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gritty mix?

Posted by amber_m 5 (ambermcmyne@yahoo.com) on
Mon, May 21, 12 at 17:28

where/how do i find the recipe for al's gritty mix? i bought some miracle grow soil and its horrible when it comes to being so heavy and holding moisture for too long... and i keep reading peoples posts here and there mentioning the gritty mix, i would love to be in the know with that. any help is greatly appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: gritty mix?

Do a search on these forums of "gritty mix" and you'll find a TON of information. That'd be much easier than explaining it from scratch.

Joe


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RE: gritty mix?

ok thank you


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RE: gritty mix?

The heaviness of pure potting soil is why people who use it often suggest adding 1/2 perlite.

You'll find a ton of opinions on which medium is best in these forums. I use 1/2 perlite and 1/2 Miracle Gro and my plants are as happy and healthy as anyone else's.

Many people use the gritty mix with equally happy, healthy plants and you might find it is more right for you than what I or others use. There are some really nice plants growing in gritty mix.

Good luck,

Linda


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RE: gritty mix?

i think the gritty mix may be too advanced for me to try and make, i dont know what half the stuff is... so i think ill just mix some perlite into my soil. thanks!


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RE: gritty mix?

Gritty mix is not all that complicated, and with a few phone calls, you can find the ingredients easily. The major advantage that it has over adding perlite to MG, is that the gritty mix will not break down. Any peat based mix like MG will break down rather quickly, leaving you with a soupy mess. Adding something like perlite to a mix that doesn't drain well is like adding stones to pudding; it won't do much because the poorly draining mix will just surround the perlite, rendering it useless.

Now, the gritty mix also has disadvantages, but are the price you pay for healthier plants. Gritty mix requires more attention to watering, as well as fertilizing. You'll need a complete fertilizer, one that has ALL trace elements, in addition to the major ones. Gritty mix ingredients are harder to find than a bag of MG, but, as I said, if you actually try, you WILL find the stuff you need. It is not as complicated as it sounds, and the rewards are worth the effort.

Note that people have been growing plants successfully for ages with Miracle Grow, including myself. However, from experience, I can tell you that once I switched to gritty mix, my plants have done FAR better, especially succulents. Note though that I no longer use the bark in my gritty mix, allowing me to reuse my mix over and over, and also providing a tidier appearance. Don't give up before you even try!

Joe


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RE: gritty mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, May 21, 12 at 22:07

I gave up long ago, trying to amend sols like MG and others. The key is developing a mix from predominantly larger particles so you can take advantage of superior aeration and reduced perched water (sogginess). The factor that has the most sway over whether or not you'll be able to keep plants healthy is the combination of soil choice/watering habits. You'll also find that, especially for beginners, the more aeration your soil has, and the better it drains, the less critical watering habits become. Probably 9 of 10 problems growers come to the forums seeking help for can be traced back to soil choice, so if you're looking for a good place to invest some time learning, learning about how soils work and the potential they have to impact your growing experience is a very good place to start.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: More here if you're interested


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RE: gritty mix?

In all my years on the various Garden Web Forums I have never seen people who are as intolerant of the practices of others as some who advocate the "gritty mix." Not directly, mind you, but by the language they use.

Absolutely, peat-based products do break down. But those who find themselves with a "soupy mess" have more problems with their growing practices than just broken down peat. Apparently I have never had perlite surrounded by "poorly draining mix" because my mix has always drained quite well.

I am happy for those who find mixes other than those amended with perlite work well for them. I am unhappy with those who cannot advocate their choices without without using phrases such as "soupy mess" and "like adding stones to pudding" (don't really get that analogy) when addressing other options.

I appreciate the way A1 explained why he believes in the gritty mix for newbies. And he is absolutely correct, the more you know the better informed you are to make choices ... whether others make the same ones or not.

Gesneriad growers (including African violets) have used peat-based products amended with perlite for longer than I've been alive to grow award-winning plants. I can assure you that would not be so if the medium was such a poor choice.

Respectfully,

Linda


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RE: gritty mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, May 22, 12 at 8:15

I think, in fairness, that while 'soupy mess' may not be the best choice of words in this discussion, it is a phrase I've heard often by people who were currently growing in soils like MG, and by growers other than Joe who have switched from peaty soils to soils based on bark or other large particulates - soils like the 5:1:1 or gritty mix. I don't use that term because despite my strong affinity for well-aerated soils I do try to remain objective, and I think it's our perspective that determines whether or not you look at the term 'soupy mess' as smacking of gamesmanship. I'd rather avoid that aspect in trying to communicate and rely on facts, reason, and the support of others who also have found refuge from most of their growing problems in a well-aerated and free-draining soil.

Also, the gamesmanship cuts both ways. Soil discussions haven't been contentious lately, but they often turn that way because of the tremendous amount of distortion and number of specious arguments brought to the discussion and applied illogically . I always hate to see discussions go down that path because no one ever wins.

I'm perfectly happy to accept that someone may not want to change habits. It's all the same to me. All I want to ensure is that the playing field is level and that accurate & honest information gets in the hands of those who will be making a decision about their soils. Beyond that, I could care less what someone uses. I do want everyone to have the best opportunity to bring along plants as close as possible to their potential, and have helped thousands of folks learn to do that, but if someone is the least resistant to taking on the task of making their own soils, I never push. All the long, drawn out, and sometimes heated discussions about soils usually center entirely on trying to undo intentionally sown misinformation. FWIW - I'm not even hinting that that's been the case in this thread. I much prefer light to heat.

I'll admit (sorry Joe) that I looked at the 'soupy mess' comment and wondered if it would be an issue; but it's easier for me to cut Joe a break because I know where he came from, and by his posts, how much contrast he's seen between how he grows now as compared to when he was using other types of media. I think too, that the rest of his post was well-balanced and on target, noting things that need to be addressed when using the fast-draining soils and acknowledging that you CAN grow healthy plants in MG, but from his experience you can do much better in a soil like he and a lot of others are using.

I also think that adding perlite to fine potting soils reduces o/a water retention, but as soon as the particles of peat filter into the spaces between the perlite particles with a few waterings, the properties of aeration, flow-through rates, and the ht of the perched water table remain essentially unchanged. If those are the properties we're trying to improve, I think we can do it much more effectively/efficiently by basing our soils on large fractions (80%+) of material coarser than peat or compost; which in my mind, makes the pudding/stones analogy appropriate as a very good way to crystallize in the mind's eye, the relationship created by mixing large/small particles.

When it's all said and done, there is little question in my mind that the OP would have a much easier time of bringing along healthy plants in a well-aerated, free-draining soil that holds very little perched water than she would in MG soil or MG soil amended with perlite. Most of us are doing 'something' to our bagged soils in an effort to improve them, which says that most of us recognize them as inherently flawed. Some growers are happy stopping half-way up the mountain, and others strive for the pinnacle. I think if we just recognize that fact and let the OP decide, all will be well.

Take care.

Al


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RE: gritty mix?

The "soupy mess" comment comes from personal experience, because I have found that to be the end result of peat moss. Peat moss breaks down into fine particles, and when wet, has the consistancy of a thick soup, and is quite messy. A "soupy mess" is what I used to find in my plants that were in Miracle Grow, which was wet of course. I am no plant expert by any means, and speak from my experiences and observations. I also don't sugar coat anything; I tell it how I see it. I am not, however, intolerant of the practices of others. I offer my suggestions with the intent to help others, and inform them of how those suggestions have worked out for me. After I post, I close the window out and go do something else, not at all concerned whether someone chooses to go along with my suggestions or not. So, all in all, I am very tolerant of other people's practices, because it has zero effect on me. I am also tolerant of people's phrases and words, and am not going to throw a hissy fit when something as minor as "soupy mess" or "stones in pudding" is said. Life is too short to get upset over postings on the internet, especially when they are concerning potting mix.

But, to keep with the topic, I'll say it again, I have grown successfully for ages with Miracle Grow, and still do so with the typical annual plants on the deck outside. However, for my indoor plants, I strived for more, which led me to gritty mix. Since then, as noted above, I have seen a vast improvement in plant health and vigor. The biggest improvement in my opinion would be with succulents, notably jades. I no longer have to worry about the water repelling, rock hard layer of roots and peat at the soil surface (just a description, so don't take offense now). I'll also note my new found success with the desert rose, a plant which troubled me before my days of gritty mix. I think I've stated my case about why I like the gritty type mixes, and as Al got around to, it's up to the individual to chose whether to take it or leave it.

Joe


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RE: gritty mix?

thank you everyone for your opinions and all the new info. i do believe that one day down the road i will have the time to make the gritty mix and will do so. for now thought i am living on a VERY tight budget, i am a stay at home mother of two young children and my husband works full time. so i think that adding perlite into the soil i already have is 1: going to save me some money 2: save me some time because i really dont have the time to mess around with it too much 3: save me a fight with my husband. my husband is already fed up with me having plants, they are only a "hobbie" to him and he thinks i should find a less expensive one, so asking him to pay for all the stuff to make the gritty mix will not go over well. also i dont have the time right now to figure out the appropriate watering and feeding schedule with the gritty mix, im sure you are thinking that it wouldnt take much time to learn but some days the only time i have with my plants is to run around and water quickly. i feel sometimes that im raising two kids on my own because the last thing my husband wants to do when hes done with work is help out much. i really did not want to start such a spat between everyone with my question, i just wanted to know what went into the gritty mix so i would know if it was something i could take on at this time, and its not. no matter what i will not let my husband kill my love of my plants but i have to sacrifice some things to make him ok with it, and if that means just sticking to the easiest fix i see right now which is just buying a bag of perlite than thats what im gonna do. again thank you very much for all your coments and thoughts, i think both sides are right in their own views, no one has a WRONG way of doing things, they are just different and what is best for that person. so what is best for me is just keeping the soil i have, adding a bag of perlite and repotting with it. again, thanks everyone.


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RE: gritty mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, May 22, 12 at 19:28

Best luck to you, Amber.

If you find yourself wishing for better drainage, there is a thread that is focused on helping people deal with more water retention than they want. There are some good tips in it that may not be something that immediately comes to mind as potentially remedial. If you have the time & inclination .... see below.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Dealing with excess water retention.


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RE: gritty mix?

thank you al, you have been quite a help and i definatly someday soon will take on making my own mix, its just a little too much for me to do right now. and i know the mix is quite easy, i looked up everything online and priced it and its all available at my local lowes but i can not justify to my husband right now why the soil that we just purchased isint working right, he will say dirt is dirt and leave it at that. i think for now what i have is my best option, but i do want to thank you for taking the time to educate me. i fine you are a great well of knowledge and i was just reading a post you posted back in like 08 about neem oil. i know that if there is anything that i need to know full about, not just opinions, then you are one to turn to. i read as much as possible so even if im not going to be doing anything right away i still take the time to read it and study it so that when the time comes i have lots more knowledge about the subject. thank you again for posting so much information on here, its wonderful having all that info to turn to when your a noobie like me. ;)


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RE: gritty mix?

If you're going to make do with a bagged potting mix, I'd recommend that you start with
70 - 80 percent coarse Perlite, and then add about 20 percent potting soil.


Josh


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RE: gritty mix?

ok thank you, thats what its probably gonna come out to after i get a bag of perlite and mix it with my remaining soil, probably 70 perlite 30 soil


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