First time planting in 5-1-1

jmcrut(NC - 7b)December 24, 2012

I recently planted a lemon tree into the 5-1-1 mix and I don't know if my bark pieces are too big. I was unable to find composted bark fines so I screened a bag of soil conditioner with a 1/2 inch screen (it's all I had) so I think some of my bark is a bit too big. Anyway, here's a picture.

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I had the same problem the pine bark I bought is too big and I could not find a fine one. I searched HD, LOWS and our local farm store. I planted an orange trees in it any way. The orange tree was very sad and droping leaves. I pulled out from that mix and used perlite, humus, moss, cow manure and sand all in equal amounts. I think my tree is doing fine now after 3 weeks or re-potting.This combination is draining very well. I know that citrus flourish in the sahara desert and the soil is nothing but sand. The roots get lots of air in the sand.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 9:36PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

It doesn't look bad at all.

Is there any peat moss/potting soil in there?

Did you add Dolomitic Garden Lime?


    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 12:55AM
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jmcrut(NC - 7b)


I actually did not include either lime or peat but did include perlite (not pictured). My reasoning for leaving out the lime was (1) that I have a fertilizer w/ Ca and Mg (Foliage Pro* - I am using 1/4 teaspoon/gallon each time I water) and (2) I noticed a lot of people were watering their citrus with vinegar added so it seemed counter intuitive to raise pH of the mix. I left out the peat because I have the tree inside for the winter and didn't think there would be a problem with water retention - my understanding is that the peat is there to hold water. I did save the really fine pieces of the soil conditioner, thinking that I could add those when I set the plant out for the summer. Do you think I will have any problems because of the changes I made?

*This reminds me of another question - Do you, or anyone else, find the need to alter your fertilizer program during the year? For instance, X tea/gal during the winter but Y tea/gal during summer.


    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 8:14AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The Lime slightly raises the pH of the mix, which is typically low from the bark.
You might notice fertility issues - a yellowing or pale plant, weak new growth, leaf-loss.
Without the Lime, many folks have difficulty meeting the nutrient demands of the plant.
Adding Vinegar to fertigation solution is about making nutrients available in a target range.

Peat isn't merely for water retention; it also *binds* the bark and perlite, which allows
for moisture to wick and equalize throughout the mix, which in turn makes for more uniform
drying from top to bottom. A pot of bark will hold nearly as much moisture as a pot full of peat.
Each ingredients brings something to the table, as it were, and it's best to understand the
principles, the concepts, behind the ingredients before modifying the recipe.

Fertilizer strength is typically reduced during the Winter, and some people even give their
trees a 'break' for a period of time. Someone else would have to advise on that, though.


    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 1:50PM
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gro-nut(6a se MI)

Josh, i've taken the Peat fraction out and replaced it with Turface. What's your take on that?

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 1:57PM
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gro-nut(6a se MI)

Here's a pic! All my Citrus are growing in it. Mike

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 2:27PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Mike!

I like Turface for moisture retention and binding in some of my mixes, too.
The only issue I've found is that the smaller Turface will want to migrate lower
into a container, and so it's important to keep the ingredients properly distributed
when potting up a plant.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 3:50AM
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gro-nut(6a se MI)

I screen the Turface with a 1/16 mesh before I mix. Do you think I'll have problems in the lower area's of my pots?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 7:55AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I screen with 1/16 insect screen, as well.
But the Turface particles are still the smallest ingredient, and as such they migrate
between the larger bark and perlite pieces, which can lead to a perched water layer in the lower
inches of the pot.

I don't know if you'll have these issues or not, but you can always stuff a wick into a drainage
hole to drain off any excess water.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 1:55PM
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