i need good grit

alkh86(9)February 14, 2013

I just ordered some new seeds including a lithops mix and I need some fine grit. I've had terrible luck finding anything that would work. Does any one have ideas or suggestions for what I can use. I don't want to order online as shipping can get pricey. I have Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart to choose from. Any ideas?



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rosemariero6(z10 /ss24 So. Calif.)

Do you live near any feed/grain stores? Like for horses? I picked up a large bad of dry stall there. That might work for you.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:47PM
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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.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:51PM
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rosemariero6 - good idea, I do have a few feed stores around, I had also thought about chicken grit and possibly pool filter sand, but I'm having trouble finding it around town.

hanzrobo- thanks for all the valuable information. I still very new at growing from seed. It's been one big experiment so far.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:38PM
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rosemariero6(z10 /ss24 So. Calif.)

Good, educational material, Ryan! Thanks! I'm saving your info! Maybe make my own mix someday...will be trying seed growing soon...as a generous forumee sent me Aloe polyphylla seeds as a thank you! Whee! Can you say "nervous"?!?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:55PM
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Roofing supply stores too - remember, the smaller the number the smaller the grit. #4/#3 is roughly pea-sized. #1/#2 are excellent additions to a soil mix - they're roughly what one might call poultry grit (and speaking of poultry, get poultry grit, not poultry scratch).

This post was edited by cactusmcharris on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 15:57

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 2:06PM
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I'm sorry, I meant to say that you can find the floor-dry stuff at your local Napa auto parts, if you have one. I get everything else at Lowe 's or our local nursery/garden center, The Green Thumb, which we're very lucky to have.

Ro, I tried our local feed store but they had no chicken grit. Actually, they had small bags of it that were really expensive. I'm glad my methods may be helpful to people but it's hard to include all the information... so much to say. I also feel like it's important to learn from your own results regardless of how you start. I'm still learning so I hesitate to make definitive statements. I've been doing a bit of research on sowing Aloe seed and read that some of the pro Aloe growers start them in almost pure pumice, avoiding all the problems that can come with organics. I've had mixed results so far with Aloe and Haworthia seed which is why I'm trying something different this year.

Jeff, I'm glad you guys made it back home safely! We've all been feeling the McHarris void.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 5:36PM
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I'm glad to be back in the land of the wind chill factor, brother - I was working way too hard putting Agaves into the nearly-anti-matter-like sludgy ground but loving every minute of it. Communing with the spirit in the sky is soul-refreshing.

As is grooving on an Aloe-teeth afternoon.

Now I have to plant up some plants, sent via the kindness and generosity of friends such as Roro and yourself, but at least I don't need to dig a hole to the Kingdom of Mustang to do so.

German Star was also too gracious in allowing me to visit. My Agave 'Blue Glow' can learn a lot from his. He also stuffed me full of Agaves, and it only hurt later.

Lastly, I visited these guys just about every day and channeled some extra doggietime to you.

But to your question about grit, there should be independent building supply outfits from whom you can order a 40 kg sack of rock (or less) - it might take some time but you can get it. Heck, if I can up here, down there it must come in at least fifteen different flavours. Something like IMASCO (at least that's my connection up here).

Here is a link that might be useful: I can rock your world

This post was edited by cactusmcharris on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 18:16

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:02PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Really Hanzrobo, play sand? Isn't that a little fine? I had nothing but trouble with that stuff. I think the plaster sand is a little coarser.

Count me in as one of the people that uses straight pumice for aloe seed. I also like itto be graded a little coarser than fines between 1/8 and 1/16.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:08PM
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Jeffe, nice. I'm heading to my local roofing supplier ASAP. I think it's just what I needed.

Hey nil,
Yeah, the play sand is what I already had that was washed. I want to avoid salt, of course. Steve Hammer says he uses washed builder's sand. I have some leveling sand but it doesn't say that it's washed. The leveling sand has coarser bits in it but also some very fine stuff. I'll look into plaster sand though, thanks. I've been using horticultural sand, which is very coarse, in equal amounts. I've got to do a sand comparison now, you've got me worried.

Good to hear you chime in about Aloes and pumice. Good point also, about grading out (most of) the bigger chunks. I do that for my mesemb mix as well. One of these days I'll be good enough to use the same soil mix for everything in the greenhouse; seeds, Mesembs, Haws, Adros, you name it. Right now, I think my different soil mixes reflect my own shortcomings, limitations and namely, my practice of overwatering.

Much of what I've learned about soil in practice has been in effort to keep outdoor potted plants from drowning in the rain. This type of growing does require different mixes for different plants and leans toward the extreme grit zone. I've learned this from all of you wonderful people (you know who you are) and it's invaluable, however, I'm find myself re-thinking the whole idea for greenhouse growing. Anyhow, enough for tonight.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 9:43PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Indeed, I'd look for a more coarse sand, as well.

I love Turface, Scoria (red lava rock), and Pumice for just about any mix I'm making. Optimum particle sizes range from just below 1/8 inch to right around 1/4 inch.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:01PM
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Ok, so I went to Home Depot today and searched and searched. Best I could find was pavers sand. Which could be good for grit. But I still need a coarse sand. The search continues...

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 11:09AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Alkh86,

Do you have any Southern States stores near you? How about Tractor Supply stores?

I can find my gran-I-grit in Growers size from both stores. I see you are in zone 9, so I thought I would chime in and see if this might help you....

Good luck!


    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 9:26PM
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