Making Al's Mix - pictures

tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)March 27, 2011

I've been asked several times how to prepare Al's Mix. I mixed a batch today for a friend and though I'd snap a few pictures for those that want to see my process.

I use a 3.5 gallon bucket for all ingredients, so that makes slightly over 3CF of mix.

I LIGHTLY wet one bucket of peat.

Then I thoroughly wash one bucket of perlite to get the excess powder out if it, then mix it wet into the peat. The additional moisture from the perlite wets the peat well but not to the point it will clump when mixed into the pine fines.

See the excess powder that's now NOT in the mix?

Now I mix the peat and perlite.

Then I add the garden lime and CRF and mix again.

From here on out I use a composter so the job isn't so laborious. Best $60 I've ever spent. The composter was $160, on sale for $100 off and free shipping :-)

Now I put three buckets of pine fines in the bottom of the composter.

Then put the peat/perlite/lime/CRF in the composter, and top it off with another two buckets of fines.

Spin for four or five full revolutions and this is what you get.

I was doing this just in the wheelbarrow before I bought the composter, but the steps don't change....

Tom

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pnbrown

Tom, what is 'CRF'?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 5:32PM
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amberroses(10a)

A picture is worth a thousand words.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 5:40PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

CRF = controlled release fertilizer

I saw those compost bins at Lowes the other day. Very cool use! I use this mix, too, and it is a winner. I'm sure lots of folks will appreciate your posting all of the steps.

For those looking for pine fines, some WalMarts have a bag of ground-up pine mulch that is very close to pine fines:

Carol

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 5:45PM
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dlsm(Z9b Titusville Fl)

Hey Tom that is a real neat set-up. I'm still using the wheelbarrow method. We discovery short cuts thru trail and errow. Looks like you have come up with a good method to mix all the ingredients.

Luther

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 5:50PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

A picture is worth a thousand words.

And a word is worth a thousand acronyms.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 5:51PM
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loufloralcityz9

I use my cement mixer to mix my stuff up. I'm too lazy to flip the barrel over & over, I flip a switch.
When it is all mixed together I can just pour it out into the Earthbox or pots just like I do when making the cement.

Lou

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 8:03PM
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pnbrown

CRF is sold under that terminology, or is it also called starter fert?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 9:04PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I've seen it called controlled-release, extended-release, slow-release, metered-release, polymer-coated and slow-acting fertilizer. There are probably other names, too. Osmocote is one well-known brand, but there are many others.

Carol

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 9:12PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hey, guys! Tom posted a link to this thread over in the container forum, so I came over to see what Tom was telling you guys! Lol Looks great! ..... some great looking mix, Tom. My wife won't let me buy a cement mixer for my soils (I really don't blame her ...... much), so I guess there's little chance I'll be able to stash a compost barrel like yours in the garage. Women! She thinks the garage is something that looks better empty, than chock full of 'useful things'. I guess I'll be relegated to mixing mine on a tarp on the driveway. ;-)

.... fun seeing what you're up to - good growing!!

Al

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 10:42PM
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leelee_2008

one of these days......

i'll attempt this.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 10:57PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Women! She thinks the garage is something that looks better empty, than chock full of 'useful things'. I guess I'll be relegated to mixing mine on a tarp on the driveway. ;-)

Al, the trade off is my two car garage is really a one car garage, but I'd rather keep my composter in the garage than my truck ;-)

Tom

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 7:16AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi Tom, great tutorial! A picture really is worth a thousand words. I think most of us are very visual and prefer to "see" how its done than being explained how its done. Great set up you have!

I love Al's mix...I mostly use the Gritty mix. Either way its the best potting mix I've ever used to date! I use it for all my container plants and all my plants love it!

Thanks for sharing the photos!

Nancy

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 7:33AM
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pnbrown

Thanks, Carol.

I wonder how that mix would grow things put into trenches in the sand instead of pots?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 7:59AM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

Tom. Thanks so much for this post!

Carol, Thank you for posting that picture. I've looked at WalMart but didn't know which one to get.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 9:31AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Jwahlton, only one of my two close-by WalMarts has the purple bag this year. You may have to go on a mission to find it.

Carol

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 9:45AM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

Carol. Can you post a pic of what the fines look like? I didn't see that purple bag at the walmart yesterday, but will stop at another this week. Doug has offered to bring me some bags to Silvia's brunch so I will probably go that route. Living in Kissimmee I'd rather not have to drive all over Orlando looking for these!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 9:54AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Not Carol...but I get that same bag from WM and this is what it looks like...

I sift(using a kitchen strainer) all the fine dust before I use it to make sure it doesn't keep the soil too "moist" or "soggy".

Nancy

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 4:48PM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

Thanks Nancy

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 4:53PM
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wisner_gw wisner

Could someone please post the formula for this mix? Also, what do you mainly use this mix for? Thanks

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 9:00PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)
    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 7:20AM
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rosesr4me(z9 FL_west)

FYI....I opened a bag of Scotts Premium Top Soil and found that it was mostly bark fines...no muck! I have used it since for making Al's mix and it works great. It also looks great as a mulch...very uniform color. Don't know however, if my bags were just "flukes" - going to Lowe's tonight to get more bags and will let you all know.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 6:01PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Roses4 - about the Scotts Premium Topsoil ..... from their website with regard to this product under the "How to Use" tab:

Where to Use
For use in lawn and gardens.

Where Not to Usecolor>
Not for container planting.color>

That's probably because it has a high % of mineral soil and will compact severely in containers. Sorry.

Al

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 8:44PM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

Bumping this up for Tina and Maxine. We were talking about this at Sylvia's.

I wish I had something big to mix it in. I got the bags on Saturday but didn't get to make it yesterday. I'll have to make it in a big bin or wheelbarrow. We did have a cement mixer but I don't know what happened to it! So if you use a cement mixer, how do you clean it out for making cement the next time?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:30AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Julia, Al spreads out a tarp and mixes it on the tarp, then pulls the tarp edges to mix it further, saves a lot of labor.

Tom

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 1:00PM
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loufloralcityz9

Julia,
To clean the cement mixer after making the potting mix I use water and dump in some small stones (you can buy a bag of stones/pebbles at the big box stores) and I let it run for a little bit then dump it into a bucket and rinse the mixer & bucket stones with the garden hose for the next time. It will act like a polisher tumbler and clean it out nicely.

Lou

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 4:30PM
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saldut

Another way to mix the stuff, put it in a large garbage can, tie on the lid or put some tape around the lid so it can't come off, and then roll that can around and around and around.... then just leave it in the can and use it..... LOL.... sally

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 4:45PM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

Good idea Sally. Too bad I don't have an extra garbage can!

Thanks Luther for that idea. My husband said a friend borrowed the cement mixer. I may just have to get that back and I've got some other ideas that needs a cement slab anyway!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 9:10AM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

I made it one time by putting doubled heavy duty yard plastic bags in a garbage can. Tied the top of the bag, rolled the can around. Then when I was done with the part I used, had hubs put the bag in the shed for me.

Recently, when I'm using it all at once, I've been using my dog's wading pool.

~dianne

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:37PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Julia, nobody asked for a tour of the garage, lol. Otherwise I would of show you the mix and everything else on it. Next time will do that and Tom will be the speaker on how to make it.:)
I remember that you said that Doug brought the pine bark fines for you. You can also make it in small batches, only what you need let's say for a pot or two.

Silvia

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:00PM
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jwahlton(9B Kisimee)

Thanks Silvia. I just bought a garbage can with a lid. I like that idea because then I have a storage place for it! I do need to make a bunch because I want to transplant all of my tomatoes. Currently they are in compost/peat/perlite mix that I did last year, and they did well. But I want to use this mix from now on. Doug brought me 3 bags so hopefully I've got enough for what I'm needing to do. He also gave me 3 tomatoes a month or so ago that are in this mix, but in a smaller bucket that I need to transplant because they are already HUGE!

And Sylvia, I love what you did with the herbs in containers so I may try that too.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 9:45AM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Hi Julia, I am glad that you are making the mix and Doug is a nice friend besides being a great cook!

And I think I forgot to show you where I had all the hidden herbs, we were so busy! It is a good idea to have some in containers so when the weather gets hot, we can move them.

Also forgot to tell you that Tom is a magician! After I thought he gave me all his seed treasures, he came with more! One of these days he is going to be kidnap! LOL

Silvia

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 10:52AM
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