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5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Posted by woohooman San Diego z 10a (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 7, 12 at 1:25

Ok. I just bought a ghost seedling from a nursery today and am kinda excited to get going on it and I keep reading about this 5-1-1 mix. DaMonkey gave me a modified recipe---

4 1/2 parts pine bark (range: 1/8" - 1/2")
1/2 part pine bark (range: 1/16" - 1/8")
1/2 part coarse perlite (range: 1/8" - 1/4")
1/2 part coarse perlite (range: 1/16" - 1/8")
1/2 part turface (range: 1/8" - 1/4")
1/2 part turface (range: 1/16" - 1/8")

So here's my questions:

Is there an ORIGINAL 5-1-1 mix or is the above an updated(better) version of the original?

Where do I find the bark? --- the only bark I've ever NOTICED at Lowe's/home depot/walmart is that stuff which is usually used for mulching.

Can't I just use something like THIS for the woody material?

http://www.sandiego.gov/environmental-services/pdf/miramar/NaturalLogFines.pdf

I can get this stuff for $18/yd at the city landfill--- their compost and mulch have turned out to be great.

Regarding the perlite, the only perlite I ever(once again) NOTICE is stuff that's in a small bag. Seems like it could get kind of pricey even to have just a few 5 gallon buckets of plants. One of the main reasons I got into gardening was price of FOOD. I WILL NOT(yes, I'm shouting) spend more money raising a foodstuff than what I can go down to the store/farmer's market,etc. and purchase it. If I wanted to grow something just for the fun of it and nothing else, I'd get one of those chia pets.

I thought perlite was mainly used when STARTING seedlings, not actually part of a 5-50 gallon container... [/shrug]. I just normally add a good dose of sphagnum to my containers for water retention.

My recipe(although never measured) is maybe half bagged garden soil(something like kellogg's, miracle gro) a quarter peat(maybe less) and then the rest is some well aged compost(up until recently, homemade.) I've grown 2 Anaheims, 2 chile de arbol, 1 habanero and 1 cayenne( 2 plants each half oak barrel) and had great results on all.

Now. You're probably saying to yourself, "great results, why does he need OUR help?" Well, I've heard ghost chiles are finicky, and I don't have access to those barrels. That's why.. :)

Next-- Turface...never even heard of it--- LOL. Please help with where to get this stuff also and if there are any substitutes and/or cheaper alternatives.

Next question. Why the need for all the different sizes with the perlite and turface? I can understand the need for different sizes of chips/bark---porosity/drainage/compaction, etc.

Finally-- is a five gallon bucket with good drainage usually enough space for a ghost chile?

Actually, One more question. Am I overdoing it when I use a 15-30-15 flowering plant fert ever month or two with vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, squash, et al?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

  • Posted by esox07 4b Wisconsin (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 7, 12 at 1:55

Woohooman:
Josh just now posted a youtube video of him making a batch of 5-1-1. The stuff you cited above is like 5-1-1-1-1-1 or something. Josh's is much simpler and probably just as or more effective for growing peppers. It is tried and true. Check the link at the bottom of this post for a link to the video.

I had a heck of a time of finding bark just like you. Pine tree mulch wont due...it has to be FINE ground pine BARK. I finally found two different brands of it at a local KMart. Others have said they found it at theirs also. Copy and paste this link into your browser and it will take you to another thread which has pictures of the pine bark I found at Kmart.
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/pepper/msg042126188214.html

For Perlite, I agree, the normal bags in stores is way too expensive. The best I could find was a big 2.0 CF bag for $17 from Home Depot online. If you buy $45 worth of stuff, you can get free shipping. A 2cf bag goes a long way in the 5-1-1 mix.
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202187623/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=perlite&storeId=10051

Hope this all helps.
Bruce

Here is a link that might be useful: Josh's 5-1-1 mix video


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

You could probably substitute peat for the pine bark if it becomes really hard to find.

Myself, I prefer shredded pine bark for a container medium for a variety of reasons...mostly sustainability and expense (it would be much cheaper if it was distributed more for home gardeners, in bulk it's pretty cheap). It's been an awesome replacement for peat in container gardening.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hey guys,
I'll chime in on this, since it's my recipe...lol. This IS a 5-1-1, not a 5-1-1-1-1-1-1...lol. It's 5 parts bark, 1 part perlite, and 1 part turface - all screened to specific ranges, while the origial 5-1-1 is 5 parts bark, 1 part perlite, and 1 part peat - basically unscreened. I prefer to split my ingredients into particulate size ranges to ensure that my mix has an absolute minimum of particulates in the range that will support a perched water table, which is about 1/10".

I also like to break it down into ranges so that I ensure my mix is identical every time. This is not any more complicated than the video Josh posted, other than some additional screening is required. In fact, Josh uses turface in some of his mixes as well, and I worked very closely with him to develop this methodology. The truth is once you've initially screened all your materials (I basically do the whole years worth of screening over a weekend and store the particulate ranges in separately labeled 5 gal buckets, or larger totes for the bark) it's even EASIER to make, because you just scoop out what you need by the 1/2 gallon and your on your way.

In addition, unless you have the PERFECT material, not screening your resources down to specific particle sizes, most importantly not screening out the dust (<1/16"), will yield wildly different results every time you mix a batch. Every bag of bark, or perlite, or turface is going to be composed differently. I hate that unknown, it drives me crazy, I go though the extra trouble of screening everything to ensure that I know EXACTLY what's in my mix. For example, if your bark has alot of fine materials in it, all that fine stuff acts just like your peat fraction would, by absorbing and holding moisture....thus you may very well be making a 4-1-2, or a 3-1-3 even, not a 5-1-1....same with fine perlite. Most people are not going to find that pea gravel sized perlite that Josh has in his video, nor will they find that BEAUTIFUL fir bark that he has. Most of you will have to live with what you find. I buy "coarse" perlite in 4 cu ft bags from my nursury....it has every particle size in it from 1/4" down to dust - it's just not useable straight out of the bag. Same with the bark that I can get....it just has too much dust and fine particles - again, its just not usable right out of the bag. Most of you will find that the resources that you have available to you are not perfect, not even close, this method will mitigate that problem.

As for the turface. Turface is basically baked clay. They use it on baseball infields. It's internally porous, and will replace the peat fraction of your mix. There are also some substitutes, like Napa floor dry. The resulting mix yields a far superior product in terms of durability. An unscreened peat/soil fractioned mix will be a 1 year and done thing, while the screened mix made with turface will last for more like 3 years.

Regarding the bark, many people are under the impression that the bark MUST be partially decomposed "pine bark fines" for it to work here. First, don't get hung up on the name, you may find it labeled as many different products...pine bark fines, pine bark mulch, bark mulch, soil conditioner..blah blah blah. Just make sure that it's not shredded sapwood being passed off as bark, and that it not TOO FINE! What you want is a bark that is mostly under 1/2" or so - you can work with that. And, by the way, totally uncomposted stuff is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE!! I even like it better, for it's durabilty. I'm not one that will toss my mix away after 1 season, I go though way to much trouble for that. I make my mix to last for years to come.

A 5-1-1 is far more than the sum of it's parts. Every piece of the puzzle brings something to the party. It's a delicate dance between durabilty, water retention, drainage, and aeration. Too many large particles, or too many fine particles, defeat the purpose of the 5-1-1. There are many ways to make a 5-1-1, this is mine. It's super durable, incredibly well draining and aerated, yet will hang on to plently of moisture - even in the south florida summer, and it will last for YEARS...but best of all it's EXACTLY the same every time I make it.

Take from that what you will.

Good Luck!

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Miracle grow and similar commercial potting mixes are mostly peat based anyway, so, mixing it with more peat isn't really going to buy you anything.

Also, from what I've found, at least in my area, most of the pine bark products do have a wide range in size with a significant portion being larger than you really want. I didn't worry so much about the smaller pieces, but, did screen the larger pieces using 1/2" hardware cloth.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hey, guys!
Bruce, thanks for sharing the video!
Hey, PJ, just saw the re-sent e-mail this morning...you're right, the other one must have been
swallowed by the spam folder...? I don't know why, though. Regardless, thanks for sending again,
and I will respond later.

I was going to comment on PJ's refined 5-1-1. Not only does PJ create consistency from batch
to batch, but he also needs some extra moisture retention for his much, much hotter Florida weather.
Carefully screening his ingredients allows him to tinker with the recipe to arrive at exactly the
drainage and moisture retention he requires. Growing in San Diego is going to be warmer than
in my northern California yard, as well.

PJ, you're quite correct that I normally include Turface so that my mix has a bit more durability
to go with the moisture retention - straight peat works fine, but the mix won't last as long. For
most of us, the mix is only used for a single season anyway, but in some cases (like with Ferns)
I'll have a plant in the 5-1-1 for 2 - 3 years. You'll also notice that my bark is uncomposted -
I've never used composted/aged bark, although this is the closest since I've had the bag all Winter.

The only reason I haven't used Turface this year is because I ran out and I haven't been down
to the Turf Supply company that stocks it.

I really am lucky to have so many great ingredients at my fingertips.
The coarse Perlite costs me $20 for 4-cubic feet at a local Hydro shop.
The Fir bark costs me $8 for 2-cubic feet, and the potting soil is $6 for 2-cubic feet.
The Turface costs $12.25 for 50 pounds. The Dolomitic Lime costs $6 for 25 pounds.


Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

This is a great example of what I was just saying. Tsheets is living with what he could find, like most of us, but chose to forego the removal of the small particulates. I believe I recently read something about tsheets experiencing a number of problems that he is attributing to the 5-1-1. This may explain those problems.

The fact is that even a well made 5-1-1 holds a great deal of moisture. People think that because it's refered to as a "fast" soil that excessive water retention will not be an issue, no matter how its made. The problem therein lies with something called a perched water table. Many of you may be familiar with the term, others not. Think of a paper towel dipped into a glass of water, the paper towel will wick up water until the wicking potential of the medium equals the gravitaional pull on the water held. At this point the upward (and downward) movement of the water in halted - this water is said to be perched. Soil will also perch water. This begins to happen as your average particle size approachs 1/10". This is to say, the finer your mix, the more water it will perch. Perched water tables in bagged potting mix can reach as high as 4", depending on the composition. This means that the bottom 4" of your pot is virtually uninhabitable by your plants roots for (up to) days after a thorough watering. This is why so many people have issues growing in containers with slow, compost / peat laden soils. Not that it can't be done, it just requires a very deft hand.

Now, back to what I said earlier. If you chose you disregard the finer particles in your bark and perlite, you are contributing to the reduction of average particle size in your mix. This is, of course, unless you are lucky enough to have perfect resources rigth out of the bag. This creates excessive water retention AND a perched water table in your container media. This causes many 5-1-1 users much heartache, because they assume that they can water freely - when is truth - they cannot, because they have composed a 5-1-1 with an undesirable average particle size.

As an experiment, you can use a 12 oz clear drinking cup. Drill a hole in the bottom, fill with your media, cover hole, fill with water - allow the media to saturate, uncover hole - allow water to drain completely. You will see the perched water, if it's there. Now, stick a skewer through the hole and into the medium. This will act as a wick and allow any perched water to drain. A properly made 5-1-1 will not perch more than about 1 tbsp or so per 12 oz cup of soil.

My version perches none at all, therefore - barring excessive rainfall, or self induced over watering - the entire volume of my pots are well aerated and conducive to root functionality at virtually all times. This is because I pay particular attention to my particle sizes.

Beware of the dust my 5-1-1 using friends, beware of the dust.....

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hey Josh!!

Sorry buddy, your post wasn't up when I started mine! LOL!

Talk soon....

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hey Josh!!

Sorry buddy, your post wasn't up when I started mine! LOL!

Talk soon....

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Uggh, sorry for the double (now triple) post. LoL. I believe I just broke some forum rules...

Anywho, great point on the customization Josh - I missed that piece on my first run through of your post, and I forgot to mention it in mine. This is a BIG part of it guys. With the separation of the particle sizes, specifically those between 1/8" - 1/16", the water retention characteristics of your mix can be - as Josh said - tinkered with to meet your needs.

Additionally, one other side note on that all important 1/8" - 1/16" range. There is method to this madness, I swear! As I said particle size influences perching. When approximately 20 percent of your 5-1-1 mix is at and below 1/10" - water will ~begin~ to perch. My mix uses 1/2 part each of bark, perlite, and turface - meaning that approximately 21 percent (1-1/2 part of 7 total parts) of my total volume is 1/8" - 1/16". Because a fraction of that will be above that 1/10" target, I ensure that I never cross that 20 percent threshold, while holding as close to it as possible.

Droppin' some science B.

LOL, JK...

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

  • Posted by esox07 4b Wisconsin (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 7, 12 at 13:58

PJ:
Yes, I think you are right about the particulate size theory. When I screened my bark, I first put it through a 1/2" hardware cloth screen. Then I put that through a window screen and was amazed at the stuff that came through. It was very light but a lot of fine particles. I suppose I maybe should have used an even bigger second screening.
Bruce


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

LOL---

I didn't mean to start a debate on particle size. I just don't feel like spending 20 bucks to get 20 dollars worth of food(not counting the labor).

So, just straight wood chips wont do, even if I do screen them proportionally? Why PINE BARK? Why not 5 parts WOOD CHIPS(screened to get out both large pieces and dust), 1 part coarse perlite (screened to get out dust), and 1 part peat?


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

And why no compost?


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

  • Posted by esox07 4b Wisconsin (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 7, 12 at 15:28

Seems the actual wood has tannins and other substances in it that leech out and are detrimental to plant growth. I tried to use "pine wood mulch" for the main ingredient of my starter mix this year. My plants germinated fine, grew up to about an inch and then stopped and the seed leaves all fell off before they could produce true leaves. They also began turning black/purple (all varieties). They just sat there like that for nearly a month until I figured it was the soil and transplanted ever seedling into some MG Orchid mix. Within a few days, they started putting out new leaves and growing again. I lost an entire month of growth and nearly lost my whole crop. When I watered, the water would run out the bottom of the containers and was dark colored. Presumably from the tannins. Bark evidently doesn't contain tannins and doesn't break down and decompose as readily as "wood".
Bruce


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ - Yes, I have had some struggles with the 5-1-1. It could be due to more water retention / PWT than I was expecting from not screening the smallest particles out. I've had pretty good luck (or maybe just adjusted my practices) with commercial potting mix which is way more retentive than even unscreened 5-1-1.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Bruce,
That is exactly how a started down this road. At first, I thought that my bark product was basically usable out of the bag....based on how it looked to my eye. Then I decided on experimenting to fine tune some things. I was shocked to see that, in reality, at least 1/4 of the bag was less than 1/8". At this, an adventure was born...lol...and here we are!!

Woohoo,
There are a few things working against you by using all bark, and even more by using wood chips, and maybe the most by using compost/soil mixes - although, this one is the most heated topic ;).

First, you want some inorganic fraction to diffuse the decompostion of the bark. Although - as Josh would say - those plants that live an "arboreal existance" would appreciate such a mix ;) Also, an all bark mix would tend to decompose faster than that with some portion of inorganics. It would also stay very wet at the bottom, while the top dried out. Additionally, the inclusion of things like perlite provide aeration by 1) creating nooks and crannys between the bark, and 2) simply by taking up space that would normal be retaining water. You see, perlite is not internally porous, so it displaces the other water retentive materials, while still holding some moisture in the fissures on its exterior surface. It also will not decompose or compress. Perlite is a win win for container media. The peat fraction is there to fill in some of those nooks and retain some moisture. The peat fraction could be completely excluded in leiu of bark dust, if so desired, as they have simliar characteristics. In my case, turface is used to replace peat for both retention and durability, along with the fact that it - like perlite - will also not decompose or compress.

The reason you want bark, conifer bark more specifically, is for it's obvious natural characteristics. For one, it's going to resist decomposition, as it would for it's parent tree, thus providing durability and structure to the mix. You have to be careful though, bark also has a natural ability to resist water. If you let it dry out too much it will become hydrophobic - then you'll have a mess on your hands. On the contrary, sapwood (wood chips minus the bark) will decompose quickly, and in many cases, tie up nutrients - speciifically nitrogen - while it does so.

There's more to it than that, it's just too much to cover in one shot.

As for the compost...oh boy, can-o-worms....lol. The fact is, organics require organisms to break them down. Fertilizers, composts, whatever...they all require a microherd to convert them into a form usable for the plants. Micro organisms are very difficult to maintain in a container. If it gets too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry in the pot...they all die. Then your plant is starved until the microherd regenerates. Mother earth provides a huge network of life that you just can't duplicate very effectively in a container. Second, the purpose of a 5-1-1 is too provide drainage and aeration. Compost is heavy, fine, and water retentive - it negates the entire concept. Surely it could be used in small amounts, but then, what's the point? You may as well just use peat, or soil like Josh did in his video. The 5-1-1 will also require frequent watering and fertilization. Many folks, including myself (not during summer though, too much rain) will fertilize weakly at every watering. To this end, the 5-1-1 lends itself to the use of well balanced synthetics, such as foliage pro.

I'm sure i missed a bunch of stuff that I wanted to say but, man, I wrote alot today...lol...my fingers hurt ;)

It's also my B-day tomorrow - and I'm taking the day off, so I need to bail out of here and go purchase some well-crafted hoppy adult beverages!!

Happy Plantings!

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Have a great b-day, PJ! Wonder if your beverage is 5-1-1 water-malt-hops??? ;-) Something to contemplate anyway!


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

LOL sheets! That is a very witty and smart comment! I like it - spoken like a true beer nut! Although, my personal preference is for the hops to be in front...lets say a 5-1-2! I'm currently enjoying a Red Hook Longhammer IPA....yummy.

LOL, good stuff sheets, good stuff...

It's funny that you mention having "luck" with commercial potting soil. I think that that's exactly what it comes down to with that stuff sometimes. Just luck. Put soil in pot - put plant in soil - water once a week - hope for the best. LOL! You would think that a medium like the 5-1-1 that provides a perfect growing environment for plants would be EASIER to manage. Truth is, its harder. It requires more attention and dedication, but the results will pay off in spades. It comes down to ~ what's best for the plants vs. whats best for the grower ~ if you have the desire to follow through with your responsibilities to your plants in the 5-1-1, and you're willing to do your homework to understand WHY it works, not just whats in it, I think that you'll find theres no comparison for container mediums.

Anywho......GO HEAT!!!!!

Games on, I'm gonna get ripped....

Talk soon!

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ: Yes, Have a great B-day!

Listen guys/girls. I'm all for a healthy environment for my plants. I'm also all for striving for perfection. But, I'm still stuck on the cost of a setup like this. Between the cost of the medium, expensive fertilizers and the need for lime just to bring the "soil" to an acceptable ph level, the COST of a couple of plants done this way far outweighs what I've usually gotten by with doing it the old fashioned way.

That is, a nice loose porous soil amended with lots of organic matter, some peat for volume and water retention, and some supplemental feeding throughout the fruiting season(organically if possible).

I'm just trying to be frugal(call it "cheap" if you want) about the whole thing. I call it "have fun gardening, but don't let it dig into your wallet so much that it doesn't balance out in the long run.

I'll throw another possible option out there--- can I use compost TEA as my fertilizer..

And what's the big deal about the bark decomposing? It isn't going to decompose a truly significant amount with an ANNUAL plant that's going to be pulled in six months.

I just don't know. I know you guys/girls are the "experts," but it just seems like you all have real deep pockets to LOSE on your investments. Don't even get me started in regards to the research of the earthtainer (SWC) cost. LOL


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

The price "breaks" really nicely when you're doing a lot of containers.

If you're looking to do just a few containers and you don't want to store excess stuff it can get pricey.

For some people an "ideal" container solution will have no soil in it and it's water/nutrients supplied by the grower as needed. I prefer container mixes without actual soil, but soil container gardening has it's place. It's a matter of preference or need.

Also, many container pepper growers don't treat their plants as annuals and they go for many years of overwintering.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Heat up by 13! Unfortunatly, this means nothing based on thier previous performances.

Woohoo,
On the contrary, I am quite frugal. This is why I build these soils to last...so I can reuse them!! The cost is MUCH less than you think...there may be some initial start up costs...but after that, its actually WAY cheaper than buying bagged stuff. For example:

I get 2cu ft bags of pine bark for 4 bucks. I'll pull at least 10 gal of useable materials out of that. So for 40 bucks I've got 100 gallons of bark.

I get 4 cu ft of perlite for 20 bucks. That will supply the 20 gallons you need.

I get turface for 15 bucks per 50 lb bag. You'll probably need 2 for 20 gallons with some left over.

Or you can get a huge bail of peat the will last forever for 20 bucks or so...cheaper now, but you'll need to make new stuff next year.

Lime is negligable. One 5 lb bag is like 6 bucks, that will work for all of it.

So for less than 100 bucks you have 140 gallons of basically the best container mix you can buy, which you can use for the next 3 years, provided that you ph balance it each year.

Of course your prices will vary depending on locale, but can you buy 420 gallons (140 per year) of commercial potting mix for 100 bucks?

I think not. Not even close.

I'm getting buzzed on my liquid 5-1-1 y'all!!!

Woot!

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ:

Sorry bud, I've always been a Boston fan although I'm from San Diego. ;)

Regarding the cost of commercial mixes, you're probably right. But I very rarely even purchase commercial soil any longer, but as far as "container acceptable" mix is concerned, I can get wood chips for 18/cu. yd and compost for 12/ cu. yd (or free- homemade). Supplement that with a bale of peat now and then and the cost is quite minimal. Feed weith more compost, compost tea, and some fert(now and then) throughout the season and my plants seem to do quite well. Unless these 2 new chiles I'm trying this year(thai and ghost) are particularly finicky), I just might keep doing it my way.

Don't get me wrong. You guys still might be able to "sell" me on the idea.

Question: How does the 5-1-1 do with other veggies such as anything in the brassica family(broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc), alliums(onions), cucurbits(squashes, cucumbers, melons), green beans, lettuces and spinach?

GO CELTICS!! Thunder will take it all this year though.

Kevin


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

woo - Have you seen this post? If not, it's worth reading through.

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0214580016564.html

I like this one too - It summarizes a bunch of tidbits pulled from all those threads.

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0212444023053.html


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ: where are you purchasing your media from and what are you using for fertilizer?


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Uh oh Woo, you're boys are down by 19 with 8:26 left....eekk!

GO HEAT!

Don't get me wrong bud, I'm not trying to convert you..if you're happy with what you do then by all means - go for it. After all, we're talking about growing peppers, not sending them to the moon. Whatever makes you happy is what you should do.

Regarding your question: The 5-1-1 works for EVERYTHING!!! That's what's great about it. The "gritty" is generally more desirable for certain long term plantings...but a refined 5-1-1 will even work well for those. In the end, all roots want the same thing. Oxygen, water, easily available nutrients, and freedom of movement...the 5-1-1 provides all of those.

I get all my resources, almost exclusively, from a local, privately owned nursury. I'm very lucky in that respect. Although, it's not perfect, it's all in one place. For ferts, I've used Miracle Gro 24-8-16 plus Micros in the past, mostly for cost effectiveness...but I just made the move to Foliage Pro 9-3-6 and Pro-Tekt - both from Dyna Gro - as I stumbled across a local dealer virtually in my back yard, with rock bottom prices. FP is arguably the best product of its kind on the market, so I'm stoked that I found it for the right price.

Now I'm drunk, and I'm squinting - typing with 2 fingers, so now your boys are down by 20 with 1:20....

Saturday night Game 7 in the MIA...I like it, I like it a lot.....

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Happy birthday, PJ!
I hope you're feeling alright today! hehehe ;-)

5-1-1 is actually quite economical when compared to pre-bagged mixes on the market.
I certainly don't have "deep pockets" - plus, it costs a lot less to keep a plant healthy
than it does to replace plants that die in sub-standard mixes. If you consider your plants
to be "cheap," then by all means put them in a cheap mix. For my part, I choose something better.

When making the 5-1-1, you can definitely use Compost in place of the peat fraction.

But you don't want to use woodchips. PJ mentioned a couple reasons.
First, woodchips decompose rapidly compared to bark. During decomposition, the particles
become small and compact in the container, which clogs up drainage. During decomposition, you
have Nitrogen Immobilization (and thus possible deficiencies). Lastly, there is a possibility
of heat spikes in the root-zone of the container as the woodchips decompose.

Conifer Bark is rich in Suberin (often called nature's water-repellent or preservative)
and Lignin. This is really what makes bark so durable.


Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

I wanna talk about peat for a second and I hope I'm not derailing anything.

There is a lot...way too much...crap peat on the market.

There's too much of this small-particle, soup-making, dusty stuff out there.

When you get quality peat (not a bunch of mega-fines) it can be very similar to the pine bark in how it "acts" in a container. Yes, it breaks down faster, but quality peat doesn't "soup up" or hold tons of water like the cheap stuff (which you cannot trust by price in many cases).

For instance, and not preference (just something I've used a lot), Premier Horticulture's peat is good stuff. I've managed containers with quality PHort mixes in them that have been outside year-round for 4-5 years.

That said, I far prefer the pine bark fines and if you want to keep your container mixes for more than 3-5 years I would try to find the pine bark fines over the peat even if it meant a few dollars extra.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Since I'm rambling...

It's actually getting harder to find screened peat in the US compared to Europe/Asia and a lot of it has to do with less demand from huge commercial growers because they're going to pine bark fines. PBFines aren't new, but they've been gaining much more popularity over the past decade...coconut coir, too.

When you're starting seeds or annuals for sale, peat screening doesn't do a whole lot of good since you're moving those plants in 15-60 days for most applications.

We have way more than enough "raw supply" for pine bark fines in every corner of the US. Eventually they'll find their way into commercial container mixes, but the commercial demand vs commercial output of product is still catching up. About 4 years ago we actually had a pine bark fines shortage for a few months here in Central NC. That's like having a salt water shortage in Hawaii.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

I found a four-leaf clover in my garden today, but still haven't found anything labeled as pine bark at HD/Lowe's/Walmart. There was some stuff at HD that was labeled decortive bark that looked to be about the right sizes you guys have been mentioning, but i could swear I smelled cedar in a handful? Any suggestions? The nearest K-Mart is quite away and when I do a search on their website, nothing comes up.

One would figure that as popular as this mix is, corporate America would jump on the chance to profit from it. Anybody know a purchaser at Home Depot?


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Nothing to worry about folks....I'm still alive...lol....barely!!

I had a great B-Day, thanks for all the well wishes!

This is a great conversation, I do hope that at least a few of you make the plunge....you won't be disappointed.

Woohoo,
That's a HILARIOUS analogy! LOL. It can be super frustrating to find the right stuff, that's for sure. I'm going to suggest that you forget about the big box stores and start taking drives, or making calls, to privately owned nursurys, landscape suppliers, rock & sand suppliers (for turface, if you use it), etc. Sometimes nursurys that grow/pot their own plants, as opposed to buying everything in, are more likely to have bark and perlite in stock, as they use it for thier own operation.

Good luck on the hunt!

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

BTW, tsheets. Thanks for the links, good reading. ALthough I don't know if I have time to tend to the garden now.

;)


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

That 5-1-1 fertilizer smells like my bathroom the morning after a night of tequila and burritos.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

LOL, Frank. I think you're refering to Fish Emulsion 5-1-1 fertilizer, and it does smell terrible, but we are discussing a soilless media formula...two different ballgames...it all good though - welcome to the discussion!

I snapped a pic today that I thought might bring something to the party. If any of you are wondering how to best go about the whole screening process, this is one way that I do it.

Photobucket

It's just a 2' x 2' square made from 2" x 4" with handles on each side. The 1/2" hardware cloth is held in place by large washers and screws, like so.

Photobucket

Obviously this design work for any size cloth. I also use some pre-made things, such as wire mesh storage bins from the Container Store - but making them only takes a few minutes and they turn out to be cheaper anyways...

Just thought I'd share.

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ:

I would have to FIND some fines to screen first! ;)

I called a couple of local chain nurseries yesterday and they both had this:

http://www.ebstone.org/23_micro.php

2 c.f. for $10 was the cheapest. Still too cost prohibitive in my opinion. I'll try to be more creative in my searches around the county, but may have to wait until corporate america gets wind of this product before I go full tilt into the 5-1-1 craze.

Maybe the local Master gardener's cooperative extension might know??


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ, excellent screen, man ;-)

Woohoo, most hardware stores, like ACE, carry various sizes of "Hardware cloth."


Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

I can't believe you can't find pine bark mulch anywhere. Size-wise it may not be ideal, but, it is cheap and if you're going to screen it anyway..... You can get it at any place that has plants here (walmart, home depot, the grocery store, you name it) for about $3 and change / 2 cuft bag.

I made a similar screening box, except I used 1"x6" and stapled the hardware cloth on rather than screws and washers. Those handles are pretty nice, I don't have those. :-)


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Josh:

If I ever find some conifer fines for a decent price, I have some hardware cloth.

tsheets:

Nothing labeled as such. There's "bark" at Lowes, HD, AND walmart. Cedar is no problem. Then there's bark mulch that lists the ingredients as "forest products." Then there's something at Home Depot labeled as "decorative bark" and when I smelled it, I can swear I smell some cedar in it.

You got any label names for me? Or some pics of the bags at those places you mentioned.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

I use a product called Micro Bark, brand name Greenall. I'm pretty sure it's E.B. Stone.
E.B. Stone also has "Orchid Bark" in fine-grade, but it is much more costly. If you can find
someone who carries or will order the "Mini" orchid bark from Shasta Forest Products, then
you won't have to do any screening at all.

Josh

Here is a link that might be useful: Shasta Forest Products


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Yeah, I would agree that 10 bucks for 2 cu ft is a bit expensive.

I did some research for you though, and I think that I have a promising lead. Try Grangetto's Farm & Garden Supply. They have 4 locations is SD County (Escondido, Encinitas, Fallbrook, & Valley Center). Thier "products" page lists bark products, perlite, peat, dolomite...everything you would need for a 5-1-1...Not to mention a TON of other stuff. This place looks SWEET! I wish I could find something like this close to me!!

http://www.grangettos.com/index.html

Good Luck!

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Thanks for the work PJ! Yeah. I'll have to travel a tad to get to one of those locations but that place does look promising. Been kind of busy to call some of the nurseries closer to me. Hopefully I can find something inexpensive, even if I have to buy it in bulk.

Once again, thanks for the help. :)

Btw, OKC looked good, eh? ;)


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

NP Woo, my pleasure!

And YES, they DID look good :P

They played a more complete game, that's for sure. They moved the ball around way better, and they kept up the intensity for the long haul....a problem that the Heat stuggle with. If they can steal one tomorrow, they might have a chance - if they go down 2-0, I'd wager that's it's a done deal.

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Btw, Heat looked good, eh? ;)

Steal one in OKC....check

Bienvenido a Miami!!

GO HEAT!!!!!!


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

So I just concluded a little screening work and I wanted to share. If this doesn't drive home the importance of screening, then nothing will. I had some old 5-1-1 around the side of the house. It was from my first try at the 5-1-1, and I DID NOT screen this batch. I was planning on recycling it into a raised bed, or what have you, but hadn't gotten around to it. I hadn't thought about it in a while, but I was over there today and it dawned on me that this might be a good learning/teaching experience, so I decided to screen it.

It turned out to be roughly 22 gallons total. I ran the entire batch trough a 1/8" screen to separate the large particles from the small. For every 4 parts of large product I added 1 part of small to reach my 20% threshold (decribed above). I was able to re-build 18 gallons of properly built 5-1-1 and was left with ~4 GALLONS~ (!!!!) of small particulates, less than 1/8". This means that my unscreened attempt yielded over 100% MORE smalls than I intended. A mistake like that could ruin your whole season.

Food for thought.

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ:

Thanks for keeping the thread alive. I'm learning a little bit more about the whole 5-1-1 mix as the days go by. Still haven't gotten around to trying to find some fines nearby. My grandmother passed and now I have to make a trip to(of all places) Oklahoma City to bury her. Too bad she didn't want to get buried in my hometown-- The weather's better. ;)

Btw, I notice through video that 1/2" hardware cloth is used to screen the larger pieces. WHat do you use to screen down to 1/8"?

Kevin

GO THUNDER!


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hey Kevin,
Really sorry to hear about your Grandmother, I'm sure she lived a wonderful live. May God rest her soul.

Regarding the screens, you can use hardware cloth for 1/8" as well, if you so choose. Generally ACE Hardware sells it by the foot...but I've also seen it on ebay pretty cheap as well. OR, you can use something pre-made. For example, I know that Josh uses a pond basket for screening out the smalls. I sometimes use a wire mesh storage drawer from The Container Store...see the link. This particular product can be substituted for you're 1/8" hardware cloth setup. I personlly chose the one that measures 20-3/4" x 20-3/4" x 3-1/4" h. Just be advised, its not ~exactly~ 1/8" mesh. It's a diamond shaped opening with the narrowest dimension at 1/8", the other way it's closer to 3/16"....but it will do just fine.

For the dust you'll need a 1/16" screen. They don't have hardware cloth that size, so aluminum insect screen is the tool of choice.

I know it seems like alot. If you want to work your way into it, there are 2 neccesities. The 1/2" screen and the 1/16" screen. That will at least provide an acceptable range of product. Many people only do these two steps for thier 5-1-1. As I've said....I like to have much more control over my mix than that, this is where the 1/8" screen comes in. Adding in that step allows you to fully customize your mix to your liking, and maintain consistancy from batch to batch.

A word of advice. This is pretty obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people miss it. Screen your materials from largest to smallest, setting aside the large as you go. I cringe every time I hear someone say they tried to pass 50 gal of raw material through an insect screen...and they wonder why it took them a week!!! LOL! This is actually another HUGE benefit of the 1/8" stage. This DRASTICALLY cuts down the amount of product that has to go through the insect screen...which is the slowest and most frustrating step in the process.

PJ

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Store Bins


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ: Thanks for the condolences. It's all good! She made it to 95. Actually I should be consoled for having to go to Oklahoma this time of year. ;)

Once again, thanks for all the help! :)


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Faux perlite ?

I wonder if ground styrofoam can stand in for perlite? It's just an inert space filler, right?


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Styrofoam compacts over time, unfortunately...and a lot of modern styrofoam is starch-based rather than exclusively "plastic" and can break down with watering.

Also, though the perlite is mostly inert on it's own, it has surfaces which can hold moisture and nutrients.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Question to Josh or PJ would Charcoal have the same purpose as the Turface? Could it be used in its place?


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hey, Mark!
The original 5-1-1 recipe only calls for peat moss and perlite as amendments to the bark.
I say this to stress that deviations from the straight recipe can manifest different results.
Of course, several of us have tried substituting those amendments with various ingredients.

So, how were you planning to use the Turface? As a substitute for peat moss/potting soil?


Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hi Josh,

Thanks for your response, would Charcoal replace Turface? Here is what I was thinking about doing. See link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mix that I could use for peppers?


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Call me dense, but I'm still not quite there.

Short answer: No, Charcoal is not a direct substitute for Turface.
The structure is different, as well as the way it holds and releases moisture.

The mix in your link would be far closer to a Gritty Mix than a 5-1-1.
My concern is that the bark, charcoal, and perlite are all fairly durable ingredients,
and they may not "bind" well at first without a fine particulate component.

Even when I used Turface in my 5-1-1, I still included an equal amount of potting mix to
bind the ingredients.

The further you go from the original recipe, the more varied your results may be.

If you have the ingredients, I would say put together a mix and see how it works.
Does it absorb moisture, does it drain well, does it have the proper texture....


Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Great thanks for the info very helpful. Will stick with the 5-1-1 without Charcoal. Dont really want to experiment at this point.

Mark


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ:

Finally made it back from god-forsaken Oklahoma(no offense Oklahomans). Congratulations on the Heat winning it all. I didn't see THAT conclusion AT ALL! LeBron finally DIDN'T choke!

Habjalokia:

I'm no chemistry expert, but from my research, wood ashes are hish in potash(potassium) and changes pH levels also. Maybe CHARCOAL would have these same characteristics? Just a guess on my part. /shrug.

Anyhow, Thanks to everybody for their input. If I DO finally try the famed 5-1-1, I'll share my experiences.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Heya Woo!
Welcome back! Yeah, I don't think anybody saw that coming! It was fun though, looking forward to next year!

This is actually the first time I've been back on GW in a few weeks too. I just started a new job and it is SUPER intense. I have no oportuntity to get on during the day like before, and with a 3 year old at home...I don't get much time here either..LOL. One down side is that I'll be traveling every other week, so I'm in the process of training my wife how NOT to KILL my babies while I'm away.....eeeekkkkkk!!!! It's a great opportunity though, so I'm not going to complain....too much anyways....LOL.

Anyways, I might be MIA on and off for a while - at least while I'm adjusting to the new schedule, but I'll do my best to check in.

By the way, I thought that I had posted a pic of my modified 5-1-1 on this thread...but I hadn't - so here it is.

Photobucket

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

A little more help on the 5-1-1 please.

I finally broke down. hat to get my ghost and thai in SOMETHING, and I didn't have space in the ground where the rest of my chiles are.

So, I got some bark, prelite, and peat(couldn't find turface).

Added 1 TB of lime per gallon of mix and used 2 TB of Osmocote per 5 gallon bucket(plant).

Now, on to the fertilizing. I've read a lot of you are using foliage pro. Couldn't find that so I picked up some Vigoro AP with a 3-1-2 ratio of NPK and small amounts of micronutrients. Will this suffice?

Am I to understand that I shouldn't use natural fertilizers? No compost tea, no compost, no ORGANIC fertilizers?

Feedback please.

Thanks

Kevin


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hey Kevin,
That vigaro should be fine, I used the MG version of that formula before switching to FP without any problems. The only real downfall of both the Vigaro and the MG 3-1-2's is the obvious lack of Ca and Mg.

As for organics, most people that use the 5-1-1 opt against organics - but it's up to you. The fact is that containers aren't the best environment for microorganisms, which are, of course, required to convert organic ferts into a form usable by the plants. Unlike mother earth, container mediums are subject to extreme variations from day to day. This is going to create boom or bust development of your microherd...meaning boom or bust nutrient delivery. The synthetics are going to give you a well balanced and consistent delivery of nutrients - especially if you use a low dose with high frequency, while organics will be sporadic and hard to dial in. Not to mention that the 5-1-1 isn't exactly Club Med for microorganisms, nor is it meant to be.

For my buck, the organics stay in the garden.

PS - If you're going to go with peat, you can also consider using the bark fines as a replacement. You bought them right? May as well use em up! Not that peat breaks the bank or anything, but it's one less ingredient to buy....and I hate peat...lol...can ya tell?? Check out what I mean in the link.

PJ

Here is a link that might be useful: Another option for you


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

PJ nailed it re: organics in the 5-1-1.
If the container is large enough, organics can work.....however, it will shorten the
life of the 5-1-1 (increase the decomposition process). It'll still last a good season,
but you won't get much more than that.

Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Josh and PJ:

So, Let's say I want to use half oak barrels. Would I be able to possibly use peat, compost, coarse perlite and the wood chips I mentioned at the beginning of this thread and still be able to lower the PWT you guys stress so much?

I really do want to go as organic as possible.

I've got the ghost and thai in a 5-1-1 and I'll give it a shot this year. I just hope the difference is worth it. I have had good success with three out of the four ingredients(peat, compost, and chips).

Even Miracle-Gro Organic Choice fert won't do with the 5-1-1??

Kevin

Here is a link that might be useful: wood chips link


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

You can do whatever you want, however, if you stray too far from the original idea of the 5-1-1 it ceases to be a 5-1-1. The ~idea~ of the 5-1-1 is to provide maximum structure, aeration, and drainage - with very little, if any, regard for organics. By adding in a bunch of peat and compost you take away from those properties that the 5-1-1 strives to create. If your hung up on staying organic - which is perfectly fine - simply put, the 5-1-1 may not be for you. Maybe you'd be more comfortable with something like a 3-2-1 with the 3 parts being comprised of potting mix/peat/compost/etc, the 2 parts being bark, and the 1 part being perlite. This would be a much better medium to use organic ferts in, as long as the container is big enough. Just be warned, it's gonna hold water and its gonna compress. You'll want to be extra diligent with your watering habits - not only for the plants, but for the micro-organisms as well.

Now, and most importantly, I would personally stay away from those wood chips....do yourself a favor and stick with bark. The chips are gonna decompose quickly and tie up nutrients, specifically nitrogen, as they do so.

As for the MG OC fert in the 5-1-1, I don't have anything else to add besides what I said a few posts ago...it's really your choice at this point.

Hope that helps!

PJ


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Thanks PJ and everybody else. You've all been a great help and opened my eyes a bit regarding containers.

Kevin


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hi all,

I am considering a 5-1-1 or a gritty mix (or some variation) for large containers.
I would like to move the planters from time to time and am curious about the weight of the mixes.
Can anybody post weights of 1 gallon of different mixes, please?

For example:

1) 5-1-1
1 gallon ..... lbs (kg)
Mix:
5 parts Orchid Bark (pine bark fines), 1-2 parts Perlite, and 1 part Peat Moss

2) gritty mix
1 gallon .... lbs (kg)
1 part uncomposted screened pine or fir bark (1/8-1/4"), 
1 part screened Turface, 
1 part crushed Gran-I-Grit (grower size), 
1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil

If you have your other favorite mix, please post it too!

Thanks!


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Goldfinch,
this particular Thread is about the 5-1-1, so I think it best if "other favorite mix"
is not posted here (lest there be confusion).

The 5-1-1 is a bit lighter in weight than an equal volume of bagged mix, like Miracle Grow.

The Gritty Mix is significantly heavier, owing primarily to its inclusion of grit (turface/granite).


Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Josh,

Thanks for pointing out, I will create a new thread.

I know that some mixes are heavier than the others, I was curious about the actual pounds/kg per gallon/liters.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

I wish I could help with the weights, but I've never weighed my containers.....
nor do I have any containers with bagged mixes with which to compare.

I saw your post at the Container Forum, and I think you'll get some relative weights (fractions),
if not actual numbers.


Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Since this pertains to the 5-1-1 (and Gritty Mix, for those interested), I thought I'd post
it here, as well. Al, who goes by Tapla on these Fora, put these mixes together and has offered
the recipes as a starting point for a customized container medium.

"Well-made 5:1:1 mix weighs about the same as a peat-based mix when dry
and about 2/3 the weight of most peat-based mixes at container capacity (fully saturated).

A well-made gritty mix weighs about 2-3X as much as a peat-based soil when dry,
and about 1.5X as much at container capacity.

Al"


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

It looks like it's very easy to screw up a 5-1-1 mix. I am sure I have. So here's a question:

Is a poorly constructed 5-1-1 still better than a store-bought potting mix?


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Serge: It's only my 2nd year using the 5-1-1, but I would say that a 5-1-1 with a bunch of sapwood would be far worse than taking a bag of potting mix and adding some extra perlite for porosity.

At least with potting mix, you don't have a bunch of material sucking the nutrients out of the mix as sapwood does.

I'll let the experts chime in though.

Kevin


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

  • Posted by esox07 4b Wisconsin (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 27, 13 at 2:06

IMO, Kevin is right on. The bark is the key to the mix and getting to fine of bark, too course or one with too much sapwood will give you a growing medium that will likely not produce very good results regardless of the rest of the components used. As long as you have a good bark component, you simply need to add the other ingredients in close to a 5-1-1 ratio. The soil part of the mix can be any reasonable soil, peat or potting mix. The perlite should be mostly coarse with little dust. A bit of garden lime and some slow release fertilizer like Osmocote is about all you need.
Good luck


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions


So I read through this and have a question, how many seasons can you get out of the mix?

TIA
NECM


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Several. This is my 3rd year using it and though I've refreshed it and just made more each season, It doesn't look like It's degrading very much to me.

Kevin


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Kevin's right....you can go 2 - 3 years with this mix, especially with some refreshing. I've certainly pressed mine for use with Citrus and other bonsai trees. For peppers, I try to make fresh mix every year. If you use uncomposted bark, you'll certainly get more longevity.

Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Would it help if you fairly dry them at the end of season, keep it air dry so it wont compost ?
I have a pretty good source here. It costs me around $3.50 per cubic foot, including perlite, lime and CRF. .


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Does anyone have a good suggestion for a pine alternative? I'm tired of rubbing my eyes and itching when I garden. :(


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

You're allergic to the bark ??


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

I'm having at least some sensitivity to it- itchy watering eyes, runny nose, itchy skin even though I wear garden gloves. It's certainly nothing life threatening but an alternative would be nice. I'd really like to add more containers of peppers and not have to use so much space in my raised beds since they overwinter here easily. I could really use the space in the beds for things I can't grow in pots.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

As I understand it you can use any bark that contains lignin (sp?) a substance that inhibits decomposition. As far as I know this includes all fir barks. I've never heard of using hardwood bark in a soil-less mix.

Seems to me that this question could be better answered in the Container forum.

Dennis


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Conifer bark - fir, pine, hemlock. Not sure about redwood. Ask Josh or Al.

Kevin


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Yep, fir, pine, hemlock...and *possibly* spruce if the bark looks right. Redwood and Cedar are not advised, as they tend to be too fibrous (and may contain chemicals that are not conducive to root-growth).

Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Dennis, I just figured I'd throw it out there since I'm specifically growing peppers in pots. I had found a discussion on the container forum where someone was looking for alternatives because they couldn't find the right size bark and there were a lot of responses with helping the person find the right bark but no mentions of suitable alternatives.

Thanks Kevin and Josh. I've never seen hemlock anything anywhere. I'll have to ask at my local nursery this weekend. Otherwise I might just have to wing it and shoot for the right texture if not the right materials.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

IMO the size of the bark pieces is over-emphasized. You don't want them too small, granted. But "too big" should be reserved for chunks over 2". The bark is essentially a filler that also holds some moisture. If you can find a chunky alternative, go with it.

Dennis

Or you can run it over with your car several times...


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Size is majorly prohibitive. The larger the bark, the faster the drainage....at first. As the mix settles, the fine material migrates to the bottom of the pot, leaving the top of the pot dry and the bottom too wet. In addition, overly large bark reduces the room for roots to grow. 1/2 inch bark is the upper limit, and for very good reason.

Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Now that we're back to talking 5-1-1 again. I have a couple questions Josh...

First, have you found a different source other than GreenAll for your fines? Don't get me wrong... the stuff is a perfect size. But with that perfect size comes very small pieces of sapwood that takes forever to pick out and even after picking, I know there's still quite a bit left in it.

I'm almost thinking that it would be easier to buy large nugget, pick the LARGER sapwood pieces, and then do what Dennis suggests... stick in a pillowcase and drive over. Then screen.

Also, have you found an acceptable bark(even if large nugget) at any of the big box stores?

Kevin


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Hey, Kevin, I've stuck with Greenall Micro Bark, only venturing off the reservation a few times. Every once in a while, Home Depot has Earthgro in the right size, but usually it's way too large. Beware, however....the Earthgro has even more sapwood. The other bark I've used is really the same as the Greenall, just in a different package...E.B. Stone's fine-grade "Orchid Bark" - which is more expensive for the purple packaging ;-)

As long as the sapwood is less than 10% of the overall product, I think the Osmocote is more than enough to offset any Nitrogen immobilization.

Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

"Or you can run it over with your car several times...


Hmmmm... I drive a 1960 Buick. I'm afraid I would probably end up with a pillowcase full of dust. :D


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

1960 Buick Gunboat! Awright!

2" is too large, I suppose, but I've been using pieces up to 1" with no noticeable problem. 'Course, I don't use 5:1:1 with very young plants.

Dennis


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

I may have found something that will work for me- at least as a good starting point and so far it doesn't make me itchy or sniffly!

It's Sta-Green tree and shrub mix from Lowe's. At just under 6 bucks for a 2 cuft bag it's seems like a pretty good deal.

Compost (a write up in Wired Magazine about this mix said: "Sta-Green’s formulation varies by region, but typically a significant percentage of it is decaying plant matter. A common ingredient is rice hulls, which retain water. In Georgia, half of the mix is pine bark, which can help ward off root rot. In California it contains “forest products” "mostly mill leftovers."

Potassium Nitrate
Ammonium Phosphate
Urea
Reed-Sedge Peat
Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss
Ground Dolomitic Limestone
Potassium Sulfate

Any thoughts? Also, we've just been slapped with even more water restrictions (effective immediately,) so I need to consider water retention- screen less of the small particles out of increase something else?


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

I wouldn't use that shredded, dusty bark mix, personally. Lots of sapwood in that handful alone.

Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Oh, well. I'm probably going to just stop bothering about 5-1-1 then.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Veda,
can you find Greenall Micro Bark?

Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Josh, I used several store locators and it looks like the closest place is 35 miles away. In a car that gets 7 miles to a gallon and gas around $4 a gallon that's a $50 bag of bark. :) For that $50 I can get a yard of a good raised bed mix (29.99) and a yard of good bio-solid free compost (19.99) from my local nursery and fill 2 more 4x8 raised beds (I get the 2x10s to build them for free,) which is looking like a better solution for me than trying to do pots at this point but I do appreciate the suggestion.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Of course! Yes, beds would make more sense, especially in your zone. More moisture efficient.

Josh


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

Veda: those store locators aren't the best for finding things sometimes. But...anyhow, do you have an Armstrong's Garden nearby? They have the microbark for 10/2cf.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

No, Kevin, we don't have them here- we have big box stores and small independents. The closest is either Anaheim or Temecula- about 30-35 miles either way. No worries, I'll just keep doing what I have been- I'm up to my eyeballs in peppers so it's not any kind of emergency. I'll revisit the possibility of pots with 5-1-1 at a later time if the right materials become available.


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RE: 5-1-1 mix recipe --- a couple questions

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