gritty mix question

queensinfoMarch 29, 2012

I finally finished making my 5-1-1 for 4-16" container, 2-22" containers, 3 3' planter boxes and 1-2' planter box. Thanks everyone for all the assistance and patience.

Now I just realized that my 2 cherry trees are coming in 2 weeks and i don't even have a container or soil components for them. I plan to make gritty mix with gran-i-grit, perlite, napa floor dry, and bark. (I have yet to get any of the parts). I think the bark is going to be the toughest part and will likely need to try and screen my 5-1-1 bark to maximize what i can get out of it. Can i screen all the componets over 1/4 inch screen then aluminium insect screen and keep everything in between(i dont want to have to buy more than 1 more screen- i already bought 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch)? i am OK with having a little bit more water retention. Also should i use .5 parts granite and .5 parts perlite?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you have the granite, I'd just use it instead of using the perlite, but that's up to you. the half & half on the granite:perlite is ok if you can find perlite coarse enough & you screen it. Remember - how well the gritty mix performs depends on the size of the particles. The gritty mix is an excellent example of why root health hinges more on the soils structure than any other practical consideration.

I'd buy an 1/8" screen. Use what passes through the 1/2" and what doesn't pass through the 1/8".

Al

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 8:13AM
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mandarin1

Al, could you explain a bit more about the perlite being "course enough"?
Is that so it holds more water?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 9:01AM
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calistoga_al

Al(tapla) I know you are not a priest or minister of any faith, so why do I have this compulsion to say AMEN after reading your posts? Al (Calistoga)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 9:03AM
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queensinfo

Al-
Thanks as always. Since i can't find the bark and considering the price of reptibark, i wonder if it would come out cheaper just to screen the leftover pine mulch bags to that size range and use it? I think that should work, understanding that maintaining the proper size is the goal (and approximate water retention capacity).

Of course i bought the coarse perlite which is probably 1/4" and less instead of the "super chunky" which is listed on the bag as 1/4 to 1/2". that one was $20 for 1 Cuft vs. 20 for 2 cuft of the coarse. I wonder if i will get 1 cuft of material in the optimal range from the cheaper bag?

I want to use some perlite instead of granite to cut down on the weight, although in my 5-1-1, some of the perlite has separated on top to one side of the pot, most likely from the rain and wind the other night.

of course the problem now will be to find 1/8" screen as it is not something commonly carried.

This really is a hunt for the materials (especially the first time)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 10:04AM
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DaMonkey007(10b - Miami)

Hey QK,
I use this wire mesh drawer from the container store for my 1/8" screen. The mesh is actually diamond shaped with the longer dimension being slightly larger than 1/8"...but it works very well. I use the one that's 20-3/4" x 20-3/4" x 3-1/4" h. You can order it of course, or there are a few stores in NYC....on 6th Ave & at 58th & Lex.

PJ

Here is a link that might be useful: Wire Mesh Drawer

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 1:05PM
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calistoga_al

We have salvage yards that usually have a good selection of salvaged screen, often in stainless steel. Al

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 7:43PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - Thanks, Al.

Mandarin - I look at soils from the perspective of things like their structure, water retention, durability ...... Where most others look at soils and drool over a nice dark color and a richness that that makes you want to scoop it up in your hands and let it flow through your fingers like finished compost, I AVOID those soils because it's much more difficult to water plants in them properly and maintain excellent root health in them. Most of the things that are important to me are in some way related to particle size - like aeration, water retention0, height of the perched water table .....

The gritty mix is designed to provide superior aeration, good water retention, and eliminate almost all perched water. These physical properties work in concert to provide an extremely healthy root environment, something that seldom gets the attention it deserves.

Almost all the perlite you would find in small packages, and most of what you find in the 3-4 cu ft bags is too fine to replace the almost ideal size of Gran-I-Grit in grower size or #2 cherrystone, which is what prompted me to add the comment.

QK - most hardwares, like ACE, carry hardware cloth in 1/8" and sell it by the foot. For some reason, 3/8" is the hardest to find.

Al

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 1:10PM
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mandarin1

I went to several places locally (Long Island) looking for 1/8" including True Value Hardware, Sears, Home Depot, Lowe's, no luck. I ended up purchasing a bonsai set on line that included 1/8". But they do sell 1/8" mesh on Amazon in 36" by 10 feet, search under "1/8" hardware cloth"

Al, thanks much, as always! I've been using gritty mix awhile, love it! Been reading up on modifications to lighten it that I'd like to try. Got a handle on it, except coarse perlite comes up often but I didn't get if meant large pieces, or pieces with multiple crevices? Still want to screen for 1/8 to 1/4" pieces, right?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 8:11PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

In a perfect world, 3/32 - 3/16 is ideal for the inorganic fraction of the soil, with the bark slightly larger to allow for some breakdown, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater - work with what you can get and keep your eyes peeled.

Al

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:44PM
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