SF Bay Area gritty mix supplies?

maryartist(10b)March 14, 2014

OK! I'm going for it. I am renting a Zipcar for Monday to buy everything I need for Al's famous gritty mix! My current plants need new soil. Now that I've discovered the wisdom of TAPLA, I want to get many more plants! I am limited to planting indoors in my apartment (with no yard). I figured that St. Patty's Day would be an appropriately green day to start.

Here is my understanding of what to buy near SF (please clarify for me):

A. http://shastabark.com/bark-products.htm
Mini Bark (Pea Pebble): 80% Fir, 20% Pine, 1/8" to 1/4" (NOT Shasta's Bark Fines 0" to 1/8" for gritty or for 511, yes?)

B. 1/8" Desert Gold (crushed granite)

C. Turface MVP

D. Foliage Pro 9-3-6

E. Two screens to remove the particles that are smaller than 1/16" and bigger than 5/16" (or just 1/4"?). Also, insect screen for dust.

F. An alternative to mix in so I can maybe water less often: Pea lava? Coarse horticultural perlite? Pumice? Horticultural charcoal?
(I also saw one post advising "G: String for wicking

F: 5/16" spade/3-point/spear-point drill bit and "Diamond Hole Saw Kit" to make holes in ceramic and porcelain containers (hey, how many holes per square inch is ideal?)

G: Some kind of industrial face mask so I don't inhale all of this stuff while screening so all particles are about 1/8" to 1/4" in size

H: Garbage bins or enormous tupperware for mixing

I: Marbles or pebbles to sit under each planter, in the tray, to protect plants from wet feet (so leftover runoff doesn't touch the planter), and add to the humidity by evaporation. (Yes?)

J: Plates or 'legs' for underneath container trays, to protect my wood floors and tabletops from moisture

Any other additives? (Gypsum/lime if I don't find Foliage Pro 9-3-6?) Some supplemental source of S? I already have lime pellets and Ozmocote controlled release fertilizer pellets from my 511 trial run last month...

What am I missing?

I hope to make just one run and get EVERYTHING. What specific supplies do you use that are not on my shopping list?

Let me sign off by adding a thousand thank yous to Al (tapla) and to this brilliant garden web community. I am thoroughly inspired by you.


This post was edited by maryartist on Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 21:40

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Hi Mary,

I recently posted and asked what mix I should use in my fabric pots... but I am also trying to make gritty mix for 3 citrus trees and a grape that I am planting in pretty more conventional planters. I am in the bay area as well.

Today I went to Napa Auto and got 4 bags of Floor Dry (it is comparable to Turface but much cheaper and slightly more water retention). I got 4 good size bags for $10 each.
I also went to home depot and bought lime, gypsum, and an insect screen. Tomorrow I am going to Lyngso in Redwood City to get desert gold and fir bark (not sure whether to get the 1/4 inch and smaller and screen it or the 1/4 -3/8 inch ) .

The only thing I can't find is a screen with 1/4 inch holes. Any idea where you plan on getting them on Monday? The insect screen has 1/16 inch holes and will be fine for dust, but not anything else... it is all I can find.

This ingredient gathering is quite an adventure!! :)


    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 9:52PM
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Hi Robin!

I got the screen with 1/4 inch holes at Bayside Building Materials, near Foster City. It is my understanding that you don't need lime or gypsum in the gritty mix.

As my MN family would say, "Uff da". I am so sore from shoveling and then lugging my own ingredients. It took 7.5 hours, and four stores. My fingertips still hurt from picking up those big bags by the corners, and I only got them just inside my apartment building. I have yet to lug them all the way into my basement storage. But ooh boy, I'm proud of myself! I got lots of bark, granite, and Turface MVP. I also got some pea lava to try out, three planters and three screens, a tarp, a diamond core drill bit and a three pack of regular ol' dust masks.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 5:56PM
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Hi Mary,
I had no idea Bayside Building Materials had any landscaping supplies. They are ~5 minutes from my house and I used to work next door... Thanks for letting me know! I will check them out ASAP.

Where did you get your Turface from and how much was it? I got the DE from Napa Auto, but at ~$14/square foot ($11 plus tax for a 24 quart bag) it is so expensive! I would love to find a cheaper alternative...

Also the recipe for the gritty mix calls for "1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil (eliminate if your fertilizer has Ca)" so you may or may not need it....

Getting all the supplies was a lot of work... I got 4 cubic feet of Desert Sand and 1/2 yard of 1/4 minus fir bark on Sunday... Good thing my DH works out!

Btw, today through Sunday is the SF garden show at the San Mateo Convention Center, I wonder if I can find cheaper suppliers of materials there...

Happy Planting!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 7:07PM
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Hi Robin,

I found the bark at Lyngso to be poor quality for our uses; too much of it looked like it would be screened out and thus a waste. Lots of large pieces and bark powder. Based on advice found in these forums, I called Shasta Bark Products and they gave me a long list of places in the South Bay that carry their "mini bark". Bayside is one of them!

I found Ewing on Bayshore carries Turface MVP in 50 pound bags, which worked out to I think $14 per bag.

~ Mary

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 3:46AM
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