Gritty mix first attempt

maltbyMay 11, 2011

Am I the next gritty mix failure?

Live in Seattle and used the sources found here...

Reptobark + chicken grit#2 + MVP Turface

1. I used the reptobark right out of the bag. But I bought the big bag and I later read that the big bag has bigger pieces than the small bag. I also didn't soak the bark.

2. Chicken grit #2 is mostly small, the turface looked a little bigger. I screened it with a 1/16 screen. My first batch I got tired of screening it and shorted that batch some granite

3. I screened the turface with the 1/16 screen. I was not overzealous in my screening.


1. I probably have way too much undersize grit and some oversized bark. How will this affect my results?

2. What about using #3 grit instead? I saw reference to a higher keep rate with #3

3. Measured water retention-put two cups in got one cup back out the bottom of the pot. Is this because of not soaking bark or too small grit?

4. And even at Al's 20% draining back out rate thats a lot of water, do people leave their pots in saucers filled with that water?

5. Does it matter how I apply the water? Sprinkle versus pour?

6. In the grity mix failure thread, people mention watering every day. Is that every hot day or every day period?

7. I planted some herbs and a pomegranite in pots in the mix and I mostly bare rooted them. I planted them with the roots going straight down, should I have spread them out more, horizontally? So far I have one plant out seven that objected to the treatment

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1) The mismatched sizes, if a problem, will cause separation of the ingredients (the smallest particles will go down toward the bottom, leaving the bark pieces near the top). This will happen over time as watering is done. If the sizes are truly screened (correctly) over the insect screen, this won't cause a PWT but it will make the top portion less water retentive. So it will feel drier in the top and the upper roots MAY die off, but create new ones down below.

In your area, the separation may not be of any significant concern -- esp. if you put a mulch on top (like larger granite rocks).

If I start noticing this, I usually sprinkle more Turface on top -- but I live in arid Central CA so I need more retention on top anyway and always use some kind of mulch.

The issue with undersized grit can be a concern. The smaller size is what I use, but again I'm looking for more water retention. The fact you shorted the granite may compensate for the undersize.

2) Larger grit pieces (the size of the largest screened Turface or a bit larger) are great for indoor plants or work for outdoor in locations with higher humidity and/or less direct sunlight (daytime hours).

3) Probably not soaking the bark -- it will repel the water at first. I wouldn't sweat it. This is normal to get freaked out about how little water is retained. Yes you water more often -- but SO much less qty is required. The gritty mix isn't wasteful of water, so don't feel like you need to drench it everyday. It won't hurt, but it's not required once all your bark is wet. Gritty mix IS wasteful of fertilizer though due to frequent watering.

4) No. Let the water drain out, especially in your area.

5) Sprinkler is much much better, but once your bark is saturated the first time, it's not a big deal. But if you pour, you MUST pour evenly around the entire mix area. You can't just pump it in one spot and let it diffuse through the entire container like "we" did with typical bagged mixes.

6) I haven't read the thread. Ignore the specifics of what others are saying and just learn from the generalities. They aren't living in your area, using your containers inside your microclimate, nor having the same plants in the container. If your container is large enough, so there is plenty of room for roots to grow into (like a few extra inches around the sides past the roots placed outward) than you'll be fine for now. It becomes a problem when your roots take up the entire root zone....

7) Yes the roots should have been spread out. They don't have to be layed out completely flat (saucer like) but they should've been at least like a cone -- not straight down.

It was even MORE important that you carefully put mix in between the roots. I hope you followed those directions. You have to flare the roots out horizontally, but also spread them vertically so there is gritty mix between them.

You'll get some that don't like the barerooting -- which may have been your fault ;-) or the type of plant or a quirk. Just be sure they are in partial shade for a couple weeks out of the hottest sunlight of the day.

Overall: If you are planting fruit trees in outside containers, this should be fine. Especially when they start to fruit, you'll want the extra water retention. I know NOTHING about herbs, though.

I wouldn't worry too much yet, but next time you might want to just do a 3 at a time to get some experience and wait a couple days before starting the next.

If things start going downhill, it may be due to the root placement within the mix (non-flared and not spread within the mix vertically). If this wasn't done correctly, yes you could lose some times of plants.

Hope it goes well -- got any pics of how they look now?

If I don't reply directly and you need more help, I'm sure others will chip in. But if not, you can email me directly.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 3:09PM
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Thanks for the in-depth reply Cebury!

Just to be clear, smaller granite particles will retain more moisture?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:53PM
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Yes Cebury!

Your heart and desire to help went into that post:-)


    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 9:14AM
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Maltby: >>> smaller granite particles will retain more moisture?

Yes, not significantly more when compared to how much Turface stores. But the answer is yes. It's the "real small", non-sifted particles >> Thanks for the in-depth reply Cebury!
>> Your heart and desire to help went into that post:-)

Thanks, but it's not a big deal. I'm long winded and type 100wpm. It's much more difficult and time consuming for me to write concisely, but I do enjoy it re-reading them later. I hate re-reading these types where I don't have time to go edit and remove the extraneous words. Only people who really care about the info will take the time to read such long posts, not to mention emails.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 6:54PM
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