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RE: Share Gritty mix (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: hanzrobo on 02.11.2014 at 11:15 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

I don't believe the "gritty mix" of legend is appropriate for most succulents. You can make a great mix with 5 ingredients, all available at Lowe's or Home Depot. This recipe is lovingly referred to as "Mabel Mix" in small circles and coveted by knowledgeable, long-term growers. It creates a happy, comfortable home for roots and also has the great qualities of drainage and aeration that we depend upon.

35-40% MiracleGro Moisture Control mix or other low-bark mix (sift out bark) NO BARK! seriously, people, OMG.
15-20% Washed Sand - believe it!
5-10% Vermiculite
30% Perlite
10-15%Volcanic Pumice

I give loose numbers because firstly, I mix by sight and feel, secondly the mix is adjustable to your conditions.
Indoor?- more grit
Outdoor?- more grit
Greenhouse?- less grit
Dry climate?- less grit
Damp climate?- more grit
Mesemb? - less grit
Aloe? more grit, etc...

I bought into the gritty mix hype a few years ago. I've spent the last year removing plants from that terrible stuff. It tortures root systems and creates the need for almost constant watering. A handful of easy species will thrive in it and the rest will suffer. Every plant I remove from the gritty and repot in my current mix improves within weeks. I honestly don't know how this mix caught on in the first place. Its inadequacy becomes apparent over time.

Another simple and superior solution is just to buy bagged cactus mix and add about 50% grit to it. I prefer a certain ratio of perlite to pumice but some people only use pumice. Either way is safe and you'll find out what works best for you over time.

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clipped on: 02.12.2014 at 01:02 pm    last updated on: 02.12.2014 at 01:02 pm

RE: Ordering seeds from Mesa Garden (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: hanzrobo on 01.03.2014 at 09:39 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

There's a blue link towards the bottom of their front page that takes you to the Card Payment Form. You can calculate your total and send payment but some seed might not be available, then they'll either contact you to credit your card back or substitute something. They are very professional but also very busy so it helps to make your order very clear. You don't need to list the price or description of the seed. All you need to give them is the catalog number and how many you want. Use the letter H for packs of 100, X for smaller packets. 2X = 2 small packets when lots of 100 are not offered. It should look like this:

1550 - H
1573 - 2X
1591 - X

It just makes it easier for them to print and read your order. Good luck with your sowing!

Here is a link that might be useful: Mesa Garden Secure Credit Card Payment Form

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clipped on: 01.04.2014 at 01:33 am    last updated on: 01.04.2014 at 01:34 am

RE: Starting lithops seeds--did I do right? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: hanzrobo on 02.20.2013 at 10:09 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Hey Rick! Did you ever get that Epi pollinated?

The good news about your Lithops is that if you got 50% germination, you're doing something right. I'm coming to realize that the mix you start them in doesn't need to be that different from the mix you grow them in. I've been changing my Mesemb soil formula lately, mainly adding sand. I found some coarse all purpose sand the other day that's perfect. I'm not going to get into methods because I'm still working on mine but I can tell you this. Steven Hammer has progressed into sowing multiple species in flat square trays. It's maybe 2.5" of very sandy, gritty soil. He says the shallowness of the tray allows him to water them as much as he wants, and it's working great. Also, he no longer sterilizes his soil. The more organic matter you have in your soil (bark, peat) the more susceptible you are to dampness, and algae.
It sounds like you've been pretty careful with the misting. You can keep them damp about 6 days/week and on the 7th day... He let them dry out. After drying out, give a good soak. Be sensitive to weather. If it's damp and foggy, don't water. If it's hot, dry, windy... get out there and save your babies!!! You can stop doting over them so much after about 16-18 months, just like a real baby:)

My new soil...

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clipped on: 02.20.2013 at 11:46 pm    last updated on: 02.20.2013 at 11:46 pm

RE: i need good grit (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: hanzrobo on 02.14.2013 at 12:51 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

I'm coming up on my 3rd year of seed sowing. I slightly altered my mix the second year and I'm planning on changing it again this year. My mix is a combination of bagged cactus soil (anything but MG but I've actually moved to a higher quality brand, E.B. Stone), quality seed starting mix, coco peat, horticultural sand, volcanic pumice, Napa floor-dry, perlite, vermiculite and clay dirt. I also like to throw a little kelp meal in for light feeding. I can't give you ratios since I mix by sight and feel.

This year I'll be using less organic material (bark, dirt and peat) and more sand including the new addition of washed playground sand which I've already been using in my Mesemb mix. I can just feel many of you getting ready to say something against sand but guess what?... Rian uses it and so does Steven Hammer. In a controlled environment with careful watering, sand is fine and many root systems love it.

Your seed mix should be gritty enough for aeration and drainage but should also have enough fines to stay wet for a while between waterings. My reason for using more sand and less organics is to, hopefully, avoid algae forming where it stays moist 90% of the time. A method that works for me is to fill the pot with soil then use a sifter to sprinkle a thin layer of fines over the top. This gives a nice, even surface and prevents your seeds from washing down. I set my pots in water, letting them wick up the moisture until saturated. I also add labels at this point as to not disturb the soil after sowing. When it's ready, I try to evenly sprinkle my seeds on top and then add a fine layer of horticultural sand to just hug and cover the seeds, not to bury them. I use germination trays but lots of people use baggies. I keep the trays in a place where they warm up with morning sun but stay shaded after that with ambient heat. Average germination time is 5-7 days but some can take much longer. Patience is key.

Again, I've had decent results but I'm still learning and my methods could change drastically in the next few years. I have a completely different mix I'm planning on using next time I sow Aloes... we'll save that for later.

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clipped on: 02.14.2013 at 10:48 pm    last updated on: 02.14.2013 at 10:49 pm

Mesemb to ID plz~Rian, Ryan, anyone?

posted by: rosemariero6 on 02.10.2013 at 03:58 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

At SDCSS show yesterday, a friend & I came across this mesemb in a mixed bowl (so no ID). We would like to know what it is, only figuring it is a mesemb! Ha ha!

Rian, Ryan, or anyone else know or want to take a crack at it?

 photo DSC_4508mesemb4IDshowplantReggie_zps8624f98f.jpg

Thanks for your help!
Rosemarie/RoRo/Roma

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clipped on: 02.11.2013 at 01:03 pm    last updated on: 02.11.2013 at 01:03 pm