Missouri Gravel Bed - anyone using this?

the_yard_guy(6A)October 28, 2013

Hi all. While researching something else on GW I found a reference to a technique of growing plants called Missouri Gravel Bed (MGB ). From what I read its basically growing plants in rock plus sand or DE. Wondering if this can work for container plants as well? Has anyone tried this technique?

Thanks.

TYG

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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

i use that medium. It's just pea gravel with calcined clay (Turface) added for water retention. I live in Los Angeles so I use calcined clay at a rate of about 30%. It works just fine in containers. I use it when I need to make alot of medium for say a 24" box and don't want to use gritty mix. It's what I store plants in so I don't have to worry about medium degradation over time.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 11:04AM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Thanks for the response nil13. So this method could work for container plants. Nice. How long do you leave your plants in this soil? Do you trim roots or pot up every so often? I live in a colder area (zone 5) than you do so over wintering might be an issue in a mostly rock medium.

Thanks

TYG

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 11:17AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I leave them in that medium however long I need to. I usually will pull stuff out and then plant in the ground, but I would root prune every couple or few years depending on the plant.

As far as overwintering is concerned, I can't help you. We barely ever even risk frost.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 11:28AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

you could try asking a university of missouri extension agent about overwintering in MGB.

Here is a link that might be useful: missouri extension question form

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 11:32AM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Thanks for the link nil13, i'll check this out. So essentially this MGB is similar to the gritty mix except no bark is used, everything is inorganic. I would think fertilizing would be very important since no organics are used. From what i read a CRF is used along with additional liquid or soluble fertilizer.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 1:34PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Fertilizing is always important in container culture. The organic fraction will hold onto nutrients and give you a bit of a buffer, but so will calcined clay. I use a CRF and fertigate when using MGB.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:23PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I will say that I don't sift anything when making this. They use it with a front end loader so I can't imagine they are doing any sifting either.

Also, the bark in the gritty isn't providing much in the way of nutrients. It holds a lot of water and it will hold nutrients, but that's about it. At least in the time frames with which i typically deal.

For what are you thinking about using this?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 12:19AM
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the_yard_guy(6A)

Basically just want to try this as an experiment with a few small bushes and trees. Maybe a few small maples, redbuds, and spruce trees to start. Nothing exotic or nonreplaceable. Since its late in the year now i'll probably have to wait until spring to move anything over to this mix.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:03AM
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