Advice on potting mix, please?
Hi, I'm new to the forums, and like many new members, I'm here to ask for your help. (Read on for a lot of rambling, and questions regarding the ingredients in "Al's gritty mix.")
Several years ago, I owned some cacti. They all died because I didn't know how to take care of them. :( But a few weeks ago, for some reason I decided to get one or two and try again, and after some e-bay browsing, somehow ended up with thirteen plants, a grow light, some books, and a bag of "cactus soil." I also found this forum and began reading as much as I could.
I've pretty much realized that the "cactus soil" isn't really suited to cacti and succulents. It has some mulch bits, and a little perlite, to which I added a lot more perlite, but for the most part it seems like ordinary potting soil. Also, I put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the pots because that was how I had always been taught to pot things. So they need repotting badly, before they suffer too many ill effects. A couple of them are definitely not happy at the moment.
Anyway, I'd like to try making the gritty mix, but I'm still unsure as to whether I've understood all the new information correctly, and I keep waffling back and forth, unable to make any decisions, so I'd really appreciate any advice or feedback. (Also I'm kind of running out of available funds for this project, but at the same time, I don't want all my new plants to die because I wouldn't cough up for decent potting mix.)
I checked out the turface website, and there don't seem to be any retailers near me, but I could order some from repotme.com if I can't find anything else locally. If I can't find any bark either, I could order some from there as well. Is their small Orchiata bark a good choice? (All of their products are rather expensive though.)
Other threads have suggested:
--"Floor Dry 8822" from Napa Auto Parts as a substitute for turface. There is a Napa Auto Parts nearby, so I can check and see if they stock it. By the way, is this really a good substitute?
--Aquarium gravel and terrarium bark. I can go to Petsmart and see if they have any suitable bark. I know they will have gravel, but it will probably be more expensive than finding it somewhere else.
--Chicken grit as a substitute for the gravel. Maybe the gardening center or Home Depot might sell this, and they also might possibly carry bark. I also need to get screening in 1/8" and 3/8" from Home Depot, to screen whatever materials I can come up with.
I also still have most of a 2 gallon bag of perlite. Would this be an acceptable substitute for turface? Does the ratio to bark and gravel need to be adjusted if I use it?
I have some more questions about re-potting and watering, but I thought I'd just start with this. Thanks for listening to my long-winded first post. The plants thank you too. :)