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Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Posted by dissident (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 25, 09 at 22:08

I've read through your threads and heard you mention that you have used 100% turface in some of your house plants.

I was just wondering if you noticed any benefit from using the crushed granite and barks in the mixture, and is there any practical purpose to adding them to a mixture other then adding an organic component?

Will the plants like having the fir bark in the mixture more then 100% turface? I know it makes the soil look pretty, but meh... functionality over style for me. :)

I'm looking for a mixture that will hold water a few extra days without watering while avoiding the problems with peat and it's tendency to displace water if allowed to dry out, so my plan was just to go 100% turface MVP ... deciding whether or not it needed sifting when I purchased it.

If I didn't sift do you think it would retain too much water on it's own without anything else added? These are houseplants in 6-8 inch pots.. nothing larger then that.

Thanks. :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 25, 09 at 23:10

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being like gardening in the earth and 10 being straight hydroponics, container culture is much closer to hydroponics - probably a 7-8. Some people think they can rely on a breakdown of the organic component in container soils to supply needed nutrients, but if they do, deficiencies are virtually assured. Practically speaking, if we are growing in a soilless medium, we need to assume full control of our plants nutritional needs. Even if we wanted to depend on nutrients from the organic component of our soils, we would be depending on soil biota to break it down into elements the plant can absorb. Since biotic populations in container soils are usually boom/bust, we can depend on nutrients from the soil to be erratic, minimal in amount, and missing or low in elemental variety (missing some elements or elements found in very low amounts).

From this you can see that the organic component of our container soils actually does little for the soil from a nutritional perspective, which is why we don't really need it to supply nutrients.

I include no more than 1/3 pine or fir bark in the soil you inquired about because it helps lower pH. The Turface and granite are both mildly acidic, and I find that soils with a pH well below 6.0 perform somewhat better in containers, though I never stress over media pH. I just generally try to start with a soil that is around 6.0 or a little lower, and the bark helps me get there w/o acidifying my water.

The granite affords adaptability of the water holding ability of the soil. The basic mix I use is equal parts of fir or pine bark, screened (through insect screen) Turface, and Gran-I-Grit. To adjust water retention, I can either screen the Turface (for a larger avg particle size and less water retention) or use it unscreened. I can also increase the Turface presence in the soil while decreasing the granite (still keeping to a 1/3 organic:2/3 inorganic mix) to increase water retention, or decrease the Turface and increase the granite proportionally to decrease o/a water retention. The beauty of the soil is the wide variance in water-holding ability you can achieve; and because the soil is 2/3 inorganic, aeration is guaranteed for a much longer period than it is prudent to allow the plant to go between repots. IOW, it lasts a loooong time.

If I was you, and didn't want to use granite, I would start with 2/3 screened Turface & 1/3 pine/fir bark. Alternately, I would use 2/3 unscreened Turface & 1/3 bark and be ready to use a wick if required.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% Turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 25, 09 at 23:50

Two plants growing in 100% turface:

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Photobucket
I hope the thumbnail works.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hi Al,

It seems to work fine, I was able to click on it & see it was a tiny sprig of Jade planted in the top of an acorn, sweet, cute idea!!


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Frickin' cute. Pretty tree, too! Haven't seen one looking that nice.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Al, that acorn pot is the coolest thing!! I love it...


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 26, 09 at 9:00

It's a real acorn cap. They last abut a year before they rot out. I often use that idea for companion plants when I display bonsai at shows or other events (tea ceremonies, events in the local Japanese gardens, etc.) where bonsai being displayed might be a plus. Can anyone guess how I keep it watered? After all, it's growing in less than a thimbleful of soil. ;o)


Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I found the following items which I could use to supplement the turface in the potting mix:

Crushed granite (chicken/turkey grit from feed store, sifting probably needed)

Charcoal (same store, small 1/8 to 1/4 inch pieces, nice sizes, no sifting would be needed)

lava rock (small 1/8 to 1/4 inch pieces at Lowes, nice sizes, no sifting would be needed)

perlite (found this stuff everywhere, typical sizes, with no sifting needed)

The only barks I can find are too large really.. the schultz has the smallest bark sizes but many are still well over 1/4 inch and there is also rocks in the mix too. I could still use it I'd just end up discarding half of it due to rocks in the mix and large pieces... I may end up doing this if the organic component is really needed...

I'd rather just use the chicken grit or some other inorganic component and keep the entire mix inorganic though and just fertilize properly... I can lower the ph of the mix if it's needed through making sure the ph of the water is lower, and I plan to rinse off everything in the mix to get rid of all dust/cloudiness before using it as well.

I'm just wondering what role the bark plays in the soil besides slightly lowering the ph, which I can do manually, and increasing aeration, which could be done with other inorganic items such as those above. Thanks!


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 26, 09 at 14:45

Even in peat based soils, the peat is very insignificant insofar as providing nutrients is concerned. I think the practical consideration is that since soilless mediums supply so little nutrition, you might as well consider they supply none - leaving the supply of nutrition entirely to the grower.

The only two reasons I use bark in my soils are to lower pH and because it's much less expensive than Turface or granite by volume. Garden soils are generally >95% mineral and <5% organic in nature, so what is to stay us from growing in a properly aerated container soil @ near the same %s? Since container culture is so close to hydroponics, we should be able to (we can) use an all inorganic medium, as long as we're able to supply the right nutrients in favorable ratios.

I have some pines and junipers, a Santolina chamaecyparissus ..... growing in a mix of nothing but Turface and granite .... and several other succulents besides the pics above. All do very well. I think I have a Pachypodium lamerei, and I'm sure, others growing in Turface/grit, too. All my houseplants are and have been growing in some variation of the gritty mix you're asking about.

Al



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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I've been considering leaving out the bark as well since it requires double sifting, always seems to have some sapwood, and is hydrophobic when dry.

Al, if I were to add vinegar to my water (which is purified), how much should I add when using a Turface/granite mix? I've heard suggestions of as much as 1 tablespoon per gallon. I also use Foliage Pro 9-3-6 which I understand has all the essential nutrients in reasonable proportions.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 26, 09 at 18:03

Purified? - RO?

I think you'll have to go a long way before you find a better fertilizer than the FP 9-3-6 for houseplants. I used it last year as an experiment on most of my containerized plants, and I'm using it now on everything I have inside under lights. I was previously very happy with the fertilizer program I had worked out for almost all my plants (MG 12-4-8 + STEM micronutrients + Sprint 138 F chelate for high pH applications), but the FP does the same job with no difference in results that I can see, is less expensive o/a, and there's no mixing. It does have all the essential elements in roughly the same ratio plants use them in, and in the proper ratio to the other elements in the blend. It's a well-thought-out fertilizer.

If either of you guys are interested, I'll explain why the size of the bark is less important in this (gritty) soil than it is in the other mixes (like the 5:1:1 mix, if you're familiar with that one) that I often discuss.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I use RO water. I just mentioned that because I wouldn't be adding vinegar to neutralize any alkalinity in the water. And I wasn't planning on changing my fertilizer. I was just wondering how much vinegar would be good to add considering my water and proposed soil are fairly neutral.

And yes, I'd be interested in hearing about the bark size issue.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Al, that's a fantastic way to use an acorn cap!
I do have a question: are the caps left "raw," or are they treated in anyway? You mentioned that the caps last about a year, so I'll assume they're untreated....but the cap in the photo looks so shiny! Very nice. I'll have to experiment.

I, too, would be interested in hearing about bark size in the different mixes.

Josh


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 26, 09 at 20:47

Jefe - the media of the pH is a consideration in container culture, but it's not vital. The soil solution pH is more important. My water pH varies by season, but in summer it's usually between 8.0 - 8.5. I don't do anything to it to lower the pH and my plants fare very well. In winter, I have noticed some minor yellowing in new growth on things under lights, and have used a tablespoon of vinegar per gallon of water each time I water to neutralize some of the alkalinity in my tap water. It usually clears it (probably a pH induces Fe deficiency) up quickly. If I was in your spot, I'd probably adopt a wait 'n' see attitude - you may not need it.

If any of you guys are going to use the gritty mix, I would add a tbsp of gypsum per gallon of soil (when you make it) for extra Ca and add 1/4 tsp Epsom salts to each gallon of fertilizer solution - even if you use the FP fertilizer.

About the soil particle size: Pudding is made of fine particles that retain water and hold it tightly. How much perlite or pine bark do we need to add to pudding before we alter the drainage properties? Lots - right? The perlite would have to be the predominant ingredient before there would be any improvement in how water would percolate through the soil. The same is true of sand. If you have fine sand that supports a 4" PWT, you could probably add more than 50% perlite and still have a 4" PWT

Applied to the gritty soil now: If you have 1 part of Turface and one part of grit, you have 2 parts of soil that are comprised of roughly the same size particles. Adding large bark chunks would be like adding perlite to pudding - it's not going to alter the PWT or drainage properties much at all. It will have an effect similar to reducing the volume of soil. It won't have much effect on the total volume of water in the soil at container capacity, though. The reason is the bark's ability to retain water is better than the grit, but not as good as Turface - it's pretty much at the average between the two, so adding 1/3 large bark component (to grit/Turface) won't change drainage, aeration, or total water retention. It will slightly reduce the o/a water-holding ability of an all-Turface soil, however.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

has anybody tried Axis and compared it to turface? Doesn't seem to be as well known I just stumbled upon it this morning after searching elsewhere... people say it's water holding ability is superior.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 3, 09 at 9:03

Axis and Play Ball are calcined (fired in high temp ovens) diatomaceous earth products. They are superior to Turface in (internal) porosity, and cation exchange capacity (it holds onto nutrients a little better than Turface). I would probably be using them but for availability here in MI and expense. I had to travel to Indiana to get these products. I couldn't actually TELL there was a difference between Turface & the calcined DE, but the stats say it's better. I think you'll find it more widely available west of the Mississippi.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I found some Napa Floor Dry Part number 8822 that seems to be the same as Axis. There's lots of fines, so I'll need to sift it, but it doesn't break down in a glass of water, looks just like the stuff in this thread:

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg062152557037.html

The napa store I went to in town had it in the back.. 7 dollars for a 24 quart bag. The napa guys says they changed the packaging the last 6 months.. it's called "floor dry" it's 100% fired diatomaceous.

Much cheaper then turface which is not available locally so I'd have to order it anyways.

If it's actually superior I'll use it because it's cheap and easy to find.. any NAPA store should have it in the back hopefully... either that or I got lucky.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 3, 09 at 10:45

Good deal! I hope you come back & let us know how you fare. What fertilizer have you decided on?

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Here's some pictures of the product I found just today at the napa store:

PhotobucketPhotobucket
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follow up question

I have Foilage Pro 9-3-6 bookmarked for now I'm just gonna go to lowes and see what they've got.. I've been looking through some of your posts for recommendations.

Would you still recommend the use of chicken grit/crushed granite with the axis? Since it absorbs even more water then turface I would assume some other ingredients might be needed... still can't find suitable barks yet.

I just noticed EP minerals is the producer of Axis, and their logo is on the bottom left corner of the bag. Sweet. I know this stuff is the real deal.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 3, 09 at 14:49

You should be able to grow just fine in the DE if you screen it & discard what passes through insect screen (or use it in hypertufa containers/give it to someone who makes hypertufa stuff - that's what I use my Turface fines for). Remember that because your soil would be all mineral, that your fertilizer program increases in importance.

Would you still recommend the use of chicken grit/crushed granite with the axis?

Yes. If you won't have a problem keeping up with the watering, I think the 1:1:1 mix is very good. You could also add a little vermiculite to the mix if you're concerned about water retention.

In the end, it's all about aeration and durability. It really doesn't matter what you use in the soil, as long as it remains well-aerated/structurally sound for as long as you intend to keep the planting in that soil. Since aeration and water retention are usually seen to have an inverse relationship in soils, it is to our advantage to use something with good internal porosity (like DE or Turface) in varying amounts to hedge against the low water retention of soils with large particles. For me, the 1:1:1 mix seems to suit my purposes & growing (watering) style perfectly. I don't know where you live, so your requirements may vary somewhat, but since you now understand how all the ingredients work together, you should have what you need to know in order to fine tune them.

Photobucket

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

thanks for all your help and advice! You have incredible patience and do an excellent job explaining things for us inorganic novices.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 3, 09 at 22:23

You're welcome - and kind to say so. Thank you.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I found the same NAPA product as dissident found about a month ago. I put some citrus seedlings in it (at 100%) about a month ago and so far so good.
I just found turface MVP yesterday and my initial impression is that the NAPA product has a more consistent texture and less of the small residue. Yet, I have not used the full bag of either yet.
Al-
Using my cheap pH meters, I am getting a pH of 7 in the wet turface and NAPA product. Is that right? What would the pH be with 2/3 turface and 1/3 bark chips? Would aluminum sulfate be an appropriate product to lower pH in turface?
One more question- is the gypsum you use in the gritty mix the powdered stuff?
Thanks for you patience with my questions.
Kyle


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 5, 09 at 9:49

Turface comes in at a pH of around 6.2, and Axis 7.0. The pH of '2 Turface and 1 bark' would depend on the pH of the bark, but an educated guess would be that the pH should be between 5.2-6.0. I think that is an ideal place to start for container soils.

I don't think I would add aluminum sulphate to the soil. You run a very real risk of aluminum toxicity as soil solution pH drops toward 5.0, and those levels are common - especially if you are fertilizing with an acid forming fertilizer.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that media pH isn't important. It is, or at least 'can be'. The pH of the soil solution, which is largely controlled by your water and fertilizer combination is more important. If you have a problem with high pH, it will be apparent in short order. Usually acidifying your irrigation water with a Tbsp or two of white vinegar is all you need to neutralize alkalinity enough to bring the combination (water/fert) back in bounds.

I use prilled gypsum, which is simply powdered gypsum rolled up in little balls (prills) so they work better in fertilizer spreaders. The prills quickly break down into a fine product.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Ordered some Foliage Pro 9-3-6 from ebay yesterday.

I got the bag of the Turface MVP I ordered to compare to the Axis and indeed there are many more smaller fines in the Turface MVP then the Floor Dry.. there are fines and dust in the floor dry no doubt, but the larger pieces are more consistently sized and there are more of them and I estimate I only thew away about 20-25% of the product by weight after sifting.

Being I work at 3M, I already had some spare dust masks laying around as they sell much of their own product at their plants at discount so I was good to go there. lol I used a cheapo metal screen mesh sifter from wally world in their cooking section to do the sifting.

My first experiment started yesterday with 100% sifted/rinsed asis and some of that fertilizer when it comes in the mail.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 5, 09 at 18:20

Keep us posted. ;o) You'll probably need to be a little extra careful to avoid the tendency to water prematurely. Even when the top seems dry, there is still probably a good amount of water in the soil. It holds more water than you think and it will take just a little familiarization.

Good luck.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

So, speaking of overwatering-
In looking at 100% turface and DE in clear plastic cups, I am seeing minimal PWT. Maybe up to 1 inch of perched water in unsifted material.
Can you overwater with this material if roots never reach the PWT?
Maybe the answer depends on the particle size and in which case you may get back to the point of recommending sifting.

Kyle


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 6, 09 at 23:55

If the only thing you guys take away from all I've said or will say is that you need to be ever vigilant about guarding the aeration of your soils - I would be very happy. That knowledge will serve you well for the rest of your container growing days - I promise.

The height of a perched water table (PWT) is almost exclusively dependent on particle size. Tiny soil particles like you find in most bagged soils - peat, sand, compost, coir, vermiculite (because it breaks down easily, quickly, and compacts), all support tall PWTs. As soil particle size increases, the PWT height diminishes, until finally at a particle size slightly under 1/8", all perched water goes down the drain. ;o)

The soils I grow in are all comprised of particles in roughly the 1/16 to 1/4" size, with the largest measure occupying a range from about 3/32 - 3/16". I can be sure there is no perched water in these soils, and that is exactly how I prefer them - holding lots of water in both internal micropores and inter-particular micropores while insuring great aeration because soil macro-pores always remain air-filled.

Can you over water with this material if roots never reach the PWT?

Yes. That there IS a PWT is evidence in itself that you CAN over-water. The key is not necessarily that there IS a PWT. The important question is how long will it persist?

Plants will grow best in a damp soil with NO perched water. That is NO saturated layer of water at the bottom of the pot. Roots begin to die a very short time after being subjected to anaerobic conditions. They regenerate again as soon as air returns to the soil. This cyclic death/regeneration of roots steals valuable energy from the plant that might well have been employed to increase o/a biomass, and/or produce flowers and fruit.

You can't keep roots from growing into that layer of saturated soil. As the water is used by the plant or evaporates, the PWT disappears and the lower regions of the container become favorable for root colonization - so of course they oblige and grow into that area. We come along and water, and suddenly the PWT is back and roots in that pot region die if the plant cannot use the water so air quickly returns to the soil.

So - IF you are using a soil that supports a shallow PWT, simply add a wick to the container to drain it. Once the planting has matured to the point that the plant uses the water from the PWT quickly, allowing air to return before root death (a half day), simply remove the wick and your soil suddenly has a greater ability to retain water, ;o)

To see this in action, simply use the cup you're using for experiments now. Saturate the soil and wait for the cup to stop draining. When it does, just push a toothpick through the drain hole to act as a wick, and watch the water start draining again. This is water that was locked tightly in the PWT and that would not have drained w/o the help of the wick.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hi Tapla,
You patiently answer everyones questions & yet yours of Feb. 26 hangs around.
I venture you have to water the pictured acorn planter with a pipette (while keeping it in front of you).


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 7, 09 at 13:09

Lol - I'd completely forgotten about that question. Actually, it sits on a tiny piece of capillary mat and has a small wick that takes up (distilled) water from the mat. I do fertilize it occasionally, though, using a coffee stir-stick as a pipette to deliver the solution. Good guess. ;o)

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

alright the first two of the plants I put in the 100% axis are getting surface mold. The plants themselves are thriving and I'm seeing new growth on them that is getting quite rigorous and I'm confident the plants are getting plenty of aeration with the axis but the axis does hold water a long time and I find I don't have to water for 5 days or more and the plants are fine with it. It does seem like this axis stuff releases the moisture to the plant for quite a bit of time.

Is having the mold on the surface alright? I was thinking about putting a later of granite grit on the top of the soil because I did put some granite in the first plant I repotted on the surface and the mold is not growing on the granite, only on the axis.

Will the mold hurt anything? Is there a way to kill it off? The plants seem fine and I like not having to water for 5 days or more with the 100% axis.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% Turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 16, 09 at 20:22

Both Axis and Turface hold more water than you think. If you are seeing mold (is it mold or algae?) on the surface, you're likely watering more often than needed.

The granite has no internal porosity, so it doesn't/won't support algal growth or mold like Axis or Turface can (the surface dries out quickly), though I've never had problems with Turface. Screening the Axis (or Turface) through insect screening and using only the coarse component will just about eliminate perched water and probably be even healthier for the plants as it will reduce water retention.

This is a good time to point out (not a lecture - just an observation) that had you included a substantial granite component in the soil, you'd likely not be dealing with extended periods between watering or the algal/mold issue.

One question - what fertilizer/fertilizers are you using? If you are using fish emulsion or other organic fertilizers, look there for your mold/algae issues.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by whip1 z5 ne Ohio (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 16, 09 at 21:07

I've enjoyed reading this thread. Very informative. Keep the updates coming.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

only the Foliage Pro 9-3-6 as a fertilizer.

LOL I never considered the idea that axis would support mold growth. I like not having to water for 5 days and I know the plants are getting plenty of aeration at the root level due to the porous nature of the axis and there's no perched water at all, the soil feels dry to the touch but clearly it's ability to hold so much water leads to the mold growth.

though the miracle grow potting soil which also holds this level of moisture for that long never had any significant mold problems though it did try out at the surface faster then the axis which tends to disperse the moisture throughout the medium as needed.

Maybe I'll try hydrogen peroxide... 1/4 cup to a gallon of water for now. I know the plant is fine... the soil feels dry, there's plenty of air in it, and no perched water table.. and I like going that long without watering.

Oh, well. Live and learn I guess. If I can't kill the mold repotting with 50% granite grit is an easy task. Perhaps as spring approaches I can locate some bark fines too. :)

Thanks for all the help.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 17, 09 at 11:16

Good luck - have fun. ;o)

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hello,
I am fairly new to this forum. I've been keeping busy reading all the wonderfully informative posts! I am ready to try the 1-1-1 mix of turface, granite & pine/fir bark. Today I found some turface - 50 lbs; it will outlive me, I'm sure :) When I opened it, it looks redder than Tapla's picture (the one showing it next to the granite and bark). The bag calls it "Turface Pro League Red" I was so excited to find it, it didn't occur to me that I might have bought the wrong one. Did I? Or is it okay to use. Thanks! Stephanie in Germantown, MD


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% Turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 23, 09 at 20:01

Ohhhhh - it's too fine for soils. :o( You want Turface MVP or the same product Profile packages for John Deere Landscaping called 'Allsport'.

You could also use the calcined DE from NAPA auto parts stores that they sell as 'floor-dry'. Are you also going to use crushed granite in the soil? The 1:1:1 is uncomposted pine bark: Turface: crushed granite grit. If not, you should use 2 parts Turface or calcined DE and 1 part bark and screen the Turface or DE through a kitchen strainer with holes about the size of insect screen.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Rats!!!

Thanks for the quick response. I do appreciate it.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hi Al!

Okay, I spoke w/the folks at John Deere again and they said that Turface MVP and Allsport are the same product and they have (gulp) 50 lbs sacks available. They won't take back my Turface proleague red since I opened the bag, which I can understand.

I called a Southern States here in MD and they have (again, gulp) 50 lb sacks of Gran-i-grit (1/8 size) in stock.

Before I drag dear husband off on Saturday to buy these, I just wanted to make double-sure I have these two ingredients correct. Sorry to be a nuisance, but I really want to get your mix exactly right.

Also, if anyone in the MD area can use the 50lb sack of Turface proleague red, it's yours for the taking/no charge.

Thanks again Al, Stephanie


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% Turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 26, 09 at 17:11

Hi, Steph! You can mix the Pro League into beds or the garden - especially if its an area that is clayey (a new word?) or drains poorly. I think they're being a little harsh by not taking it back, though. Ask them how many bags they poke fork truck forks through or how many they have to tape up before they can sell them. LOTS, I'm sure. They prolly just don't feel like dealing with it. You might make a call to the mgr & explain things to him. I'll make it for you (I'm serious), if you don't feel like going through the hassle. I'm not bashful. ;o) It's not as though they can think you'd adulter the stuff or something. Lol - with WHAT? Dirt? ;o)

'Grower size' is best for houseplant soils, and it's prolly around 1/8", so it may be what they're sellin'. 50 lbs is a little over 1 cu ft, so it won't take up much room. You already know how big the bag of Turface is - not that big. Look at it this way - all you have to do is buy a bag of uncomposted pine bark in the finest size you can find, and you'll be able to make a great houseplant soil for yourself & friends. ;o)

BTW - it sounds like you're getting all the right stuff.

Let me know if you want hints or to talk about your fertilizer program?

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Wow! What a great thread! I came upon this while searching for the proper soil for my potted Ficus 'Alii.' He needs to be well-drained yet humid. Poor guy; I had to take him outside for a beating today. He's happy over it I'm sure. I may as well put his root ball through a trash compactor because that's what peat did anyhow.

Anyone know the pH of the NAPA Floor Dry? Does the granite offer any nutritional value for the plants? Will this 1:1:1 work for everything from Bromeliads to Succulents to sub-/tropical plants too?


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 26, 09 at 21:18

The pH of calcined DE (the floor-dry) is neutral at 7.0, and Turface comes in at around 6.2. Granite offers SOME additional nutrition, but the pieces are so large (o/a surface area has a huge impact on how much of the mineral component ever becomes available, and an ounce of large pieces has tremendously less surface area than something fine granular or in powder form) you might as well consider it as 'none'. We actually shouldn't rely on any soil component in container culture to deliver nutrition because delivery is extremely unreliable from organic and insoluble sources.

"Will this 1:1:1 work for everything from Bromeliads to Succulents to sub-/tropical plants too?"

I really believe that you can grow anything from pond plants to Lithops in it if you pay some attention to watering, and I've yet to find a plant that doesn't thrive in it. Remember that the 1:1:1 ratio is adjustable. If you keep the organic component at 1/3 of the mix, you can vary the water holding ability of the rest of the mix

3 parts bark
4 parts Turface
2 parts grit
will give you a soil that holds LOTS of water w/o it occupying valuable macro-pores in the soil.

A mix of
3 parts bark
2 parts Turface
4 parts grit
will give you a soil that retains much less water and which might be more suited to plants that don't tolerate wet feet. It's soo easily adapted to suit individual plants - just an extra handful of this or that will tailor the soil to fit your needs.

Al



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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I *love* to simplify things as much as possible. Buying three ingredients to mix together is WAY better than buying soils for some things, ingredients for others and custom premix for others. I tell you I have so much stuff. It takes up a lot of space and even more money. At once, I have purchased peat, vermiculite, perlite, sphagnum moss, sand, cactus (premix) soil, tiny rocks, Orchid mix, and premix potting soil. I have had to store these all at once! Ugh! Lucky for me, I'm about out of everything AND don't like what I'm using anyway.

Has anyone used it for their Orchids yet? I just bought some new mix, but have not opened it. I'll gladly take it back if someone has experienced good things for Orchids from this mix. I like the pH factors of this mix. It'll help me a lot more than packaged [crud] I've been using.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 26, 09 at 23:15

"Has anyone used it for their Orchids yet?"

I don't know, but your question intrigues me. I'm big on bonsai, and with the gardens, containers, & little trees, I'm afraid if I get the orchid bug I'd be running into myself coming around corners. ;o) I might do some research & see what is involved with orchid soils - I really have no experience there. I could build a few soils & let others try them. I really hate to rely on the recommendations of others though - unless I really trust their judgment. We'll see.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Thought I'd peek at this thread again. My opinion on whether or not this mix would work for orchids... my initial reaction would be to say, I don't see why not. I'm not an expert on all orchids (there are so very many) but I think a lot of the common ones that people grow would be happy in such a mix. Most of these orchids are epiphytic, and dislike sitting in wet mix. As long as you got the watering and feeding right, I think they'd be happy. I know there are people out there who grow their orchids in Hydroton (or the equivalent) and do well with them. I can't remember which ones they said didn't work as well, but I think they were the finer rooted ones. In any case, I believe that as long as the mix is well-aerated, it will work. My potted orchids are growing in either a bark/charcoal/perlite mix, or in a coco fiber/treefern fiber/bark mix, depending on how long their roots like to stay moist.

This is sort of idle curiosity, but how would this mix (the one being discussed, not my orchid mixes) do for plants with delicate root systems, like African violets? It seems like it could be rough on them, but I haven't tried it, so I'm wondering if someone else had?


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 27, 09 at 9:20

The orchid comments are interesting. I may just go over to the orchid forum and try to engage them in a soil conversation. I bet they're passionate about their thoughts, though. .... should be interesting. ;o)

I've grown a couple of AVs in the gritty mix & they've done very well. It's only my opinion, but I think most AV growers try to squeeze too much out of the soil. IOW, they purposely try to build nutrition into the soil instead of relying entirely on supplemental nutrition. This often brings about soil collapse & soggy conditions.

I don't think AV roots are any more tender than other roots. After all, the workhorses of all plants are the finest of roots that absorb water and nutrients. They don't come any finer than that, and obviously those roots fare just fine. ;o)

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hmmmmm...maybe I'll go out and see if Wal-Mart has any of the last shipment of Orchids left. I think they were $15.00, but the blooms were already on the shoddy side so I bet they've marked them down considerably and THEN I could ask for more since, "I don't know if I can rehabilitate this." Really, I probably can, but it'll most likely have to be isolated (bug possibilities) and the leaves will be yellowed with black spots (not enough light/too much water sitting on the roots). It'll take a lot of effort to save one abused so, but I bet for maybe $5.00 or less I could do a good experiment.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures -more

I forgot to finish my thoughts....

The Orchid soil I bought the other day was for two Phalaenopsis and one Dendrobium. I bought the brand Better-Gro from Lowes. I am currently using Schults Orchid mix and they're doing fine, but I thought I'd see if I like this one better. The Better-Gro is endorsed by the American Orchid Society (AOS). There are three mixes on the market: Special Orchid Mix, Dendrobium Mix, Phalaenopsis Mix and, then, there's Orchid Bark.

A few thoughts: (quoted from www.better-gro.com), "Better-Gro products are formulated with both the hobbyist and commercial grower in mind. Better-Gro orchid mixes provide your orchids the drainage these air plants require. Better-Gro mixes are porous and allow air flow and ventilation to reach the roots."

Sounds like Better Gro is trying to achieve the same thing we are porosity for better air flow to the roots.

The Dend. Mix is new and it has lava rock in it to help meet the drainage needs of Dends.

Another thing: the Orchid Bark...for those who are unable to find bark small enough for the "Al's Famous Soil Mix" could they possibly buy this?


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hi Al,

Sure! I'd love any and all hints and suggestions. I currently use Osmocote 19-6-12 every three months. I also use stem every 3 months. This was suggested from the other forum.

I only have 3 citrus plants, but I love each one: bearss lime, variegated pink lemon and meyer lemon. They live outside from May to October and inside during the winter. They each have their own 200 watt compact fluorescent fixture. They all flower and fruit indoors as well as out.

The lime is doing very well thought it's potted in miracle-grow w/lots of extra perlite. The variegated pink lemon (bought from Four Winds as a 2-3 year old tree 3 years ago) is potted in old coir. It is only now started to hold onto it's lemons and has many buds on it. The meyer is tanking badly. I bought it last year at a nursery covered in flowers. Had a great crop of lemons. It is still in the original planting medium (let's call it "glop") and it stays way too wet, all new growth way too yellow and desperately needs replanting.........or burial.

It will be the first one repotted using your method! Thanks for all your help. Stephanie


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

sjeffery-
You are in good company. I have known of many good growers that have sent Meyers to the other side.
I certainly expect that using the gritty mix will help me as I am sure I drowned the last one I killed.
I have a seedling that is doing fairly well as is but will put it in gritty soon. I have heard seedlings do better as container plants as compared to grafted specimens.
Kyle


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I might have to give it a try. My AV mix was chosen because it is light and airy, not for any nutritive value, and it works fine for me, but I will say that it gets a bit annoying to purchase the mix all the time, as it gets expensive with shipping. It could work out better to purchase the basic elements of a mix and tweak it according what I'm growing; mix as needed, basically. I have tons of AV plantlets to experiment with.

As far as orchids go, I'm actually trying to minimize the number of potted orchids I have by converting as many of them to mounted orchids as possible, so I'm not ready to experiment there. I guess you can't get any better aerated than bare rooted though : )


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hmmm, glancing over this thread more carefully, I see that it's mentioned that the Turface or Axis hold more water than is immediately obvious. How do you know when to water then? Are there visual clues, or do you judge by weight? I have no experience with this stuff, so I don't know if it's easy to tell or not. I only have Hydroton, and I'm not growing directly in it (yet).

Just curious to know before I go ahead and order the components to experiment with this mix. Thanks!


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 28, 09 at 9:31

"How do you know when to water then?"

It does take a little getting used to. Here's a good hint: If you don't screen your material, you could have a little perched water in the bottom of the container. If you add a wick and allow it to dangle below your container for a minute or two after you water, it will drain this water. If you DO screen, you won't have any perched water, but the wick can still be employed as a 'tell'. IOW, if the wick feels damp - no need to water. If it's dry - water. This will get you through the transition period until you get used to the characteristics of the soil. You'll be able to tell by weight, too, with a little practice.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Al,
Okay, I have the Turface/Allsport and the Gran-i-grit Grower size. I went to Home Depot today, but didn't see the orange/white bag you mentioned in a previous post. I bought pine bark mulch.....here are pix. I put a handful on a plate so you could see it spread out. Should I pick out the big shredded pieces or did I (again) buy the wrong thing? I am DETERMINED to get this right :) Thanks! Stephanie

http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l228/sjeffery/mulch2.jpg
http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l228/sjeffery/mulch3.jpg
http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l228/sjeffery/mulch1.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful: Mulch


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 28, 09 at 20:04

For the gritty mix, it's best to have an uncomposted product like one of those around the perimeter. Disregard the soil in the center, that's a 5:1:1 mix of PB:peat:perlite.

Photobucket

If you think you'll have difficulty finding it, contact me off forum for an easy solution. ;o)

I use the prescreened fir bark shown @ 12:00 for the gritty mix.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I had the chance to check out that Orchid Bark at Lowes last night. Most of it is too big for the gritty mix. It also looks to be composted. There weren't any orchids left at Wal-Mart. Lowes's Orchids are looking pretty shabby. Leaves are yellowed and blooms are ready to drop. No sign of decreasing the prices either. I bought three new Bromeliads instead.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hi Al,
Today's foray into the garden center..........I bought fir bark. Bag says 'Hoffman West Coast Fir Bark. The pieces look bigger than the one in the pic you posted. Can I use this stuff for the gritty mix? Thanks, Stephanie

Here is a link that might be useful: Fir Bark


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 29, 09 at 16:11

You can use it, but it will increase the speed of drainage a little & decrease water retention. It also makes it more important that the other two ingredients are the right size. You're killing me with your efforts! I'll send you a small box/bag of appropriate size bark so you can make your soil & keep looking for it locally if you'd like. ;o)

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hey Al,
Thanks for the quick response......yeah, my motto for learning to assemble this gritty mix should be, "never say die!" :) I appreciate your patience. I swear I'm not as simple as I may seem!

Okay, other than equal parts of the three ingredients, anything else I should do? Rinse the turface or gravel first? Or mix all three, repot the tree and then thoroughly water? Thanks, Stephanie


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 29, 09 at 17:21

I can tell you're not simple! - just determined. ;o) If you want the soil to be the best it can be - screen out the fines with insect screen or a 'normal' mesh kitchen strainer. Add 1 tbsp of gypsum per gallon of soil. Add 1/4 tsp of Epsom salts per gallon of fertilizer solution every time you fertilize at recommended strength, or 1/8 if you fertilize at 1/2 strength, or a pinch if you fertilize every time you water at 1/8 - 1/4 strength (depending on how robustly the plant(s) is/are growing. Any 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer is good (better than 1:1:1 like 20-20-20) for almost all plants, so MG 24-8-16 and 12-4-8 are good choices - Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 is even better because it has all the minors and gets most of its N in nitrate form, which helps to keep plants compact & bushy - a considerable advantage in the oft dim indoor light.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I have read all the threads pertainingg the soil mixes and can pretty much understand the reason behind their usage. But I seem to not be able to understand the difference between Turface & crushed granite and the difference between Pine bark and Fir bark.
Can someone elaborate the difference between these two elements.
I am very interested in trying this method for my plants, but am still trying to understand the purposes of some of the items you can and cannot use in the mixtures.
I have never had any luck with growing plants from store bought soils, therefore stumbling across this has been so intresting to me and am so willing to learn more about it here.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 30, 09 at 11:56

Turface is calcined (fired at high temps) clay that is heated to the melting point until it is ceramic-like. It has 14 acres of surface area per pound and tremendous internal porosity. The size of the particles is large enough that it will hold almost no water in macro-pores (none if you screen it) yet it has very good water retention because of it's internal porosity. That it's clay and has a huge surface area means it has lots of attachment sites to hold nutrients, too. We're mostly concerned with it's ability to hold water.

Crushed granite in 'grower' size is large enough to eliminate perched water and holds no water internally (it's nonporous). It holds only what adheres to its surface. Its purpose in the soil is to balance Turface's water retention.

Calcined DE is a suitable substitute for Turface, but I still like Turface because of its lower pH @ 6.0 - 6.2 compared to 7.0 for the DE.

You can leave the bark component at 1/3 of the total volume & +/- the Turface and grit to give you the water retention you want. As noted above:
3 parts bark
4 parts Turface
2 parts grit
will give you a soil that holds LOTS of water w/o it occupying valuable macro-pores in the soil.

A mix of
3 parts bark
2 parts Turface
4 parts grit
will give you a soil that retains much less water and which might be more suited to plants that don't tolerate wet feet. It's soo easily adapted to suit individual plants - just an extra handful of this or that will tailor the soil to fit your needs.

The smallness (1/3) of the bark component adds to the durability of the soil while still offering about the same water/nutrient retention as the average between Turface and grit. Even if the soil is pressed into use long enough that the bark breaks down, the soil will not collapse like other soils with peat or bark as their base.

The soil has been given a considerable amount of thought. I've been growing in it for more than 12 years - maybe 15 years, I'm not sure. I'll never use a peat-based soil again, especially for long-term plantings like houseplants. It allows you to water freely at every watering and virtually eliminates salt build-up. Good aeration is assured for much longer than you should ever have a plant in the same soil. So what's not to like? ;o)

Pine & fir bark are interchangeable. I use fir bark because I don't mint the extra couple of bucks to get a product that's pre-screened to the right size. You want a fresh bark product (uncomposted) for the gritty soil mix, but a partially composted bark is fine for the 5:1:1, pine bark fines:peat:perlite soil if you choose that. The 5:1:1 will remain usable at least 4X as long as a peat based soil, applications being equal.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Would it also be ok then if I did a mixture using half Pine bark & half Fir bark along with the turface and grit?
I have been able to find Pine bark, but only in mulching form and it seems to have very small fines, therefore was looking at adding the Fir bark along with it.
Do you think this would work ok?


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Al,

I had my husband bring home some NAPA Floor Dry for now because I have to order in the Turface and Axis. I think I will go for Turface ultimately. I realize Axis has better water absorption capabilities, but Turface offers lower pH and that's really what I need. The bark is OK I think. Some chunks are rather large so I have to sort it. The bigger chunks are being put back in the bag so I can take a sledge hammer to break them up and sigft again.

I sifted a bag of granite with a 2mm sifter then a 1mm sifter. I saved both the fines and the superfines. I have a question regarding the fines and superfines of all ingredients: has anyone used these in successful germination of seeds? If so, which?

I'll show you the finished sifted products soon.

Thank you for your awesome guidance Al! This mix is the best thing since 2-ply!


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 30, 09 at 20:48

Since 2-ply! ;o)

If I remember correctly, 1 mm is about 1/25 of an inch, so 2 mm would be about 1/12 of an inch. These sizes are too small for seed starting. It's VERY important that seeds are started in a well-aerated medium that will not compact (like vermiculite) and won't hold too much water (also like vermiculite). A great seed starter would be 6 parts of screened Turface or calcined DE:1 part of sphagnum peat. The peat is essentially sterile because of it's low (anti-fungal) pH, and the Turface/DE are sterile. If you want, you could use the fines to lightly cover the seeds, but if you do, you'll want to only mist to keep the soil moist until seeds have germinated.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I have a good site that I use for orchid stuff but they have a 'select-a-blend' potting mix section, several things on here can be used with houseplants.
They have some plastic pots for drainage too

Here is a link that might be useful: potting mix


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

after all the research I did on turface and look what happens...

Photobucket

decided to just go to hydroculture. I realize it's not for everyone but with my small collection it seemed the right route to go for me.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I'd like to explain quickly why I went to hydroculture... my plan was to use 100% sifted axis or turface so I would not have to water as often.. so I could go 5-7 days without watering and yet still retain the properties and benefits of the turface/axis namely better aeration to the roots, without the properties of peat and it's tendency to displace water if dried out, and collapse over time.

However in attempting to do this mold grew on the surface of both the turface and the axis after about 3-4 days. Now if someone waters every day or two they won't get mold, as watering will collapse the fuzzy mold and it will never really become visible on the soil.

However if one does not water every day or two, after about the third day, mold forms and won't go away, even when the axis/turface become so dry that the plant would be damaged from it.. the mold remains until the plant is watered again..then it will collapse and not become noticeable again until a few days later. This didn't sit well with me though.

I went with hydroculture. So far the plants seem to like it and mold is not growing except on some of the side roots exposed to the light, and the plant doesn't seem to care that the mold is there, and it's manageable.

I've found that the roots can be manhandled and trimmed way down far more then I thought possible which is interesting. The plant itself just grows new ones without a problem.

So far everything is going well, and for me it's pretty much an idiotproof thing. I can watch the roots, and if any of the old soil roots start to rot I just pull the whole thing apart, cut them out, very easily and the plant's don't seem to care.

I can watch the water level daily, pull the whole thing apart to clean it when needed, only takes a minute, and watering is much easier too.

For me this seemed to be the way to go. I can very much see how doing container planting without organic components benefits the plants, regardless of the style at one decides to do it.

If one repots every year or two I am still very much a supporter of peat as well. It doesn't seem to produce the surface mold that turface/axis does and it can go for a longer period of time without water. With that convenience of course comes consequences as Al has already pointed out. I guess ya have to balance what works best for you... regular watering vs neglect, vs ????

Regardless of what method ya use I wish ya the best, and am very happy to learned so much about container gardening here. I think the best thing to remember regardless of what type of soil you use, is that air to the roots is important!

cheers!

I wish all you inorganic container planters the best, regardless of what you decide to use and do... oh and I suppose you organic types too. :)


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 19, 09 at 18:48

Hmmm - just a note - in 15 years, I've NEVER had mold or algae growth on the surface of the gritty soils

1 part uncomposted pine or fir bark fines
1 part Turface
1 part crushed granite (grower size)

unless I was using fish emulsion or other organic soil amendments/fertilizers, in which case you should expect it to occur on virtually any soil. I've seen algae build-up so severe on peat based soils after using organic fertilizers that the soil surface remained hydrophobic (water repellent) for an hour or longer after irrigation.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I am new to the forum. For the past couple of months I am going thru Als water movement and retention.

Now I know why all my plants die after some time. Too much water. I was hoping to create Als gritty mix for my tropical plants. Jasmine, Curry Leaves, Crissandra, Citrus etc.

I have couple of questions.

1. Is Turface MVP same as Turface Allsports? The store person said it is the same.
2. I got NAPA floor Dry. I screened it and I put a handful in glass and added water. After an hour when I try to press on some they turned into clay. Is that normal? I got the NAPA floor Dry part # 8822.
3.
Al. You have lots of patience and I thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
B.T.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

I too destroyed some floor dry. Turface Allsports is not the same as MVP; it's different size, but I don't know if it's larger or smaller. Turface MVP is inexpensive. I got it for $8.95 out of MO (50lb bag).


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 21, 09 at 18:35

Matt - Profile corporation packages the same product as 'Turface MVP', and as 'Allsport', the latter exclusively for John Deere Landscaping dealers.

I just went out & opened a fresh bag of Floor-Dry, and this bag is calcined DE - no question. I put a little in a plastic cup & put it in the freezer (5 min ago). I'll be back after dinner to let you know how stable it is. ... same part #, too. It's normal for it to crush between your fingers if you press real hard. It's about as hard as perlite & softer than Turface.

Thanks for the kind words, too. ;o)

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

hort-Lvr and AL:

I ordered Turface MVP. I do not have any concept about these things other than I read Al's and others on the GW for the past couple of months. I am glad you mentioned that when I press DE real hard it would collapses. I think before adding the DE to the mix I will give it a good rinse.

For the grit I got Cherry Stone No. 2 Medium and I sifted it too. Is this the right size?

Now I am searching for the unprocessed pine bark fine. Hope I don't have to order that. Farad Aged Pine Bark price now is above $11.00.BFG. I ordered couple of bags for the 5.1.1. mix.

Thanks Al. I have learnt a lot from you post. You are very prompt and courteous.
M.T.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 22, 09 at 11:53

I forgot to take the E out of the freezer last night - DUH! I took it out this AM, so I'll let you know.

Yesterday, I picked up 500 lbs of quartzite (cherrystone - 9 #2, 1 #1) I ordered from an elevator. You could use either #1 or #2, but I prefer #2, so you're good.

If you need a little bark to get you started while you're still looking, let me know & I'll send it to you.

It would be helpful if you included where you live in your user info. Your state, USDA zone, and a large city near you help us help you. ;o) I might be able to make a call or two to see where you can get the bark.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Al.
I live in Zone 5. I live around Champaign, Illinois. I looked at different nursery and Home depot, Lowes etc in Champaign with no luck. I also searched around where I live. If you know where I could buy I would really appreciate it.
Do you know how I could change or add information to my page.
Thanks Al
B.T.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 22, 09 at 17:20

On the green bar at the bottom of the page, click on Member Pages, then go to the second option, Edit User Info, or something close to that. Log in and edit away. ;o)

What big city or cities are you near? I'll get in touch with the bonsai folk there & find out for you. You're better off to look at nurseries or greenhouse operations than big box stores, though from time to time I have found it (hit and miss) at Home Depot and Meijer.

Remember - I'll send you some, too. ;o) Just to get you by until you find it.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

The big city is Champaign, ( Illinois) 40 miles from me. the other big cities are Bollmington Illinois 100 miles and Indianapolis 100 miles.

How did the DE turn out once you took it out of the Freezer? Why did you put that in the freezer?

Where did you buy your 1/8" and 3/8" screener for swifting?
Thanks for going out of the way to help me.

M.T.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 22, 09 at 21:59

The DE was fine. If it holds up to freeze/thaw, it's very stable. There was no apparent change after it thawed.

I made my own set of soil sieves .... two sets, actually - a small one and a large set. I have 4 screens in each set. Insect screen, 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8" hardware cloth.

Give me a couple of days to see what I can find out about the bark.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 22, 09 at 22:41

I've got a guy from the Pekin Bonsai Club and a friend from the Indy Club working on it. I could also direct you to the business in Carpentersville, NW of CHI, and you could get it from where I buy it - unless that's too far.

Al


 o
RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Repotme.com has the bark and many other medium help, but it's probably more expensive than sourcing your own.

Thanks for the crushing info on the NAPA floor dry! I was disappointed for no reason. I got turface anyhow so I gave my hubby the floor dry. We're not only a Horticulture family, but gearheads too so it all works great!

You're such a great guy Al! It's amazing to me that you're not a professor at a university or a teacher (other than on the GW forums).


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Where did you buy the 1/8" and 3/4" hardware cloth. I have a hard time locating a supplier. Once I get them I could make my own.

Carpenterville NW of Chicago is approximately 150 miles and it will take 3 to 4 hrs depending upon the traffic. If that is the only source for uncomposted pine bark fine then I have to order it.

Indianapolis will be closer and easier to reach.

Repotme.com is way too expensive for me.

Thanks Al.
M.T


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 23, 09 at 8:55

The hardware cloth can be had in many sizes (usually by the foot - call first) at any decent (real) hardware store. I have 14x14 and 24x24 sets of sieves, and I rarely use the small set .... but then I'm usually making larger batches of soil, too. ;o)

We'll see what my acquaintances have to say about the bark.

Thanks for the nice comment, Hort Lvr. ;o)

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Thanks Al. I will wait for the response from you for the uncomposted Pine bark fine.

I will call real hardware store around here for the hard ware cloth 1/8" and 3/8".
Thanks for your help
M.T.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Al,

I have gotten the Turface MVP and the bark. I also bought grit, but it was chicken grit and have recently realized it's *too small.* It's slightly larger than...well, here - how about a picture?

Grit

Do I need to look for Turkey grit?


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 27, 09 at 20:25

The size looks fine. What is the material in the picture?

No luck, Matt.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

It's chicken grit. So I got it right?


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 28, 09 at 20:48

It's all about size, and the size looks fine. I don't recognize it as quartzite (cherrystone) or crushed granite. I was just curious to know what it is made of. Chicken grit doesn't tell me anything. ;o) Maybe it's a trick of the light?

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

It is crushed granite...(duh - chicken grit could be anything - sorry about that). Contains: ground granite grit, Anise, red color (Iron Oxide).

I rinse it WELL before using it in the pots.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Hi Al:
I got the Turface Athletic MVP. It has too many small particles. If I screen it thru insect screen is it enough?

I saw Oak Hill Gardens IL. is selling White Fir Bark for orchids - Fine 3Cu.Ft. bag for 17.00. Is the white fir Bark alright?
M.T.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sat, May 16, 09 at 23:26

Hi, Matt. Sorry it took me a while to reply. Yes - screening through insect screen is fine and if the bark is between 1/16 - 1/4" it's fine. Size is the important thing for the conifer bark when making the gritty mix.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Has anyone decided if the floor dry is a reasonable substitute for turface? I know I can get floor dry locally, while I believe I will have to really hunt for turface.


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 19, 10 at 9:09

Floor dry that is made from calcined DE and is the appropriate size is a suitable substitute for Turface. The main differences are: Calcined DE has a higher pH (7.0), better CEC, and greater water retention. Don't forget to screen it, please.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

HI Al
I have read and reread until my eyes are on fire. I have a few questions. I am considering venturing into the gritty zone since some of my trees may need re-potting soon.
I have a good friend who owns a Napa store so getting the DE or turface will be easy. I found a local source for the crushed granite and pine bark shouldn't be too hard either (if I am not impressed I will just splurge on the Reptibark)

Questions:
1. In assembling the ratios of the gritty mix do I use weight or volume of the products to get the proportions right?
2. Where can I get screening to get the job done? (you should be opening a screen pack distributor, your homemade ones are awesome- sign me up!)
3. What ratio exactly should I be adjusting to make it retain more water in this HOT South Florida sun?
4. Do you add CRF granules to the gritty mix?

Thanks
Marin


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 24, 12 at 23:14

1) Volume

2) If you're using Reptibark (or prescreened 1/8-1/4" other conifer bark), Turface/calcined DE, and grower grit (no crushed shellfish shells), all you'll need is insect screen to eliminate the fines. If you're screening your own pine bark, you'll also need 1/2" and 18" screen. Ask for hardware cloth at hardwares or big box stores. Real hardwares probably sell it by the foot.

3) You may not need the extra water retention, but if you do you can use
3 Turface or DE
2 bark
2 grit

or the next step would be

3 bark
4 Turface or DE
2 grit

I don't, but you can if you want. When it gets really hot, you'll want to reduce the amount of fertilizer you use, and you can't do that using CRFs. If you do use one, try to be sure it's as close to a 3:1:2 ratio as possible and that it contains all the essential nutrients, including Ca & Mg - most don't. I like Foliage-Pro with the gritty mix because it has everything in the right ratio and it doesn't utilize urea as it's N source, which is a considerable plus for houseplants.

Al


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RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

Thanks Al!
I think I will get a gallon of the Foliage Pro instead of the CRF.


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