Soil Mixture

ryecooder(6b)October 25, 2010

Hi can anyone point me to al's soil mixture. I am having a hard time finding it. thanks

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Follow the link below. Starting point recipes at the end of the post, but I'm not selling recipes, just the concept that a durable and well-aerated soil is something your plants will count as a blessing. ;o)

If you have specific questions, ask them there, or here. Someone, maybe me, will be along in a little while to offer a reply.

Best luck.

Al

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 5:14PM
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ryecooder(6b)

You forgot the link :)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 9:46PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - Doh!

Sorry.

Here is a link that might be useful: If you click me, I'll take you there now

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 10:32PM
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ryecooder(6b)

thanks :)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 10:52PM
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igor_sqa(5)

I just got some figs from figtrees.net in Boston. I live an hour away from Joe's greenhouse.
I am a total newbee about figs, after speaking with Joe when I purchased three varieties of figs from him, (paradiso, black triana and marseille figs...(not sure about the spelling) and asking him about repoting them, he gave me an instruction care sheet. It said that for repoting use 3 parts potting mix and one part organic compost. From reading this forum, it seems to me that he is well respected grower and seller of fig trees with many years of experience.
My question is, it seems that many people on this forum are using Al's mix. Is it that much better then using conventional mix like the grower suggests?

Looking forward to seing your responses and suggestions.

I don't have a preference toward one or the other, just trying to get some education before I repot this fall.

Thank you all for your inputs.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 8:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I started a thread about soils here @ GW several years ago. Just yesterday, I posted the 12th continuation of that thread, which means it has almost 1,800 posts to it. It contains a lot of information that will explain why a well-aerated, fast draining soil is much better, from the plant's perspective, than heavy soils made of peat and compost. It's not that you can't get plants to grow in those soils, it's just much more difficult and the grower's margin for error is considerably reduced.

The upside of growing in well-aerated, fast-draining soils is the much greater potential for growth and vitality they offer over heavier soils. The downside is you can't buy them in a bag. You have to make them yourself, and because they hold less water, you need to water more frequently.

I don't try to sell anyone on a soil recipe, though I do offer good starting points; rather, I try to emphasize the benefits of any well-aerated and durable soil. Most of my discussions about soil ingredients center around their physical properties, and helping others learn to combine them in ways that ensure soils will retain the very important properties of good drainage and ample aeration.

Read more at the link below.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: More about soils if you click me.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 9:55PM
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igor_sqa(5)

Al,

Thank you for the reply, good information.
It looks like some people are using an equivalent of Turface, (Floor dry). Can all natural, clay based kitty litter be used in this application? I use it for planting aquatic plants in my koi pond with addition of laterite.

Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 9:42AM
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igor_sqa(5)

I found this orchid mix, it looks like it has many ingredients already in it.

Black Gold Orchid Mix:
Blend of fir bark, Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, perlite, pumice and lime.

Would this work as a base?
And add the grit along with turface?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:11AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I use two different soils. One is based on pine bark, is well aerated and drains quickly, but does support a shallow perched water table. (If you don't understand what I meant by a perched water table (PWT) please follow this embedded link to a thorough explanation about soil/water relationships. I feel that an understanding of the material it contains is critical to our progression as a container gardeners. It doesn't matter if you gain an understanding through my words or the words of someone else, but at some point in our progression, a lack of understanding of this material will be a limiting factor.)

The other soil has been named by others and is called 'the gritty mix'. It is designed to hold good amounts of water, to be adjustable in the amount of water it holds, but yet, to hold NO perched water. Adding small particulates to this soil defeats its purpose by introducing the PWT I intentionally designed the soil to eliminate.

So, from my perspective, combining the more expensive ingredients like grit and Turface with fine components like peat is a backward step.

There is no sense in paying the long dollar for an orchid mix when an appropriate size pine bark will likely do a better job. Pine bark mixed:
5 parts fine bark
1 part sphagnum peat
1-2 parts perlite

will do an admirable job if you intend to repot every 1-2 years, If you are going to go 2 years or more between repots, then a more durable soil, like the gritty mix, will serve you much better, though you should leave the fine particulates out of it, or stick to the 5:1:1 mix. There is no sense in paying more for a mix that has potential to last many years and removing that potential by including ingredients we know will clog air pores and support perched water.

Al

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 5:37PM
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igor_sqa(5)

Thank you Al,

I am learning..
Guess for the next few years as the fig trees grow, I will be rerpoting every year. So the mix you specified above will be a good one for me to use. At a later point I will go to using the gritty mix.
Now I need to find pine bark..

Igor.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 8:29AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Best luck to you.

Al

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 12:06PM
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igor_sqa(5)

One more question.

This weekend I got all the items on the list and ready to repot the fig trees.
Currently they are in a soil mix. When I replant into a mixture of pine bark, do I wash out the soil from the roots? What's the best way to go from the soil potting mix to a pine bark mix????
Should I use any rooting hormones, fertelizer etc.

Thanks.

Igor

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 7:48PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Soil is a broad term - can you describe what is in the soil - is it actually a mineral soil, like topsoil or garden soil? Also, where you live can determine what is the most appropriate timing for full repots. You might wish to consider adding your USDA zone and state to your user info .... or some other geographical description that hints at your climate, like a large city near you.

Al

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 9:32PM
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igor_sqa(5)

I live in central MA.
City of Worcester.
As far as soil in the pot, it looks like potting soil.
I bought the figs from Joe at figtrees.net , looks like there are a lot of roots and it need to go into a larger pot.

Igor.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 6:51AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Let's draw line between potting up and repotting. You can pot up anytime, though it's best to pot up when the plant is in active growth phase, but repotting, which includes root pruning, should be done while the tree is dormant or in post-dormant quiescence. If there is no danger of roots freezing, you can repot anytime the leaves are off. If the roots will be subjected to temperatures below freezing, it's best to wait until spring when these temperatures are no longer a threat.

During repots, it's best to bare-root and correct root defects. You should also remove a portion of the largest roots, to make room for a higher % of the fine roots that do all the work.

No rooting hormones are required, and roots will colonize the soil mass faster if you wait a couple of weeks to fertilize after repotting.

DO fertilize in the fall. Late summer fertilizing CAN promote unwanted succulent growth that can freeze, but fall applications of fertilizers, including normal amounts of N, are trumped by decreasing day length (and temps), which suppresses vegetative growth. N does fuel growth, but plays no part in initiating activity of buds that were set during summer.

Al

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 2:18PM
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igor_sqa(5)

Well, it looks like I will have a lot more time to spend working on my plants and other projects around the house.

Lost my job yesterday.
Life is good.

Igor

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 7:11AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Oh jeez! I'm really very sorry to hear that, Igor. I sure hope everything works out OK. Take care.

Al

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 2:03PM
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igor_sqa(5)

It's not the first time I am unemployed and most likely not the last.
Working on my resume today..
There are still a few Engineering jobs out there...
Meanwhile get a few projects done around the house that I never had the time to do.

:)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 2:20PM
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fortisi876(Z6NJ)

Hello fellow fig nutters!

I've been skimming over some of these soil mix threads, in particular I went through some of Al's threads....I'm wanting to take it up a notch, this season, by mixing my own growing medium/soil for once. The pre-bagged stuff seems to be getting really expensive lately having purchased about 12-15 bags already this year, did a lot of up potting!

In a nutshell, I'm just curious if a more economical AND higher quality mix exists for us DIY'ers?

Another somewhat silly question is, seeing Al is up to his 13th revision in growing mediums, is it safe to assume to experiment with his latest recipe? Lol???

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 5:52PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

13th revision? Please clarify. Other than changing the ratio from 3:1:1 to 5:1:1 in thread IV or V in the Container forum (I've linked the most recent thread, XVI, below), I'm not aware of any other significant revisions in Al's basic recipe, and the gritty mix hasn't changed at all (unless I missed something).

When you say higher quality and more economical, do you mean higher quality and more economical than Al's mixes or than the bagged stuff? If the latter, then Al's mix is the obvious answer to both. Especially if you have access to bulk bark fines, the 5-1-1 mix is very affordable. For me, the finished cost is just under $2 a cu ft, and the end product is vastly superior to "premium" bagged mixes that cost as three to four times as much.

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention XVI

This post was edited by shazaam on Fri, May 24, 13 at 16:19

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 4:15PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

I'll add that there's nothing at all wrong with modifying Al's mixes. Just be sure to understand the consequences of doing so. For example, if you want a more moisture retentive mix and are willing to sacrifice some aeration (i.e. if you're willing to make life a little harder for the plant in exchange for making life easier for yourself), then you might go with a mix that's 4 parts bark fines, 2 parts peat, and 1 part perlite. Conversely, if you don't mind watering a bit more frequently or if you have access to well aged pine bark fines with higher proportion of small particles, then you might leave out the peat entirely.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 4:30PM
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fortisi876(Z6NJ)

Thanks for the replies shazaam!

I didn't read every article written by tapla but saw there were over a dozen so I assumed there were changes in each 'update'.

When I said higher quality, I meant when compared to store bought soil mixes like MiracleGro.

Will be giving the 5:1:1 a try.....only problem is finding a potential source for pine or fir fines.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 12:32AM
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mamuang_gw

Thanks, Al for your generous advice.

This is my first year growing fig. My first fig is Chicago Hardy.

Igor - I am your fellow Worcester County fig newbie. I will visit Joe to buy his fig trees soon. By the way, most of Worcester County is now zone 6 a. If you are in the city of Worcester, you are definitely in zone 6.

Hope you get a new job very soon.

Here is a link that might be useful: MA Plant hardiness zone map

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 9:31AM
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