Re-using Gritty Mix

retiredprof(7)December 3, 2010

Today, in my attempt to persuade a friend to undertake using gritty instead of you-know-what, he asked me this question when I said gritty usually lasts for 3-5 years:

"If roughly 2/3 of it is inorganic, why can't you 're-freshen' it with new fines and use it again? Seems to me that would make more sense than making up all new batches from scratch considering the turface and granite should be reusable. I'm assuming the original fines would have broken down in that time."

Well, I wasn't quite sure how to answer. The mix was "spent?"

Can anybody chime in here? Al?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

A graph of the breakdown of the organic fraction of soils isn't linear, especially where bark is concerned. The bark particles break down slowly at first, then the rate of collapse accelerates quickly. Lol - think of Gore's hockey stick.

Barring any incidence of disease, there is no reason you couldn't use the inorganic fractions of the gritty mix indefinitely. The problem, if you intend to use the gritty mix so it performs at its best, lies in how to separate all the fine particles of organic material from the inorganic material. From my own perspective, the effort isn't worth it. Besides, I use a good part of the spent soil in the raised beds that serve as nurseries for future bonsai material.

The gritty mix was conceived with the goal of maintaining good (and adjustable) water retention w/o the soil supporting perched water, and that's how it works best. If you are to deviate much from that premise, there is little sense in going to the effort and expense of making that particular soil, as other, less expensive soils (the 5:1:1) mix will perform as well as an improperly made gritty mix.

The challenge, in my view, is how to ensure nearly all of the organic fraction is separated from the inorganic fraction. Including the organic particles that still fit the size requirements, but are well on the way to collapse, negates the longevity advantage and introduces the PWT associated with particle collapse. To avoid this, you need to remove virtually all of the organic fraction, or be happy with doing the best you can with what you're left with.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 7:16PM
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Al, are you confirming that the 5:1:1 mix can be re-used? I am somewhat reluctant to do that, and maybe it depends on what I grow in the container. I wonder about re-using the mix after growing tomatoe plants this summer in it, for instance, because I don't know if it will be harboring any disease or insects/eggs in the soil. Is there a way to sterilize it (other than heat) or not? Can I grow plants other than veggies in it? I intended to compost it and/or put it in my garden beds. But if there is a way to extend its use, I'd be interested in possibly doing that. It won't go to waste either way.



    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 2:55PM
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What I'm understanding is that it can be reused, but it's not worth the effort of trying to remove the broken down fir bark bits and separate out the inorganic parts to be reused.

I usually dump the used medium in my raised vegetable beds and begin new pot-ups or re-pots with a freshly mixed batch. The used materials help to aerate the beds, somewhat.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 3:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I was saying there is no reason you can't reuse the inorganic fraction of the gritty mix, that being the Turface and grit, if you can figure out a way to separate the fine organic (bark) particles from the Turface/grit.

I don't reuse either type of soil. If I was going to reuse the 5:1:1 mix, I would limit it's use to serving as a substitute for the peat fraction. Depending on the sizes of the particles, a soil that reused a part of the 5:1:1 mix might go something like this:
5 parts pine or fir bark fines
1 part used soil
1 part perlite
garden lime

I too, dump the old soil onto the compost pile or break it up and spread it directly on the gardens/beds as a mulch.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 4:18PM
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Thanks, everyone, I will be dumping mine, too. Think about what marvelous garden soil we're building!


    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 7:10PM
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I've used the gritty mix for only about 1.5 years and I can already see the bark breakdown in older batches. I don't anticipate replacing it next year, but as Al said if the breakdown continues at an exponential rate, it may completely lose it's integrity sooner than later.

The bark softened up and has broken apart into much smaller bits. I can tell it would be a real PIA (pardon my french) to attempt separating those tiny bark fragments from the Turface and granite, but I'm going to attempt recovery (like soaking to make them float, etc) then dry screening.

If it were just a few gallons of mix for a few plants, I certainly wouldn't re-use it. But I have a significant investment in the Turface & granite; not only financial, but labor effort sifting down to size is expensive. If I can recoup a good chunk of product back with less effort than starting from scratch, I'll attempt it.

I've made 140+ gallons of gritty mix (so far) and intend to use it in the long-term, so I'd like to hear from others also.

Question: Has anyone out there actually tried recycling it and did the vast majority of fine bark particulates (and/or shards of Turface) easily come out?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 12:59PM
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Cebury: Hello!

That is very strange about your mix...Because I am finding vrtually no break down in the containers that many of my plants are in for over two years..I use the "decomposed" fir bark..

With my plants, it looks as if they will outgrow their pots before my mixes ever breakdown...

I have no need to reuse huge batches though because I make just enough to do a few new plantings or replantings at a time..

I just throw what ever little left behind from a repot into my yard which is usually minute..

How will you make sure your turface and granite ratio is perfect to hold your water properly as a freshly properly measured batch? I would be concerned..

Not be be gross but I would never reuse someone's toothbrush even if it did work, so I refuse to reuse mixes for plants..I am not willing to take chances with bacteria, disease and the like from previous plantings grown in the worn already used mixes..So I calculate about how much I will need ahead of time


    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 3:58PM
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Hey Mike!

Of course I think the exact bark we're using is the largest large factor in how stable it remains, but I'm wondering if the mix breaks down faster here than in your area. Or perhaps more accurately stated, compared to how we're both using the mix in our environments. For example, I left mine out all last winter, which was very cold for us (mid-high 20's a few nights). From what I've read in your posts, you took yours indoors until this (or last year) when you used the hoop house. Of course, my summer's are much hotter and drier and therefore the mix gets watered a lot more often. Wondering if the comparison of our winter/summer cold+watering combination makes a difference in breakdown of the bark... As I understand it, the breakdown of organic components in a "stable" container mix depends mostly on the natural microbial populations. I'd assume your environmental weather would be more conducive to that. /shrug

Back to the most obvious factor I suggested above, I think the specific Fir bark called WonderBark from Orchard Supply may be the culprit here (again I have to examine the containers I see breakdown and trace it back to the bark I used--I have it documented). I recall it being very light, which means it was very THIN compared to the other bark I use (GreenAll Micro Deco Bark). I can understand thinner pieces, of less overall mass, being faster to break into the smaller pieces within a season. I hope I am incorrect.

I'm going to take some photos because I made a fresh mix about 6 months ago and I think I already see bark breakdown, including a lot of Mycelia attached to the bark and roots. Next time we have sun (fingers crossed) I'll go out and take some closeups, maybe you could do the same for yours so we can share what our aged gritty mix looks like.

>> How will you make sure your turface and granite ratio is perfect to hold your water properly as a freshly properly measured batch? I would be concerned..
I'm assuming I'll be able to remove most of (>75%) the bark with a combination of sifting, soaking, or rinsing. If I cannot, then I agree with the concerned for lack of adequate control over the mix particles.

While I certainly agree it's gross to share toothbrushes, when the Turface and granite are fully "bone" dried in my summer heat, I cannot imagine much harmful bacteria remaining. If I recall correctly, I read somewhere here that method described as a *fairly* safe way to re-use those two components, maybe from Al?

I'd certainly love to hear others chime in.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 8:50PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy, Cebury!

I think it's gotta be that bark, too.

As you know, I use the GreenAll Micro Bark (and the Orchid Bark from the same supplier).
The bark fraction in my mixes seems quite reluctant to break down.

I've pressed the 5-1-1 into service for over two years in my Chainfern planting,
and that container is exposed to all the elements - and, as the plant is a fern,
it gets watered thoroughly and frequently. I also use Fish Emulsion on this plant,
which should increase the breakdown of the bark. If the fronds fail to grow longer next
year (than they did this year), I will re-pot.

I've been thinking of how one might easily separate the bark from the grit,
and it came to me that you could store the old mix in some type of composting container
that would actually hasten the decomposition of the bark. Then it could be rinsed/floated
away from the heavier grit.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 9:42PM
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Thanks for sharing, that's good news since we do use the same bark. I haven't used the Wonderbark in a while, I still have 4 bags of it leftover (what a waste of $40). So if the GreenAll in your 5-1-1 hasn't broken down for you in two years, I can hope to be as fortunate for both my 511 and gritty. The 511 should decompose faster than the bark component in the gritty mix, but that is an educated guess and not strictly based on any science.

Interesting idea about the composting method, hope I won't have to. I'm sure that'll increase Mike's gross factor!


    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 12:09PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

It's raining like mad up here at the moment, but I meant to scratch a sample of my fern's 5-1-1
and take a pic. If I get a moment between downpours, I'll do it!

You are correct that the bark-based mix will breakdown faster than the grit-based mix.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 12:29PM
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I grow orchids primarily in bark. The plants in large bark can go a few years between repots. The plants in small bark get repotted each year because the bark begins to break down.

I would think the small bark in the gritty mix would start to decompose after a year. Seems to me this makes the effort involved to prepare this mix not cost effective for large plants. Good quality orchid bark is expensive. Using it in large containers would cost a small fortune if replaced every few years. Possibly an inorganic product would be more effective if it could retain some moisture.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 1:53AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Bark is on the outside of a tree. It's durable stuff.
It handles UV, rain, freeze, mechanical abrasion. It resists insects. It's tough.

For the Gritty Mix, we choose uncomposted bark.
In the container, with 2/3 inorganic grit, populations of various organisms
simply can't survive for long enough to effectively decompose the bark at the
rate we'd expect to see in nature, or in a container full of other organics -
like peat moss, chicken manure, vermiculite, or compost.

I do spend slightly more on bark - $8.99 for 2 cubic feet.
50 pounds of Turface costs me $12.25.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 11:57AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

We all usually make our choices based on a number of considerations. Bark is more expensive than peat, yet orchid growers often choose it over a water-retentive medium because it allows plants to grow at something nearer to their genetic potential than peat or coir would. In many cases, the large particles in the media orchids are grown in are considered a requirement. If bark is better for orchids, and few have any problem with the additional expenditure, it should follow as reasonable that bark in media for other types of plants would also be considered by many to be a worthy investment. As a compliment to screened Turface and crushed granite, bark makes an inexpensive filler material on a per volume basis, with roughly the water retention of the average between Turface and granite, which is no accident.

The suggestion that an inorganic product that is less expensive is a good one in theory, but to put it into practice we would need to have an actual product named that is both inexpensive, fits the size requirements, is not phytotoxic, and has a favorable degree of water retention. Even then it would have to be significantly better at its job to overcome the fact that the bark does supply some small measure of nutrition as it breaks down, where of course an inorganic ingredient would not.

How fast bark breaks down is due in large part to the size of the bark particles. One might think that the bark sizes suggested for use in the gritty mix would break down quickly, but those that actually use it can relate from actual experience. Larger pieces on a per volume basis have less surface area exposed to the activity of the soil microbes that break down the organic fractions of soils than small pieces. Look to the compost pile to see that materials added in fine particles break down much faster than say a log, e.g.

There were 2 factors taken into consideration when I arrived at the recommendation that the particle size of the bark in the gritty mix should be 1/8-1/4". One was how the particle size impacted drainage and aeration, the other was the rate of breakdown. I have pressed the gritty mix into service on occasion for 4 - 5 years between repots. At the end of this period, a significant fraction of the bark was still >1/8". This means that probably less than 1/6 of the soil volume had broken down to less than 1/8". This consideration is why the bark fraction is limited to no more than 1/3 of the o/a volume. Even if the entire bark fraction was to completely break down over a 5 year period (and we KNOW that never happens), the properties of drainage and aeration would still be significantly superior to a peat-based medium or even a soil like the 5:1:1 mix.

Additionally, most plants become rootbound to the degree that growth and vitality are severely inhibited when the interval between repots is extended beyond 2-3 years, making root-bound conditions the limiting factor, the grower remiss for not repotting, and the fact that a small fraction of the soil (not the soil as a whole) is reaching the limits of it's serviceability nearly a moot point.

In many cases our choices pivot on what we're willing to expend in terms of dollars and effort to ensure we get the vitality from our plants that makes both the grower and growee happy. The 5:1:1 soil is much superior to peat-based soils in terms of it's potential to deliver superior vitality, but I was still not happy using it over the long term, which is why I started experimenting with other ingredients that cost a little more. What I came up with was good enough that I wanted to share it with others; but always recognized that each would make their own decisions insofar as how they perceived it might be of benefit to their own growing endeavors.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 2:20PM
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Thanks for sharing. What you said makes sense. I'd expect larger "orchid" size bark components to last several years without risk of compaction, and smaller pieces (like I described using in several of my first batches of gritty mix) to break down quicker. However, we are all stating things in vague unscientific language that lacks precision.

Like your comment "I would think the small bark in the gritty mix would start to decompose after a year. " I would certainly agree, it should START to decompose after a year.

But I guess I'm not concerned until it decomposes to the point it loses internal aeration properties and the majority of pieces become so small to "clog" the macro-pores within the gritty mix (i.e. I'm hoping we can share closeup pictures of our aged mixes, as a visual representation of what we mean by the above statement or others like "reluctant to breakdown". It'd be great if you have any pictures of aged bark from your orchid mixes. I could be concerned about something that in fact is several years away from the point I *should* be concerned.

And yeah, maintaining the gritty mix would be out of my budget if I had to spend the labor every 2 years to remove and cost to replace the bark component (or obviously replace the entire mix). But since my endeavor into this whole "container media experimentation" began a few years back, I have spent a small fortune on various mixes just for testing purposes; that certainly cannot last.

I am hopeful the gritty mix will be the most outstanding mix of them all. Especially when pressed to their max durability, 5+? years for gritty. If so, it should become a most cost effective solution.

So far I'm still impressed with it, but starting to experience downsides I hadn't expected. It's all part of the learning process for container plants.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 11:03PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Well said, Al and Chris!

By the way, Chris, I'm hoping to get a pic tomorrow...unless more rain comes through.
We got slammed again today, with some thunder, lightning, and hail to boot!


    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 11:54PM
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jane, i think your plants are beautiful. i think we should grow what is best for us.i use what works for me and coir is something that many of you do not like and many like it. i have to meet anyone who did not do good to use it. for me my big bag of peatmoss and perlite is much cheaper and my plants like it. they like coir too which I can get a lot from one brick of it


    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 9:21PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If anyone has found something that they feel works well enough for their purposes, by all means, continue to use it; but you have just met the first person for whom coir, in side by side experiments with bark/peat based soils, did not perform well at all. Based on the number of conversations I've had about its use, I can guarantee there are many others who have discovered its shortcomings as well. I've posted a description of the results several times, so I'll just skip that part.

Some of the reasons that can be quickly confirmed in a quick research session (from a previous post of mine): When used in commercial applications, coir is generally kept to a small fraction of the medium for a number of reasons. Coir actually has less loft than sphagnum peat, and therefore, less aeration. Because of this propensity, coir is used commercially in mixes at much lower %s than peat. Because of the tendency to compact, in the greenhouse industry, coir is primarily used in containers in sub-irrigation (bottom-watering) situations. Many sources produce coir that is very high in soluble salts, as is evidenced by this issue being a common problem, though there has been some improvement in recent years.
Using coir as the primary component of container media virtually eliminates lime or dolomitic lime as a possible Ca source because of coir's high pH (6+). Gypsum should be used as a Ca source, which eliminates issues with coir's low S(ulfur) content. All coir products are extremely high in K, very low in Ca, and have a potentially high Mn content, which can interfere with the uptake of Fe.


    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 9:51PM
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I abandoned using coconut coir a few years ago. As a medium, it was a disaster. Its shortcomings are many, as mentioned by Al.

I had nothing but problems using cococoir as a medium. It not only compacted quite quickly, it remained way too wet toward the interior of the rootball, often causing roots to rot. I also noticed that it wetted very unevenly when allowed to dry out. Salts were also a large issue.

In my experience, I'd go back to using a bagged potting soil before I'd opt for cococoir again... and you all know how I feel about the commercial bagged garbage! ;-)

I must concur with Al... use whatever works for you, by all means. But the science that solidly upholds the use of the gritty mixes most of us now use, doesn't exist for coco products. And our experiences with the products attest to it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 9:38AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Caught a break rain falling....

Here are several pics of different plants in bark and grit.

Avocado after one year - this plant spends the Summer outside, Winter inside:

Giant Chainfern - this potting mix is now 1 year, 9 months old - fully exposed to the elements.

Trident Maple - this mix is now 2 years old - outdoor year-round.

Osage Orange - in the same mix for well over 2 years now - outdoors year-round.

And, for comparison, this is also an Osage, but in a mix that my sister's boyfriend made from
an inferior, semi-composted "forest" product. This mix is only about 1 year-old. BIG difference.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 3:17PM
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mr greenman,that is just from luck and a lot of light that makes your plants look nice. your plants would look nice in my mix to if you give them light. if you brought your plants in the house and gave them less light, they would not look that good. someone here before said light is very important and her plants look very nice to. she uses miracle grow.many here use everything but the mix you talk about and their plants look very nice. my friend has beautiful orchids to.she has been growing plants for years and only looses a few sometimes. i do not know why people do not listen to her.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 4:43PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I relied on luck before I was introduced to bark and grit-based mixes by Al (Tapla).
I didn't lose plants back when I relied on luck, and I certainly don't lose plants now.
Thanks for bumping this to the top! I hope everyone has a chance to see the mix.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 4:55PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Josh!
It was nice of Plant48 to bump this for you. ;)

And well worth the 20 min. it took me to get here.(darn puter! lol!) ;-).
Thanks for taking the time to share those pics!

Glad the rain finally cut you some slack!


    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 6:13PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thank you, JoJo!
Darn that computer...unending troubles! ;)
I went for a job this evening, and a light rain began to fall as soon as I stepped out...

Plant48, in your opinion, what percentage does "Luck" play in successful gardening?

What factors or practices can help us increase the likelihood of success?


    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 8:36PM
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Gardening by luck is like driving by feel... why would you when the proven information to be successful is there for the taking?

There's no such thing as a green thumb, people... it's all knowledge, with a little experience thrown in for good measure.

Save your luck for Las Vegas... use the knowledge that science and experienced gardeners provide. It's free.

I hate to be the one to say it, but it needs to be said... light is not the end all to end all when it comes to growing healthy plants. Light is only one factor in many. Healthy plants begin at the root, not at the tip.

Without healthy roots that are able to actually breathe and exchange the gases within the soil, all the light in the world won't help. Without the ability to intake water in vapor form and the proper nutrition, all the light in the world will be for naught.

The people that others listen to here, get our attention for a reason... they they offer valuable, usable advice, and always back up what they say with solid scientific, provable facts. Their advice contains solid logic and common sense, combined with years of experience and successful results. In a word, we listen because the advice given works exactly as it's supposed to, and we are successful because of it.

Personally, I find it useless to argue for a product or a piece of advice that I haven't time tested myself... and I've tested the gritty mixes. I can say, without any trepidation, that they are the best thing for containerized plants since sliced bread.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, of course... but not to make up their own facts. Facts require proof.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 10:30PM
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Without light you wouldn't have roots. The information offered above is backward. Light is always king.

Bark breaks down. That is a fact. How fast it breaks down depends on the environment. In small pots, small pieces of bark will start to decompose in a year. Orchid growers are always dealing with bark. They are always searching for the 'perfect' potting media. What works for one person does not guarantee success for another.

The photos above show bark which has begun to break down. The photo of the Giant Chainfern shows bark which would rot the roots of orchids. The photo of the Orange Tree is breaking down.

The OP asked about reusing Gritty Mix. You could reuse it but how would you get the bark out? It will break down and that is enough reason to not use bark in the mix for large container plants unless you are willing to dump the entire mix every two years. Seems expensive and a lot of work.

I amend bagged mixes for large containers and it works fine. I repot and root prune every two years so the cost of dumping the mix is minimal.

In large outdoor containers, I only refresh the top third of the mix each year and plant annuals. Their roots only penetrate the upper part of the mix. My annuals flower and grow very well all summer.

Indoor trees (large) go in bagged mix with perlite and bark mixed in. They also grow well and I see no reason to do anything more extensive. The mix holds up fine for two years. Then it gets dumped.

Small orchids are grown in various things but need repotting every year or so if grown in straight bark or bark mixed with sphagnam. This is dependent on the amount of rain, growth and heat the bark is exposed to. Most of my plants summer outdoors and are exposed to the elements.

Large bark holds up longer but is generally used for orchids with thick roots and for plants which like their roots to dry out quickly. Most of those orchids can wait two years between repots. Small bark will hold up better if mixed with some inorganic media (or rock) to help it dry faster. Better air flow.

I guess the bottom line is how much money and effort does one want to spend on a potting mix which will have to be discarded in a few years. For some it seems it is very important. I don't think there is an argument whether a gritty mix isn't a good mix. For many people it just isn't necessary especially for large outdoor containers.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion based on their knowledge and experience. But, a known fact is that bark will decompose and plants grown without proper light will die no matter what the media.

My efforts would be to find a container mix which was completely inorganic for large containers. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to exist at this point.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 12:34AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

that's a Fern - it needs a more moisture retentive soil.

Besides, you wouldn't be growing Orchids outdoors where this Fern is located.
It would freeze long before the roots had a chance to rot.

To which Osage (Maclura pomifera) do you refer?
The last pic is an example of a poorly made mix that had an inferior "forest" product instead of proper bark.
And, although the other Osage is in a better mix, it still had a portion of peat moss...which has collapsed.
All of my Osages will be re-potted next month.

Lest you think I'm taking a defensive posture, let me remind you of one thing:
The purpose of the images was to show the degree to which bark breaks down within
the time-frame described. Yes, bark does decompose. But it decomposes at a slower
rate than nearly all other organic fillers - coco chips, coir, or peat moss, et cetera.

Lastly, there are inorganic mixes out there.
Al would be the one to ask, since he understands the moisture capacity of ingredients better than I do -
but I'd venture that a mix of Turface, Granite, and Perlite could work as an inorganic mix.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 1:37AM
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I beg to differ on the light issue... light is not king. Take the lowly plant cutting, as example. Before it grows a set of viable roots, a place in direct sunlight would be extremely detrimental.

Light is only one piece of the growing puzzle. It is not king. It shares space with many other factors, and to say otherwise is misleading.

If a person continually speaks from a perspective of his or her own environment and the type of plants they grow almost exclusively, any advice given is bound to be, for lack of a better word, deficient... especially when given on a forum covering a much wider aggregation within the general subject matter.

Light is no more important than water, nutrition, ambient temperature, humidity, support, drainage, and all the other factors involved in a container plant's health. But we've had this discussion on numerous occasions, and repeating it over and over seems a waste of energy. Without all pieces of the growing puzzle, a plant will not thrive. Take away a piece of the puzzle and decline ensues, leading to eventual death. In short, and as example, without water, light is irrelevant.

I like orchids, too... but they're not the only type of plant material discussed on a container forum... therefore, the scope of shared information has to be expanded in order for any advice offered to be useful. Some plants, believe it or not, actually prefer lower levels of light.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 6:18AM
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i am sorry.LIGHT is the most important thing. if i can grow very nice plants in my greenhouse, then your mix is not the most important. jane, thank you for your words. you are right. what is the problem here? you can kill your plants in gritty if they don't get enough light, that is it. i don't like coming here so good by


    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 3:59PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's pretty much a given that people are going to disagree about what soil they should use, especially when they approach the question from two different perspectives. One thing they SHOULDN'T disagree over is what soil others should choose. THAT, is a personal choice. Getting back to the two perspectives ..... one view is: it costs more than what I'm using, ingredients are hard to find, I have to screen it, it's heavier than what I'm using, the containers might leak, and on and on. In most cases, those set against the soil from this perspective have never even used it, so can't really effectively judge the inherent value. The other view is: I recognize these obstacles and I don't care. I want rid of what I was using, and want to try to offer my plants the best chance I can at growing to their potential. Some people like a perfectly manicured lawn, and some don't care a whit. I lift my palms in a gesture of "What're ya gonna do", and offer the reminder 'different strokes for different folks'.

To be fair, and in an attempt to use the voice of reason, both sides of this equation tend to point out the negatives of soils and ingredients other than what they are using; but remaining fair, I have to say that the number of people pointing out the negatives associated with the gritty (and 5:1:1) mix are very few. One of the main differences is that these negatives and obstacles are discussed at great length and acknowledged. There is a large support group to help those that want to experiment with something better, to overcome any obstacles encountered. Instead of pointing to the obstacles, which are always freely acknowledged, most people are still attracted to soils like the 5:1:1 mix and the gritty mix because of the very large number of success stories, and rather than throw up their hands and cry 'no deal' they ask for help in resolving any issues they might come across and view as obstacles.

Personally, I never argue the point of what people should or shouldn't grow in. I stick to the facts and let them decide for themselves. My normal suggestion re soils is "to make sure your soil is durable and well-aerated". Occasionally I use the terms 'free-draining' or 'drains well' when advising about soils, or the phrase '..... is durable enough to ensure good aeration for the intended interval between repots'. I doubt anyone will question the wisdom of that advice.

One thing I never do, is make things that aren't really negatives, or are very minor inconveniences, seem like insurmountable obstacles. To me, saying your pot might drain on the floor if you use the gritty mix isn't much different than me saying you could spill your irrigation water on the way to watering your plants in soil X. Taking a given, like 'bark breaks down', and making it seem like a negative makes me wonder why even make the statement. Of course it's true as true can be. No one will deny that bark breaks down, but peat breaks down much faster, so by the logic that we shouldn't use bark because it (eventually) breaks down, neither should we use peat. What then to do about bagged soils?

There are no 'kings' or even 'queens' when it comes to the potential for a wide variety of factors that can limit the growth and vitality of plants. Each factor in its own right has the potential to be 'king for the day'. Light CAN certainly be the most limiting factor, but so can temperature, moisture levels, disease, insect infestation, a deficiency of any singular nutrient, pH, phytotoxins, herbicides ....... and media. We've been over this issue multiple times with nothing emerging from the conversations to offer credence to the idea that ANY issue, let alone light, can be universally designated as most critical.

Soil is actually a much more important choice than light. I've said many times that soils are the foundation that every conventional container planting is built on. You can't sell that idea with regard to light. Once a (container) planting is established, you can't change the soil, which makes it a critical choice from the beginning. After the container is established, to change the light all you need to do is move the container. If it CAN'T be moved to more favorable exposure, you have no choice in the matter and there is no sense in decrying something we have to live with. At that point, it either is or isn't a limiting factor. The wise choice is to choose plants that favor the light available, rather than to by cacti and pot them in a bedroom with 1 window on a north wall.

It all boils down to the fact that all the negatives offered with regard to the gritty mix (AND the 5:1:1 mix) have been discussed over and over. There are no big revelations in anything said upthread; it's all been said before and acknowledged. We all realize and understand what we need to do to use these porous soils if we choose. Those of us who have graduated to these well-aerated and durable soils ALSO understand what we need to do to overcome the pitfalls associated with heavy soils. I know I help people regularly and cheerfully when it comes to Dealing with Water-Retentive Soils.

Also of interest, might be the thread about How Plant Growth is Limited, which goes into greater detail (based on science) about various factors that potentially limit growth, including light.

I've talked many times about using an all inorganic mix, so it's not something that's at all elusive. Screened Turface MVP mixed 1:1 with Gran-I-Grit in grower size or with #2 cherrystone will provide a well-aerated medium that will last indefinitely. Though you won't need to worry about removing the bark particles to reuse it, you will need to remove organic material shed from roots and old roots themselves, so it's going to present roughly the same picture as reusing the gritty mix.

Whenever I offer replies in the hope they help people, it's sometimes necessary to point out the negatives associated with particular materials, methods ..... in order that I might contrast them with the positives of other options. The general tone however, is a positive one because it is offered in the spirit of helping or sharing knowledge. Even when I debate a point I disagree with that was offered as fact, I have foremost in my mind those that might be misguided by the information offered in error, which still ends up on a positive note, at least for those wanting to learn or those interested in accuracy. Positive people are simply more fun to be around; and in reflecting, the teachers I learned the most from were all positive individuals. If I'm going to take the time to tell someone what's wrong, you can be pretty sure I know how to fix it; and if it's necessary to reflect temporarily on the negative, it's a good bet I'm laying the groundwork for something positive, even if not every individual involved in the discussion thinks so.

That's the view from here. All take care.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 4:42PM
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Al, you are to be commended... you are ever the patient diplomat, plodding away through the muddy rows of gardening's field. And, as always, you've added sound, logical discussion to the debate(s). If only patience came pre-sifted, pre-washed, ready to use, and didn't break down. :-)

There is futility in certain debates, and when the players arrive one right after another, fresh to the scene, debating without the usual framework, but with absolute coincidence... it has all the earmarks of that futility.

I am armed with facts. Science and experience are my guides, and I'm most pleased with my teacher and fellow students. I shall stick with our current curriculum. Carry on.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 9:21PM
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Could you soak the turface and gran-i-grit in a bleach and water solution to sterilize it? Then soak in plain water, rinse, and repeat a time or two? Actually, wouldn't the bleach evaporate, so all you'd be left with is the water, turface, and gran-i-grit?

from a total newb...

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 9:48PM
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ykerzner(9 TX)

If light were king, there would be trivial to grow plants in near-vacuum with no carbon dioxide, oxygen, water, or nutrients. It is equal in necessity with those four, not high above them.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 10:12PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

""I am armed with facts. Science and experience are my guides, and I'm most pleased with my teacher and fellow students. I shall stick with our current curriculum. Carry on. ""


Just one more thing we have in common. ;-)


    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 10:14PM
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suddensam(10 Boynton Beach)

Al you can lead a horse to water butttttttttttt.
I will say this. 5-1-1 can, will, and does grow the best tomatos. In the two yrs ive used Als mix its incredible the results that I have seen.
I have not bought peat since the first yr. I use the used medium as the peat part of the mix and notice no ill affects.
Al, I for one thank you sir, and believe theres plenty more people on here that feel the same as me.
Plant em if you got em.
Happy holidays everyone. Sam

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 11:02PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm not sure why this issue of light keeps reappearing, but since the discussion was intentionally steered in that direction, we can talk a little about the assertions that "Without light you wouldn't have roots. The information offered above is backward. Light is always king."

The first thing I noticed was that you can sort of use the same statement in reverse to show that roots are more important than light by saying "Without roots, you wouldn't need light, so roots are more important." Both statements are true, but before you pass the idea off as a trick of semantics, lets consider something.

A seed is a plant in embryonic form. If we take that seed and plant it deep in the soil, so it's in total darkness ...... what happens? The seed coat splits and the ROOT radical is the first structure to emerge from the seed. After a few days, depending on the temperature, the radical grows and bursts through the testa. It grows down between the soil particles, root hairs appear in the region where elongation has ceased, water and salts from the soil solution are absorbed by the root hairs on the radical and pass to the rest of the seedling. Later, lateral roots develop from the radical. Once the radical is firmly anchored in the soil, the hypocotyl starts to grow. The growth of the hypocotyl pulls the cotyledons out of the testa (seed coat) and through the soil. Once above the soil, the hypocotyl straightens and the cotyledons (baby leaves) separate, exposing the plumule. The cotyledons fall off as the epicotyl extends and the plumule leaves expand. The only part of this miracle that usually takes place in light is the very last part that occurs above the soil, and that can continue in perfect darkness for several generations of leaves in most plants before energy reserves are exhausted.

Wouldn't it be logical to think that if light was always the most important consideration, that it would play the most important role in this small miracle? If roots are less important than light, why are they Mother Nature's first consideration when it comes to her newest additions? That's something to consider.

What if we had a container plant growing happily until we suddenly stripped away the soil while it was exposed to perfect light. My guess is that at that point, it's the (absence) of soil would exert the most influence on the plant's viability.

Returning to the seed example - what if the soil was dry. Wouldn't that also make moisture the most important consideration. How about a plant grown in your choice of light - good or bad. Is light really the most important consideration if we stop watering, or does moisture suddenly become king?

The last thing I want to do is diminish the importance of light, but neither do I want anyone to believe there is support for setting it on its own pedestal above other potential limiting factors. Light is simply another of the factors that CAN limit growth, and rightfully belongs joined at the hip with them as an equal. My point is, yes, it's important, but we need to use some reason.

Thanks to all that offered the kind words. It's appreciated.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 12:28AM
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""I'm not sure why this issue of light keeps reappearing.."" The light issue keeps coming up for the same reason the gritty mix keeps coming up. I feel light trumps all and you think gritty mix does. Lets just leave it at that.

I was responding to the question at the top of this thread. The OP asked about reusing gritty mix in large containers. I gave my opinion about bark breaking down based on my experience. There was no debate as far as I was concerned. I think it might be wise to re read the thread.

I didn't initiate anything. The OP asked about bark breaking down and I gave my opinion.

Josh, if I misunderstood your photos, I apologize. I thought you were showing bark which was a few years old and thought it was still intact. Of course, I wouldn't be growing orchids in your mix, I didn't mean to imply that.

I don't understand why all the excitement everytime someone posts a different way of growing. I was explaining what I do and that it works well for me. That's it!

I grow the way I want and what works for me. I wasn't pushing it on anyone and wonder why so many of you get so rattled each time someone writes about something different. You all need to relax and stop trying to beat a dead horse. It gets exhausting to read the same thing over and over.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 2:11AM
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I've gotta say, it seems odd to argue whether light vs roots/soil is more important. It's like arguing if people need food or water more. Neither trumps the other.

You can't choose between food and water. You'll die sooner without water than you will without food, but without adequate amounts of both, you're still dead.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 4:10AM
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"You can't choose between food and water. You'll die sooner without water than you will without food, but without adequate amounts of both, you're still dead."


And again I say... Light is only one piece of the growing puzzle. It is not king. It shares space with many other factors, and to say otherwise is misleading.

Al's example of the seed shows us that plants require different factors to lead at different times. I gave the example of a cutting from a plant... in the same way a seed begins in darkness, a cutting without roots requires other factors more than light while it establishes new roots.

Once the seed bursts through the soil, or the cutting establishes new roots... it is THEN that they require light for the growing process to continue.

And what about plants that grow UNDER the canopy of a rain forest, down below several tree heights and layers, past other bits of vegetation? They would burn terribly if exposed to bright sunlight! They have adapted to living where the light is filtered.

Ferns, Hostas, and many other plant types couldn't survive in the the brightness and heat of full sun. They, too, have adapted to living where the sunlight is dappled, filtered, or quite a bit less bright than other plant types prefer.

These are facts. I'm not making it up as I go along. These are known facts about plant growth and sunlight. Sunlight is only one factor in the growth of plant material... it is no more, and no less important than other contributing factors.

So sorry to have hijacked your thread, retiredprof, in order to maintain some semblance of accuracy.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 8:46AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

much of the bark *IS* still intact, despite a year or more exposed to the elements and microbial decomposition.
I can see it with my naked eye, and the pics show it well enough, too. That said, it's nearing replacement time,
which I'll oblige this season.

Would you be willing to show samples of your potting mix?


    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 11:21AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm addressing the forum and again, trying to look at this 'light' issue from a sensible and fair perspective, here is what I come up with, my opinion expressed in what I hope is a reasonable an non confrontational way.

This thread was about reusing the gritty mix and progressing smoothly with lots of good information being exchanged. It was intentionally manipulated into another discussion about light when 'Plant48', who also sometimes signs his name as 'Plant54' insulted Josh, out of the blue, by saying "mr greenman,that is just from luck and a lot of light that makes your plants look nice. Shortly after that, Jane_ny joined the fray with her comments about light, and we were off to the races again.

'All the excitement' is about posting comments sure to bring a known response, like poking a sleeping bear. I don't think this practice is covered under the idea that "all I was doing is posting a different way of growing". This is not the case. This topic has destroyed the harmony of dozens of threads across multiple forums because it keeps being brought up entirely out of context - just as it was in this thread.

The overwhelming consensus here, and scientific data everywhere, supports the idea that light is just one of the many factors that CAN limit plant growth. The reason posting comments like "light is king" draws a negative response is because there is no support offered for it. It's repeatedly brought up, entirely off topic and out of context, and it serves no purpose other than to sow discord because it is always refuted. I, and most others, don't respond in order that they might argue against an individual, we respond because we want people to have the best information they can have. Being certain about something requires a certain ability to provide some sense of the reasoning that brought us to that certainty. If we are certain w/o reason, there is something wrong with the logical progression of our thinking. Essentially saying "I won't believe it because I don't want to" isn't going to convince many people of anything.

I have to be fair and say that there is much truth in the idea that "The destroyer of weeds, thistles, and thorns is a benefactor whether he soweth grain or not" - Robert Green Ingersoll; and if the very general yet broad statements about light being of tantamount importance were destroying a myth or a false statement, they would be welcomed by anyone wanting to learn. The problem is, to qualify as the benefactor Ingersoll referred to, you must accept the responsibility of actually refuting other evidence. That has never been done, so repeating the same things over in the face of other well-reasoned and well documented evidence w/o being able to provide support is obviously inflammatory, as we can see by the responses of many individuals.

Without support, we can't post things that have brought inflamed responses many times in the past and wonder why we get a contrary response today; and when we do post these comments repeatedly, especially when they are off topic and out of context, we should expect disagreement. Knowingly posting inflammatory information or comments also should disqualify anyone from taking refuge as the victim.

I would be the first to support anyone's right to make a case for any position they want to take. Even if it's wrong, I'll listen and respect the attempt, but they have to make the attempt. I learn a lot by listening to people make their case. I would support the right of an atheist to stand in church and say there is no God. As long as he's not disrupting the service, and as long as he has a case to make, I'll listen. If he stands in the middle of the service and shouts to the heavens that there is no God, over and over w/o making a case and disrupting the service then it's inflammatory and annoying.

When a prosecutor wants to charge someone with an offense, and he has no evidence, he drops the case. It prevents the waste of the public's time and money. I sort of look at posting in the same way. I think it does serve the forum to charge someone (disagree with them) when they are wrong and you can prove it (that weeds & thistles thing), but repeatedly bringing charges w/o proof (when a position is unsupportable) is a waste of resources.

Finally, if we want to express our opinion and minimize the possibility of flashback, we might phrase a statement something like, "It's my opinion that Snickers is the tastiest candy bar ...." instead of "Snickers is the king of candy bars and tastes better than any other". The first invites people to overlook an opinion they don't agree with, the second invites confrontation from those who take their candy bars seriously. ;o) Going one step further, when we tell someone else they're wrong and we are right, it's almost never taken at face value w/o support. I can call A. Einstein stupid, SAY his theory of relativity is wrong, and demand that everyone accept my alternate theory, but w/o support I'll be quickly put in my place or written off as background noise.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 12:32PM
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The abridged version is that the same individuals enter threads they have no reason to enter, mainly because they do not subscribe to the same methods, and time and again commence dangling bait in front of people, knowing the bait will be picked up and the information corrected in an attempt to keep the thread's content accurate for those who are here to learn.

When questioned and asked for reasonable proof of their claims, these same individuals either dip out, use diversionary tactics, or cry wolf. It's become quite tedious, and it breaks up the peace and civility we try to maintain.

Exactly how many times do we have to have the same conversations with only one school of thought offering up anything resembling reasonable, factual proof? Exactly how many times will the same questions go unanswered by the same individuals?

That's the short version. And in short, what we're experiencing here is disruptive, divisive, and downright rude.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 6:58PM
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In all sincerety I ask you this this?

You have been stressing light for months and even said light was "king". If it is king,then why did every houseplant, including tropicals like my citrus trees, clivias, olive trees, gardenia, plumeria, cactus, jades, jasmine and many others that were positioned in FULL sun, to name a few, die on the drop of a dime when they were left outside in rain for just a few days in a row? If not that, then my leaves would yellow so badly, it was digusting.
If the temps were summery warm and humid,cool, or even cold, no matter how much light they got, they would rot very easily anyway.

For years, I could never leave any of these plants outdoors at anytime when there was a good stretch of relentless rain no matter how much I tinkered with my bagged peaty or coir mixes to make them more drainable.

This is my biggest concern of all and this is why I had to make the mix my #1 priority. For me and many others, the mix became "king"..

Coming here and learning light was only a limiting factor in my case made me realize that the mix in was my main limiting factor.

How do your plants withstand this much wettness and stress without rotting or looking sickly?
The greenhouse up the street from me lost several plants last week because of the colder than usual temps they store their plants although they got plenty of light. Their gardenias and Sans in particular..
How do you protect your sensitive tropicals, cacti, and succulents, those that hate wet feet?
I know you can't say they do just fine leaving them alone, because not a ONE person that lives in my area has had any luck with their plants, so they are forced to grow them inside, or bring them in in long periods of rains..

Now I can leave my plants outdoors in these harsh damp wet conditions, and or in the darkest parts of my home for rest, as they thrive despite the elements I subject them too. Even the plumerias in the darkest places in my basement do great after a watering, which is something most I know can not do in bagged mixes, no matter how much perlite they add. They just do not rot although holding a very light moisture for long periods of time.

Just curious and I appreciate your time. Sorry for rambling but these thoghts have been thrashing in my head for weeks reading your post's..

By the way, you do have some really nice Orchids! Have a nice day and happy Holidays'


    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 9:02AM
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Mike, my plants are not sickly, soggy or rotting. Would I be giving my experience in growing if my plants were rotting away? The majority of growers use bagged mix and I think it serves people well to deal with that fact. There are ways to grow quite well in bagged mixes and cutting off that discussion is injurious to a forum about container growing.

I believe light trumps all because I see houseplants underlit, over-watered and dying as the most common problem people deal with. Changing media will do nothing to help those people. Increasing light will.

Of all the 'limiting factors' light produces the quickest increase in growth, causing the plant to use water and nutrients faster improving both leaf and root growth. I am talking about light appropriate to the plant grown. Changing media does nothing for an underlit, overwatered plant. It will still die.

This is my opinion and I have a right to it. I have a right to post what I believe and know without being constantly berated.

My orchids are grown in small pots and it is not a large expense or effort to repot them each year. None are grown in pots larger than 8". My large trees and container plants are another story and I would not want to replace gritty mix every two or three years. I don't think this fact is being addressed when advising people growing large plants.

Growing bonsai in small, shallow pots, changing the media each year or two is not the same as changing media for large container plants every couple of years.

I think people would be better served being given a realistic discussion of what using gritty mix involves when used in large containers. The OP asked about reusing gritty mix. I answered him.

Please reread this thread from the beginning to see who initiated this off topic discussion. I answered the OP's question, that's it.

Josh, I'm not sure what you mean about my potting mix. My 'dirt' plants or my orchids? My orchids are potted in mixes which contain various components depending on the needs of the plant. If you want a detailed discussion on orchid potting media, I'd be happy to answer you under a separate posting. I don't think it belongs in this thread. My dirt plants have been described by me many times. Bagged mix, perlite and bark. Actually, I use whatever I have on hand. I have posted photos of my container plants. If you would like other photos, I'll be happy to oblige.

Happy Holidays

Angraecum 12/10 in Large Bark-repotted 6/10.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 2:08AM
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Mike, I apologize for not responding to your questions. I will be happy to address them in a separate post. This post has been taken too off topic. It is not fair to the Original Poster.

Thank you for your complements and I wish you Happy Holidays, also.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 2:37AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, I'd like to see comparative spoonfuls of your 'dirt' plants' mix, et cetera.

My posts in this Thread have been perfectly On-Topic. I've contributed ideas,
musings, and images for the collective to compare. Starting your own Thread
would have been a prudent choice, yes, before attempting to derail this one.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 12:12PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm probably one of the most vocal people on this forum, and I can look anyone in the eye and politely say I've helped thousands of people deal with and get better results from soils we might describe as bagged, commercially prepared, peat-based, heavy, or any one of several other adjectives, and I've done it without cutting off any discussion. Just SAYING that something is happening doesn't make it a reality. I recognize and deal with that fact that most people grow in heavy soils every day, and I've said hundreds of times that you can grow healthy plants in heavy soils - it's just more difficult and the margin for error reduced.

I would ask the question Does anyone think and can they make a case that a heavy soil is better than a light soil from the plants perspective, which would include growth and vitality?

When anyone expresses an opinion that almost no one agrees with, it invites disagreement. It's my opinion that to express an opinion that nearly no one else shares and to expect no one to disagree with that opinion is folly. If someone disagrees with an opinion, it is not berating anyone, it is simply expressing an alternate opinion. If someone's opinion flies in the face of settled science and that is pointed out, there may be some sort of emotional response from the person who offered the unsupportable opinion, but where does the fault for that lie? If someone keeps referring to cow's laying eggs, and as the eggs being an important source of sustenance to ancient man, and subsequently it's pointed out to that person over and over from multiple sources each time this is suggested that it simply doesn't agree with known science, and the overwhelming number of people reading the suggestion disagree, where does the blame for the discomfort lie? Wouldn't it be a better thing for the person posting about cow's eggs to become more familiar with the science so they would realize they are banging their head against a wall? Don't we have some sort of obligation to provide accurate information here that we can support?

I think a thread should be started about light being king, in which Jane or anyone else that thinks light is king can state their case and others can offer their input. That way, instead of the topic being brought up out of context and off topic in thread after thread, a short statement (when it's appropriate) in a thread with a link to the compilation of all the proof and support can be provided without destroying the harmony/continuity of thread after thread, this one being a prime example, along with at least a dozen others of mine that I can think of. Doesn't that sound perfectly reasonable?

I want to look closer at Jane's contention that light is king.

"I believe light trumps all because I see houseplants underlit, over-watered and dying as the most common problem people deal with. Changing media will do nothing to help those people. Increasing light will.

First, I allow as true the observation that some (most) houseplants are underlighted. I ask sincerely, what about those that are perfectly lit and are suffering from the effects of another limiting factor. Is light then king? What about the plant in poor light that is dying because it's never been fertilized or because it has a high level of soluble salts in the soil, or because it has mites or hasn't been watered in 3 weeks ....... will making the light perfect eliminate these other limiting factors? To logically hold that light is more important than these other issues, you MUST have answers to these questions. I have the answer: light is simply another limiting factor with the same potential to limit or improve growth, as a long list of other potential limiting factors.

There is a difference in the way I support my contention than how Jane supports hers. Science, and the contentions I put forth cover all the bases, Jane has put together a scenario that illustrates light as the limiting factor in that particular case, so of course improving the limiting factor will improve growth ..... but ONLY to the degree the next most limiting factor will allow. If this wasn't true, the ONLY thing we would need to worry about in order to have consistently perfect plants is to ensure perfect light.

"Of all the 'limiting factors' light produces the quickest increase in growth, causing the plant to use water and nutrients faster improving both leaf and root growth. I am talking about light appropriate to the plant grown. Changing media does nothing for an underlit, over-watered plant. It will still die."

Light is necessary for 'sustained growth', but it doesn't necessarily produce the quickest growth. It's probably easiest to illustrate this using a couple of examples. A) What about the plant in either good light or bad light that is stalled because of an N,P, or K deficiency. If it's in perfect light, light can't be improved because it's already perfect. If it's in poor light, the nutritional deficiency is the limiting factor and making the light perfect will not increase growth. B) What about the plant that is horribly root bound? Extremely tight roots seriously inhibit growth and vitality. Will improving light eliminate this impediment to growth. Of course not, but repotting will. Additionally, changing the soil can assuredly correct that over-watering issue referred to in the quote text, as many here will vouch for.

The point is, logic won't allow us to devise a situation in which light is potentially the limiting factor, then use that particular situation to suggest that light is ALWAYS the most important factor. For every case we can imagine where light is limiting, I can imagine 30 more where any one of the individual nutrients, plus cultural conditions like temperature, moisture levels, soil conditions, insects, disease, even where the plant is in the growth cycle, can be a factor more limiting than light.

This doesn't even take into consideration that we're talking about containerized plants. They're portable - so if they don't like the light where they are - move them. If you can't move them, deal with it and try to make sure that light is the only limiting factor, because if you forget to water, or you leave the plant out on the porch in a sub-zero cold snap, light is not going to be king.

Everyone has a right to an opinion, and everyone has the right to post it here at GW, as long as the people overlooking the threads don't think the rules are being fractured. I think our 'rights' stop there. There is no right to expect everyone to agree with us, and there is no right to have our opinions well-received. Those things depend on how we support our opinions with facts and logic - the concrete facets; but, there are also abstract facets that determine how our offerings are received, which include things like timing, whether or not they are on topic, the reason this opinion was expressed in the first place, the manner in which it was expressed, whether it was offered in a positive or negative context .... Opening a post with the statements: "Without light you wouldn't have roots. The information offered above is backward. Light is always king." which are decidedly off-topic and when similar statements have caused plenty of friction in the past is really at the very heart of the sort of thing everyone else is being accused of, and it certainly proved unhealthy for the continuity and harmony of another thread.

Suggesting that people would be better served having a realistic discussion about the gritty mix infers that the discussions we have are not realistic. I might suggest that it would be much more difficult for a person who has never used it, and would never use it, to honestly determine what is realistic and what isn't. I'm not asking this to be sarcastic or mean, but only for illustrative purposes: What part of any posts about light shed any realism on the OT, or what was there in any of those posts offering anything that hasn't been discussed at length?

No one ever tries to change the way Jane grows or the way anyone else that expresses a wish to grow in a certain way grows. And I don't see anyone trying to change the way she thinks. These things just don't happen unless the person's attitude is conducive to this type of input as far as I can see, so she is left to grow in whatever way she chooses and think as she wishes - as it should be, and I wish her great success - honestly. No one ever forces anything down anyone's throat - people just won't allow it. People do disagree with some of the things she says, but that's normal, people disagree with me all the time. We learn a great deal from disagreement. Key to not being disagreed with is to give people as little as possible to disagree with (a command of the topic) and not go to the other extreme of posting statements we are sure will cause others to disagree.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 2:11PM
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jane. what a beautiful plant. you are wonderful and thank you for telling us that light is most important. my plants love it in my coir mix. mike just bring plants inside when it rains for days.easy and do not put your plants in the dark and do not water a lot, that is all. josh no need to be upset with jane.Al, please.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 7:13PM
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It's quite simple, really. Jane's plant of reference is usually an orchid... a plant that normally does require more light than say, a philodendron. But this is the Container Forum, and not the Orchid Forum... therefore, the 'advice' she dishes out does not usually apply.

If I grew containerized, shade loving ferns, Jane's advice would not apply. Not only would it not apply, if I followed it, I would certainly harm my ferns.

Orchids are lovely, but they are not the only plant grown in containers... therefore, the advice given here needs to apply to a wide range of plant types. It needs to apply to low light and sun loving plants.

A FACT is described as "something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed", "a truth verifiable from experience or observation", "an inescapable truth", and "a concept whose truth can be proved".

Let us continue... keeping this well in mind. Al sticks to the facts... concepts about container growing that can be proven. He doesn't make it up as he goes along, or give biased or incomplete information. He begins with verifiable facts, based in science. He adds his own experiences to further verify that those facts are true.

While everyone is certainly entitled to hold their own opinions, they are not entitled to make up things and call them facts. I would take it a step further and say that it's irresponsible to post advice that is not verifiable or is incomplete... there are people that come here looking for advice that is factual and complete.

I think Josh has it right... if there's a particular idea someone would like to pursue as a conversation or debate, it would be prudent to start a thread toward that purpose... not cut in on someone else's thread.

This one isn't about light OR coco coir products... it's about re-using Gritty Mix.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 8:00PM
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Al: The offerings you have made here mean so much to me, my family, sissy, and many more. Thank you so much for your direct yet kind approached.

Jodik: well said..You certainly have a way with words that I could never have..Thank you.

Josh: I understood completely what you did with your pictures about the gritty mix, which was more than a kind jesture on your part, in fact enjoyed and amazed by me, which was spot on with the OP and I appreciated those pictures myself..Looks as if there is no need to woryy about flying through the mix and wasting any money at all for a very long time. Fantastic job Josh!

Looks like my questions never got answered in an urgent matter, which would of shown a concern for me to be successful more than trying to prove a point with others about bagged mixes, and I did not expect them too, and quite frankly, I could care less now if they ever do. Oh well, no hard feelings. Thanks anyway. No new thread was ever started.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 1:43PM
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Thank you, Mike. That new thread will most probably never be started, since the point wasn't to learn or to teach, but to add an irritant. Answers based in actuality won't be forthcoming, either, not that they were expected. It's best to ignore such disturbances, however, and other than correcting any misinformation, to simply forge ahead.

So, let's move on, shall we?

After having re-potted several of my indoor container plants, I have decided to keep the old mix and run it through a screening process to see what I might be able to reuse. The granite chips and larger fir bark particles might be salvageable. Anything broken down too far will be added to the raised vegetable beds to help make that soil richer and better.

Either way, nothing is wasted, and plants will reap the benefits, whether they're containerized or grown in the gardens.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 11:28AM
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