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Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Posted by the_yard_guy 5 (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 8:29

Hello All. As you know I use the 5-1-1 mix for growing conifers and maples in nursery containers. Up to this point I've been using Manna Pro granite instead of perlite in my soil mixes since I had a bunch of granite on hand and wanted to use it up. I'm nearly out of granite now and will switch back to perlite for future soil mixes.

When making the 5-1-1 should I use the coarse (large) grade of perlite? I have a small bag of MG perlite on hand but I think the particle size is "medium" at best, mostly 1/4" and smaller.

I have not found any coarse grades of perlite locally so I might have to use mail order.

Thanks

TYG


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

You can use the medium stuff, but it will increase the moisture retention slightly. I've had a difficult time finding the coarse grade lately, too...

Your mix should be fine :-)

Josh


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Thanks Josh. Appreciate the reply. As I recall, in your video you used that coarse perlite. Now that I'm looking for it all I can find is the MG brand.

I'll try and run some through the 1/4" hardware cloth or maybe some insect screen at least and try to remove the smallest particles. I'm sure it won't be as good as the very coarse perlite but it will probably work until I can find a coarse grade.

Thanks again

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Home Depot sells the coarse in a 2cf bag for around 20 bucks. I found a local nursery with it for 5cf for $15. Sometimes, just gotta get on the phone and check around. And yes, window screen works just fine for screening the dust out.

Kevin


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hi Yard Guy!!!

Have you checked your local hydroponics store? They often carry the coarse grade perlite . If they don't have any, I bet they will order some for you!! That is where I buy mine.

Hey Josh!! Hope all is well in Cali!! My Squill is blooming and I thought of you!! I need to post a pic. ;-)

Laura


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Agree, I found 4 cu ft bags of course perlite at a hydroponics store.

I think there are a couple of places online also to order large bags of course perlite.


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Thanks Everyone. Appreciate the replies.

Kevin: Checked my local Home Depot. All they carry are the small bags of MG perlite. They had no 2CF bags of the Thermorock brand perlite in stock. The guy at the checkout said that the big bags of perlite don't sell very well so they don't carry them.

Laura and Ed: Thanks for the tip. I'll check out the local hydroponics store this week and see what kind of perlite I can find. We only have one hydroponics store in the area and it's called an "indoor garden center". I've never been inside the place so it will give me a chance to look around.

Thanks

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hey, Laura! Hoping my Squill will bloom again, too!

I purchased that great coarse Perlite (Sunshine #4) from a local hydroponics shop....then the store promptly switched brands. The new brand is the same price, but the quality is much reduced. I managed to find some better stuff at a construction supply company about 30 minutes away....but it still doesn't compare to that original coarse grade.

Home Depot "coarse" grade is pathetic. I've never seen any that was truly coarse.

Josh


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 21, 14 at 19:27

Thermorock stuff has way too many fines.


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Thanks for the updates. I'll avoid the Thermorock brand. One reviewer on the HD website said the pieces were much smaller than advertised.

I'll check the local hydroponics store and see what they have.

Too bad it's so difficult to find a good brand of coarse perlite. You think it would be easy to find, but so far everything I see locally is fine or medium at best, similar to the MG perlite.

Thanks.

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Dang, there must have been a run on perlite early in the year. I checked my online sources and they weren't to be found. In March I had found 2 sites that would ship a 4 cu ft bag of course perlite right to my door for about $32, and now they are nowhere to be found. A hydroponics store is your best bet now. BTW, I did use the HD Thermorock stuff once, and although not optimal, it was definitely usable...so I'd keep that in mind also if nothing else


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

When I have to use an inferior (dusty) source of Perlite, I pour it into one of my large pond-baskets, then give it a good shaking/sifting to remove the initial fines and dust. Then I run a hose through it and rinse it out further. This works for smaller batches, but for a large job it isn't efficient.

Josh


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hello All. I checked the local hydroponics store today for coarse perlite. The employee said he had some, and showed me a sample. The "coarse" grade was practically the same size as the standard MG perlite. Certainly not what Josh used in his video to make his 5-1-1. I asked the employee if they carried anything larger, and he told me "they don't make any perlite larger than this".

So the search continues.

TYG.


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

That employee must have been sampling too much of the product.... ;-)
Of course they make larger perlite! They make huge Perlite....I've seen it in 1-inch chunks even, which was too large for what I wanted to do.

Josh


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Josh,

Yes I think you may be correct. :-)

The employee stated this "coarse" perlite was the largest available but I don't believe it was any different from the MG or store brands of perlite.

I've never seen 1-inch sizes before but I know this grade of perlite was certainly not the same as what you used in your video. I'll have to use the medium size of perlite until I can find something better next season.

Thanks!

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

I did find a coarse grade of perlite at a local garden center a few years ago... well, the bag was labeled as coarse... but I was forced to buy a large bag at somewhere around $32, if I remember right.

Upon opening the bag, I found out that coarse isn't exactly what I'd call it... the bag is filled with dust and smaller pieces, and it requires a lot of careful, gentle screening to get enough that's actually coarse and usable! The waste, we threw out in the garden.


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Jodi:

Yes that's what I want to avoid, ordering a big 2 or 3CF bag of "coarse" perlite for $30 or so and then finding out after it arrives that it's no different than the smaller grade I currently have. Several people have commented recently that it's tough finding larger perlite.

Until I can find some I'll use the MG perlite since you can get it anywhere.

Thanks.

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

I kind of wish we hadn't wasted that $32 for the large bag, but that's the only size they had.

I think I'll just use the regular stuff from now on, too... it's less work, less money, and less waste... and I already know what to expect.


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Jodi:

Yes I see your point. I'd hate to spend that kind of money and not get what you were expecting. Also, I have very limited space so I don't have a lot of room to store big bags of perlite, especially if I'm not using it.

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

That chunky Perlite I show in the video only cost me $20 for 4 cubic feet, if you can believe it. You can imagine my dismay when I returned to find that they were no longer carrying that brand.

Josh


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Ya... that's the troubling part about making one's own medium mixture... first, sourcing the right ingredients locally... and second, hoping they keep selling the same things and finding out they no longer do!

But for all the trouble, it's so worth it to search for and obtain the items we want. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'll never go back to commercially available bagged potting stuff. The healthy roots on my plants tell me that I'm doing the right thing.


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Everyone:

I hit the proverbial motherload in terms of perlite. A new, small "indoor gardening center" just opened nearby and they have all kinds of perlite in every size imaginable.

I bought a small bag of "Black Gold" brand perlite to try, and the size looks great. I have not sorted the bag but the pieces near the top of the bag look to be about 1/4" to 3/8". I'm sure the bottom of the bag will contain finer material, that's to be expected. The bag looks like the attached image. I'll try to post a photo of the actual material this weekend.

They have 2CF and I think 4CF bags of the medium, coarse ("Grade 3"), and super coarse ("Grade 4") perlite. I think the 2CF bags of Grade 3 and 4 were about $12 each. I do not know what the larger bags cost.

Just wanted to pass this along to anyone who wants to find coarse perlite. It's out there at the indoor garden centers and hydroponic stores.

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

That is awesome! The coarse Perlite I had was #4.

Josh


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Sweet! Great find!

I'll have to keep it in mind and do some local searching!

Right now, I have two gallon sized buckets... covered, of course... of coarse perlite already sifted to remove the finer stuff. I have to use that up before I can purchase anything else.

Thanks for the tip, though!


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Score!!


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

My local ACE Hardware carries BG perlite. I think it's #3 grade.


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hello All. I took a couple of photos of the new Black Gold brand of perlite I bought. After screening I think this looks like a good size to use for the 5-1-1 mix. The hydroponics store had much larger perlite, up to about 1" particles, in 2 and 4CF bags, but I think this might be OK for what I need.

The top photo is unscreened perlite from the bag. As you can see, lots of fine, dusty material. I then screened some using a pond basket as Josh used in his video, and the bottom photo is the result.

What do you think? Good size to use for 5-1-1?

Thanks.

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

I think it looks good! Nice job!

I've been debating with myself... on my ingredient list for a new rendition of Gritty for my two orchids and a bulb that's more epiphytic than its relatives... fir bark, of course... and I'm thinking the coarsest of the coarse perlite, and I might do something with this acadama I have... I don't know... I'm just in the planning stage right now.

Gosh... it's actually fun and interesting to work with this kind of concept where medium is concerned! I loved container gardening before... but it's taken on a whole new excitement for me since I ran across Al's original article on water retention and soil!


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Jodi:

Thanks for the feedback. The size shown above probably fits my needs for standard 5-1-1 mix. I do not know what grade of perlite this would be after screening. The bag had no specific "grade" on it but there was a fair amount of dust and fine material.

The hydroponic store had some 2 and 4CF bags that had huge perlite in them, up to about 1" in size. Too large for my needs but I'm sure some people might need pieces that size.

I want to thank Josh for showing how to use those pond baskets for screening out the dust and fine material from the perlite. Makes it easy and quick.

When you get your new mix figured out I hope you share a few photos with the members here.

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hello Jodi, Josh, Yard Guy and everyone!!!

I have to look at my huge bag of perlite that I bought at a Hydroponic store in Maryland. I also bought two huge bags and I wonder if i will ever use it all!! I think those guys are sampling all sorts of things at the stores.. ;-). My local Hydroponics store carries it too, so I will stop by and see what they have so I can share. The bags I have are simple white bags and marked with coarse on the outside. I guess they buy in huge quantities and bag their own to sell.

I'll post a pic of mine later for you YG.

Josh.. Found another two Squill at my local mom and pop store. It's a little different from ours. I'll have to take a pic and share.. If you like it, I can send a pup your way! I thought it odd that they had a sign saying not to water on these.. They were so dry. When I got home I watered them and they are looking great. Strange ... The lady at the checkout said don't water these that often.. Sure!! ;-). I though .. They have to let these totally dry out in this awful mix just to keep them alive. I couldn't wait to get them home and place into the 5-1-1.. They are very happy now!

Have a great Night !

Laura


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hey, Jodi, Laura, Yard Guy!
The perlite came out great. Those pond-baskets have been such a great discovery for sifting and mixing ingredients.

Laura, can't wait to see your new Squills.

Josh


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Everyone:

I'm glad I could share my findings with you. So the bottom line here is that if you are looking for perlite larger that what you find at most big-box stores then a hydroponics shop or "indoor garden center" is the place to go. You can certainly screen a standard bag of MG perlite but you won't retain very much of it after screening as the particle size is fairly small.

Laura: Yes I'd like to see photos of what your perlite looks like. Do you have to screen yours as well, or is yours pre-screened?

Word of advice: It's been said before on here, but if you need to screen your perlite I strongly suggest that you do so outdoors or at least in a well-ventilated area. I also used an inexpensive mask since my perlite was very dusty near the bottom of the bag. I used a pond basket as Josh suggested, and the screening was very quick.

Since I did not want to save that very fine perlite material that passed through the basket I simply screened mine over a large trash can. Only took a couple of minutes for a small bag.

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Well... since I've been staying with my son and his family, about 3 hours north of where we've been, I must say my plants are a lot happier!

The last environment I had to grow in was on the toxic side, I'd call it, with overly dry, dusty indoor conditions that had rather drastic temperature changes due to positioning of windows, and heat and AC units. Everything I tried to grow limped along, but never flourished optimally, as I knew it could with better conditions. I would say the medium, and decent window light are the things that allowed me to keep everything alive!

Now, I have better humidity... both indoor and out. I have less window space... and I'll have to improvise when cold weather gets here... but for the moment, every plant I've moved up here so far is adjusting well, putting forth new growth, and my rain lilies are about to bloom, after having not bloomed for the past 2 years or more.

Currently, all my plants are outside on a back deck, shaded by two huge maple trees. They get really nice dappled sun and reflected light... and both orchids look happier already, one with a new growth!

My husband will be bringing up my Plumeria and another large pot of bulbs when he comes north with my daughter next week. We're moving in small increments, trying to pare down our collected "stuff". So, while I'm here looking after the grandkids while my son and his lovely wife put in more hours at work, my husband is doing some of the packing... and looking after the rest of my plants!

Laura, you'll be thrilled to know that my Plumeria is finally showing signs of blooming! I do believe there's an inflo starting, because it sure doesn't look like leaves! I am so excited to see it flower!

The only setback I have to deal with will be low light in winter... but I think some lights might do the trick.

It's the medium, I tell ya! I do believe that if it weren't for a medium that allows for healthier root systems... allows for less than perfect watering... I'd still be completely frustrated as a gardener!

I will be sure to post photos when I finally get everyone moved, and I find my camera... I packed it somewhere, and can't remember which box it's in... and I'll list my final choices in ingredients and approx. ratios when I figure out what I think will work best for my two little orchids.

With favorable changes in conditions, I just might be able to finally fulfill my wish of actually growing more orchids! :-)

You know... it never dawned on me, but a Hydroponics store would probably have a few ideal ingredients... including coarse perlite! Great suggestion!


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hello old friends and new! Hoping everyone is doing well..

Thank goodness I can get this perlite up the road from me..

Mike

This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Sun, Jul 6, 14 at 13:31


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hello Everyone!!

So nice to see you all!!!! Mike, Josh, Jodi, YG and all....

I did take a pic of my Squill for you Josh. The top one is from Al.. The bottom two are from the mom and pop store.. Definitely the bottom two are Silver Squill.. Quite a deference in color for the one sent from Al.. I love them, both unique !!

Jodi.. Whoooo HOOooooo! On the inflo news on the Plumeria!! I can't wait to see it.. Please send a pic!! I hope the move was and will be an easy one for you. Sounds like you are already enjoying the new environment. ( for your health as well as your plants!!). It is all good news!!!

Yard Guy.. After I post this, I'm going to the greenhouse to get a handful of perlite for you.. I also use baskets like Josh mentioned from the hydroponics stores to wash the dust and fine particles off. I love the things they have in those stores... I bought my T-5 light system there for the trees to use during the winter. I just walk in the store like I know what I'm doing.. Lol. ;-)
They sell great things.. Everyone should visit their local store. It really isn't a bad place to go.. Lots of people grow other things.. Lol!!!

Here is the Leopard Lily, Silver Squill, Josh!!! They need to be repotted, but I wanted them to get watered since they were not looking to good when I bought them. They are happy now, but will be happier when I get them into the 5-1-1. ;-)

be back.. Have to go outside with the flashlight for YARD GUY!!! ;-). Lol!!!

Laura


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hey, Mike and Laura!
Wow, Laura, those Silver Squill are really fancy looking! They look great, and it seems that they develop "bulbs" above the soil quite readily. My Squill is in need of re-potting - I'm sure it's not happy with me.

Josh


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hi Josh!!

They are different looking.. Let me know if you would like one. I will divide them soon and get them going... My Squill from Al has been in the same container after i received it and repotted the new little guy!!!. It was quite small in the container, and is in desperate need of repotting now.. I think your Squill likes you just fine. I have seen yours. It Looks great!!! ;-)

Yard guy. I looked at the the bag.. It is huge and only says coarse. I also use the black square pond baskets like Josh to wash out the fines. But if I want the larger particles, I use this basic fryer to sift.

Hope this helps!!!

Have a great night!!

Laura


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Here is the picture of the huge bag..

Sorry the lighting isn't right.. It's late and all I had was the flashlight!! Lol!!

But you can see how large this bag is. I need to place it in smaller bags now.. It keeps ripping open and I need to get it together !!

Have a great night, everyone! !

Laura


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Ooh! Ledebouria! I have a pot of Silver Squill, myself... a bulbous plant from South Africa, grown mainly for its interesting leaves! I just repotted it into a slightly more moisture retentive rendition of the Gritty Mix, as it seems to like conditions a tad bit more moist. It's bouncing back already, showing new growth!

I will definitely take a lot of photos of the Plumeria when it blooms! This will be its first for me!

Mike, I gotta get together with you... over the phone or through email. I wanted to get a package ready to ship to you, but we got caught in this move north a lot sooner than we were anticipating. So, I'm north at the moment with no access to my hoard of plants, and the Old Guy isn't sure what he's doing, so I need to be there. I haven't forgotten, though! I've got a few things I've been saving for you! :-)


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Jodi: I admit I have never tried to grow many houseplants, and never in the 5-1-1 or gritty mix, so I can't really imagine how difficult that must be. Humidity and light sound like they are the key issues, but you are managing very well from the sounds of it. Moving is never easy! Good luck finding your camera lol.

Laura: Thanks for the great photos of your perlite and taking the time to get your flashlight out lol. You are right, that IS a giant bag of perlite! I think one bag of perlite that size would last me for the rest of my life lol. The photo of that deep fryer basket is a great idea for screening large perlite. Would you say that basket is about the same as 1/4" hardware cloth? The holes look like about 1/4" or so in that photo.

Thanks.

TYG


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

It's easy once you apply science and physics, per Al's articles and medium recipes.

Key, I think, is getting past the old wive's tales and understanding that growing in the ground is very different than container growing, and that a 'green thumb' is nothing more than applied knowledge... it has nothing to do with luck or being fortunate... it's what we know about the plants and their needs, and adjusting the environment to suit them better, artificially or not.

I struggled along until I read Al's article on container growing and moisture retention, and then it all clicked. Imagine that... I went through a good portion of life not really understanding the physics of it all, as simple as it is to grasp... or, as simple as Al made it to grasp!

Add in the fact that the gardening industry is like any other, existing to make profit... and it all makes sense. It makes more sense to create my own medium for containers, to dive a little into educating myself on the plants I've chosen, etc... and to forget about the fallacies of yore, if you catch my drift.

Now, I know what I need to do... and I can see the results! :-)


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Jodik..Wel put as usual! You've been missed..Mom has been under the weather and I have been spending time trying to help here with her load and then the yard of course..You are so sweet..Let's talk soon..You do still have the same phone right?

Laura..How sweet, taking the time to take pics for the folks here..That is you all over!

Josh, hello my friend..

Hoping everyone here is well..I have a squill to share soon)
Mike from Al died((

MIke


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hey, friends! Good to see you, Jodi!
Laura, please pot one of those bulbs for me....and we'll figure out the details once they're settled in. Lord knows I don't have room for another plant, but I'm sure I can get rid of something ;-)

Hey, Mike! It's really hot here, buddy, but all the plants are doing well. Lots of lemons this year :-)

Let's see....it's 85F at 8:36pm!

Josh

This post was edited by greenman28 on Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 11:13


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Yes, Mike, same phone for at least the next few months... then, we'll get different ones and notify everyone. And, thanks... I just write what I know! :-)

I'm sorry to hear Mom isn't feeling well... please give her my wish that she feels better, along with a big hug! :-)

Not feeling so hot myself for the past couple of days... weather and everything... no biggie, just same old same old!

Hey, Josh! How's things?!


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RE: Perlite particle size for 5-1-1

Hi Guys!!

Just wanted to say hi !!

YG. I was taking pics out on the yard just for you with my flashlight!! Lol.
I also use my main strainer for the perlite. I just wanted to share the larger particle size In the bag. ;-)

Josh. No problem. I'm heading out to Cali , but when I get home I will pot up one for you!! I'm sure you will find room!! Lol...

Mike. Always want to help!! You all are so good to me!!

Hope you and your mom are felling better! Jodi too!! ;-)

Take care.

Laura


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