Al's mixes: I need a quick course in screening!

mimsyborogrove(5)May 5, 2010

Just back from the hardware store where they sell hardware cloth in 1/2" and 1/4" sizes and of course, window screen. Using these, can I screen my ingredients to the appropriate size for gritty mix? for 5-1-1? If not, what size screen do I need and where do I get it?

The pine bark (bagged as "Organic Pine Bark Soil Conditioner") varies in size from dust to 1" chips, but for the most part it's thready, not nuggets, with 1/8" x 1/2" being typical. Also it comes out of the bag brown/black and moist, with an earthy not piney smell and dries to chocolate brown, no smell at all. I was told it was "aged". Is this the partially composted stuff? If so, can I still use it in the gritty mix?

The Oil Dri (can't find Turface for love or money) also varies greatly from 1/16" to 1/4", with most particles tending to the smaller end.

For the stone I found the real deal, Gran-i-grit grower size.

So, which of these products need screening, what size to I want to get them to, and where do I find screens if the 1/4" and/or the 1/2" aren't right?

If it makes a difference, I plan to use the gritty mix in larger pots (5 gal or larger) and the 5-1-1 in small ones all the way down to quart size.

Thanks for being patient with the newbies!

Barbara

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Suggestion:

Pine or fir bark: Use everything that passes through a 1/2" screen for the 5:1:1 mix, but try to find a bark product, the bulk of which is 14" and smaller. Partially composted is best. For the gritty mix, an uncomposted product is best. Use everything that passes through a 3/8" screen but does not pass through a 1/8" screen.

Turface: For the gritty mix, use everything that does not pass through aluminum insect screening. Use the fines in beds or hyper-tufa projects in place of sand.

Gran-I-Grit or cherrystone comes pre-screened, but there is a lot of dust. I screen it through insect screen to get rid of the dust.

FWIW - I don't base my soil choice on container size. I put anything that will be in a soil for a single season in the 5:1:1 mix. That would be all the flowery display containers for the gardens & decks and veggies. Everything else goes in the gritty mix, which would be any plantings I think might go 2 years of more between repots.

Al

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 1:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

For a couple of years I've been meaning to take a picture of my soil sieves. I have two sets of 4. One set is about 24 x 24, the other about 14 x 14. Screen sizes are 3/8, 1/4, 1/8, and aluminum insect screen.

Al

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 7:28PM
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mimsyborogrove(5)

Al, those screens look beautiful. Where did you find them?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 8:02PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - I made them.

I guess I should say thank you. ;o)

Al

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 8:33PM
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conon(6b, Southern, IN)

The screens look great and I plan on making a set to screen materials for the Gritty Mix. But, I have been unable to find the 3/8 inch screen/hardware cloth/mesh, either online or at a local retailer. Can someone PLEASE recommend an online retailer that sells it by the small roll.

Thanks

Conon
Evansville, IN

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 6:12PM
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kernul1

Hey Conon,

Here is the online source I used to order the 1/8" screen:

http://www.drillspot.com/products/502638/approved_vendor_3dmc5_plain_weave_wire_cloth

It's been great, a little expensive, but I've had no problems using it so far.

Awhile back I had asked Al what is the perfect ideal size for all of the different components and here was his response:

Kernul - the ideal mix would have the granite and Turface at .100-.125" (1/10-1/8), and the bark at .125-.167" (1/8-3/16). I screen the Turface through insect screen & use the fines elsewhere. You can get away with a fraction of the particles under .100" (which is approximately where the PWT disappears) if the other 2/3 of the mix is larger than .100". I like the bark a little on the large side to allow for breakdown (in particle size) over the course of 2-3 growth cycles.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 6:42PM
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conon(6b, Southern, IN)

Kernul1

The below is why I was wanting the 3/8, but his response to you sounds better for me, in regards to finding the right screen. Thanks for your help!

RE: Al's mixes: I need a quick course in screening!

Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on Wed, May 5, 10 at 13:50

Suggestion:
Pine or fir bark: Use everything that passes through a 1/2" screen for the 5:1:1 mix, but try to find a bark product, the bulk of which is 1/4" and smaller. Partially composted is best. For the gritty mix, an uncomposted product is best. Use everything that passes through a 3/8" screen but does not pass through a 1/8" screen.

Turface: For the gritty mix, use everything that does not pass through aluminum insect screening. Use the fines in beds or hyper-tufa projects in place of sand.

Gran-I-Grit or cherrystone comes pre-screened, but there is a lot of dust. I screen it through insect screen to get rid of the dust.

FWIW - I don't base my soil choice on container size. I put anything that will be in a soil for a single season in the 5:1:1 mix. That would be all the flowery display containers for the gardens & decks and veggies. Everything else goes in the gritty mix, which would be any plantings I think might go 2 years of more between repots.

Al

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 7:15PM
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