Turface Vs Napa

whip1 Zone 5 NE OhioSeptember 3, 2011

I've been using the Napa floor dry in my gritty mix. I just found out I have a place that sells Turface close by. To the people that have used both, is there a difference in the 2 products? I thought the floor dry had a lot of waste when it was screened. Is the Turface the same? If you had access to both, which would you use?

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I find there to be less waste and dust with turface than Napa oil/floor dry which has a lower price per bag. I also wet both prior to shifting to cut down on the dust from either.

Turface I use in a mix while I use Napa floor dry as a thin layer bottom dress but only on a few plants. I preference turface, it's also nice to have the Napa product on hand as well.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 10:03AM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

I've found that Turface has maybe twice as many fines as Floor Dry, so you'll definitely get more waste with Turface. But I like the color of Turface. I actually use a mix of the two just for esthetic reasons. Turface is also slightly heavier than Floor Dry if that makes any difference to you. It's more durable; I can't crush it between my fingers like Floor Dry. (Though both have held up just fine in my soils.) And Turface supposedly holds a bit less water than Floor Dry, but I use them interchangeably.

Overall they're fairly similar. I don't think you can go wrong with either one.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 10:22AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Turface is calcined Montmorillonite clay, while the Floor Dry is calcined DE (diatomaceous earth). Both are very internally porous, but the calcined DE getting the nod for most water retention. Because the DE is more porous, it has more surface area and more attachment sites for nutrients, so it's CEC is better than that of Turface. Turface comes in at a pH of about 6.2, Floor Dry around 7.0.

There is a thread floating around somewhere that discusses a floor-dry product OTHER than the NAPA that has a larger avg particle size and very little waste. Though I do lean toward Turface over the DE, and perhaps it's because I don't NEED the extra water retention, I think I would take a serious look at switching to the larger DE product if I could find it (I think I cut myself too much slack there - I should have said if I wasn't so complacent and too lazy to make the effort.) ;-).

I think I'll go try to find that thread & reread it. If I locate it, I'll share.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 11:03AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Here is 1 thread about Turface alternates, and here is a second you might find interesting.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 11:33AM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

Al, I thought you might be referring to the CarQuest product. I had high hopes for it, but after buying a bag last year, it's still sitting in my garage. It looked quite good at first, but after soaking in water, it became very fragile and crumbled easily between my fingers.

The second link you provided is a good one, and confirmed my belief that Floor Dry is the most economical product. Turface is a close second though, and I like it enough to continue using it.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 12:11PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

There seems to be some mixed opinions on the amount of waste regarding the Turface. I haven't checked on the price of Turface. If it's reasonable, I'll try it and see for myself.
Speaking of watse, what do you guys do wit the waste when your done? I've been tossing it on the lawn. Is there a better use for it?
Al, Thank you for the links. It's a good thing, but there is so much info on the gritty mix, that it gets difficult to filter at times.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 11:39AM
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I use my waste turface for floor dry in the garage. As for the amount, well, it depends on where in the bag you are. When your working off of the top of the bag, it's not too bad, but get to the bottom, and you're sifting out a lot of waste. All in all, I'd estimate that maybe 1/8 to 1/4 of the bag's total mass is waste. It varies from bag to bag. I've never used the Napa stuff for potting mix, although I have some in the garage for floor dry. I agree that the color of turface is pleasing to the eye, especially when combined with the #2 cherrystone grit, which has a purplish red hue.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 11:48AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

As a bonsai practitioner, eye appeal is an important consideration, which is why I like the combination of Turface & cherrystone as well. I used the white Gran-I-Grit for years before I discovered the cherrystone. I feel they're equal in performance, but the cherrystone does make a soil more appealing to the eye.

The volume of fines in Turface that passes through insect screen does vary. I generally screen out from 1/5 - 1/3 of the o/a volume. I use it in my raised beds and in hypertufa projects. I've also been mixing it into the 5:1:1 mix of plantings I think need the added water retention - usually plantings in small containers that are sure to outgrow the container and my ability to keep them hydrated by once-daily watering. They worked VERY well mixed into the 5:1:1 mix in an extra large pot devoted to a really happy clump of elephant ears ...... but they don't mind wet feet at all.

Turface varies widely in price. $8-15 being the approximate present range, depending in some part on how much you buy. I told a few forum buddies about my score a few weeks ago. I found a few 40# bags of Schultz Clay Soil Conditioner during a tent sale I never miss at a nearby nursery. The stuff IS Turface MVP, packaged under another name. When I asked if there was any more available at the offered price, I was told there was a full pallet (40 more bags) in a storage shed, which I immediately claimed as my own at a price almost too good to be true.

Night blooming cereus that's settled in the gritty mix - bloom almost 8" across.

This is a cutting, started only this spring, that had 3 blooms on it. The person that gifted the cutting in return for some small favor has mentioned more than once, through clenched teeth (in mock anger), that the parent plant remains bloomless. Heh heh - this is how I get my digs in. ;-) Anyway - it was too pretty to keep to myself - and I just WISH you could have shared the fragrance.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 3:48PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

That is awesome, Al!
And that's one heck of a score on the Turface!


    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 4:10PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

The only grit I have access to is the chicken grit. What is the cherrystone grit? Where are you getting it?

Al, that plant is incredible.
Also, how long will that pallet of the clay soil conditioner last you? One of the benifits of the gritty mix is being able to reuse it. It would take me a life time to go thru that much of the mix!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 9:46AM
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#2 cherrystone is a chicken grit, available at farm supply stores. I got mine at Fleet Farm, which is a popular store in Wisconsin. If anything, do an internet search to see if you can find a supplier near you.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 10:46AM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

Cherrystone is very similar to other granite grit, but contains some iron that gives it a purple color. It's available at many places around here, but I live in MN where it's mined. They have a website, but it only shows one dealer outside of MN. If Al found it in MI, maybe you could email them to find other sources?

Cherrystone Grit

If you do find it, you want size #2.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 10:56AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

Joe, I buy mine at Tractor Supply. I just looked to see if they have a different type. I buy the Manna Pro Poultry Grit. Ironically, there's a product review where the person said they use it in succulent soil. The reviewer claims it's purple, but the bag I have is white.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 3:44PM
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I get the Manna Pro poultry grit at Tractor Supply also. Mine is a light grey, almost white.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 5:05PM
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Has anyone tried using Pea Gravel as a substitute? It is VASTLY cheaper and easily available in bulk.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 7:56AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, I have used Pea Gravel. It can substitute for the granite portion of the Gritty Mix.

However, I do not think it is an optimal ingredient, and here's why:
Pea Gravel is round and smooth for the most part. Irregular, sharp grit is better because it doesn't settle as much,
it has increased surface area, and it abrades roots which leads to an increase in fine root-hairs.
Pea Gravel is also large, and requires screening to achieve particles in the proper size-range.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 9:44AM
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This might be a dumb question but is the Manna Pro Poultry Grit cherrystone or is it granite? It looks pink in the bag but not sure what the difference is between cherrystone and granite. Just wondering if cherrystone and Manna Pro Poultry Grit are the same thing?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 9:45PM
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Rotareneg(5b KS)

Manna Pro poultry grit is granite, Cherrystone is quartzite.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 10:11PM
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Thanks for that info. I've seen poultry grit at several farm supply/feed stores in the Indiana/Michigan area but have never seen bags of cherrystone. Where would someone find such a thing?

Other than the color is there any difference from a plant standpoint between cherrystone and white granite? The Manna Pro granite looks pink in color so I thought it might be cheerystone. Gran-I-Grit looks white or gray in color.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 2:16PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

margo, it is purely visual. Some prefer the look of the cherrystone over the granite, functionally they are the same.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 3:57PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

M - what large city do you live in or near?


    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 4:03PM
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I thought I would update this thread for prices in my area, Central Ohio. Turface All Sport is $21 per 50 lb. bag. NAPA Floor Dri is $8 per 25 lb bag. That just seems high to me for dried clay, doesn't it? I'm going to try the NAPA product because it is less expensive and I don't have to travel far to get it.

If anyone comes up with a cheaper alternative that doesn't break down I'd like to hear about it.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 4:26PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I have used both and like the Napa floor dry. When comparing it to turface MVP, you need to take into account that Floor Dry is lighter, so a 25 pound bag of it is 6 gallons by volume while a 50 pound bag of Turface is only about 9 gallons by volume. Also, I am in southwest Ohio and bought Turface at a Trupoint store that specializes in animal feed and other agricultural products. They charged about $10-12 for a 50 pound bag last year.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Well I've found everything for my gritty mix except the Turface - all local stores that are supposed to carry it (according to the online Turface website) won't sell it in less than 40 bag shipments. I'm going to go with the Napa floor dry as their store is just down the road from me. Any suggestions on the floor dry? Can it be used just the same as Turface? What's the breakdown like over time with this (i.e. could I use the gritty mix for a few years without remaking it)?

I've learned so much on this forum so far, and looking forward to learning even more in the future!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 8:08AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

Make sure the NAPA is product #8822 and says it's calcined diatamacous earth. The floor dry I used in my mix is coming up on 3 years old, and I still don't see it breaking down.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 9:48AM
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