to find cherrystone, which is what someone told me today that is probably the only place I'll probably find it in our state. Apparently it's not used too much in these parts.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 5:46PM
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Al, Thanks for the offer and I sent you an email. :)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 5:48PM
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Caterwallin, I am in PA near Harrisburg and find all ingredients at my local "Agway" store. Do you have one close by? perhaps go to their website and see if they have a store locator.

Happy Hunting!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 11:34AM
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Spaceman, You're sort of in my neck of the woods. We live an hour above Harrisburg but seldom get down that way with the price of gas these days. Actually, there used to be an Agway right down the road from us, but when the original owners sold it, it was only around another few years and then it went out of business. There used to be an Agway in a town about 1/2 hr from us, but that's no longer there either. I'll see if if I can find one on that store locator you mentioned. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 11:51AM
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Al, Thanks very much for the words of encouragement and I've been calling around since we talked and guess what! I think I've found a source for the grit! Woo hoo! It's a place called Clark's Ag Center in Turbotville, which is about 25 miles from us...better than 50 anyway. :) I described to the guy what I was looking for and specifically said that it couldn't have calcium and he even went into their warehouse to check for me and came back and said that it's just crushed granite, no calcium. So if it pans out like I'm thinking it will when we go up there this coming week, that'll be 2 out of the 3 ingredients that I'll have a source for. Right now I have the Floor Dry and the Repti-bark and after I get the granite I guess I'm set for a little while until I run out of the Repti-bark. I still don't know where to get the bark nuggets, but I'll keep asking around. Thanks again. This is encouraging now! It's supposed to be in the 60's and 70's coming up and I'm itching to get outside.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 2:10PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)


Looks like you're hooked up then!


    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 4:11PM
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Hee hee...that picture says exactly how I feel! :-D

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 4:50PM
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