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RE: Turface seems small...? (Follow-Up #29)

posted by: cebury on 06.14.2010 at 02:02 pm in Citrus Forum

Mandarin, I didn't read all the threads here, but yeah Turface has a very large percentage of "fines", especially if you sift with the slightly larger #10 mesh screen. Using that screen, which is what Tapla uses, yields 60% waste (each bag can differ). This all depends on how well (long) you sift. Yes -- best case is 50% usable product with this screen.

If you sift with Aluminum insect screen, you get a more solid 60%+ usable.

Use Fiberglass insect screen, if you're in a hotter area, and can afford smaller particles or don't mind a (potential) small perched water table (not all that bad in my hot area). Many of them have rectangular shaped mesh, with dimension of 1/32 x 1/16 inch instead of the aluminum being square shaped 1/16. So you it won't filter as much and you retain more particles. I use this screen a lot.

Honestly, I buy the Napa product as it has larger particles. I've tried many of the products and documented my findings -- based on how much the product cost and the usable yield. I'll post it now. If you're interested, look for a thread titled

"Waste screening Turface,Axis,Playball,FloorDry & Cost"

The gritty mix should be considered as a whole. I use a slightly smaller grit than gran-i-grit. Therefore it holds a bit more water in the macro pore space, but still doesn't perch. If you use much smaller bark particles, the same thing happens.

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clipped on: 06.14.2010 at 02:55 pm    last updated on: 06.14.2010 at 02:55 pm

RE: Size of grit (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: tapla on 10.29.2009 at 09:14 am in Container Gardening Forum

An ideal mix would have the particles all around 1/8" in size (perched water disappears as particle size increases to just under 1/8"). If one of the 3 ingredients is larger or slightly smaller than that, it won't change the drainage characteristics too much, and in the case where it's slightly smaller, perched water will not be a problem. Changing 2 ingredients to a larger or smaller size has a considerable impact on the properties of drainage and aeration.

The problem with having the bark @ 1/8" is it's increased surface area:volume ratio increases the speed with which it breaks down, so for my purposes, I've found that if the bark is a little bigger (1/8-1/4) and we keep the screened Turface and crushed granite or cherry-stone about BB size (grower size grit or #2 cherrystone) I get the best results.

The whole idea of the soil is durability of the ingredients, adjustability, and achieving maximum water retention with the %s of ingredients you choose w/o the need to risk any perched water. That's why I always screen and am careful about size. Particle size is very important.

Al

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clipped on: 06.14.2010 at 09:10 am    last updated on: 06.14.2010 at 09:10 am

RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: tapla on 02.26.2009 at 08:47 pm in House Plants Forum

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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clipped on: 06.13.2010 at 12:22 am    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 10:53 pm

RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: tapla on 02.26.2009 at 02:45 pm in House Plants Forum

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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clipped on: 06.13.2010 at 12:20 am    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 10:50 pm

RE: Chicken grit vs. Turkey grit for 'gritty mix' (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tapla on 03.04.2010 at 09:55 pm in Container Gardening Forum

'Some' large particles won't change the drainage characteristics of what you started with - like mixing a handful of perlite into a quart of sand isn't going to change either aeration or drainage, so it does make quite a difference. The grit should be the same size as or a little larger than the screened Turface. 1/8" would be perfect. The gritty mix is actually designed to hold lots of water in the Turface and bark pores, but still no perched water. Using smaller particles will work, but you will have some perched water to deal with. You could prolly get by if you had to by wicking, but the great thing about the gritty mix is you don't have to worry about things like perched water, and to a large degree - over-watering.

Al

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clipped on: 06.13.2010 at 10:48 am    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 10:48 am

RE: Question for Al - Continued (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: tapla on 03.03.2010 at 10:24 pm in Fig Forum

If you're making the gritty mix, the 'ideal' bark size would be 1/8-1/4". I buy a Shasta Forest Products product (white fir bark) that is clean & prescreened in that size. I bought 20 - 3 cu ft bags in CHI last summer, so I have enough to last awhile, but all my friends keep moochin'. ;o)

I always used Gran-I-Grit in 'grower size' for the granite fraction, but in recent years I've gone to #2 cherrystone, which I prefer, but only because it's a rusty color and looks better in my bonsai soils. Performance is the same.

I don't know if the link to my Yellow Pages search will work or not. If it doesn't, just go to the Yellow Pages & enter the search words St Louis MO feed grain and you'll have lots of leads for the granite or cherrystone.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Yellow Pages search

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clipped on: 06.13.2010 at 10:43 am    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 10:43 am

RE: Question for Al - Continued (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tapla on 03.01.2010 at 09:53 am in Fig Forum

You CAN substitute, but Perlite holds considerably more water than granite, so you'd need to decrease the Turface fraction and increase the perlite. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but Turface holds more water than perlite, so by decreasing the Turface and increasing the perlite, you'll be reducing water retention to approximately what the gritty mix would be.
Maybe
3 parts bark
4 parts perlite
2 parts Turface

The granite would still be better, though. Where do you live? I might be able to help with finding the granite or a suitable substitute through one of my many bonsai contacts. It would help if you included your USDA zone and state in your user info (like mine > z5b-6a MI).

Al

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clipped on: 06.13.2010 at 10:39 am    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 10:39 am

RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures (Follow-Up #90)

posted by: tapla on 05.16.2009 at 11:26 pm in House Plants Forum

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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clipped on: 06.13.2010 at 12:30 am    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 12:31 am

RE: Question for tapla - 100% Turface mixtures (Follow-Up #37)

posted by: tapla on 03.23.2009 at 08:01 pm in House Plants Forum

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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clipped on: 06.13.2010 at 12:23 am    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 12:23 am

RE: Al, I'm ready for some help :) Need to start a mix:) (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: tapla on 01.04.2010 at 05:45 pm in Container Gardening Forum

I agree with Mike, that it's worth getting it right the first time if you can muster the patience. When you start changing ingredients, you end up with a different soil. E.g., Mike thinks you could substitute pumice for Turface, but pumice has about the same water retention as a 50/50 mix of Turface and granite, so now you don't need the granite - right? - but what about your ability to adjust water retention?

The soil is well-thought out. The inorganic ingredients are chosen for size (extremely important) and their considerable contrast in water retention. When you start changing those ingredients, you really alter the physical characteristics of the soil. I'm not saying it won't work well, but you'll end up with something considerably different than the gritty mix.

For best results:

* Size is important. You want the particles to be as close to 1/8" as possible, and all fines should be screened out.

* It's important that the bark component is pine or fir bark. Other mulches and wood products won't work well. It's ok if the bark is slightly larger than 1/8", but it should be screened and almost all the particles 1/8" or larger to 5/16" or smaller.

* Turface and calcined DE can be used almost interchangeably, but if using calcined DE it will increase water retention, so you may wish to decrease the DE fraction or increase the granite fraction or both. I have better results with Turface, but it's not all that noticeable and may be because I haven't adjusted to the DE (or it could be a pH issue).

* Gran-I-Grit in grower size or #2 cherrystone are preferred and interchangeable, but you can use silica if the size is 1/2BB to BB size or slightly larger.

Others are using substitutes when they can't find a particular ingredient, but the soil works extremely well when it looks like this:

Photobucket

Al

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clipped on: 06.13.2010 at 12:12 am    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 12:12 am

RE: indoor citrus (Follow-Up #25)

posted by: meyermike_1micha on 06.07.2010 at 09:06 pm in Citrus Forum

Josh, you are a stealth of info and such a BIG help..Thank you for the pictures for all to see.....Beautiful mixes! No wonder your trees are so happy. Happy feet I guess..Great advice..

Jacklord, you are way to funny...To this day once my plants come inside, I am scared to death to go without my wooden dowels...lol

Manderin1, by way of suggestion, I would rid the coconut husk all together. Do 5 parts bark chips, one part pumice, which would replace peat to provide moisture and be more durable, and one part perllite...Feel the texture and if you can, take a picture of the finished product..I bet the roots to your plants will be very happy, and the pots will not be heavy...If you use any peat at all instead of pumice, don't forget to lime..

Don't forget, the bigger the particles, the faster your soil mix will dry out, the better your roots will breathe, great gas exchange in the root zone, less chance of root rot, and NO FUNGUS GNATS!!

Mike..:-)

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clipped on: 06.12.2010 at 11:59 pm    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 12:04 am

RE: indoor citrus (Follow-Up #23)

posted by: greenman28 on 06.07.2010 at 06:20 pm in Citrus Forum

Nate,
the gravel pic looks good! The gravel shown is of good size. If you can get some bark nuggets
in the appropriate size and a bag of perlite, you'll be just about there.

"Pine shavings" usually refers to shaved sap-wood...the white or cream-colored inner wood.
If so, it is not a good choice for several reasons: it breaks down quickly, collapses, and binds
nitrogren/may cause heat spikes in a container as it decomposes.

As Jack and others mentioned, you want dark outer bark, which is very resistant to decay.
For a 5-1-1 mix, I like to use all the pieces that are 3/8 of an inch and on down to bark dust.
For a gritty 1-1-1 mix, I screen the bark and keep the pieces between 1/8 - 1/4 inch. In reality,
I always end up with particles that are a little finer or a little courser, 1/16 - 3/8 of an inch.
This has never been a problem, however.

Have a look at these pics of bark and mix below - I use a similar mix for citrus, conifers, and maples.

Photobucket

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Photobucket

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clipped on: 06.13.2010 at 12:01 am    last updated on: 06.13.2010 at 12:01 am