Newbie with questions regarding Al's gritty mix

CruddyDecember 23, 2012

I usually grow daylilys and sedum but I picked up the bug for Sempervivums. In doing so I ran into a couple of references to Al's gritty mix and i was blown away. What I haven't found is a description of what each element of the gritty mix provides to the plant. I want to try this out on some of my more "prolific" sedum cuttings first then migrate some of the Semps I just got to the mix. I am unable to locate any Turface so I am using Kitty litter that is 100% DE. I am also using aquarium gravel since I am unable to find grit or quartz. I would love for Al to speak to any common substitutes for some of the ingredients and to ask if anyone else has experience growing sedums and semps in the gritty mix. Also below is a picture of my ingredients assembled. Thanks in advance for any suggestions and or comments.

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The bark is larger than advised for the gritty mix: 1/8 to 1/4 inch for Fir bark.
The other ingredients should substitute nicely. The only thing that I disliked
about aquarium gravel in the past was the smooth edges. I think sharp grit is better
for holding the mix open and for root-development (drainage, plus root-abrasion).

I am growing a Sedum nussbaumerianum in a small pot in pure screened Turface,
but I also have a pot of Sempervivum growing outside in gritty mix. Semps are great
in this mix.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 4:18PM
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Thanks greenman,

I have never heard of that particular sedum before. Looks nice. How did you find it? I did some more investigation and found a site that explains the purpose of the ingredients but it sort of confused me. If the bark and the Turface is for water retention and nutrients then why is the fertilizer needed?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 6:50PM
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In a timely manner for plants in containers we will still have to water to replace the water the plant took up. Fertilizers are used with the intentions for replacing the food the plant used primarily because ferts food for the plant are limited with in a container growing environment.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Thanks mrlike2u,

If I understand you correctly then the bark and turface are more like extremely slow release sort of nutrient providers? I also wondered about using crushed eggshells instead of gypsum. Is this viable or is the gypsum providing something the egg shells cannot?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 11:22PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a


Bark provides a durable, slightly moisture-retentive filler.
Turface provides much more durability and water-retention, and also holds some nutrients
in its internal structure.

There are virtually no nutrients in the gritty mix, and so the grower must supply
the water and nutrients to the plant. The crushed eggshells are not soluble and will not
provide Calcium.

If you select a fertilizer that provides Calcium and Magnesium, you don't need to add gypsum.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 1:07AM
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Hey Greenman,

I am off to get fertilizer! By the way, with your semps in this mix how often do you water? I just started some Semps bareroot from an online nursery and they are outdoors no protection. Do I need to water or should I let the rain do it for me in the winter?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 11:51AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yep, mine are simply exposed to the rain.
When we have dry periods in the Winter, I do water to keep the mix moist.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 12:39PM
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I see you are in N.Cal like me. I am in Tracy. Where are you at?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 4:22PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I'm up in the foothills around Auburn.

Forgot to mention that I received a cutting of the Sedum nussbaumerianum
from a GardenWeb member. Big pots of this Sedum should be available at
your local nursery. During the Summer, it turns a really nice golden color.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 4:31PM
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