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Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XV

tapla
8 years ago

I first posted this thread back in March of '05. Fourteen times it has reached the maximum number of posts GW allows to a single thread, which is much more attention than I ever imagined it would garner. I have reposted it in no small part because it has been great fun, and a wonderful catalyst in the forging of new friendships and in increasing my list of acquaintances with similar growing interests. The forum and email exchanges that stem so often from the subject are in themselves enough to make me hope the subject continues to pique interest, and the exchanges provide helpful information. Most of the motivation for posting this thread another time comes from the reinforcement of hundreds of participants over the years that strongly suggests the information provided in good-spirited collective exchange has made a significant difference in the quality of their growing experience. I'll provide links to some of the more recent of the previous dozen threads and nearly 2,500 posts at the end of what I have written - just in case you have interest in reviewing them. Thank you for taking the time to examine this topic - I hope that any/all who read it take at least something interesting and helpful from it. I know it's long. My hope is that you find it worth the read, and the time you invest results in a significantly improved growing experience.

Since there are many questions about soils appropriate for use in containers, I'll post basic mix recipes later, in case any would like to try the soil. It will follow the information.

Before we get started, I'd like to mention that I wrote a reply and posted it to a thread recently, and I think it is well worth considering. It not only sets a minimum standard for what constitutes a 'GOOD' soil, but also points to the fact that not all growers look at container soils from the same perspective, which is why growers so often disagree on what makes a 'good' soil. I hope you find it thought provoking:

Is Soil X a 'Good' Soil?size>color>

I think any discussion on this topic must largely center around the word "GOOD", and we can broaden the term 'good' so it also includes 'quality' or 'suitable', as in "Is soil X a quality or suitable soil?"

How do we determine if soil A or soil B is a good soil? and before we do that, we'd better decide if we are going to look at it from the plant's perspective or from the grower's perspective, because often there is a considerable amount of conflict to be found in the overlap - so much so that one can often be mutually exclusive of the other.

We can imagine that grower A might not be happy or satisfied unless knows he is squeezing every bit of potential from his plants, and grower Z might not be happy or content unless he can water his plants before leaving on a 2-week jaunt, and still have a weeks worth of not having to water when he returns. Everyone else is somewhere between A and Z; with B, D, F, H, J, L, N, P, R, T, V, X, and Y either unaware of how much difference soil choice can make, or they understand but don't care.

I said all that to illustrate the large measure of futility in trying to establish any sort of standard as to what makes a good soil from the individual grower's perspective; but let's change our focus from the pointless to the possible.

We're only interested in the comparative degrees of 'good' and 'better' here. It would be presumptive to label any soil "best". 'Best I've found' or 'best I've used' CAN sometimes be useful for comparative purposes, but that's a very subjective judgment. Let's tackle 'good', then move on to 'better', and finally see what we can do about qualifying these descriptors so they can apply to all growers.

I would like to think that everyone would prefer to use a soil that can be described as 'good' from the plant's perspective. How do we determine what a plant wants? Surprisingly, we can use %s established by truly scientific studies that are widely accepted in the greenhouse and nursery trades to determine if a soil is good or not good - from the plant's perspective, that is. Rather than use confusing numbers that mean nothing to the hobby grower, I can suggest that our standard for a good soil should be, at a minimum, that you can water that soil properly. That means, that at any time during the growth cycle, you can water your plantings to beyond the point of saturation (so excess water is draining from the pot) without the fear of root rot or compromised root function or metabolism due to (take your pick) too much water or too little air in the root zone.

I think it's very reasonable to withhold the comparative basic descriptor, 'GOOD', from soils that can't be watered properly without compromising root function, or worse, suffering one of the fungaluglies that cause root rot. I also think anyone wishing to make the case from the plant's perspective that a soil that can't be watered to beyond saturation w/o compromising root health can be called 'good', is fighting on the UP side logic hill.

So I contend that 'good' soils are soils we can water correctly; that is, we can flush the soil when we water without concern for compromising root health/function/metabolism. If you ask yourself, "Can I water correctly if I use this soil?" and the answer is 'NO' ... it's not a good soil ... for the reasons stated above.

Can you water correctly using most of the bagged soils readily available? 'NO', I don't think I need to point to a conclusion.

What about 'BETTER'? Can we determine what might make a better soil? Yes, we can. If we start with a soil that meets the minimum standard of 'good', and improve either the physical and/or chemical properties of that soil, or make it last longer, then we have 'better'. Even if we cannot agree on how low we wish to set the bar for what constitutes 'good', we should be able to agree that any soil that reduces excess water retention, increases aeration, ensures increased potential for optimal root health, and lasts longer than soils that only meet some one's individual and arbitrary standard of 'good', is a 'better' soil.

All the plants we grow, unless grown from seed, have the genetic potential to be beautiful specimens. It's easy to say, and easy to see the absolute truth in the idea that if you give a plant everything it wants it will flourish and grow; after all, plants are programmed to grow just that way. Our growing skills are defined by our ability to give plants what they want. The better we are at it, the better our plants will grow. But we all know it's not that easy. Lifetimes are spent in careful study, trying to determine just exactly what it is that plants want and need to make them grow best.

Since this is a soil discussion, let's see what the plant wants from its soil. The plant wants a soil in which we have endeavored to provide in available form, all the essential nutrients, in the ratio in at which the plant uses them, and at a concentration high enough to prevent deficiencies yet low enough to make it easy to take up water (and the nutrients dissolved in the water). First and foremost, though, the plant wants a container soil that is evenly damp, never wet or soggy. Giving a plant what it wants, to flourish and grow, doesn't include a soil that is half saturated for a week before aeration returns to the entire soil mass, even if you only water in small sips. Plants might do 'ok' in some soils, but to actually flourish, like they are genetically programmed to do, they would need to be unencumbered by wet, soggy soils.

We become better growers by improving our ability to reduce the effects of limiting factors, or by eliminating those limiting factors entirely; in other words, by clearing out those influences that stand in the way of the plant reaching its genetic potential. Even if we are able to make every other factor that influences plant growth/vitality absolutely perfect, it could not make up for a substandard soil. For a plant to grow to its genetic potential, every factor has to be perfect, including the soil. Of course, we'll never manage to get to that point, but the good news is that as we get closer and closer, our plants get better and better; and hopefully, we'll get more from our growing experience.

In my travels, I've discovered it almost always ends up being that one little factor that we willingly or unwittingly overlooked that limits us in our abilities, and our plants in their potential.

Food for thought:

A 2-bit plant in a $10 soil has a future full of potential, where a $10 plant in a 2-bit soil has only a future filled with limitations. ~ Al

Container Soils - Water Movement & Retentionsize>color>

As container gardeners, our first priority should be to ensure the soils we use are adequately aerated for the life of the planting, or in the case of perennial material (trees, shrubs, garden perennials), from repot to repot. Soil aeration/drainage is the most important consideration in any container planting. Soils are the foundation that all container plantings are built on, and aeration is the very cornerstone of that foundation. Since aeration and drainage are inversely linked to soil particle size, it makes good sense to try to find and use soils or primary components with particles larger than peat/compost/coir. Durability and stability of soil components so they contribute to the retention of soil structure for extended periods is also extremely important. Pine and some other types of conifer bark fit the bill nicely, but I'll talk more about various components later.

What I will write also hits pretty hard against the futility in using a drainage layer of coarse materials in attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the total volume of soil available for root colonization. A wick can be employed to remove water from the saturated layer of soil at the container bottom, but a drainage layer is not effective. A wick can be made to work in reverse of the self-watering pots widely being discussed on this forum now.

Consider this if you will:

Container soils are all about structure, and particle size plays the primary role in determining whether a soil is suited or unsuited to the application. Soil fills only a few needs in container culture. Among them are: Anchorage - a place for roots to extend, securing the plant and preventing it from toppling. Nutrient Retention - it must retain a nutrient supply in available form sufficient to sustain plant systems. Gas Exchange - it must be amply porous to allow air to move through the root system and gasses that are the by-product of decomposition to escape. Water - it must retain water enough in liquid and/or vapor form to sustain plants between waterings. Air - it must contain a volume of air sufficient to ensure that root function/metabolism/growth is not impaired. This is extremely important and the primary reason that heavy, water-retentive soils are so limiting in their affect. Most plants can be grown without soil as long as we can provide air, nutrients, and water, (witness hydroponics). Here, I will concentrate primarily on the movement and retention of water in container soil(s).

There are two forces that cause water to move through soil - one is gravity, the other capillary action. Gravity needs little explanation, but for this writing I would like to note: Gravitational flow potential (GFP) is greater for water at the top of the container than it is for water at the bottom. I'll return to that later.

Capillarity is a function of the natural forces of adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion is water's tendency to stick to solid objects like soil particles and the sides of the pot. Cohesion is the tendency for water to stick to itself. Cohesion is why we often find water in droplet form - because cohesion is at times stronger than adhesion; in other words, water's bond to itself can be stronger than the bond to the object it might be in contact with; cohesion is what makes water form drops. Capillary action is in evidence when we dip a paper towel in water. The water will soak into the towel and rise several inches above the surface of the water. It will not drain back into the source, and it will stop rising when the GFP equals the capillary attraction of the fibers in the paper.

There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .100 (just under 1/8) inch. Perched water is water that occupies a layer of soil at the bottom of containers or above coarse drainage layers that tends to remain saturated & will not drain from the portion of the pot it occupies. It can evaporate or be used by the plant, but physical forces will not allow it to drain. It is there because the capillary pull of the soil at some point will surpass the GFP; therefore, the water does not drain, it is said to be 'perched'. The smaller the size of the particles in a soil, the greater the height of the PWT. Perched water can be tightly held in heavy (comprised of small particles) soils where it perches (think of a bird on a perch) just above the container bottom where it will not drain; or, it can perch in a layer of heavy soil on top of a coarse drainage layer, where it will not drain.

Imagine that we have five cylinders of varying heights, shapes, and diameters, each with drain holes. If we fill them all with the same soil mix, then saturate the soil, the PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This saturated area of the container is where roots initially seldom penetrate & where root problems frequently begin due to a lack of aeration and the production of noxious gasses. Water and nutrient uptake are also compromised by lack of air in the root zone. Keeping in mind the fact that the PWT height is dependent on soil particle size and has nothing to do with height or shape of the container, we can draw the conclusion that: If using a soil that supports perched water, tall growing containers will always have a higher percentage of unsaturated soil than squat containers when using the same soil mix. The reason: The level of the PWT will be the same in each container, with the taller container providing more usable, air holding soil above the PWT. From this, we could make a good case that taller containers are easier to grow in.

A given volume of large soil particles has less overall surface area when compared to the same volume of small particles and therefore less overall adhesive attraction to water. So, in soils with large particles, GFP more readily overcomes capillary attraction. They simply drain better and hold more air. We all know this, but the reason, often unclear, is that the height of the PWT is lower in coarse soils than in fine soils. The key to good drainage is size and uniformity of soil particles. Mixing large particles with small is often very ineffective because the smaller particles fit between the large, increasing surface area which increases the capillary attraction and thus the water holding potential. An illustrative question: How much perlite do we need to add to pudding to make it drain well?

I already stated I hold as true that the grower's soil choice when establishing a planting for the long term is the most important decision he/she will make. There is no question that the roots are the heart of the plant, and plant vitality is inextricably linked in a hard lock-up with root vitality. In order to get the best from your plants, you absolutely must have happy roots.

If you start with a water-retentive medium, you cannot effectively amend it to improve aeration or drainage characteristics by adding larger particulates. Sand, perlite, Turface, calcined DE ...... none of them will work effectively. To visualize why sand and perlite can't change drainage/aeration, think of how well a pot full of BBs would drain (perlite); then think of how poorly a pot full of pudding would drain (bagged soil). Even mixing the pudding and perlite/BBs together 1:1 in a third pot yields a mix that retains the drainage characteristics and PWT height of the pudding. It's only after the perlite become the largest fraction of the mix (60-75%) that drainage & PWT height begins to improve. At that point, you're growing in perlite amended with a little potting soil.

You cannot add coarse material to fine material and improve drainage or the ht of the PWT. Use the same example as above & replace the pudding with play sand or peat moss or a peat-based potting soil - same results. The benefit in adding perlite to heavy soils doesn't come from the fact that they drain better. The fine peat or pudding particles simply 'fill in' around the perlite, so drainage & the ht of the PWT remains the same. All perlite does in heavy soils is occupy space that would otherwise be full of water. Perlite simply reduces the amount of water a soil is capable of holding because it is not internally porous. IOW - all it does is take up space. That can be a considerable benefit, but it makes more sense to approach the problem from an angle that also allows us to increase the aeration AND durability of the soil. That is where Pine bark comes in, and I will get to that soon.

If you want to profit from a soil that offers superior drainage and aeration, you need to start with an ingredient as the basis for your soils that already HAVE those properties, by ensuring that the soil is primarily comprised of particles much larger than those in peat/compost/coir/sand/topsoil, which is why the recipes I suggest as starting points all direct readers to START with the foremost fraction of the soil being large particles, to ensure excellent aeration. From there, if you choose, you can add an appropriate volume of finer particles to increase water retention. You do not have that option with a soil that is already extremely water-retentive right out of the bag.

I fully understand that many are happy with the results they get when using commercially prepared soils, and I'm not trying to get anyone to change anything. My intent is to make sure that those who are having trouble with issues related to soil, understand why the issues occur, that there are options, and what they are.

We have seen that adding a coarse drainage layer at the container bottom does not improve drainage. It does though, reduce the volume of soil required to fill a container, making the container lighter. When we employ a drainage layer in an attempt to improve drainage, what we are actually doing is moving the level of the PWT higher in the pot. This simply reduces the volume of soil available for roots to colonize. Containers with uniform soil particle size from top of container to bottom will yield better and more uniform drainage and have a lower PWT than containers using the same soil with added drainage layers.

The coarser the drainage layer, the more detrimental to drainage it is because water is more (for lack of a better scientific word) reluctant to make the downward transition because the capillary pull of the soil above the drainage layer is stronger than the GFP. The reason for this is there is far more surface area on soil particles for water to be attracted to in the soil above the drainage layer than there is in the drainage layer, so the water perches. I know this goes against what most have thought to be true, but the principle is scientifically sound, and experiments have shown it as so. Many nurserymen employ the pot-in-pot or the pot-in-trench method of growing to capitalize on the science.

If you discover you need to increase drainage, you can simply insert an absorbent wick into a drainage hole & allow it to extend from the saturated soil in the container to a few inches below the bottom of the pot, or allow it to contact soil below the container where the earth acts as a giant wick and will absorb all or most of the perched water in the container, in most cases. Eliminating the PWT has much the same effect as providing your plants much more soil to grow in, as well as allowing more, much needed air in the root zone.

In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they suffer/die because there is insufficient air at the root zone to insure normal root function, so water/nutrient uptake and root metabolism become seriously impaired.

To confirm the existence of the PWT and how effective a wick is at removing it, try this experiment: Fill a soft drink cup nearly full of garden soil. Add enough water to fill to the top, being sure all soil is saturated. Punch a drain hole in the bottom of the cup and allow the water to drain. When drainage has stopped, insert a wick into the drain hole . Take note of how much additional water drains. Even touching the soil with a toothpick through the drain hole will cause substantial additional water to drain. The water that drains is water that occupied the PWT. A greatly simplified explanation of what occurs is: The wick or toothpick "fools" the water into thinking the pot is deeper than it is, so water begins to move downward seeking the "new" bottom of the pot, pulling the rest of the water in the PWT along with it. If there is interest, there are other simple and interesting experiments you can perform to confirm the existence of a PWT in container soils. I can expand later in the thread.

I always remain cognizant of these physical principles whenever I build a soil. I have not used a commercially prepared soil in many years, preferring to build a soil or amend one of my 2 basic mixes to suit individual plantings. I keep many ingredients at the ready for building soils, but the basic building process usually starts with conifer bark and perlite. Sphagnum peat plays a secondary role in my container soils because it breaks down too quickly to suit me, and when it does, it impedes drainage and reduces aeration. Size matters. Partially composted conifer bark fines (pine is easiest to find and least expensive) works best in the following recipes, followed by uncomposted bark in the Bark fines of pine, fir or hemlock, are excellent as the primary component of your soils. The lignin contained in bark keeps it rigid and the rigidity provides air-holding pockets in the root zone far longer than peat or compost mixes that too quickly break down to a soup-like consistency. Conifer bark also contains suberin, a lipid sometimes referred to as nature's preservative. Suberin, more scarce as a presence in sapwood products and hardwood bark, dramatically slows the decomposition of conifer bark-based soils. It contains highly varied hydrocarbon chains and the microorganisms that turn peat to soup have great difficulty cleaving these chains - it retains its structure.

Note that there is no sand or compost in the soils I use. Sand, as most of you think of it, can improve drainage in some cases, but it reduces aeration by filling valuable macro-pores in soils. Unless sand particle size is fairly uniform and/or larger than about BB size, I leave it out of soils. Compost is too fine and unstable for me to consider using in soils in any significant volume as well. The small amount of micro-nutrients it supplies can easily be delivered by one or more of a number of chemical or organic sources that do not detract from drainage/aeration.

The basic soils I use ....

The 5:1:1 mix:

5 parts pine bark fines (partially composted fines are best)

1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)

1-2 parts perlite

garden lime (or gypsum in some cases)

controlled release fertilizer (if preferred)

Big batch:

2-3 cu ft pine bark fines

5 gallons peat

5 gallons perlite

2 cups dolomitic (garden) lime (or gypsum in some cases)

2 cups CRF (if preferred)

Small batch:

3 gallons pine bark

1/2 gallon peat

1/2 gallon perlite

4 tbsp lime (or gypsum in some cases)

1/4 cup CRF (if preferred)

I have seen advice that some highly organic (practically speaking - almost all container soils are highly organic) container soils are productive for up to 5 years or more. I disagree and will explain why if there is interest. Even if you were to substitute fir bark for pine bark in this recipe (and this recipe will long outlast any peat based soil) you should only expect a maximum of two to three years life before a repot is in order. Usually perennials, including trees (they're perennials too) should be repotted more frequently to insure they can grow at as close to their genetic potential within the limits of other cultural factors as possible. If a soil is desired that will retain structure for long periods, we need to look more to inorganic components. Some examples are crushed granite, fine stone, VERY coarse sand (see above - usually no smaller than BB size in containers, please), Haydite, lava rock (pumice), Turface, calcined DE, and others.

For long term (especially woody) plantings and houseplants, I use a superb soil that is extremely durable and structurally sound. The basic mix is equal parts of pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite.

The gritty mix:

1 part uncomposted screened pine or fir bark (1/8-1/4")

1 part screened Turface

1 part crushed Gran-I-Grit (grower size) or #2 cherrystone

1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil (eliminate if your fertilizer has Ca)

CRF (if desired)

I use 1/8 -1/4 tsp Epsom salts (MgSO4) per gallon of fertilizer solution when I fertilize if the fertilizer does not contain Mg (check your fertilizer - if it is soluble, it is probable it does not contain Ca or Mg. If I am using my currently favored fertilizer (I use it on everything), Dyna-Gro's Foliage-Pro in the 9-3-6 formulation, and I don't use gypsum or Epsom salts in the fertilizer solution.

If there is interest, you'll find some of the more recent continuations of the thread at the links below:

Post XIV

Post XIII

Post XII

Post XI

Post X

Post IX

PostVIII

If you feel you were benefited by having read this offering, you might also find this thread about Fertilizing Containerized Plants helpful, as well.

If you do find yourself using soils you feel are too water-retentive, you'll find some Help Dealing with Water-retentive Soils by following this embedded link.

If you happen to be at all curious about How Plant Growth is Limited, just click the embedded link.

As always - best luck. Good growing!! Let me know if you think there is anything I might be able to help you with.

Al

Comments (154)

  • paul_30068
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Thanks, rina_ - that's what I'm thinking, too, i.e. stick to the 5:1:1 ratio and use one container to do so. I was just wondering why the recipes were different and maybe there is something new to learn here.

    Yeah, I'm not willing to go the Repti-bark route. Already I think if I do the math my cucumbers are costing me like $83 each. OK, it's not that bad but I really have put a lot of time and money into my set up (tables, containers, tools, e.g.) and I am interested in keeping the routine costs of the soil and fertilizer down. I am experimenting with soils that use home made compost, e.g., because my compost material is a byproduct of normal living.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Paul,

    You are right about Repti-bark -$$$.
    It is bit expensive starting out - the set up alone is big ticket. But once set up, it will last for so many years to come (only plus if one continues with gardening).
    I don't shy away from using second-hand tools, containers, and anything else I find useable as long as they are in good shape. I 'inherited' few tools when I bought my house 16yrs ago, they are older than me...but really, they are now only decorations.

    Good tools are necessary, so I try to buy best I can afford at the time & hopefully won't have to replace.

    It would be ideal if one could get materials in bulk (hopefully less $/unit), but then a storage is a problem.

    But as most of the more experienced members here claim, if you mix your own it is definitely better & less expensive.

    Rina

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  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    7 years ago
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    Hi Paul,

    I was using Reptibark as well like Rina said. I really like the Reptibark, but she is right..it can be expensive. I was having a hard time finding a good source for Pine Fines here in Virginia so i would keep looking..

    Since i always search when im out on the road, i did find some Pine Bark Fines..They also label them as Soil Conditioners. That might help you when you are looking.

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    Excellent video, Josh!

    I use the same type of hardware cloth, only I've placed mine over a stiff, double-walled cardboard box and made bends in the hardware cloth so it stays in place. I put the box right in my wheelbarrow so it's at my height for working... and voila!

    ReptiBark can get a little expensive, unless you only need small batches, as I do. It's also been reported, and I've noticed, that the small and medium bags contain the right size bark... whereas the large bags seem to contain larger pieces. I think this may have something to do with its original intent as a reptile bedding, with the smaller bags used for smaller reptiles, et. al., if you get my drift.

    Beautifully done, Josh... do you have one for the Gritty Mix, as well? That would be really sweet!

  • aharriedmom
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I found 2cf fine grade orchid bark online for $16.95, which seems cheap. I'm not sure what shipping is, and they add 10% for orders under $150, but it might be a good deal for those of us who can't find fine grade bark anywhere local.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Fine Orchid Bark

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    That's prolly exactly what I use, packaged by Shasta Forest Products in NoCal (Yreka). At least that would be my guess if you live in CA.

    Hi, guys (all you August posters) ;-). I trust all is well with everyone?

    Al

  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi AL!!!

    All is fine here in VB..

    Just wanted to say hi and give this thread a friendly BUMP!!!

    : )

    Have a great summer!!

    Laura

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Will do. Thanks!

    Headed over to visit my DD today & then meet friends in Chicago for some fun.

    Al

  • DMacRae
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    First post here. I've read GW for years, but never posted. I had to join to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU to Al especially, but also to the rest of you who've added so much information to these threads.

    I now have bags of Turface, Gran-I-Grit, and pine bark fines, I have neem oil, Foliage Pro, chopsticks,screens in various sizes etc.

    Everything is getting repotted. I'm so looking forward to my plants getting through the winter without rotten roots. I'm even considering growing things I've written off for years as too hard, usually because they slowly decline as the roots rot away. It's such a good feeling to know there's something that actually works to prevent this!

    Thanks again.

  • greentiger87
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I hate perlite. I really, really do. Since it's not internally porous, and doesn't hold air for plant roots, does it have *any* purpose other than being light and taking up space in bark-based mixes (5:1:1)? Does it actually provide "structure" to slow the collapse of decaying organic particles?

    Other than weight, how would pea gravel or granite work any different?

    I know perlite holds water on its surface, and has a higher surface area than the other options. So it would retain a little more water.

    Pea gravel and granite are much denser, and pea gravel has much larger particles - so they'll probably partition out of the mix with watering... lessening their ability to provide structure.

    What about expanded clay (hydroton)? I know it would hold water. Does an individual particle hold air internally even when surrounded on all sides by fine bark? It's light, but has a large particle size.. so I don't think it will migrate that much in a bark based mix.

    Feel free to critique my thought process as much as you like!

  • TheMasterGardener1
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The perlite wedges in between the pine fines causing macropores. Gravel would make the mix heavy and does not hold any air. Biochar is a good perlite replacment,it may not last as long, it can be hard to find, unless you make it of course:)

    hydrotone is abot 1/2-3/4" right? It could come in smaller size but I don't know. Hydrotone is expensive too.

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I think perlite and other similar soil amendments are more valuable in bark-based soils than in peat-based soils because of what MG1 said, which happens to be something I've noted repeatedly - that the BB-size particles of perlite, Turface, calcined DE, Haydite, pumice ..... get wedged between bark flakes and hold them apart, creating macropores. So, in that regard I think the various similar amendments can all serve to alter soils in slightly variant ways. I like perlite because it's cheap & light, but am quick to agree that it may not be the best ingredient for every application. I think that's where understanding the concept and how implement it comes into play. I think all you need to be is cognizant of the variation in water retention provided by each of the products when you decide what to use. E.g., if you are struggling with too much water retention, you might not want to use unscreened Turface or calcined DE as a substitute for perlite, BECAUSE of the additional water retention it brings to the table. Pea stone might be heavy/smooth enough that it might want to fall out of suspension (so to speak). Crushed granite or quartzite, because it is highly irregular in shape and has 'sharp' edges might be a better choice in some apps than perlite/ Haydite probably would be a better choice in MOST applications if it was available in a suitable size and it wasn't so much heavier than perlite.

    Basically, in soils with predominately fine particles, perlite serves as not much more than a material to reduce water retention. In peaty soils or soils based on composted products, the small particles simply surround the particles of perlite, rendering their contribution to drainage and aeration as fairly insignificant; but in bark-based soils, perlite has that 'it holds the bark particles apart' thing going for it, which increases it's value as a contributor to aeration.

    Play around with other ingredients if you like. I know a previous poster who was well-respected for his contributions grew in PBFs and unscreened Turface, and was pleased with the results.

    Going over what I already said, I think just knowing/understanding the factors that drive aeration and water retention, and how to manipulate them to your best advantage is the most important message this thread carries. We all applaud anyone who puts his mind to work to find a way that best suits his own needs.

    I think it's interesting that the recipes are so widely posted by so many others for the 5:1:1 and gritty mixes, but I very rarely post them myself unless asked for them specifically. I'm always busy pushing the concept because I know that's where the true value lies; but I also understand that if you've been struggling for a hundred years with a water-retentive soil and suddenly see the difference after changing to a highly-aerated soil, it's kind of hard NOT to want to share the recipe.

    So I suppose the thread has the potential to help in more than one way. For those who are only interested in the recipe, it can be as simple as learning how to build the soil(s); but those who come to understand the concept and how to implement it have greater potential to gain because of their greater flexibility - PLUS, they get a couple of recipes that I have found to work exceptionally well for me, as a starting point.

    ***********************************************

    Thanks for the kind words, DMacRae. We all like to receive compliments, but the big thrill comes from reading something like your, "I'm so looking forward to my plants getting through the winter without rotten roots. I'm even considering growing things I've written off for years as too hard, usually because they slowly decline as the roots rot away. It's such a good feeling to know there's something that actually works to prevent this!" It's really great to be able to see the enthusiasm in what you wrote, and the fact that you have something that made enough sense to you that it gave you the encouragement to start anew. I sure do wish you the best of luck!! .... and you can always fall back on this thread if you have questions you think we might be able to help you with.

    Take care.

    Al

  • TheMasterGardener1
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    "I think perlite and other similar soil amendments are more valuable in bark-based soils than in peat-based soils because of what MG1 said, which happens to be something I've noted repeatedly"

    Yea just figured I would give greentiger87 a quik answer. Of course I learned that info from tapla.......

  • greentiger87
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Thank you guys. I think I'm going to go full speed ahead with using expanded clay. I really like the final mix it produces. I'll report the results in a couple months. Too much overall water retention has rarely been a problem for me. The perched water table and air porosity is what I'm looking for.

    A local hydroponics store sells a version with particles smaller than average, though still bigger than most perlite particles. It's still much more expensive than perlite, but frankly.. it's worth it to me. I'm tired of white fuzz that never goes where I want it to, and even more tired of the clouds of toxic white dust.

    Speaking of which, I'm having a really hard time convincing people that perlite doesn't have significant internal air spaces that communicate with the outside. Even when I do the demonstration with the plastic cups, they just won't believe it.

  • jodik_gw
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    To me, the difference rests in whether you get the smaller bags of small perlite from the grocery store... versus the coarse version of perlite that contains much larger pieces, from a garden center, and can be screened to gain the exact size you want. I like that it's lightweight, so I can move my own larger containers.

    Hey, guys and gals! Alive and... well, still alive up here in Central IL, hoping to get some things worked out so we can move nearer to our children. :-)

    It's great to see this thread on it's 14th go-around! It's fabulous! :-)

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I think if you place a high value on trying to get everyone to recognize the information you provide, no matter how sound it is, you're going to be frustrated. Most people are able to find value in any help that allows them to see the o/a picture in one piece, instead of looking at growing as an unassembled jigsaw puzzle, but there will always be those who, for a wide variety of reasons, will simply choose to ignore every fact and all reason in favor of clinging to a myth or favorite belief that may well be shot full of holes.

    If you present reliable information that is well-reasoned and you can explain why you're convinced what you're presenting is factual, you don't need to do a lot of convincing. Don't worry about who you can't convince, worry about those who are receptive and have open minds - that's where you can do some good.

    The hard part comes when you encounter obvious misinformation. Do you correct it or turn a blind eye? I suppose that's a decision we all need to make as individuals. I've thought about that issue a LOT over the years. I never go looking for misinformation to argue about, but when I'm invested in a thread and it comes along, I feel obligated to everyone following the thread, as well as anyone who might encounter the thread later, to make sure that readers have at least the opportunity to weigh the good information against the bad. Obviously, this MO doesn't endear you to everyone, but if your aim is truly to help others, it's an effective way of getting the job done.

    Credibility is an important aspect of your effectiveness at convincing others of which path is likely to be the most productive. We can easily destroy our credibility by operating beyond the limits of our knowledge, and can build credibility by respecting our limits. Finally, when tested by an alternate view, it's not how well you debate that determines right, wrong, or shades of gray, ultimately it's who has the facts on their side and can illustrate their relevance to the topic.

    Next time you get into that discussion, try using the pudding analogy. How much perlite does it take to make a pint of pudding drain well & hold lots of air? - or use sand and BBs for the illustration. Almost anyone can picture in the mind's eye what little effect perlite or any other particle (Turface, granite, calcined DE, pea stone ....) has on the structure of soils based on fine materials, but that doesn't mean that everyone wants to recognize it because of the implication it carries that current practices may not be the best from the perspective of plant health.

    Take care.

    Al

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi, Jodi! I heard your post 'ring' into my email while I was typing, but had no idea what the tone meant at the time. I've been reading you haven't been feeling well. Sooo sorry to hear that. One one hand, I know it would be great if you could move closer to the kids, but a little bittersweet perhaps, when you temper the thought with all the hard work you've put into where you live now. Either way, just know you & L are in my thoughts & we all wish the best for you both.

    Take good care, my friend.

    Al

  • brettay
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Thanks for the very useful information Al. I have a question. Is the bark a necessary ingredient? It seems you could use just granite and Turface to simplify things. I would imagine this would further prolong the life of the mix. Also, it would make dealing with fungus gnats easier for me. They feed on the bark and in the winter time and are a major pain for the tropicals I bring indoors. Thanks.

    -Brett

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Usually, gnats aren't much of a problem with either the 5:1:1 mix, unless you have a marked tendency toward over-watering. This, because the top of the soil dries too quickly for them to be interested in it.

    You can leave the bark out of the gritty mix if you want. If you do, I'd probably increase the amount of grit in the mix - maybe 3:2, grit:screened Turface. The reason is, Turface is a little too fine to be an 'ideal' choice as a part of the soil. Going from a 1/3 fraction of soil in 2/3 larger particles to 50/50, you're going to have some perched water and more water retention in general than the 1:1:1 ratio. It will be more important to be sure you have all the nutrients covered as well. The bark does add a small amount of nutrition and does hold nutrients well for it's bulk density.

    Al

  • jodik_gw
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Thank you, Al... we're actually getting closer to a move, believe it or not. A lot of the issues that have plagued us are finally getting figured out, and things are looking up! I can always bring plant materials with me, so that's not an issue... dividing and cuttings will be fine.

    Now, if I could only be cured, life would be great! ;-)

    But seriously... we're doing better, thank you! And we're working harder than ever to make that leap toward the kids and grandkids!

    Hope all is well with you! :-) Every time I see this thread roll over, I'm amazed anew at how many people have been helped... it's the doorway to growing I wish I had walked through decades ago! :-)

  • ngrrsn
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    This hopefully is not a stupid question, but peat moss, once dry, is very difficult to rewet. It breaks down fast and robs air space by compressing and squeezing together and filling void spaces. Why do you add it to your mix? I am confused. Also, I understand it is not environmentally good to use it, it is not sustainable, and "farming" of the moss contributes to global warming through carbon dioxide release. One writer termed it an "environmentally bankrupt" product. Why do you use it, and what could be used instead? I read one article that said to use fine bark as a replacement, but you already have that!!

  • greentiger87
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I don't speak for Al, but I believe the rationale is that it provides water retention. It makes up a very small portion of the mix. Substitutes include coir, composted leaves, ground rice hulls... but all of these are inferior in various ways.

    I've developed a strong distaste for peat as well. Many people on the forums have simply left out the peat in favor of pine bark that has a large amount of fines. Remember that the concepts are more important than the specific recipes - you'll have to experiment with different kinds of pine bark to get a feel for what kind of mix works best for you. Each batch of pine bark can arrive aged/composted to varying degrees, have varied distributions of particle size, and different amounts of sapwood.. so you learn to adjust based on what you the concepts outlined above. Personally, seed starting is the only thing I still use peat for.

    One could debate the environmental merits of peat for hours, but at the end of the day you have to accept that virtually all gardening and agricultural activities are harmful to the environment in some way, even if it's simply consumption of natural resources. Much of the peat we use in the United States is from Canada, where it's tightly regulated to maintain sustainability. As far as I know, European peat moss is not so well regulated.

  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi Everyone!!

    Had to bump this up for a friend who was interested in reading this wonderful information!!

    As always AL, great stuff! Thank you!! ;-)

    Hope you enjoy!! ;-)

    Laura

  • jodik_gw
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Just another bump... Hi, Everyone! :-)

  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Another Bump!!! HI Jodi!! ;-)

  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hope this helps, John!!! :-)

    Laura

    LOL... Had to try the Edit post.. so i will add that i hope this helps everyone who love's to read this post!!!

    :-)

    This post was edited by loveplants2 on Fri, Nov 30, 12 at 1:00

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I'll be incorporating the picture below into the original text the next time this thread rolls over. Thanks for the bumps, guys!

    Al

  • nil13
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I know it seems obvious, but I would add a little legend showing that the shaded portion represents perched water. That way the image can stand on its own without explanation.

  • ngrrsn
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Live and learn (and there is so much to learn)!!! After a disaster with rotting roots last winter in my plants from traditional potting soil, this year I determined to do more research, including this site. Warning to rookies; don't take shortcuts to the advice on mixtures! Here is my tragic experience;

    I looked everywhere for Bark Fines, etc. I really wanted some alder wood chips, but impossible to find, here. However, a landscape bulk company said they had medium Black Bark. I asked what that is and they said, "essentially composted medium bark". And it was black! I bought 2 yards of it and hauled it home. I had decided to skip moss because of issues about the environment. I had a little perlite, but not enough for the mix. I went to a nursery and was shocked at the price for their little bags...I needed quantity. One employee asked what it was for, and when I told him he said "Oh, we use medium bark all the time. It is very loose and you don't need perlite for space for air because the bark chunks are big so water and air can move through it".

    So, I potted all my plants using the rich, chunky to fine Black Bark. End result? It never seems to dry out and it compacted down hard as a rock! Now I am struggling to keep the plants alive and wondering if I should risk re-potting or if the shock to their already stressed situation would just kill them. Oh, woe is me!

    The moral of the story is we come here for advise from people with experience --- sometimes they know what they are talking about! Now, if I can just find some inexpensive bulk perlite!! (for the curious I overwinter 100+ geraniums, take 400 geranium cuttings, overwinter 50 various peppers, and a number of my wife's landscaping plants that can't take the winter (she is not happy with me) :)

  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi Nrgrsn.

    I understand it can be frustrating.. we all go through it at times looking for the right products.

    Since you live in the Northwest and are around so many great sources for hardwoods.. MY first thought was Kellogs Big R. Have you searched for this? I also buy my large bage of coarse perlite at the local hydroponics store.

    Josh lives out in your ares.. no sure how close, but he might be able to give you some diretion on where to find these producs. The bag of perlite that i purchased is as large as i am. I pick it up in Maryland and it last a long time Im sure you can find some Orcid, Bonsai growers who can direct you as well.

    Good Luck and please let us know how you make out!!!

    If you still cant find the perlite,let me know i can send this lightweght pelite to you if you would like. i know i live across the Coast, but i work for the airline and get a huge discount in shipping. I would do this for you if it will help..

    Let me know..

    Laura

  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    ok... LOL!!

    I guess i lost one!! ;-)

    I wanted to bump this for some other people who might find this interesing!!!

    Laura

  • ronalawn82
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    tapla, you stated
    "All the plants we grow, unless grown from seed, have the genetic potential to be beautiful specimens."
    I am puzzled at the exclusion of "plants grown from seed".
    To my knowledge and from my experience, the seed(ling) offers the greatest potential for "improvement" of the species.
    It is the clone that is limited.
    Unless a mutation occurs, the clone will perform to the "specs" of its parent plant. This is extremely beneficial; once one has secured the desirable characteristic(s). And here the individual's eye is the beholder.
    But one must revert to seed production to select from a sea of offspring - the new and improved variety.

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    It was a qualifying remark. When we clone plants, or buy them, we clone those plants we know to be proven performers, or we select plants that are already attractive specimens, so we know with certainty that these plants have excellent potential. On an individual basis, seedlings are in most cases more apt to be substandard (since we've already gone through the process of selecting the best from what was available) than an improvement. In any case, seeds and seedlings are unknowns, so they should be excluded from the group of plants we already KNOW to have the potential mentioned, which is why I offered the qualification.

    More important is the context in which the remark was made. When we select plants to purchase or clone, we KNOW that they have the potential to be at least as beautiful as they are/were at the point of purchase or cloning. The point being made is, it's not the plant material limiting itself, it's the grower's ability to provide the cultural conditions that allow their plants to reach their potential. As hobby growers, our abilities and proficiency are defined by our ability to eliminate or act to avoid those things that limit our plants, which THEN allows them to grow as close to their genetic potential as any remaining limitations allow.

    *********************************************

    L - you get high marks for trying, though. ;-)

    Al

  • jonfrum
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    A comment from above:

    "The moral of the story is we come here for advise from people with experience --- sometimes they know what they are talking about!"

    Everyone who posts a question should have to type out these words before they can use the forum. One of the most common types of questions I see on this and other boards is "That system that's been proven to work sounds great. "Can I change part 'x' of it?" Why is it that the first thing some people want to do to someone else's hard work is to change it? If you want to experiment, you can do so without asking permission of anonymous people. Some people just seem to have the need to re-invent the wheel.

  • chilliwin
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The pictures (ghost chili) are going to be some kinds of example of ignorance of Al's guideline and then what's happened to the plants.

    This plant is very similar to a guy who imprisoned in a solitary confinement by a notorious prison authority without proper treatment.

    So many words I would like to quote from the Al's writings but I'll minimize as much as possible.

    Al "If you start with a water-retentive medium, you cannot effectively amend it to improve aeration or drainage characteristics by adding larger particulates."

    So the plant in the picture cannot effectively amend until a new soil and container are changed. The soil type the grower used is garden soil (Alluvium type), it is not an ideal soil to use in containers.

    Al "What I will write also hits pretty hard against the futility in using a drainage layer of coarse materials in attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the total volume of soil available for root colonization."

    What's happened to my plants made me confuse before. I did repot some healthy plants in bigger containers and paid more attention. However the result I got was not so good. The other plants I grow in small containers are healthier than the big containers. Before I read Al's guideline, I thought it will be the cause of repotting and other factors. Now I realized that the reason.

    Recently I lost so many repotting plants and some of them are stop growing. All those containers I have checked the soil all of them had problems of root contacts with the soil, it was too tight so it suffocated the roots I think. When I removed the soil from the containers, it was too much I can use the soil for 2 containers of its same size. I have never done gardening in my life so my hands and my mind are not going together.

    Still I am confused about watering. For example how many liter or milliliter should I give to a 7 gallon container with mixed soil ( 5:1:1) and how often. Still I remember to keep the soil dry between watering and avoiding wet but moisture. What I did before was visual and the weight. Those days I did not have problems because the containers were outside.

    The plant in the picture is not belonged to me. I think to give this plant a new life will be only to follow the Al guideline of container gardening. "Container soils are all about structure, and particle size plays the primary role in determining whether a soil is suited or unsuited to the application. Soil fills only a few needs in container culture..."

    Thank you Al

    Caelian


    This post was edited by chilliwin on Mon, Dec 17, 12 at 12:30

  • chilliwin
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The plant (ghost chili/bhut jolokia)in the tin container's fruits are not big and the plants also looks not healthy. Before it did not get much direct sunlight. The tin containers have no drainage hole and nothing mixed to the soil too.

    The second picture (ghost chili/bhut jolokia) is also an example of ignorance. The fruits are better than the plant in the tin container. They used the same soil but added some pieces of mud wall (The wall is made of mud from pond, paddy straw, bamboo, shing-ut (it is a long hollow stem plant with a long lemongrass like leaves it is about 2 meters tall), cow dung, sand and lime (they painted wall with white lime as a tradition; they called it "sunu" it is edible with beetle nut. When they poured water on it, it boils with heat) as mulch. The container is an empty cement bag.

    I think due to the adding of some pieces of broken wall and the container type the plants got better fruits.

    Al "First and foremost, though, the plant wants a container soil that is evenly damp, never wet or soggy. Giving a plant what it wants, to flourish and grow, doesn't include a soil that is half saturated for a week before aeration returns to the entire soil mass, even if you only water in small sips. Plants might do 'ok' in some soils, but to actually flourish, like they are genetically programmed to do, they would need to be unencumbered by wet, soggy soils.".

    Al "Our growing skills are defined by our ability to give plants what they want. The better we are at it, the better our plants will grow. "

    The growers of these plants are not hobby gardener/gardener just accidentally they have planted these plants without a single knowledge of container gardening. These plants are examples of ignorance.

    This post was edited by chilliwin on Mon, Dec 17, 12 at 12:32

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Caelian - I think the thing that separates good soils from not so good soils is whether or not we can water them to beyond the point they are completely saturated without risking substantial impairment of root function, or worse, root rot. How you can or should water depends on your soil choice. If you're using well-aerated and free draining soils that embrace the concept discussed on this & other threads, it's to your advantage to water copiously, so at least 10-20% of the total volume of water applied exits the pot, carrying accumulating salts with it. If you're using a heavy, water-retentive soil that won't allow you to water in this manner w/o risking root rot, you'll need to adopt an alternative strategy.

    When using the 5:1:1 or gritty mix, there is no upper limit to how much water you can apply w/o concern. You can use 100 L on a 4 L pot w/o having to worry about over-watering, but the soil should be allowed to dry down a little between waterings. Ideally, you would water just before there is any drought-related stress. That point is often elusive, so it makes good sense to use soils that don't mete out severe punishment to you and your plants because you watered before it was necessary.

    I often tell the story about what a bonsai master said in a workshop I was attending. One of the participants asked, "How often should I water my juniper, Mr. Oki?" To which he replied, "Wait until it become completely dry - then water day before."

    He didn't smile, but I think his eye twinkled a little. Regardless, the advice is good. Let your plants dry down, but not so much it interferes with adequate water uptake, which would also interfere with adequate nutrient uptake, which = lost potential at a minimum.

    Al

  • chilliwin
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Thank you sir, for your advice.

    As much as possible I have been trying to follow your writings. I started to use mixed soil but I did not follow exactly what you have written but respect the principle. Because so many materials are not available to prepare the mixed soil I want. I keep trying to explore the places it is available, may be the next season I may get what I am looking for.
    Regards,
    Caelian

  • jojosplants
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    wrong thread. sry. ;-)

    JoJo

    This post was edited by jojosplants on Mon, Dec 17, 12 at 18:57

  • moro_blanco
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Wisely and kindly spoken, Al. Thank you for you're studied knowledge and willingness to share it!

    Dave

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    .... and thank you {{gwi:5881}} for the kind comments.

    Al

  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    ngrrsn

    On Mon, Dec 3, 12 at 17:18 you said:

    I really wanted some alder wood chips, but impossible to find, here.

    I just want to point out that wood chips are not same as bark.
    Maybe I am just misreading, but wanted to ask anyway...BTW, you mentioned you bought 2yds of that black bark - are you using it? Did you try to screen it?
    Rina

  • ngrrsn
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi, rina. I know wood chips are different than bark, but I saw a nursery that was using these mixed with some alder saw dust. In about a year it turned to this incredible black, rich "soil". The guy as the nursery said it breaks down better and more nutritious for the soil and depletes less nitrogen in the process. The wood chips I was seeking are about the size of medium bark in nurseries. In retrospect, I am glad I didn't try that. Works great outdoors, not sure about containers!

    The black bark is essentially composted evergreen tree bark. I say evergreen because it could be a mix of a number of different types here in the Pacific NW --- hemlock, fir, ceder, spruce, etc. I didn't screen it, it seemed plenty loose initially; small to medium size in comparison to bagged nursery store bark.

    It would have been o.k. had I added the peat and perlite per the formulas given here. Screening would have left just the larger pieces, but that would be quite a chore for the volume I was using!

    I repotted some of the plants using the 5:1:1 formula with my black bark and those are doing much, much, better. A gardening friend said "Think of it...bark is like big saw dust. If you pack it down it gets as hard as a board". That is essentially what happened when I used the black bark alone without the the perlite and moss. ;(

  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    ngrrsn

    The reason I asked is that I was thinking about the N depletion...

    I would definitely compost them & doing so with the saw dust souds good to me...I have to try some! I would like to find source of saw dust - I read somewhere about using it to grow blueberries. (I am planning on growing some blueberries next year - in ground, maybe few in the container but the container ones in 511 or gritty).

    Maybe the black bark would have been better if it was only partially composted?
    It's not easy to find proper bark.
    I got some that turned to be very fine (but it smells so nice...) I have to use it in beds outside.
    (Hope you don't mind my questions - I am pretty curious!)

    Rina

  • greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    In my opinion, Alder wood is the very best for smoking fish, if you're into such a thing ;-)

    Josh

  • tapla
    7 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I'm going to link this thread to the new one. Just click on the link below for the continuation. I want to say that I SO appreciate all the comments, the kindness, and the friendly way information is being exchanged on these threads.

    Al

    Here is a link that might be useful: Click me and I'll take you to the new thread!

  • Norman Watson
    4 years ago

    how much of this mix do I add to my potting soil?

  • tapla
    4 years ago

    Here is a link that might be useful: Click me and I'll take you to the new thread!


    Al

  • shawoochi
    11 months ago

    I use Orchid mix

  • tapla
    11 months ago

    Here is a link that might be useful: Click me and I'll take you to the new thread!

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