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Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Posted by acg85 6b (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 2, 14 at 15:24

Alternate Subject: "Hold the newbie's hand."

First time experimenting with Al/tapla's easily-draining mixes. Would appreciate a comment or two from the experienced. (I think gritty is OK, but not sure about the wood/bark ratio (next post) in the only pine I could find.)

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Can't figure out if GW allows 2 pics in one post, so here's the pine for 5-1-1:

This post was edited by acg85 on Sat, Aug 2, 14 at 15:28


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Make sure you use only the smallest reptibark for the gritty. Keep it screened to between 1/8" and 1/4". 3/8" won't hurt too much in gritty as long as it's kept to a minimum percentage. The major selling point of gritty is that all the ingredient particles are roughly the same size.

That pine bark is no good. Too woody and shreddy. You use the same bark fines for both gritty and 5-1-1, just that the 5-1-1 uses anything under 1/2" all the way down to dust. Use what you screen out from the gritty to go into the 5-1-1.


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Hello acg85. Welcome to the world of gritty and 5-1-1 mixes. Once you get them figured out you and your plants will enjoy the mixes very much. This is my first full season working with it.

For your gritty mix I think you have it just about right. Some forum members who cannot find large bags of pine or fir bark use the ReptiBark with good success. As Oxboy noted above, sometimes the pieces of ReptiBark are a bit too large for optimal results so you should use the smallest pieces in the bag. I believe one of the members here indicated the small bags of ReptiBark have smaller particle sizes than the big bags.The cherrystone and Turface look good, but if possible you might want to find a source of pine or fir bark that will work a bit better in both the grit and 5-1-1 mixes.

I agree with Oxboy about your pine bark for the 5-1-1 mix. I would not use it. The wood looks "shredded" and it's not what you want for good soil mix.

I'm attaching a few photos of the pine bark I use in my soils. I bought this pine bark at a local garden center for about $3.50 for a 2CF bag.

The top photo shows the bark directly out of the bag. It's partly composted and has a lot of very fine material. For a good 5-1-1 mix you could use this bark as-is. That's what I do. For gritty mix you need to screen it. The second photo shows the screening in process, using a 1/8" screen. The last photo is what you have left when you are done screening over a 1/8" screen. You're looking for pine bark that looks similar to the bottom photo. (Note: As you can see there is a fair amount of sapwood remaining so I try to remove what I can by hand. )

So basically for gritty mix you want to end up with pine or fir bark that resembles the bottom photo.

I hope this helps.

TYG


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

good info..........thanks for the pics


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Thanks everyone.

No worries on the Gritty - all components - including the fir Repti-bark - had been screened through 1/4", and retained by 1/8". (I know Turface can be done to 1/16", but I wanted to go "all the way" for my first small-batch try.)

Never thought to use the extra fir bark in 5-1-1, as I had gotten the impression that partially degrading (composting) bark was preferred. The small amount left is already at hand - great for a nice trial batch.

Nice looking bark in the informative photos. Guess I'll have to keep looking for better pine. Unfortunately, the pictured woody-shreddy product was by far was the best looking bark product I'd so far been able to find in my area. (Other than huge pine-bark nuggets.)

-OP

This post was edited by acg85 on Sun, Aug 3, 14 at 18:28


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Pine bark muclh/fines is sometimes called soil conditioner.


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

I've always had success using the ReptiBark, but only the small bags... as it seems that the larger bags contain larger bark pieces.

If you're lucky, you can score decent fir bark from a local source... whether an orchid greenhouse, bonsai type store, garden center, or bags of "soil conditioner" or other decent fir bark mulches from a big box store or the like.

Sometimes, you can find it in bulk... I can't, but in some areas it's easier to source.

I use coarse perlite and MannaPro poultry grit (crushed granite pieces) for my other ingredients... both of which require screening to remove dust.

I've also been known to use other ingredients, if I can find them... like the turface, etc...

The important thing to remember is the concept behind the mediums... how they work, and why they work. Once you have that understanding, you can adjust to suit your own needs, and what you can source locally.

Happy Growing!


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Finding pine or fir bark is often the most difficult. Once you find a source then you will be all set. Jodi gave some great ideas about where to find bark. In my area the big box stores don't carry pine or fir bark suitable for 5-1-1 or gritty mix so I have to look at independent garden centers to find it.

TYG


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

I have to order all my bark fines online from Sunset Valley Orchids in Calif. No local vendors.


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Orchid growers are an excellent source for fir bark... and they often carry a variety of particle sizes or grades.

Many orchid growers/greenhouses will even sell it by the bag... in different sized bags... right on their websites... under the heading of "Supplies" or "Potting Supplies"... something to that effect.

Sometimes, Hydroponic type stores carry various ingredients, too...


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Yes hydroponic stores or indoor "growing centers" sometimes have ingredients for 5-1-1 or grit mix. Great source for coarse perlite.

TYG


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Yes hydroponic stores or indoor "growing centers" sometimes have ingredients for 5-1-1 or grit mix. Great source for coarse perlite.

TYG


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Thanks to all for the kind words and informative suggestions. Have already moved two small houseplants to gritty, and am looking forward to observing them over time.

Getting there can be a trial, but I agree that once you find the right source for a component - like bark - it'll be smooth sailing thereafter. (Learned that with Turface and coarse perlite…) And - eventually - am sure with 5-1-1.


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Watch your new Gritty plantings closely for wilt. They can go downfill really fast. Might have to water several times a day for the first few days (or week).


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

For sure, it's a bit of a transition and it takes some time to get used to the differences in watering and feeding and the like, but in the end, it's well worth the extra effort!

Also... be sure to soak that bark overnight before using it in your medium... so it doesn't go hydrophobic on you! You want it ready and able to absorb some moisture when you do water the newly potted plant.

When I mix my batches of medium, I add some water to moisten, mix it well, cover my container, and leave it set a day or two to absorb before using it. That way, it's already evenly moistened and I know that unless I forget to water for a really long time, I won't have any problems with it, or with the newly potted plant getting used to its new environment.

Happy Gardening!


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

acg85:

Glad you are on your way with these two great mixes. Oxboy and Jodi both give great advice. You will need to adjust your watering schedule based on how fast your soils dry out. The good news with gritty mix is that it's very difficult to overwater a plant in that mix. Regular peat-based soils will turn into a swamp with too much water and roots will die without oxygen. This is not usually a concern with gritty mix since it drains so freely.

Good luck and ask more questions if you need advice.

TYG


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Thank you, TYG, for the vote of confidence.

I'm certainly no expert, but the information contained within this thread has helped me to greatly expand my growing capabilities, and has given me a much greater understanding of the whole process.

As I like to say... and it's true... "a green thumb is nothing more than applied knowledge!"


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

Jodi : Yes I agree, a "green thumb " is having both the knowledge and a strong interest in growing healthy plants.

By sharing knowledge and experience the members here allow all of us to have "green thumbs " if we wish.

TYG


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

You know... I meant to say, the information contained with the "Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention" thread... don't know what I was thinking! :-)


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

No worries Jodi, you probably posted that reply before having your morning coffee. I'm sure we all knew what you meant.


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RE: Do these Gritty and 5-1-1 mix components look OK ?

And by coffee, I mean potfuls! I'm a coffee freak! LOL! :-)


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