Another POssible Source for DE (Turface Substitute)

imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)June 9, 2010

Everyone talks about the Napa floor-dry (#8822) and the need to sift it. I've bought 3 bags over the winter / spring and all of them were too small, even after sifting. The size is much closer to 1/16 with a few in the 1/8th range. I lost a lot as powder/sand size during sifting. Too much work!

I have a friend that works in a shop (not a gardener at all) and he was cleaning up and oil spill with a DE product from CarQuest. He sorta looked at me funny when I bent over, grabbed a handful, and examined it, ha. It is 7.99/bag so more $ than napa, but it was very very uniform size 1/8 to 3/16 with almost no dust and a low percent in the 1/6th range. I'm soak testing it now. 8 hours and still crunchy :)

Anyways just thought I'd mention. Yours may vary. Check it out if your looking though. I'll get a pic comparing them soon.

k

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penfold2(4b, MN)

That's strange. Whenever I've sifted Floor Dry it's had significantly fewer fines than Turface. I've heard the same from others as well. I do feel that both Turface and Floor Dry are a little bit smaller than I'd like, though. I'm interested in seeing the comparison.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 9:28PM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

I'll get a picture comparing. My camera was in my wifes car all day. I've never actually seen turface myself.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 12:08AM
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ct_tom(6)

Is this DE product from CarQuest a speedydry type material? What about natural kitty litter? Just asking, I don't know if it will be a substitution

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 9:28AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I just called Carquest to see if they can look at the bag to see what its made from and all she can tell me is its made from 100% fuller's earth...I have NO idea what that means,lol...

imstillatwork...when you get a chance would you please see if "diatomaceous earth" is written on the package anywhere. My Napa sells DE for over $10 here...so it would be cheaper to get for the Carquest brand($7)...especially if I don't have to sift a lot of fines. Thanks!!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 3:40PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

Fuller's earth is clay (what Turface is made from), and diatomaceous earth is fossilized diatoms (what Floor Dry is made from). Both can make good soil amendments. The question is going to be one of durability and particle size.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 4:43PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thank you Penfold for the clarification. It would be great if this can be used for the gritty mix.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 5:49PM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

Both napa and carquest say diatomaceous on the bags.

More details & photo (clickity)

Here is a link that might be useful: Napa vs CarQuest DE

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 8:57PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thanks for the photos...it does look really good. I like the size of the one from Carquest more. Please keep us posted on the soaking test. Glad to hear that both bags say DE on them.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 9:26PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

That does look nice. And the price is right if it's the same size bag as Floor Dry. I think I'll go look for a bag this weekend.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 9:38PM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

I think same size by weight.
carquest was 7.99, napa was 5.99, but so much more usable in the carquest one.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 1:47AM
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mandarin1

What is this stuff called? I mean, if I were to contact the local Carquest and ask if they have this product in stock, what would I ask for? I just received a small bag of Turface (had never seen it before) and the pieces are so very small - I'm trying to decide whether to use the Carquest product instead. After I screen this Turface I probably won't have enough left to make the amount of gritty mix that I need. The Carquest seems less wasteful. I need to decide promptly as I have a potential guinea pig, er, tree waiting for soil...

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 2:00PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What Turface product did you get? Was it called MVP or Allsport?

You guys can second guess whenever you want, but I'll just remind you that you can rely on very good results with the gritty mix I suggested if you pay attention to the plants other cultural requirements. There was a lot of careful consideration given to the selection of the ingredients. It doesn't take a lot of deviation to come up with something very different than the gritty mix.

I have people write me all the time wondering what went wrong, only to discover they 'added 1 part peat for extra water retention', or they used this or that instead of one of the ingredients. While I always have to allow that it's possible to improve on the gritty mix, it's not likely that will happen unless you have a very thorough understanding of why it works so well in the first place, and can find ingredients that do individually superior jobs than the bark/Turface/grit in the mix.

Al

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 2:49PM
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mandarin1

I got MVP, the largest pieces in my bag are 1/8th inch. I received some recent help from the Citrus Forum, apparently I shouldn't be concerned. But I'm losing a lot when straining.

If I understand correctly, the larger the size, the less surface area, the less water retained. That may be an issue here?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 3:46PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I picked up two bags of Turface MVP this morning, but I haven't opened either of them yet.
I'll take pics when I do.

Since I've been using varying grades of Pumice for my mixes up to this point, I'll
need to get a feel for the Turface.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 3:52PM
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mandarin1

I really appreciate it Josh...I also have small pumice, I was wondering if anyone had tried pumice instead of Turface and how it worked out? But I do want to use the correct gritty mix "recipe" as well.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 4:26PM
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chalstonsc

Has anybody tried a product called "Mulemix",@mulemix.com....a calcined clay field conditioner billed as having a uniform particle size...cheaper than Turface, Napa...?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 5:27PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

Well I just picked up a bag of the CarQuest oil absorbent (part# 8033). It was $9 here (about $2 more than Floor Dry IIRC), but the lack of fines should make up for that. It looks just like Floor Dry, but bigger as the picture above indicates. I couldn't crush it with my fingers, so it looks good so far.

As Al said, I wouldn't use it as a substitute for Turface if you're trying to recreate his recipe. I've done a lot of experimenting, however, and have been looking for a larger product which I think would better suit my purposes.

Thanks, Kevin, for bringing this to our attention!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 6:15PM
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mandarin1

penfold2 if you don't mind, can you tell us the approximate or average size of the particles in the Carquest product?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 6:22PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

The range is around 1/16"-1/4", but most of the particles are 1/8"-3/16". The picture in the earlier link should give you a good idea as well.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 6:44PM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

I can't get turface or even perlite for that matter in any reliable sort within a few 100 miles of me. I've read a lot of people using napa floor dry in a 5-1-1-esque mix. this is what available to me, so I'm trying to make it work. So far so good! My bark source has fine enough fines that I've started leaving out the peat altogether and just using about 6-1 bark / DE.

I'm honestly not sure how this would compare to turface. Al? I thought I read that you tried some of the other DE products before. Any comparison input?

thanks!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 12:04AM
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fulton

I've been running a small experiment this year and have 2 cents to add.
Like JustaGuy, I have a dislike for perlite so I decided to go with his mix of 3 parts bark(Fafard) and one part unsifted MVP turface. So far things are looking fabulous.
I'm also trying 5 parts bark/ 1 part unsifted Napa floor dry. Bad!!! Way too wet. These were side by side comparisons with the same plants in identical containers. The Napa pots are way behind the turface pots. I repotted a few and it was very wet(although since I didn't repot any of the turface pots so I have nothing to compare to.)
My thoughts were they could tolerate the extra water retention until the heat of the summer when the roots would fill the pot and the larger water sucking plant would actually enjoy the extra wet. But it's a short growing season up here in Wisconsin and being behind is not tolerable. In hindsight I wish I had tried a wick on a few but I didn't want to mess up the experiment. The one plant I was sure would like the Napa was the cascading petunias which get huge and dry out daily but right now there still small and showing signs of being too wet even though I barely water them.( I start all my stuff from seed so they
are smaller than purchased plants.)
Next year I intended to try screening it and increasing the ratio to 10 to 1 but now I may switch to the unsifted Carquest product in a similarly higher ratio.

Larry

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 11:29AM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

I also tried a 3-1 and 5-1 bark + napa and it was way to wet. I tihnk the napa just fills in too many spaces. I just today put a yucca (yuk, my wife likes it though) in the carquest and small bark (about 4-1 or 5-1, just eyed it). It's definitely a 'fast' mix!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 6:07PM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

I'm going to be in salem, oregon this weekend. I think there is an ewings in salem. I'll call ahead and see if that have the MVP or playball and maybe get some comparisons of my own done too.

Does Ewings carry the #2 granite also? I'd like to try a REAL batch of the gritty mix on some maples that will be 3 years old this fall.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 8:18PM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

Well I'm sorry to say that the CarQuest product did not pass the soak test. After 48 hours in water, it crumbled easily between my fingers. Guess I'll be sticking with Turface and Floor Dry.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 9:16PM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

Running to kitchen to check mine.......

.....Mine seeeeems ok, maybe it's a batch per batch basis. Didn't some report the same problem with the napa product?

I'll be careful with the remainder of the bag...So far (3-4 days wet) I need quite a bit of force to crumble it.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 10:48PM
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cebury(9)

>>>> Didn't some report the same problem with the napa product?
I recall it happening with OilDri (someone from the Vegas area?)

It is possible the Carquest product is unreliable for our use as a container amendment. Just like OilDri, it works great for the cleanup/absorbent market, but they either don't fire it at high enough temps or something else with the material makes some bags reliable and some not.

I've used over 30 bags of the Napa product and *all* of them have had a MINIMAL amount of fines in them. I've also used about 10 bags of Turface, but only a few of Axis and Playball.

It's funny, I just posted my experience today: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0615095523869.html?1
and was just saying how Napa has been very reliable in my area at least.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to GW post about topic

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 11:24PM
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cebury(9)

Fulton, are you comparing unsifted Napa to unsifted Turface? In WI, I wouldn't have ever suggested using either product unsifted, but it is an interesting experiment. Have any pics yet? Whereabouts in WI are you?

It sounds like your bag of Floor Dry has smaller particles like ImstillatWork's. Actually, any of the products can only handle so much rough handling (by the manufacturer, retailer, consumer) as they will fragment into smaller particles (Attrition). But the majority of the products are "intended to" tolerate attrition as an underlay for sports fields, turf, etc. It's possible Floor Dry would measure a lower Hardness/resistance-to-attrition percentage than the others, thus causing more fines later. I have not visibly seen this in my soak testing, but it's difficult to measure at home.

Al has stated some of his bags of Turface have up to 60% waste, others 40% -- WOW. But he sifts with #10 mesh, which has larger spaces than aluminum screen, and much larger than fiberglass screen. But the variances are obvious.

I've used Turface unsifted for Blueberries and it's working great so far. But my climate is very different than yours.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 12:42PM
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fulton

JustaGuy recommended unsifted turface. He said he didn't mind a little perched water for his water-sucking annuals.
I went with the 5 to 1 ratio with the Napa 'cause I've read here it's more water retentive. The Napa is working in the taller 3 gallon pots and a hanging basket of very prolific trailing fuschias but in the 8 inch pots it was seriously retarding growth. The 3 to 1 unsifted turface mix is working fine everywhere.
Pictures are currently beyond my humble talents.
I live in Milwaukee.

Larry

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 7:54PM
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