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Gritty mix all the rage?

Posted by Joe1980 none (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 28, 11 at 21:02

I am looking at my repotting project, and I felt the 5-1-1 mix was more suited to several of my thirstier, faster growing plants that I tend to repot yearly or every other. However, I have my snake plant, and my jade, and I'm thinking that the gritty mix is probably more suitable to these two. Now, my question is, does the gritty mix honestly hold the moisture enough that I won't be wielding the watering can daily, wasting my liquid gold FP 9-3-6?? I am concerned about my water running right through it, and becoming more of a burden. For example, in the past, I'd pop my jade into some bagged cactus mix, and I hated it. I felt like it was bone dry the day after I watered, because jades tend to be thirsty when growing rampant. I just want to be sure I am going to like it, and might need some tips on watering with this stuff.

Thanks,

Joe


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Not to worry, Joe . . . With the type of plants you've mentioned, you won't have a problem. BTW, welcome to the forum.


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

It didn't work for me for all the reasons you listed.

Jane


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Jane, that is why I am going with the 5-1-1 mix on my regular plants, the ones that need to be kept "evenly moist". It's the succulents I worry about. In fact, my jade is currently in Miracle Grow, and I have a problem to tackle (Yep, looking for ideas here). The rootball is a solid lump of peat, and I mean solid literally. I don't know how in the world I am going to get that soil off of the roots.

Also, my nemesis plant, besides the homalomena, is the desert rose. That is the only plant I've ever root rotted, but I suspect being in the far north, zone 4, doesn't help either.

Joe

PS: I've actually been around on this forum for many of years, but under the name "joezkool", however, I got older, married, had kids, and now realize that I am actually NOT cool anymore. I am usually quiet too, just lurking in the background, until Al and his fancy potting mixes brought me forth.


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Jane:

You have never tried the gritty mix? Where did you find your turface, grit and bark? How did you mix it? Did you sift your ingredients to the right size? Did you ask for support when tried to understand how it worked and did you give it a chance with all the wonderful support here. Did you use wooden dowels? What size pots did you use? What type of plants? Did you fill in around the root ball? Did you make sure you soaked the bark first?

In the whole time I have been here, for years that is, I have never seen you post a picture it or your experiences with the actual 1.1.1 gritty mix?

Where was I?

Please, direct me to a post or thread where you have used the gritty mix, the one I use exactly the way I use it, please. Please.,let me see?

I never had the problems that you keep suggesting that many will on many occasions. In fact, I can help you to be successful at using it like I have been.
In fact you will be amazed at how much moisture it holds if you make it the way I do.
I would love to see your plants in the past, in the gritty mix.

I have seen your pretty orchids in bark and plants in dirt mixes, but never the gritty. I guess you are suggesting it does not work through experience, so please, let me see.

I have many friends here, including friends of mine here that do not use bagged mixes and try to help those that do, but none of them have have ever tried to deny the benefits of the gritty mix that have never grown in it. So if you have, please share.

I can't wait to see! I had no idea you were a gritty mix user at one time

Mike


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RE: GGritty mix all the rage?

Wait Jane:

I was so excited hearing that you used the gritty mix, that I posted a sentence wrong. My bad...

I have many friends here that do not use the gritty mix, but only bagged and amended bagged mixes that try to help others that do too, but none of the same friends have ever tried to deny the benefits of the gritty mix to others, unless they have grown in the gritty mix and failed for some odd reason which is rare. Better........

Joe: It is the concept of using the gritty mix and the science behind it that allows one to be very flexible with it.

In fact, I use the gritty mix in a 1.1.1 ratio and have no problems with it drying out every day except for in very small clay pots, especially if I did not soak the bark ahead of time. I don't mind watering them more often. The mix holds much more moisture than you might think most times.

Now if you want the gritty mix to stay moist longer, all you have to do is increase the turface for more water retention and some will take that chance, learning how to work with what will be a PWT in their containers. The more turface, the more PWT.
I personally have plants that I can't afford to grow in pots with a perched water table, so I don't mind watering more often, and not every day on most. In fact I have some plants planted in the 1.1.1 mix that can go a week without water or more.

I do use the 5.1.1 mix which does hold moisture longer on some plants, and yet it does break down a lot faster which is a disadvantage, but I don't mind using it on short term plantings and or 'average' houseplants.

Both are great, one holds moisture a bit longer than another depending how you sifted, particle sizes, and how much water retentive material you used. But one will be durable a whole lot longer than another. A matter of personal preference I guess.

Good luck with your choice!:-)

Great question since I at one time wondered the same thing.

Mike


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Hey, Joe! Welcome back!

Several folks have adapted to the gritty mix 'recipes', but it's not required for healthy plants. I used to use my own version until I got sick and tired of hunting down the assorted ingredients. Now, I'm 'FREE at last' (yay!) and am using a terrific bagged medium that one of my locally owned garden centers keeps in stock for me (and others).

It's very coarse textured, as bark is the primary ingredient, so is well drained while holding appropriate moisture levels.

Should you be interested in knowing more about the product, just contact me off forum. I hate to keep spouting about this particular name brand in the forums for fear someone is going to accuse me of selling the darned stuff!


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Thanks for the response. The 5-1-1 mix is i made is exactly for what you said...."average" plants, like chinese evergreens, pothos, and my lucky bamboo, which likes to be moist, I mean, heck, they grow in pure water. I also put my pachira in the 5-1-1, because it's a thirsty son of a gun. Basically any plant that even in Miracle Grow I had trouble keeping watered, will get the 5-1-1, and the succulents or others that don't soak up a lot, will get the gritty mix. The reason I have problems keeping some plants watered is my abundant sun, and of course the dry house syndrom. I've got pine bark, I found a place with turface MVP, #2 Cherrystone grit, and gypsum. My Foliage Pro 9-3-6 is in transit as well, so I am gonna be cookin' with crisco by this weekend!


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

I am not going to suggest what to use, I am going to tell you what I have been using the past 20 years at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino Calif. Our temps may go as high as 110F or more in the summer months, I worked in the Cactus and Succulents department and we used one mix for every thing, 60 percent pumice 30 percent coarse washed construction sand/gravel, 10 percent organic. we are planning to go all pumice. In the winter we have no losses on the outside plant that are in 4- to l4+ inches, the ones in the heated greenhouses do well also. They harden up better and can take more cold. We need to water once a week thoroughly and in really hot weather perhaps spry them down to cool off the pots which are platic. In the Winter we water very seldom, but then again this is the mix we use for cactus and succulents. I'm not making any suggestions here, our curator has good common sense, and is starting to go to all pumice. We have 10,000 plants in our collections. We seldom change the mix for special plants. We make our own mix. I mix mine own as well. I also use a chop stick to measure the soil dampness 3/4 the way down on each size of pot. Experiement and see what is best for your growing conditions. Norma


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Hey Joe:

You had asked about the gritty mix and the 5.1.1 mix in particular in your post, and hopefully you got some sound advice on which one to use and have great success with it! Al made some very good points and summed it all very well.
By the way, my plants don't dry up either unless I forget to water them.lol The same was true of me using any type of mix in the past.
I check my pots regularly now, from the smallest, all the way to the biggest. That I do everyday, since it is a must when growing dozens upon dozens of plants that can dry out at different intervals on any particular day anyway.

I didn't see you ask what type of soil to use other than the gritty or the 5.1.1 and that is why I didn't suggest other types.

If you had asked what type of mix to use because you would not be using any either of the two mixes you mentioned, then I would of recommended something like the ' Farfrad' brand which I find works well for many that for some reason do not use the mixes I do, do not have the time to make it, or for other reasons.
In fact, I still use the 'Farfard' mix on a couple of my ordinary plants, a pothos being one of them, easily replaceable and in many of my veggie containers, although to me, it can not compare to the gritty mix.

I especially like the 'nursery mix', in particular. It is composed of mostly bark. That is the one many of my friends and I use for short term plantings that seems to work well.

Hi Norma, Rhizo, and Al!!!:-) God to see you and have a great day.

MIke


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

I wouldn't necessarily term a grittier, larger particulate as "all the rage". That would hint at it being a fad. Pet Rocks were once "all the rage", but because they're just rocks, the fad swiftly faded.

I would term the concept of a grittier, larger particulate as scientifically sound, fully supported by evidence, and validated by mass use. It's definitely not a fad, but a concept that actually works.

With literally thousands of rave reviews and thank yous to Al, both publicly and privately, I find it difficult to believe that only one or two growers have unsolvable issues using the Gritty Mix. I'm left feeling that there's much more to the story, and indeed, a small amount of research would indicate there is.

The Gritty Mix and the 511 each have their own purpose. The 511 is generally used outdoors, for shorter term plantings, or where more moisture retention might be required.

The Gritty Mix is usually used indoors, or for longer term plantings... although, by virtue of its ingredients and their properties, can be easily adjusted for more or less moisture retention as needed.

If a grower understands the concept of each mix, and understands what each ingredient used brings to each mix, there shouldn't be a problem choosing the right mix for the individual situation.

As example, if I were to grow tomatoes in a large container outdoors, I'd choose the 511. It has the capacity to hold enough moisture for thirsty tomato plants, and I'd only be using it for one growing season. With outdoor conditions of full sun and possible winds, I need the moisture retention, but I also want the fast draining properties. I get both with the 511.

For all of my indoor plants, which vary by type and variety, I use the Gritty Mix. I will not be re-potting for at least 2 years, possibly even 3, and I need a medium that will retain its aeration for at least that long, being durable enough to avoid compaction.

I can easily adjust the amount of moisture retained in the Gritty Mix by adjusting the amount of turface I include by ratio. It's really that simple. Turface retains an incredible amount of moisture... more than you'd think, really.

Any adjustments in watering will depend upon your individual situation. For me, it was learning that the Gritty Mix actually held enough moisture that I didn't have to water as often as I thought. For others, the adjustment might be different.

The best way to "adjust" is to learn exactly when each container needs watering, and what constitutes proper watering. A good way to test the medium for needed moisture is to use the wooden skewer method so frequently spoken of within the various forums.

I wouldn't use something just because it was all the rage, or the fad of the moment... I use the grittier mediums because I know what the purposes of a medium are, I understand the concepts behind the grittier mixes, I realize how logical and scientifically sound they are, and my experiences with them tell me I'm on the right track.

And with such a varied and generous support group offering help at every turn, there's really no reason why anyone who wants to succeed using a larger particulate should fail... unless they don't bother to seek help, or don't grasp the concept of using a grittier, larger particled medium.


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Joe, you've made the correct choice: Gritty Mix for the succulents.

Please don't think that you'll be watering every day or every other day....
unless you intend to grow your plants in a thimble! ;-)

I have an appreciable Jade collection, in a variety of containers, and all are growing in
gritty mediums. I also use several substitutes, such a pumice and perlite, but the emphasis
is always on proper screening and rinsing to ensure appropriate particle size.

Let me say again: it is not true that gritty mixes must be watered every day.


Josh


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

I definitely agree that they do not have to be watered everyday. The Turface component holds only a LOT of water. The bark will dry out first, and in a dry home and a plant with a lot of roots, that might happen quickly. But, I have some plants in a gritty mix that I water weekly.

If you are in a place that is very dry and you have huge roots, which succulents tend not to have, you could be dry in a day. But, then you could also modify the gritty mix to have a bit more bark or Turface so it would stay damp, say, every other day. Or even add a fraction of peat, keeping it under 20-25%.

I do want to emphasize, though, that the gritty mix can fool you. It will "look" dry at the top, but it isn't. Always use a wick or a wooden/bamboo skewer/stick at first to test it to know when it's not damp any longer. Of course, it depends on root volume, dryness of the are, etc., but I've found it to still have water in it way past when I thought it was dry.


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Joe:

I wanted to post some pictures just for you to understand what I mean and to show you my experience in using the mix you mix for plants I think you are concerned about. If in any way it helps you , I am happy.
As a gritty mix user, I don't think I would ever come here and tell you that you have to use it or anyone else for that matter. What I can do is share my experience without the science, which is always valuable in my eyes, this time, and just have fun showing you the great benefits I receive from growing in the mixes you addressed and the issues I had growing in ways I once only knew of. My goal is to see you succeed to the best that you can.:-)

Here is some jade pics for you in shallow containers planted in the 1.1.1 gritty mix. I also posted a couple of plants in the 'Farfard' mix and some in the 5.1.1 mix for comparisons... Notice too that there are many leaves that are rooting on top. If the gritty mix dried out as fast as a minute few seem to keep saying, this would not be possible.

These ones, the Jades in particular, I only have to water once a week if that, even in hot sun. But here is the other benefit to it! If is should rain everyday, they don't mind it at all!

Notice this one in a very shallow pot. Cuttings that are well hydrated only watered once a week lately even in full sunny windows.

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Some other Jades in bigger pots, although the pots can be small for their size in the gritty mix and doing great with watering only once a week now that the sun is hot, and once every couple of weeks if that in winter.

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I suppose I could use another more water retentive mix, but they seem to thrive much better for me in the gritty mix.

Now here are a couple plants that are still in bagged mixes and amended bagged mixes.

Here is a GREAT point Joe.
I have noticed that many say the gritty mix dries out or drains to fast, which is just not true in my case if used and or made correctly, but I have noticed that the plants I have not yet changed out of the bagged mixes do dry out VERY rapidly, like everyday, and if I don't catch it, the peat moss mix hardens, pulls away from the pot, and repels watering just like that! In fact, it is worst than the mixes I use. At least the gritty mix and the 5..1.1 mix moistens right away and stays in the pot. For me, it is very forgiving.

Here are some examples of plants yet to be re-potted in smaller pots I have to water EVERYDAY..lol Also, notice decreased vitality on my plants in these mixes due to drying again and again in inability for the roots to get watered properly. Once the roots are damaged, they do not take up water, even leaving the mix in pots as small as that damp for days, until the roots recover and by then, it is usually too late.
And mind you, they are in almost tight pots as recommended by many bagged mixed growers and never over watered.

My geraniums

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Here is one that will not take to watering well that is still in a bagged mix because the water just runs out from the sides.

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Here is a geranium I planted into the 5.1.1 mix weeks ago when it stared to decline, and it has responded very well. This is what I plan on doing for my others as soon as the weather cooperates. This one was bought at the same time as the others and grew at a much faster rate once I opened the soil using the 5.1.1 mix.

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Now here is a 'pothos' and a 'rubber plant' I think, that to me are just ordinary and I could care less what they grow in. They are in the 'Farfard' mix and doing quite well thus far. They have only been in it for 6 months and now due for another transplant before their demise. I will do this though, since I really don't like loosing any plant using 'Farfard' mix once again, saving my gritty mix and the 5.1.1 mixes for my most special plants.

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I hope I was able to help you stayed focused on your question and enlightened you a bit. There are many various reasons why a mix will dry out so fast, and as I have learned, even a very heavy peat based mix is not immune either. Neither are bagged mixes exempt from water running fast out of the bottom, especially if one lets them dry out to much. The gritty mix is much more forgiving as is the 5.1.1. Why anyone would would steer one away from using these mixes if they are interested in beyond me:-(

Thank goodness for forums like these where many are not deterred to share science, facts, experiences , and success behind their plants and are certainly appreciated for all they do. I will always be indebted to the ones that helped me understand the science behinds container growing and you know who you are, just as much as I am to those here who understand trees and pests.

Joe, there is a great bunch of people here willing to support you in your endeavors to grow in the mixes that you are particularly concerned about and I am honored to be of help to you too.

Got to run:-)

Mike


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Hi Joe. You live in a cold climate, as do I. Keeping plants hydrated indoors with central heating is a challenge during winter. Of course, if you are lucky to grow in a basement,a greenhouse or some other room where humidity can be controlled, a grit-mix would not dry out as quickly.

I think it is important to recognize the growing zones of people who post advice. Equally important is greenhouse vs. livingroom. Although helpful, they don't share the growing difficulties faced by those of us growing in the cold, dry north in our livingrooms. It is important that people post their growing zones so home growers can filter the information.

Lathyrus suggestion of some additional peat could help with the drying issues in winter. I add sphagnum moss to many of my orchids during winter to prevent the roots from drying out and dying during the winter months. It helps to hold some moisture and prevents the bark from drying out so quickly. I remove it in Spring when humidity levels increase.

Greenhouse growing is a totally different experience and has little in common to growing in a living room. I would have to agree, in large scale growing of 1000's of plants, an inorganic mix makes sense. With high humidity and warm temps, plants would do well in a grit-type mix. Breakdown of media would not occur and would save both time and money. Unfortunately, that is not the environment of a home grower.

Please keep us all updated.

Jane


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Last I checked, 3 out of the 4 helping here are in cold climates! oh and the 4th, gets his share of cold and snow
and rain.

JoJo


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Hey Joe..I forgot to let you know. Just in case you or anyone is interested.

All my plants are scattered about the house, work, pop up greenhouse, basement, living room, outside, and in all different locals.
I can assure you I do not live in a greenhouse, although I wish, or in a perfect environment.

Many are grown in sunny windows, under lights, in the hot/cold sun, and in very dry conditions while some in more humid ones. Many are grown in big windows and little windows and no windows at all.

In other words, these mixes are so versatile, that any plant would do well anywhere if growing in these mixes with responsibility of course.

I have friends that use the gritty mix in HOT Arizona, to the Tropics, in the local schools without humidity to a local greenhouse with lot's of it.

Some use the mix in low light conditions all the way up to very bright light conditions.

This mix is so versatile, that it adapts to its surroundings better than a chameleon does!

Thank goodness for the hard work put behind this mix and for it's versatility! It is a God send!

Just the fact that I have friends around the world growing in very different environments having great success, is enough proof for me.
I have noticed and have been very perceptive over the years here to see that most of the people I know growing in the gritty mix in particular, are from all parts of the globe! Yahoo:-)

Have great day Joe:-)

I must move on to help others now and I wish you all the best.

Remember that the mixes you mentioned can be a great tool in your arsenal to fight off many bad issues that come up with the mixes that once failed others, while at the same time grow in your pleasurable experience at being more successful.
But it is up to the individual grower to be responsible in use of these tools and how to work them properly, and for the choices we make to decide for ourselves what is best for our............

Mike:-)


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RE::: Gritty mix all the rage?

Correction...
The 3 helping here are in cold climates! The 4th who has been helping Joe in other threads is also. Unless my friends moved and didn't tell me. Most also have their zones listed. No one is trying to hide anything!

If they aren't sharing difficulties, it's because they have none! They're not using fancy greenhouses. Unless you consider a small pop up one.

Plants are scattered among their homes in window sills and such.

It's been stated plenty that the gritty mix does not need watered every day!

I have succulents that go a week, I have a desert rose, and pineapple , only water them once a week, bulbs... and more. All doing well! Indoors!

You want to talk about dry , i'm in Arizona! Humidity is a whole 18% right now. If were lucky 21 tonight.

Joe~
I can assure you, If a mix is suggest as a good choice for what you need, then it is.
The only thing we gain, if you choose the gritty mix is the joy of knowing you will be happy and your plants will be Healthy and Vibrant!

You've seen pictures, Mike posted some great ones! The mix does work well!

If you have questions, they will be answered honestly! We have nothing to hide and only want to see other growers succeed .

There is no truth to some of what keeps being repeated lately.

We do not hide downfalls, and it does not need watered every day. It does not flood out everywhere and make messes if done right.

If you do a simple search you will find endless posts and pictures from very happy growers using these mixes.

If you want/need help with that Jade, Mike and Josh are 2 great guys that can help you.

JoJo


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

I live in the Midwest, Central Illinois, gardening zone 5b, to be exact... a very similar environment to New York, zone 5-6... it's cold and dry outside throughout most of winter, and drier inside than is preferable for human existence, let alone for plant existence and preference!

And I have to say, straight up, if I can successfully grow so many varied plant types in mediums of larger particulate, there's absolutely no reason why anyone can't. It's a complete myth that the Gritty Mix requires daily watering. Anyone who says this obviously has not had experience with the Gritty Mix. It's a very telling statement/excuse.

I think it is very prudent to remember that while the top layer of medium in any planting will dry out first, varying amounts of moisture will still be available deep within the pot, down toward the center of the root ball, or root zone.

Another thing many people do not realize is that what feels dry to our human sense of touch, might still contain varying amounts of moisture in vapor form, which still leaves moisture available to the plants' roots.

If I'm not certain whether a plant needs watering... meaning it feels dry to my sense of touch, but there's a slight question of whether it actually is dry, I wait a day... just to be sure. I don't want to over-saturate my plants.

I even grow my Orchids in the Gritty Mix... quite successfully, I might add. I use it for cacti, Crassula, Plumeria, Amaryllids of all varieties, Hoya, and every other plant type I grow indoors. Each plant type is in a slightly different version, but the concept remains the same.

What we each grow in, or why we choose a particular medium, remain individual choices... however, people don't usually make choices based on nothing... people don't choose something without having a reason for doing so. Hopefully, they research their choices, and through that bit of study, they are able to see what makes sense, and what doesn't quite add up.


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

I have a snake plant that I transferred to the gritty mix in January. I find I have been watering about once a week, although I suspect I could wait longer. I should note that I used diatomaceous earth instead of Turface, which I understand increases the water retention.


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 29, 11 at 16:34

Joe - as objective and true as I can make it: You have a multitude of people growing in the gritty mix, the number grows by the day. The same thing is happening on other garden forum sites. The people using it are overwhelmingly positive and excited about it, sharing it with others. You can do your own look-around over on the container forum and see how many absolutely love it.

On the other hand, you have a tiny but vocal minority of people who haven't used it, or claim to have used "some version" of it, who follow the topic from thread to thread with the express purpose of trying to prevent others from taking advantage of the mix whenever the topic comes up - as in your thread. As I pointed out, at the same time these few are denying the merits of a soil, they are embracing the concept behind it, by trying to 'fix' their own soils, often with exactly the same ingredients used in the 5:1:1 mix or gritty mix, but in different proportions.

If we take everyone at their word, that the few really have tried the soil and really are having issues, the odds are that if a thousand, or even a hundred growers offer glowing reports about a concept or soil, and 1 or 2 just can't seem to get it to work for them, it's not a problem with the soil - perhaps with how it's made or what it's made from ..... but I can assure you that growing doesn't get much easier than in a well-made gritty mix. In the same vein, when hundreds of growers come to the houseplant forum with issues related to over-watering, accumulating salts, and compaction, it should tell us that the soils they are using are inappropriately matched to the plant material or their growing habits. It makes perfect sense to adopt a brand/type of soil that allows you to water freely at will, maintain aeration for the life of the planting, and prevent salts from accumulating. Why would anyone ever, under any circumstances, want to hold someone back from attempting to improve their chances for success?

It might initially be a pain to assemble the ingredients and make the soil, and you can decide how much effort you'd like to go to, but once you get started with it, the odds overwhelmingly favor the probability that you'll like it.

Personally, I'm not afraid of a little extra effort, and find making soils as satisfying as some people find baking their own bread or making their own wine, but that's only a small part of why I make them. I simply find it much, much easier to produce perfectly happy, healthy plants with no concern for root issues or salt build-up when I use a soil with no, or a minimal PWT. Soggy soils kill roots. Eliminate the sogginess, roots get happy. Happy roots = happy plants. There may be a lot of underlying science for those who DO wish to understand the concept in depth, but ultimately, it really is about as simple as ABC.

Al


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

Wow, I would never have thought that I'd check this one after work today and find this many replies. I thank you all for sharing your opinions and experiences with me. I am going to indeed try out this gritty mix, and have all the goods except the granite, which the store I thought had it didn't, but I'll find it. Thanks again everyone!


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RE: Gritty mix all the rage?

You're most welcome, Joe! We want to see you succeed! If at any point you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask... there's a fabulous group of folks here, ready and willing to offer all the support you could ever want! :-)

Knowledge is truly the key to success, and we're more than happy to share our knowledge and experiences. You'll notice that many of us feel very strongly about using and supporting a more durable, free draining way of growing containerized plants. Once it all comes together for you, I can almost bet you'll feel the same!


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