Weight issues. Erm.... concerns.

tropic.dreams(5)April 8, 2010

No, not ME.

Containers.

More precisely, the non-plant contents thereof.

I was all set to start hunting down some 511 / gritty ingredients, though prepared to go with the old MG/perlite 50/50 with a dash of vermiculite and whatever orchid bark cactus mix I *could* find in the meantime if time ran out.

Then yesterday I *finally* found the perfect ideal exact container I've been searching high and low for to put my sans. cylindrica in -- only to find that I couldn't lift the (smallish overall but THICK terra cotta) *empty* planter without hurting myself. Yet another reminder that the laws of physics haven't gotten that memo I sent a while back about a few changes.

Seriously, I have many containers in the 25 - 40 gallon (I think that's what they say) range both for large single plants and because I make overgrown dish gardens rather than gazillions of tiny pots (yeah, I know, boo hiss). I still need to be able to more or less handle them to fill them, turn them, move them, change them. I don't have ready assistance more than very occasionally. And it's *my* project, dammit.

I use dollies and hand trucks and so on, but there are limits to the overall utility of those options. I have on occasion used packing peanuts or other spacers to lighten planters but prefer not to -- sort of why bother with the big planter if it's not being used, get one the right size. And I use almost exclusively plastic and foam containers (yeah, I know, boo hiss) because hurting myself does not lend to enjoyment so there is no more weight to lose there either.

What is the very *lightest* substitution or formulation of one of those mixes that would be most beneficial to the plants without danger of immanent physical distress every time I had to do anything as minor as turning the plants a quarter turn, and will also stand up to being outdoors with occasional strong winds (e.g., Perlite alone or only water isn't going to work unless there's some way to cover the surface)?

(Sorry for the PITA repetitive question. I swear I've read at least three forums back all the way to the beginning in an effort to find it for myself and I'm trying to understand but it's been very confusing with all the difficulty finding materials in different parts of the US and different product names and descriptions and mixed up threads. Links? Idiots Guide to Grit? Dirt for Dummies?)

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I really don't think you'll get significantly lighter than the 5:1:1 mix unless you start adding closed cell foam beads or grow in perlite. The gritty mix IS heavier than the 5:1:1 mix and other mixes based on peat, but along with the weight you get longevity and practically forever aeration. There are lots of substitutions you can make to change the gritty mix to something other than the gritty mix, but usually you would need to be willing to give up something.

Al

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 2:06PM
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tropic.dreams(5)

Thanks, Al. I found 511 ingredients (reptibark -- a little big, I think, but I'll try it) and made a batch. Dry, I think it's manageable. I think the rain wet it for me.

Also found a nursery where they know immediately what garden lime is, insist that container plants need 'mix' not 'soil', and what pine bark fines are with a probable source.

For those in NE OH: he said Kurtz Brothers are likely the only reliable source. Haven't checked yet for myself.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 12:08AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

(Teasing) Tell the nursery guy that SOIL is anything a plant grows in, but MINERAL soil is what you find in the garden. MIX is just as vague as SOIL because it could be a mix of mineral soil and other materials. Semantics ;o) MIX, SOIL, MEDIA can all be used interchangeably to describe what we use to grow our plants in containers

Yes, the Reptibark is quite large for the 5:1:1 mix. The problem is you'll need to add so much peat beyond the 5:1:1 ratio to get enough water retention that you'll end up with the same PWT height and drainage characteristics of a peat-based soil. Sorry. :o(

Al

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 10:19AM
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tropic.dreams(5)

uh oh.

The 5:1:1 recipe I had copied from one of the threads was:

3-5 parts pine bark (Reptibark in this case)
1 part MG
1 part Perlite
Small amounts of garden lime

No peat mentioned. Not right?

No plants have been potted yet, the mix is just sitting there (with squirrels excavating in it....) so I could fix it if I had to.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 9:54PM
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suddensam(10 Boynton Beach)

The 5:1:1 recipe that I use and believe im right about this is 5 parts pine bark [I think fines is too small] I use the next step up, 1 part perlite, 1 part peat, dolimite, [ 2 cups per 35 gal of medium] 2 cups of slow release fert, and 1 cup of minors. Its the best thing since sliced bread in my opinion.
Plant em if you got em.
Sam

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 11:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Good job, Sam!! Very impressive. My mouth is watering for home grown tomatoes. We can at least 3 bushels each year (usually get around 70 quarts) and usually use all of them (and there's just 2 of us). I'm usually rationing them by summer so I don't run out (I'm the cook). ;o)

TD - you were probably looking at a thread where someone was advised how to use MG potting soil in lieu of using peat. If that's what you used, it's fine ... if the pine bark was appropriate (size).

Al

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 12:11AM
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tropic.dreams(5)

Great. It would be just like me to put a lot of effort into something and screw it up.

Based on this photo, is this usable as it is or is there something that can be done with it. That can be done by mere mortals. With all the seedlings that are dropping dead at the moment and it still being too cold to set anything out, I am half tempted to toss it all.

RE: the nurseryman and arguing about 'soil' -- given that he mentioned Turface to me first I'm sure he'd argue me into puddle in no time, so I think not. I'll continue to call him 'sir.'

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 8:28PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The issue I see is water retention - too little. I think you'll have trouble keeping it watered. How much soil are we talking about here? How much would you need to amend?

Al

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 9:37PM
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tropic.dreams(5)

Right now this minute the mix you see totals just less than 60 quarts, I believe, with a 4:1:1 proportion.

I have something like another 72 quarts of Reptibark that hasn't been mixed yet. I have 4 unopened bags of Costco MG mix (total 220 quarts at 50-60% peat, according to the bag) and 30 quarts of Perlite.

I'd prefer to err on the side of water retention while keeping the weight down as much as possible, though again I'm using almost exclusively plastic or foam pots that don't have much aeration though they are *very* good at draining.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 11:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Get some NAPA Floor Dry (part #8822) and mix it into the soil for added water retention. Don't bother screening iot, just mix it in. Try 3-4 parts of the soil you have now to 1 part of floor dry. Increase if necessary.

Al

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 10:02AM
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tropic.dreams(5)

Purchased and added. I'm going to put callas in one pot at the end of the week and see how it does. (As the lime needs to be wet/activated, right?).

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 8:30PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It takes about 2 weeks if it's above 55* and the soil is damp, for the lime to go through the reactive phase so there is a residual amount in the soil that is readily available.

Al

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 9:54PM
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tropic.dreams(5)

Are plants harmed if they are in contact with the lime while it is in the reactive phase?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 10:36PM
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tropic.dreams(5)

And now that I've found a web site for a local source of pine fines (probably), how does this sound:

Container mix:

This soil-less potting mix is formulated for the commercial grower. An optimum blend of pine fines, compost and silica ideal for all commercial potting needs.

FEATURES & BENEFITS:

* Designed especially for container plants
* Easy cultivation and workability

They have a photo of the mix itself as well. It's most of the way down the web page, then click on the 'photos'.

http://www.kurtz-bros.com/pages/landscape/cleveland/soils.html

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 12:39PM
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tropic.dreams(5)

And one more note on that container mix, from the horse's mouth:

Our container mix is a combination of pine fines, rice hulls, compost and sand and was developed by Harry Hoitink from Ohio State University for the nursery market in our area

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 2:05PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You can plant when the lime is still reacting. The main issue is that sufficient Ca might not be available right away.

I couldn't open the photo of the soil for some reason, but it sounds like PBFs/compost/sand.

Al

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 7:19PM
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tropic.dreams(5)

Any opinions about the qualities of 5:1:1 versus the commercial container mix they describe as:

"Our container mix is a combination of pine fines, rice hulls, compost and sand and was developed by Harry Hoitink from Ohio State University for the nursery market in our area"

It's also available for $75 a yard, no bags, $60 delivery fee.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 12:24AM
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