Gritty Mix in Australia
First of all, I'd like to thank you all (specially Al, Jody, Mike, etc.) for your contributions to this forum. I've learnt a lot on here and always look forward to reading the latest posts.
Recently I decided to try out Al's Gritty Mix, and wanted to share how it went...
Here in Melbourne (Australia), the ingredients available to us are a little different from those in the US. Below I have listed the products that I found locally, and that seem to be appropriate for the Gritty Mix.
Diatomite (2mm - 7mm) - purchased from Sage Horticultural
- purchased from local building supplies yard
Pine bark mulch - purchased from Bunnings (hardware chain)
Gypsum (Clay Breaker) - purchased from Bunnings (hardware chain)
Before mixing the materials, I screened the 3 main ingredients through a flyscreen to remove the fine particles. I then screened the pine bark through a wire mesh screen, to remove the larger chunks.
Before taking the plunge and repotting everything into the Gritty Mix, I wasn't too happy with the situation regarding our indoor house plants. Although some of them seemed to be doing OK (i.e. Peace Lily, which produced new leaves, but no flowers), they never appeared to be thriving. Other plants (i.e. Calathea - prayer plant) were slowly dying, gradually losing their leaves until nothing was left.
I had been wondering about the possible causes. The usual possibilities crossed my mind - overwatering/underwatering, insufficient humidity, insufficient light, fertiliser burn, etc. Lots of guess work, but I could never really pinpoint why my plants were not doing well, with only the toughest plants able to survive. I had even tried several different "premium" potting mixes, but that did not help.
After mixing a big batch of the Gritty Mix, I repotted all of our plants. Probably not the ideal time (Spring), but I was too keen to wait. During the repotting process, I examined the plants and noticed that most of them had root systems that were rotting. Not what I had expected, since I was always careful not to water the plants unless I believed the soil was getting dry.
After giving the plants a new home in the Gritty Mix, I found that I needed to water the plants about once a week. I would add a teaspoon of vinegar to the 2-litre waterning can, a pinch of Epsom salts, and just a small amount of fertiliser at each watering.
Over the first month, I didn't notice much. But now I can see new growth appearing in most of the plants. I haven't lost any plants due to the repotting, so the only way is up from here.
I'm really happy about the Calathea. We had already lost one of these plants (all the leaves had dried up and died off, one by one). The other one was on its last legs (or leaves, I should say!!!). Since the leaves appeared to be drying up, I always thought that these plants were just too fussy with the amount of humidity they require.
When repotting our plants into the Gritty Mix, I regarded this as the last chance for saving the Calathea. About 2 weeks after repotting it, the Calathea was down to its last leaf and I was losing hope. But 2 weeks after that, I noticed that 4 or 5 small pointy green tips had emerged from the surface. Check out the photo below to see what I mean. I was very surprised to see the Calathea turn full circle - instead of losing leaves, it was starting to produce them. Fingers crossed it will continue to do so, and we will end up with a very happy plant in a very successful medium.
Since then, I've also repotted some small lemon trees into the Gritty Mix and some into the 5-1-1 Mix. I've also got our blueberry and strawberries growing in the 5-1-1 Mix.
All in all, I have a really good gut feeling about using the Gritty Mix and I'm looking forward to more positive results.
Thanks again to all.