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gritty mix particle size question

Posted by gtw7983 Southern CA (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 17, 11 at 0:45

Hi guys! help needed regarding particle size for the crushed granite.
Some member in Southern Ca recommended using size 5 (<=1/4")for the A1 crushed granite in our area, while another member said he prefered size 10 (<=1/10") for more water retention in hot summer areas. I got some size 10 A1 grit but found that its average particle size is probably close to half of that of Turface MVP I have on hand. So the grit size after sifting with insect screen would be around 1/16" to 1/10".
My concern is if the small particle size of the crushed granite will cause major problems in the gritty mix, or is it actually preferred in my area for more water retention during the summer (95 degrees above for 2 months at least).
Any input will be greatly appreciated. Al and everybody, please help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: gritty mix particle size question

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 17, 11 at 9:21

The best physical size would be from just under 1/8" (.110-.115") to just under 3/16" (.187"). The #2 cherrystone I use is about 1/8-3/16 and pretty consistent. Grower grit is as consistent but just slightly smaller. By size, the grower grit is just a little better.

Al


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

Living in SoCal, A1 Grit seems to be the most available crushed granite around. The ideal mesh size is around 7 or 8 but unfortunately A1 grades #10 then #5 as the next size up. My first purchase of A1 crushed granite was #10 size. I found the majority of the grit to be well under 1/8". I have since moved to #5 grit which mostly average just under 3/16". My citrus trees enjoy the greater aeration with #5. Even on the hottest days, I'll have to water every couple of days. If you are looking for more water retention, you could also adjust the amount of turface to meet your needs.


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 17, 11 at 13:52

.... hard to beat region-specific info that's right on! Good info/support!

Al


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

That's exactly what I do... I adjust the amount of turface to reflect the amount of moisture retention I need in a particular planting/container. It seems to be the ingredient that holds the most moisture, so I use either less or more depending upon what type of plant will be in it and where that pot will be located, indoors or out.

At the moment, I'm using the gritty mix mainly for indoor plants and smaller containers. This spring, I'm expanding to include the gritty mediums in all of my containerized plants and plantings!

I actually like the fact that I have to water a little more often... it allows me the opportunity to more closely observe what's going on... with growth, budding, and keeping an eye out for insects. I can nip any issues right in the bud if I catch them early enough, and working more closely with my plants definitely allows for that!

As Martha Stewart would say... it's a good thing! :-)


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

I actually like to have to water more often too Jodi.

The couple of months it takes me to water more often in hot weather, far outweighs having to watch my mix dry out a lot longer in the cooler months after that.

If make my mixes to hold a lot more moisture for a couple of hot months, then what happens after the hot is gone is what I asked myself.

Mike


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

Mike, I think it all boils down to asking ourselves what's healthier for our plants' roots? What would they choose if they were in charge of container medium choice?

And the obvious, and scientific, answer would be a durable, inorganic medium of larger particulate that allows for fast drainage, thorough watering, and the exchange of oxygen and gases. They'd choose a medium that was aerated well and not prone to fast decomposition. They'd choose a medium that held enough moisture for their use, but not enough to drown them or keep them saturated for an eternity.

For particle size, I like the size of fir bark that comes out of the ReptiBark bag, and the size of a coarse perlite, and the size turface and granite chips for poultry come in. They all mesh exceedingly well in a mixture, and have the amenities and relationship to each other that my plants really like.

Honestly, I think too much is made out of the small adjustment necessary for watering the gritty mixes... it's really no different than watering any other medium... we water when our plants need it... and that can change seasonally or by location regardless of the medium used.


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

Hi Jodik!

Great points made. Much appreciated as always.
If my plants could thank you, they would too for all you have shared.

Mike


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

Me? Oh, no, Mike... it's your great photos that show what putting all that knowledge to work can accomplish! Your plants are all gorgeous, and they show the positive outcome possible when we seek to listen and learn, more from our plants' perspective!

For reasons that I can't fathom, the world of container plant growing is mired in old wive's tales and the tired old offerings of an industry that has only profit in mind... and does not seek to make people better growers.

And so, it's up to us, should we want to learn, to separate the chaff from the true grains of knowledge. And it seems logical to look at it from the plant's point of view... to learn what part medium plays in the growth of plants, and how it all works within the confines of containers.

Once we get rid of the fallacies, what's left is the basic science of how plants grow, and what they need.


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

How cute...thinking from a plants perspective. Make me yearn to write a children's book. "My Life as a Potted Ficus - Musings from a Houseplant."

All proceeds will be donated to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Potted Plants...ASPCPP

My granddaughter would love this,

Jane


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 22, 11 at 9:58

'Perspectives' I'd really love to discuss this topic in depth with anyone who cares to have a meaningful discussion about it. I don't think the idea is trite at all, nor do I think anyone should make sport of what Jodi or Mike said. A lot of critical people, across the board, would be much better growers if they set aside a little of their 'convenience' and approached their endeavors from the plant's perspective. The largest % of this forums participants by far, approach growing from that perspective.

There are two ways we look at and weigh how we wish approach the way we grow. One is from the perspective of grower convenience - what's easiest for ME or 'how can I get by with the least amount of effort'? The other is from the plant's perspective - paraphrased, the later means we take into account what is best for the plant, and then go the extra mile to ensure the plant's best interests take precedence; while at the same time, we enhance our own sense of accomplishment and the level of satisfaction we get from being more directly involved in our plant's progress and health.

There are a lot of growers on this forum who have taken it upon themselves to spend the extra effort to learn how to think from the plant's perspective and then sacrifice a little of their convenience to implement it. What I see: those making the effort to learn and implement are leaving those moored to habit standing in their slipstreams - regularly.

I can think of many dozens of people (in a heartbeat) that have vastly improved their skillset and the enjoyment they get from growing, by turning their thought process around to approaching their growing from the plant's perspective. I think that's wonderful! The only thing that keeps me from offering a long, long list of easily recognizable names is the fact I'm sure I would forget a few. I admire anyone who is willing to go the extra mile to ensure their success in ANY endeavor - not just husbandry.

Cheers - for the 'I can, I will' crowd who have already begun looking at things from the plant's perspective, and 'welcome', to those only just seeing that the fastest road to success is the one that takes in the view of the plant's perspective. ;o)

Al


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

I'll second that Al!

Well said!

Jodi and Mike too!

JJ


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

Not cute... logical. It's logical to think from the plant's perspective when we want optimal growth and success. We ask ourselves what they'd want in a medium, what they'd want in all the factors that make up a containerized planting... and we implement those needs and wants, and gain the success we're in search of.

It takes an extreme amount of time, effort, and thought to produce a children's book and actually have it published. Most children's books are educational as well as entertaining. That time could just as easily be spent exploring the grittier mediums, the basic science behind them, and making the required watering adjustments that it is said are so time consuming.

I think if I wrote a children's book from a plant's perspective, I'd want to implement that information in my own growing... I wouldn't feel right that children were reading something I wrote, but didn't put into practice.


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

Some people have more barbs and thorns in their comments than flowers have in their stems, and without the benefit of sweet odors that make them worth keeping.

They are stinky weeds that sprout in innocent comments and ideas of others.


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

gtw: Which grit did you choose and how did it work out?

I'm the one who was advising to use the #10 A1 Grit for the "hot + arid climates" for outdoor fruit trees (such as Citrus). I wouldn't recommend deviating from Al's recommendation if just "hot", i.e. more sub-tropical climates. Not sure where you live in hot SoCal.

The first many hundred pounds of A1 #10 Poultry Grit I purchased were perfect in size, more like the Grower Grit mentioned by Al above. It appears the last few bags I've purchased are a let down: they are round shaped and yes probably 1/16 - 1/10" in size and extremely consistent. About 5% max falls through my aluminum insect screen. The previous stuff was "sharp", odd-shaped, non-spherical with about half at the 1/16-1/10 size and the other half about 1/8-3/16. It was ideal IMO.

AxTrader: I have yet to call them to discuss the difference: the website only lists #10 then #5 on ONE specific page. I recall another link buried in there that implied a slightly larger size, which may have been what I received. Perhaps the product variance was intentional for the target: smooth vs. sharp grit and being sharp were thereby slightly larger pieces with some near #8 size.

Regarding which A1 Granite size to use: #10 vs. #5. It's a matter of choice, sure. The #5 will hold less water and has slightly better aeration, which can be made up with additional Turface. The opposite for #10 and the ratio stays the same. I use the #10, add extra Turface (1 to 1.2 to 0.8 ratio), and use large sized containers.

>>> Even on the hottest days, I'll have to water every couple of days.
I use to say such things, too but I refrain from doing that now. I have many dozens of citrus, stone, and pome trees in the 1-1-1 Gritty mix, as well as the CHC-mix 4-1, the 5-1-1, bagged mixes, and a few others for blueberries.

From all I've learned (much of it from Al) the watering requirements vary so much based on the tree (scion + stock), root-foliage ratio, fruit load, the location in my yard, and especially the type and size of the container, it sets up the wrong expectation when I tell people about watering requirements. They just have to see for themselves. If they use a small container as with bagged mixes, they may have excessive watering requirements. One mandarin in an 18gal container thrived so much last year it seemed to double it's canopy size and is now setting so much fruit it IS requiring water daily -- last year it was every 3-4 days at these temps. I thinned it out and moved it to semi-shade, but that's my prime location and limited valuable tree real-estate.

I'm still struggling (some) with the gritty mix watering on nectarine and peach trees that set fruit. The trees droop horribly if exposed to any direct light above 80f. If I leave it there, it shrivels the fruit up (and I've double-thinned for those trees). The stones in all the other mixes are doing excellent regardless. But this year the few fruit bearing cherries I had all did excellent in the gritty mix -- however they all required water daily (18gal containers). If I missed ONE day, the leaves droop completely vertical. A second missed day and they'd be in trouble.

Once a tree sizes into it's container with gritty mix (which can happen fast), even a mild fruit load leaves no room for error on the watering. Overall, citrus have been the easiest to deal with; they are more "hardy" and more forgiving when a mistake is made.

Cebury/C4F - Crazy For Fruit.
Mmmm....love those sugary fruits! I hope I never have Diabetes =(


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

after i've screened the Turface through 1\16 insect screen i still seem or feel like there are a lot of fine particles left, which i understand, but is there any benfit to screening with a slightly larger screen size, say 1\10 maybe, which would leave larger particles for the mix and not so much finer particles??


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 28, 12 at 21:46

If you don't mind losing the volume, yes there would. Turface is actually just a little too small to be perfect, so upping the average size would be helpful, but not a whole lot. Even the fine particles don't pose much of a perched water issue when well dispersed among the larger particles of bark & granite.

Al


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

Make sure you screen through aluminum insect screen. It should be the perfect size after that. I just switched to aluminum from fiberglass. When I rescreened an older batch, much more smaller particles below 1/10 fell through.


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

thanks a lot Al... im excited to start using your mix after all i have read and think the time to make it will be well worth the effort, but just didnt want to waste time or material if not necessary.. insect screening is a lot faster since less goes through but i may still stick with my method in hopes it may be better in the end.


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 29, 12 at 22:41

However you proceed - best luck to you!

Al


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

Does everyone agree with Nyguyenty that the components of gritty mix should be screened through aluminum, not fiberglass? I made a frame with 1/4-inch hardware cloth to screen out the big stuff, but when I was screening out the smaller stuff, I just inlaid a piece of the (more flexible)fiberglass window screen and shook again. Should I be using aluminum screen?


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

is the perfect size for gritty mix everything that is between aluminum insect screen and 1/4 inch hardware cloth? I have aluminum insect screen (i think aluminum), 1/4 inch hardware cloth, and 1/2 inch hardware cloth. What is the best combintation for gritty for the bark and others?


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RE: gritty mix particle size question

I'm planning to use A1 Grit No.10 (1/8") for Al's Gritty Mix. Since a lot will fall through a 1/8" screen, should I use a 1/16"? (I will be using the 1/16" for turface)

Since my granite will be smaller than the turface, do I need more turface? Do I need to water more than once a week? Since I am not using Gran-I-Grit exact sizes, I'm really not sure.

Gritty mix will be used for small succulent containers indoors & outdoors. I'm in Southern California, so summer temps have ranged from 70's to 90's. Typically, I water deeply once a week on Sundays.

I am very new to gardening, so I wasn't able to decipher what was appropriate for me in this thread.

Thank you for helping this newbie :)


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