Al's Potting Recipe

clairecathyOctober 13, 2010

Al -- I found your instructions for potting soil in a 2008 thread. The subject was fig trees, but from your comments it seemed as though the ingredients would work for any tree. Like a mango?

Claire

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Bingo! ;)
I'm not Al, but I'm sure that Al would agree.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 10:39AM
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clairecathy

Thanks, Josh. A follow-up question on the mix. Is "decomposed granite" the same as "crushed granite"? I'm having a hard time finding anything like Gran-I-Grit in the San Diego north county area.

Claire

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 12:19PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

My pleasure, Claire!
No, decomposed is not the same as crushed granite.

I haven't found Gran-I-Grit, either...then again, I haven't looked for it. ;)
I use Quartz gravel in lieu of granite. The E.B. Stone company carries most of the
products that I mix - from bark and pumice, to perlite and various gravel/grit.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 12:37PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

CC - I'm guessing I have about 275-300 trees of about 100-125 different species, spanning at least 30 different genera in the gritty mix, so it's pretty safe to say it's pretty adaptable.

Al

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 4:37PM
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clairecathy

Al,

Thanks for your response. It is so convincing. :)

Re: the ingredients, though, I've run into some problems. On one of the many threads I found about your gritty mix, you said screening was necessary for the Turface. I live in an small second floor apt, and have only a tiny balcony for my plants -- and for my gardening work. Added to the space problems is the silica question. The MSDS for Turface suggests protecting skin and eyes -- and especially lungs -- from the dust of Turface (which would certainly come into play with screening.) And I have chemical sensitivities, so even if I bought some protective equipment, I'd be worried.

On the same thread you said perlite could be substituted for the Turface -- and that would be fine. But I thought elsewhere you said perlite could subsitute for the crushed granite -- and since I can only find the granite in 80 lb bags, (which I'd never get up the stairs to my apt.) I was planning to use the perlite as a grit substitute. And my guess is your mix would not work with a 2/3rds use of perlite.

I made notes on other Turface substitutes, but perhaps they require screening as well?

Do you have any idea of what would be effective and reasonable for a woman with my situation with a small Negronne fig and a small carrie mango on its way to me? I have 20" x 14" pots to work with.

Claire

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 7:01PM
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clairecathy

I directed the message above to Al, but since he hasn't answered yet, I'm thinking he may not have a suggestion for the limitations I'm facing. So, please, if anyone has any ideas at all for me -- I'd be grateful to hear them.

Claire

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 10:04AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Claire,
Al's probably been busy tending his many tree's over the weekend. :)

I cant really offer substitutes for you, but can tell you that Turface subs. will need to be screened also.

And most likely the pearlite too. I screen all mine, it's full of powder and small particles.

I hope someone will be along today with more help for you. I know weekends get crazy and busy for alot of us.

JoJo

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 10:27AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Claire - sorry. I spent a good part of the weekend trying to catch up on my e-mail and tending to family commitments.

Turface is made from clay. I've never felt I needed to take any special precautions about skin/eyes, but I do wear a dust mask when I screen, and stand with my back to the wind, letting the fines fall into a wheel barrow. I would actually be more concerned about screening perlite or calcined DE, than Turface. I'm sorry, but I don't have suggestions re. your lack of space, or the screening, other than that you could pour small amounts of Turface/perlite into a 'standard' mesh size kitchen strainer (about the same size openings as insect screen) and rinse the fines out under running water - doing away with all of the dust - other than what is created when you transfer the product from bag to strainer.

Screened perlite would be more suited to being substituted for granite than Turface. It has considerably less water retention than Turface, but more than granite. If you do substitute it for granite, you'll need to use more of it and less Turface than the 1:1:1 ratio to come up with the same amount of water retention.

One of the most beneficial features of the gritty mix is that it has very good water retention with virtually no perched water table, if made correctly. This means that the ingredients should be screened so only a very small fraction of the particles are I can always tell you what would be effective, but telling you what is reasonable for you, is beyond my abilities, especially with me not knowing the exact bounds of your abilities to acquire/handle/store/screen/mix the ingredients; though I am always happy to answer those additional questions I'm capable of answering.

Best luck and growing, Claire.

Thanks, JJ.

Al

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 1:48PM
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clairecathy

JJ and Al,

I hope I'm able to post this because when I tried to answer you, JJ, it wouldn't go through. Anyway, thank you both for enough further info to help me sort out possibilities. In particular, Al, the kitchen strainer idea is helpful to me and maybe working in the kitchen is the best place for me.

Forgive me for sounding impatient. I'm a first-time gardener and am feeling anxious about maybe killing my "babies."

Claire

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 4:52PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

No worries, Claire. I'm used to interacting with people in the gardening community who cover the entire gamut in levels of experience and patience. ;o)

The soil is the foundation of every conventional container planting, and is arguably the most important decision in setting your course. I'm glad to see you're giving it the consideration it deserves.

Best luck!

Al

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 9:28AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Claire,
Your just fine! :) No worse than many of us here :). I for one am among those that worry. ;) I'm not a first time gardner, but am new to the world of gritty mixes. So i've had my share of questions.

Al is a patient and understanding person. :)(Thank goodness! ;) )
Josh is a real trooper too! :) (hi Josh!)

I'm not sure sifting it in your kitchen is a good idea. It will get dusyt!! Trust me, Ive done it. lol!
My china cabinet took forever to get clean. :)

You may want to wear simple gloves too. Turface can be drying to the skin.

>

Thanks Al!
This is good to know! I will be using perlite as a sub on some of my smaller containers.

About how much less of the turface?

Thanks!
Have a great day everyone!
JJ

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 10:29AM
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clairecathy

JJ,

Did you just sift in the kitchen -- that is, shake the strainer without water? I think Al was suggesting the water pressure would do the "sifting" without shaking or dust.

Thanks for the gloves tip.

Also, I forgot to ask: Does the bark get sifted as well?

Claire

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 11:15AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Yes - ideal bark size is 1/8 - 1/4"

JJ - 4 screened perlite, 3 screened bark, 2-3 screened Turface. Adjust as required to tweak water retention to suit your neighborhood/growing habits.

Al

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 3:01PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hello!
Claire,
Yes, he did say rinse.. I forgot about that. I really should stay away from the puter before my first cup of coffee. lol!

Thanks Al!

Have a great day!

JJ

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 3:35PM
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clairecathy

Al,

I found a crushed granite #5 that is not far from me, so that is still a possibility, but I'm leaning toward the substitution of perlite (per your formula above) for both weight and handling considerations (2 trees on a tiny balcony, no elevator to the second floor, and I'll need to repot often because of smallish containers). I see that perlite comes in different sizes -- even up to 1" nuggets. Should the perlite be the same 1/8 to 1/4" size as the other elements?

Claire

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 10:27AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When I buy perlite, I usually get agri. grade 'coarse'. If it's available to you in mesh sizes, 5-8 is best. If I was using it in the gritty mix, I would screen it over insect screen & discard the fines. Unfortunately, Perlite doesn't lend itself well to having the fines rinsed off/out of it. ;-(

Al

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 5:21PM
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