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Mixing batches of growing medium

Posted by avepico 5 (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 26, 11 at 2:28

After a late summer outside and a half a winter indoors growing with the 5-1-1 mix I am preparing for summer and a whole new batch of rewarding work. I am going to be bit more ambitious this year and plan to start with 10 cubic yards of bark fines and the appropriate (still determining) amounts of the other bits.

I am mainly wondering what vessel and tools people use for the actual mixing of the mix. I used a 35 gallon tote and my hands to mix my previous batches and that just does not seem adequate for the amout I am planning on doing this round.

On a side note, I am going to try the gritty mix for the budha's hand I plan to get in spring, seems more appropriate for the venue.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

I think Al has said that he uses a large tarp for mixing. Even if he wasn't the one who said it, whoever did sounded like a great idea. I got a couple tarps this past year for hail protection, so I'm definitely going to try it. I used a 40-gallon trash can, and it worked "ok," but was a real pain.


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

I have mixed as much as 30 cubic feet of potting mix on my asphalt drive way using a snow shovel. I lay the largest portion (pine fines in the case of Al's mix) down in a roughly flat oval and then cover it with a layer of the next ingredient. I then wet it very lightly, just to keep the dust down, and then use the shovel to roughly begin mixing the first two ingredients. On top of that, I add the last ingredient (usually perlite) and wet it down lightly with a fine spray of water. At that point I try to evenly layer everything else, like fertilizer and lime. Finally, after a break, I use the shovel to turn everything over several times to mix. This whole thing takes at least two hours, and goes better if you can enlist someone with a strong back. I always use a face mask or at least a kerchief because I don't want to breathe any of this in. (I dream of finding a friend with a cement mixer, but I never have.)


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 26, 11 at 10:22

Some folks use tarps, others use small cement mixers... I use the rigid plastic kiddie pools, available almost everywhere during the summer months. I dump in my ingredients and mix it all with an estate shovel or a rake, or whatever I happen to have handy.

The pools are great tools for gardening use. I use them over winter to group my deciduous trees and potted dormant plants, and I close them in a garage. I use them for potting in spring, and they help keep the mess contained.

I keep a few of both sizes around for various uses. They make great pools for ducks... we have Muscovy ducks. And when not in use, I keep them hung on nails on the wall of the garage.

I would think, however, that tarps would give a greater amount of uses, and would make a relatively cheap and easy way to mix the gritty mix ingredients together... by dragging and rolling the corners and edges so the pile rolls over itself.


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 26, 11 at 14:42

10 YARDS!? Holy smokes - that's a dump truck full. 270 cu ft or about 2,500 gallons by the time you mix in the peat and perlite. That's some AMBITION!!! ;o)

I use the tarp method, but that only does about 3-4 cu ft at a time. Smaller batches can be made in a wheel barrow or a tub, or by way of any of the other suggestions the good folks have offered.

I want a portable cement mixer too, but the better half ain't buying it. Lol Maybe I'll wait until we need something for the house - real bad - & then work a deal. She's the type that thinks you build a huge garage so it can sit nice & empty; so we always go to (a little) war every fall when I bring all my trees & nursery wagons & stuff into the garage. Women! ;-)

Al


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

Bit of a mistype, only 10 FEET, these six day work weeks turn my brain to jello. Still, I am looking to probably triple my amount of plants this year and judge if it is a workable amount for me.

The tarp method seems like the winner for me, I have several around already and used them when I repotted out of miracle gro potting soil.


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 27, 11 at 9:26

I count myself lucky to have married a packrat of sorts, Al... he can't say a word about my plants or growing supplies, lest I remind him of his technology piles! :-)


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

What a great idea, Jodik! I never mix batches larger than about 8 gallons, but a tarp sounds best.


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

When mixing cement mix for a shower pan (sand and portland cement) we use about 4 methods.
1. mudbox or wheelbarrow/ smallest batches (kiddie pool)
2.directly on the slab or tarp (2 people can grab opposite corners to toss it around instead of a shovel with the tarp)
3. cement mixer on the bigger jobs (can be rented for the day for around $60-$70. Use only for really big jobs 2 cubic yards or more)
4.The tool you most probably already have: ROTOTILLER! Very quick used on large commercial floors 1000 sq. ft.+
If you have a tiller, use it. You should be done in way under an hour.


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

I have a big 55 gallon barrel that has a screw on lid. We measure out our ingredients and layer them as we dump them in. Then I have the kids push it around the yard. I come over and flip it a few times and it is mixed really well. Then I dump it on a large tarp, wet it down and then use it and put the rest back in the barrel for storage.

Jay


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 28, 11 at 21:27

Great idea!

Al


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

HI Everyone!
There's some great Ideas here, but I love Jay's! :-)

I just do mine by hand in small batches in a tupper tote. Bout the size of a medium cooler.

JoJo


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 29, 11 at 9:40

Whatta lightweight! ;o)

Al


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

LOL!
Light weight! Na...pretty tough cookie here. ;-)

It makes enough for a 14" terracotta and left overs. ;-)

My wheel barrel is a mess! Not going to use it. lol.

JoJo


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 29, 11 at 10:06

With my ease of injury, I'm with JoJo... it's best if I work with small batches! ;-)

I like the barrel roll idea, too! I wish I had a 55 gallon drum with a removable cover...


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium/

What do you consider a med. size cooler.?

I have one cooler almost 4'long. ;-) lol!
JoJo


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RE: Mixing batches of growing medium

Hey!

Wouldn't those 4 foot coolers be about 90 gallon?

Josh


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