Question for Al regarding gritty mix

quinnfyre(z7 PA)October 10, 2010

Can I substitute Hydroton for the Turface in the gritty mix? The Turface I can get a hold of is fairly small, smaller than the granite chips and the bark. I'm considering placing an order to get some more gritty mix supplies.

Thanks!

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What is the smallest size available? I use screened Turface MVP. If the Hydroton doesn't come small enough, and you can't get the MVP, perhaps looking in the direction of calcined DE (floor dry) from NAPA or CarQuest stores?

Al

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 9:28PM
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quinnfyre(z7 PA)

There aren't any measurements listed, but based on the picture, it looks to be a better size match than the Turface. I'm looking at repotme.com. There may be a better, cheaper place to get this stuff, but I don't know where. The one nice thing, for sure, is I don't have to get huge quantities. I don't have any place to store big bags of anything. Nor do I have a car. And the cost of shipping large quantities of heavy stuff is another deterrent.

For reference, I'm looking at the granite chips, the small fir bark, and the small Hydroton. I did try making a mix of Turface, granite chips, and fir bark before, and the Turface was much smaller than the other components, which made it difficult to get an even mix. It was either a scoop of mostly Turface, or a scoop of almost no Turface.

Here is a link that might be useful: Repotme.com potting media page

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 11:27PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The ideal size for the particles in the gritty mix are about .100" (1/10"). Hydroton small, ranges from about .300 - .600 (3/10 - 6/10"), so you can see it's about 3-6X too large to be ideal. That doesn't mean you can't use it and grow great plants, but the challenges will be keeping the plants watered and keeping the mix homogeneous. If there is a disparity in particle sizes, and sometimes weights' the medium tends to separate. Think about what would happen if you mixed sand and Skittles. Fortunately, you could prolly skim the skittles off the top and salvage them! ;o)

Do you think you'd have room for 1 bag, about the size of a large paper grocery bag? That's about how much room the calcined DE floor dry would take up.

Al

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 3:18PM
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quinnfyre(z7 PA)

I'm pretty sure the granite chips and the bark are both larger than 1/10 of an inch. The Turface may be about that size though. So does this mean I have to locate a different source for the granite chips and the bark?

I'm growing a few things in the mix I made with the much larger granite chips and bark, and the much smaller Turface. They seem to be doing well. It was tricky trying to keep the Turface evenly distributed though, but I think I managed okay.

What do you advise? Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 12:04AM
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jodik_gw

If you don't need a vast amount of pine/fir bark, let me suggest ReptiBark by ZooMed, bedding for reptiles, available at any PetsMart or other store that deals in reptiles. I buy the 10 quart bags, but it does come in other bag sizes. The size of the bark is perfect for our use, and it's clean and dust free right out of the bag... no rinsing or screening required!

As for granite chips, I use MannaPro poultry grit, which is 100% granite. It's available at most farm type stores. Since I don't need extremely large amounts of medium at any one time, the smaller bag sizes work for me. But if you do need larger amounts, I'd suggest looking through the posts over at the Container Gardening Forum, here at GW... there's a wealth of information on locating the different ingredients for Al's medium mixes.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 6:24AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Q - sorry I missed your post.

What Jodi said ...... plus, you're seeing in the separation what I mentioned above your post - about the soil wanting to stratify if there is a big difference in particle size between the ingredients. There is no problem using all larger ingredients, but o/a water retention varies considerably because the larger the particles the less o/a surface area there is for water to cling to (less surface area in a bag of ping pong balls vs a bag of sand the same size) and the greater the amount of air between particles.

You should have Turface and granite available in your area, and if you need help, I'll help you find it ..... can't do much about your lack of a vehicle or storage space issue though - very sorry. ;o)

Al

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 10:55AM
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jodik_gw

In so many words, I think the important thing is to try to get all the ingredients as close to the same size as possible.

It's sometimes difficult to find fir bark in a similar size as granite chips or turface. That's why I really like the ReptiBark... it's all relatively even in size, and it's right around the size of larger perlite and the granite chips.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 5:25PM
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quinnfyre(z7 PA)

Sorry Al, I never managed to get back to you. I got distracted by other projects for a bit. Where do you recommend going, to find these ingredients? I went to Lowe's a week or two ago, and they had large granite chunks and large bark mulch, and not a whole lot else. Perhaps it's a seasonal thing?

Thanks Jodi, I'll see if I can get myself to a pet store. There's one close by but I've never managed to go. Partially because I'm afraid a betta and a small aquarium to house him will follow me home : )

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 12:19AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Where do you live - what city/town?

Al

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 1:33PM
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quinnfyre(z7 PA)

I'm in Philadelphia. Though I actually don't mind doing mail order, for the most part. As long as I can manage to get all the ingredients from one place. Multiple shipping costs are what will make this all way too expensive.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 10:29PM
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threas(z7 PA)

Hi quinnfyre, you're my neighbor! I'm 15 minutes from the Philadelphia International Airport. If you're close, I can probably help you out. I think the Agway in West Chester, PA has the pine bark fines and the Grit. I got the Oil Dri at Walmart, although not sure if this is the good stuff. LMK, maybe we could work something out.

Theresa

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 10:59PM
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quinnfyre(z7 PA)

Hey, I live within walking distance of Lowe's. Now, it's not such a fun walk if I have large/heavy things to carry, though :)

I used the last of what mix I did have last night to repot my dracaena that has been needing it for months. We'll see how it likes it. This is the first nonsucculent, larger plant that I'm trying this mix out on.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:58PM
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jodik_gw

In the Container Gardening Forum, there are several threads dealing with locating the different ingredients for variations on Al's Gritty Mix. I'd do a bit of reading over there... there are lots of people from all over the globe trading information on where to obtain the different items.

The long and short of it is, we're all kind of dependent upon what's available to us locally, so it does a world of good to know why we use the various materials we use, and what some of the better substitutions are.

When I first began looking around for the ingredients to make the gritty mix, I ran into a lot of roadblocks. However, I don't need a huge amount of medium, so purchasing some of the items in small bags gives me different options than someone looking to mix up a mountain of the stuff!

Bonsai growers use similar mediums, so I did a little research in this area, too. I found a great website that lists the various items we would use, gives brand names, locations, what works and what doesn't... I think it's a great resource IN ADDITION to the information provided by the good folks at the Container Gardening Forum.

About halfway down the page of the link I provided, there are links for learning about Bonsai Soils, using cat litters as a substitution, and there are links for information on watering techniques, etc... it's a great all-around resource, actually.

I'm nowhere near Philadelphia, but I bet if you did a little more reading, something might remind you of a store or location nearby that might carry materials you could use. As an example, I bet I drove past PetsMart a dozen times before it occurred to me that they'd have the reptile fir bark in larger bags!

And, you know... would it be so terribly bad if a betta followed you home from a pet store? :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Bonsai Basics - Soils, etc...

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 12:28PM
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quinnfyre(z7 PA)

Thanks! I will check out some of this info soon. I'm trying to figure out if I can rig up a vacation drip irrigation system before Thanksgiving, so that is eating up my research time at the moment.

Having a betta follow me home wouldn't be bad for me, but it might be bad for him! I'm a little overextended right now, and I don't know how my cats would react to him. I suspect my older kitty won't care much, but the younger kitty may try to get him! I do miss having bettas though, they are neat little fish.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 7:53PM
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jodik_gw

Ah, yes... the old kitties and fish dilemma! All I have are dogs and an empty 20 gallon high tank at the moment. I miss having an assortment of tropical fish to watch... aquariums are very soothing and relaxing, with the sound of the air bubbling, and the beautiful little fish swimming around. I do miss it. (sigh)

Good luck with your vacation research for plant care. I'm sure all the information for mediums will be here when you get back! :-)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 10:41AM
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