Question re: watering Al's gritty mix

ElephantpuddingJuly 5, 2013

Hello everyone,

I have lurked here for a long time, and started using Al's gritty mix after a couple months if research. I am using Repti-Bark (screened between 1/4" and 1/8"), Turface (screened 1/8" instead of 1/16" to get more consistent particle size) and chicken grit (Also screened at 1/8").

My question is this:

I am watering over a bucket, and adding foliage pro to my water. When I water, the water beging draining out almost immediately, as intended. HOw long do I continue adding water and having water expel from the drainage hole until the turface and bark is "sufficiently moistened?" Does it take just an initial pour, or like a 15 second stream?

Also, any chance that the water that drains into the bucket can be reused for the rest of my plants? I ask this because I have close to 60 house plants (only about 15 currently in gritty mix) and I try to distill my water 24 hours before using. With the gritty miss, it seems like I may need to set some extra gallons up since I go through more water.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope to become an active member of this community! :)


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ginger9899(10 SW Florida)

Deryl I can't help you but I hope someone answers your question about reusing the drained water because I have wondered that myself. When I water gritty mix I water every surface area slowly but steadily then give it a couple minutes and do it again, but I'm not an expert on it for sure.

- Heather

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 1:34PM
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I am learning myself on the 1-1-1. It sure drains fast and seems to need almost daily water. My problem is using a saucer on my deck. I do not want to rot out my beams below the decking (so I saucer it)....but I also do not want standing water all the time in the saucer. Seems like this is not working for me right now.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 7:17PM
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You could drill a couple 1/4" holes in the saucer and use drip line or aquarium hose to drain it to a desired location for very little cost. In fact I need to remember this idea, lol.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 8:21PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi EB!!!

Sounds like you have done your search and have found a wonderful mix that will make your plants very happy but most of all very healthy!!!

When you water with the Gritty mix, it will take some time to get comfortable on when and how to water. This is the best time to learn to water in the summer, since the water can drain outside without the worry of collecting the extra water inside during the winter. So, once you get the feel, it will be easier to water in the winter.

I will offer my 2 cents as far as how I water using the Gritty Mix. When I water, I use a watering can that has a small water spout that allows a small amount of water to come from the container. This will allow a small amount to be added to your containers instead of a large spray or just a huge amount at one time to pour on the surface. This will be easier to water over the entire surface of the container so you can get all of the mix moist. You don't have to add huge amounts of water all at once. Just use a controlled nozzle and add water to the entire area and let it drain from the bottom. Sometimes it will drain pretty quickly and seem to just run through.. that is why I water slowly.. i usually will water this way and move on to others containers and continue to water in the same manner. It is best to come back through and give it one more pass to make sure the particles get the proper moisture... I usually will add the foliage pro after the first watering. Then I know the mix is moist and then when I go back and add the next batch.. it is with fertilizer. I stop when I see it starting to come from the drainage holes.

It isn't a good idea to reuse the water coming from the bottom of the collected drainage.. since you are trying to flush out any build up of salts that are in your container..Think of it as "used" water and that you don't want to give your trees water that is used and full of things that you re trying to get rid of. You can always add it to the garden if you feel like you don't want to waste it, but I wouldn't add it back to the container.. Nope.. I wouldn't!!! ;-)

If you are worried about the deck and stains or the drainage issue.. you can always use the collection tray , but make sure you raise your container so it doesn't sit in the water. You could use blocks to raise your continer.. or large bottle caps.. I know Al uses some type of inch high aluminum to rise his trays in the winter to keep them out of the water. You could be creative to find things to lift the container.. In the winter, I use water bottle caps under the containers 4-6 per container. I then let the water evaporate and not worry.

When you are concerned about when to water, use the wooden dowel method.. If it is moist or wet, don't water.. if dry water. In the summer, I don't worry about over watering in the Gritty Mix.. I just know when my trees and plants want water and I give it to them. I personally use the hose with a special nozzle to give a gentle spray. Then I will fill watering cans with water and FP and fertilize once a week..when the mix is moist.

I hope this helps..

Please ask questions.. We have all been here and we all like to help!!! ;-)



    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 12:35AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Great and thorough answer, Laura!

With the Gritty Mix, I make sure that the mix is well-saturated (wetted) *before* I apply the fertilizing solution. Then, like Laura, I use a gentle tip on my bonsai watering can and slowly apply to the entire surface of the mix. For a larger container, this might take me close to a minute.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 10:50AM
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I am a newbie, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I have succulents in containers outdoors.

I try to water slowly (although speed seems to be more medium) and cover the surface area of exposed soil. (I am currently using MG C&S soil, but am switching over to Al's Gritty mix soon)

I keep the spout in motion so I am not concentrating all the water in the same place. Especially because leaves & stems don't like to be sitting in water.

Once I get a consistent pour out of drainage from the bottom, I stop.

I read on a blog somewhere that you want to make sure you water the roots deeply. You could be watering the soil, but if you aren't getting all the roots, in the long-run the plant can die or its health be compromised.

I have a shelf and water from top to bottom. I assume that the drainage from the higher shelfs are watering the lower levels. I still water the lower levels, but not as much.

Based on Laura's post, I guess it's not a good idea to use "recycled" water. But, I am too lazy to move all these tiny pots out to water them individually.

Hope this helps a bit.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 8:43PM
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Thanks for all of the responses so far. Through reading other posts, I found what part of the problem was. I was screening my turface and grit so that particles smaller than 1/8" were left out. I was reading elsewhere that even though this gets you more uniform particle size, you end up with less water retention. Many people screen only on the bug mesh - you end up with smaller particles, but you end up being able to use more product and increase water retention.

Since making up a new batch and repotting the plants, I'm noticing better water retention. I am also incorporating advice I've seen on this thread. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 9:47AM
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