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katwomn59

CHC help

katwomn59
15 years ago

I am interested in trying coconut husk chips. (Lisa, I saw your post on the container gardening forum) I have a kaffir lime tree and several perrenial herbs that like fairly dry well drained soil. I am using a predominantly pine bark mix, but with my herbs the rewetting problem is a headache. I tried to find some CHC locally, but was told that they dont stock them because people had too many problems with the salt issue. I have read about differences in quality from various sources and have read posts recommending Crystal Co and another online source and am thinking about ordering one or 2 bricks to try on one perrenial first. If it does well, I will eventually repot my kaffir lime. I want to make sure I get it right before risking it!

So I would like some help and guidance about preparing the chips. I figure the people who had problems with the salt maybe didnt prepare the chips properly. With so many people on this forum singing their praises, I know that they must work if you can get the salt out.

So I would like to know how y'all prepare your chips? How many times do you wash them? HOW do you wash them? Do you soak them in multiple changes of water then rinse and drain, or do you run water over them continuously? I should mention that I live in an apartment with a balcony and dont have access to a hose right now. Any washing will involve a bucket in the bathtub.

I also noticed that some people add some peat to the mixture. I was given a sample bag of coco peat and am interested in using it instead of peat. Is there any reason people dont use it in their mixes? Seems like they would work well together.

Hope y'all can help me,

Lydia

Comments (32)

  • billy1had
    15 years ago

    Lydia -

    There is a supplier of CHC right on your doorstep in Austin,
    TX - Lone Star Orchids. AND They are already washed - altho, I wash them again. On the internet at (also Ebay) www.lonestarorchids.com

    Bill

  • Casa_Del_Gatos
    15 years ago

    Hi Lydia,

    I am new to CHCs too. Here's what I picked up from the folks around here:

    Soak, rinse, soak, rinse, soak, rinse, rinse, rinse. Then rinse some more. The idea is for the rinse water to be CLEAR. If you are doing this in a bathtub, great! Use hot water for the soaking and it will work faster. The sun does it outside for us.

    I used a 3-1-1 mix. CHCs, peat moss, dehydrated cow manure. Your mileage may vary.

    My 6 citrus trees have never looked better since I potted them up like this.

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  • consultant
    15 years ago

    I potted my new citrus trees in a mixture of coco peat (coir) and CHC two weeks ago. I didn't use any peat moss at all. They seem to be doing very well and are actively growing.

    Stuart

  • billy1had
    15 years ago

    Lydia -

    Forgot to give you address: Lone Star Orchids
    6604 Nusser Lane - Austin 78739

    They will tell you how much they have washed them, if you ask

    Bill

  • katwomn59
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    Thanks all! Bill I will check out Lone Star Orchids. One more question. About how long should each soaking be?
    Lydia

  • gcmastiffs
    15 years ago

    Lydia, since I'm lazy, I dump my CHCs in a cheap plastic kiddie pool and fill it halfway with water. I let them soak, then poke a few holes in the bottom of the pool and let it drain.
    I repeat several times, over a few days. It takes at least an hour to drain, but the chips stay damp much longer.

    I have not had even one plant act stressed when repotted in chips, and it is in the 90s here. I have had no problems with salt at all.

    When I'm ready to use the chips, I rewet them, let them soak until most of the water is drained from the pool, then shovel it into a wheelbarrow to make my mixes.

    I really, really like this stuff! It makes my plants look fantastic, and like I know what I'm doing(G).

    It highly recommend playing around with mixes. It is lots of fun, like cooking! Depending on the plant, I'll use peat (for Miracle Fruit, citrus and Blueberries), manure for my apple/peach/pear/nectarines, sometimes Aliflor, sometimes a bit of potting soil, sometimes coarse Perlite. To all mixes I use slow release fertilizer throughout. For real water lovers, (like Cacao and Cherimoya) I add Moisture
    crystals (out of curiosity at first) and like them too.

    I use the Perlite and Potting soil additions the least. Perlite is messy and runs out all over the patio, potting soil wants to plug up the holes in the pots. I'm still learning, but thanks to CHCs, I no longer lose any plants!

    Lisa

  • gcmastiffs
    15 years ago

    Lydia, if you get a small brick of CHCs, you could use a kitchen collander in a bucket to rinse the chips. A few soakings over a few days should be more than adequate. The chips do give off a brownish residue which is tiny bits of coco fibers.

    I think you will find them very useful.

    Lisa

  • schiang68
    15 years ago

    I'm eagerly awaiting my first shipment of CHCs, so this is a very timely thread. A few questions:

    1) Do CHCs swell up when you soak them?

    2) How does salt get into the CHCs in the first place? Is it endogenous or introduced during processing?

    3) It sounds from the above posts that an appropriate general approach would be to soak (preferably in warm or hot water) for several hours (4-6) then drain, rinse and repeat until rinse water is clear. Does that seem approximately correct? Sorry to be so nitpicky.

  • Millet
    15 years ago

    Lydia, I am the person that first experimented with, and than used CHC's. After finding them to be an excellent medum for growth I then recommended CHC's to the citrus forum approximately two years ago. I have over twenty citrus trees now growing in CHCs. My mixture is 4 parts CHC and 1-1/2 parts peat moss. To this mix I add slow release Osmacoate fertilizer, STEM (Soluble Trace Element Mix) and dolomite. I use both the 1/4 inch and the 1/2 inch size of CHC's depending on the size of the plant that I am potting. Some people also add manure and it seem to work well, I have'nt used manure as of yet. Coconut husks absorb up to seven times their weight in water and then release the water to the plant roots as needed. Crystal company pre-rinses all there coconut chips to remove any salts, however I also soak/rinse them two or three times before I use them. Every tree that I have potted with CHC has always grown well. Your trees will certainly thank you for making the switch. - Millet

  • MikeP46
    15 years ago

    Hi,

    I am in the process of converting all 60 of my citrus trees to CHCs. I have switched about half of my trees to the mix. Since all of my trees are in containers, the CHCs make the pots half the weight they were. I have the pleasure of moving them around my pool deck in winter to the safety of my temporary greenhouse for a few months. I love the chips! I've planted in 100% medium size CHCs, but plan to add osmocote and STEM to the mix.Every tree that has been switched so far look so much better and drain very well. In the course of switching out my soil, I found that 100% Miracle-Grow potting mix holds too much water. Even a layer of lava rocks in the base of my pots did not provide adequate drainage. I know the CHCs will make my trees grow better. Thanks Lisa and Millet for the info.

    Mike

  • Laaz
    15 years ago

    Mike you should try leaving a few trees out on the pool deck for the winter. Being next to the poll creates a micro-climate that may work for your advantage.

  • katwomn59
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    Thanks for the info all! I am now poised to try potting up something in CHC! I also picked up a brick of cocopeat. I am glad to know I can do the washing in a bucket, and I have a couple of cheap colanders to use for rinsing and draining.

    Bill I checked out Lone Star Orchids but their shipment was delayed so they wont get them til Mon. They dont have a physical store but I emailed them and they told me some of their Austin area customers come and pick up their products directly. That was good to know cause I didnt want to pay shipping for something coming from across town! They are actually not too far from me, and they had the watering wand I have been looking for so I went out there today and bought it. What a nice lady! She knew who you were and apparently that you were the one who told me about them. I told her about Gardenweb and that I learned pretty much everything I know from these forums. I will go back next weekend and get the chips. Once I get the feel for them and how they work, I am gonna repot my kaffir lime!

    Thanks again everybody!
    Lydia

  • gcmastiffs
    15 years ago

    As an aside, I had to repot my Cacao tree a few days ago. It has grown so much it no longer fits under the Grapefruit tree (cacaos need shade while young), and outgrew its pot. I was dreading repotting, since they are such delicate trees. They are *very* sensitive to root disturbances.

    In a 15 gallon container, I used CHCs, Aliflor, peat moss and horse poo, with some Moisture Plus crystals just for fun. When I removed the old pot I saw that the soil (from the nursery) was very compacted, dry on one side, damp on another. The root system was not good, very fragile and did not hold the soil.

    With misgivings, I soaked the roots until most soil came off, then potted up in the CHC mix. I watered it well and set it in the shade behind a shed. Then, I'm embarassed to tell, I forgot about it for two scorching hot days and nights. Out of sight, out of mind(G). Tonight I remembered it and hesitantly walked out there. I expected to see severe damage. Not only was the tree okay, it was in its "happy" pose, with all those huge leaves held up high. I've only seen it do that before after a heavy rain. Not a sign of leaf damage, no wilting, no shock - it looks better than it did before!

    I did my own little happy dance(G).

    Lisa

  • schiang68
    15 years ago

    A question for the people who use slow-release fertilizer in their CHC mixes-- how much fertilizer do you include in the mix (e.g., per volume)?

  • Millet
    15 years ago

    For slow release Osmacoate I use: 1-gallon pot 6-grams, 2-gallon pot use 12 grams, 3-gallon container use 45 grams and for a 5-gallon container use 104-grams. One American ounce = 28 grams. However, I still use conventional fertilizers. - Millet

  • schiang68
    15 years ago

    Millet, do you replenish Osmocote eventually (e.g., by adding it on top), or do you just rely on feeding via liquid after the initial potting in CHC?

  • Millet
    15 years ago

    The rates above are for replenishing Osmacote on top. When I make up my potting soil (CHC/Peat) I use one cup of Osmacote per 5-gallons of medium and mix it in. Then months later I use Osmacote as a top dressing. Know that Osmacoate usually only last approximately 1/2 to 3/4 as long as the label says during the hot summer months. Heat increases the rate of release. - Millet

  • athagan
    15 years ago

    One of the other forum posters has just turned me onto a source here in Florida for coconut husk chips.

    Tropical Plant Products

    I've never done business with these folks so I know nothing about them, but they did just respond to my e-mail saying I could go by and pick the chips up directly. Price seems reasonable enough. They don't take credit cards though.

    Next time I'm down to Orlando I'm going to stop by and get a bale of the chips. Of course, having just repotted all of my containerized citrus it's going to be a while before I need to do it again.

    .....Alan.

  • Casa_Del_Gatos
    15 years ago

    That's funny!

    What's the point of having an online store if you don't accept online payment? I mean, what do you do, add your items to the cart, then print out the order and mail it with a check? How convenient - NOT!

    I could see it if they accepted PayPal or something, but ...

  • doomedjest
    15 years ago

    How often does everyone add STEM and Dolimite onto the top of the CHC? Was wondering b/c it's been 4 months since i moved my trees into the mix and I just readded the Osmocote to the top last night. Also how much of the Dolomite and the STEM would you add to the pots (15")
    thanks,
    Bryan

  • bencelest
    15 years ago

    First where can you buy STEM? I've been wondering about that for a long time.

  • doomedjest
    15 years ago

    Benny,

    I was told awhile ago where to find it, i had forgotten the place i was told, but i found it by searching for:
    S.T.E.M. 1 lb fertilizer

    Its from an orchid place.
    Bryan

  • bencelest
    15 years ago

    Thanks Bryan. I'll try to look for it.

  • nathanr
    15 years ago

    Hi All,

    Has anyone had any luck finding a source of STEM in less than 25 lb containers? It seems rather expensive this way and I would never use 25 lb of the stuff. I tried Bryan's suggestion of searching by "S.T.E.M 1 lb fertilizer" but had no luck.

    Thanks.
    Nathan

  • bencelest
    15 years ago

    I just ordered a week ago from here but I have not receive it yet though. It's a 1-man operation
    Ray Barkalow - First Rays Orchids leave a message at
    888-227-3744

    Otherwise, (215) 919-8866

  • nathanr
    15 years ago

    Thanks for the help Bryan!

  • laidbackdood
    15 years ago

    I have recently potted a tangelo into 4 parts chc and 1 part
    coir.I also did the cation exchange as everyone swears bye.
    i loosened the soil in a bucket of warm water,very carefully.
    The next day,the plant went into shock,new growth started to
    droop and the the leaves have turned pale green and are dropping.I wonder if this formula is suitable for where i
    live in Auckland,new zealand.I will be patient and see if it
    recovers.So,far I dont swear by chc and coir or chc and peat.It hasnt worked for me.I have done everything by the book,cheers

  • rickjames
    15 years ago

    I am sorry to hear your tree isn't doing well. May I inquire as to whether or not you have had the same results with repotting into something besides the CHC mix? I guess I am asking, do you loosen the soil in the same manner when you were not using CHC( assuming this isn't your first tree?) Was the tree barerooted when you transplanted?

  • gcmastiffs
    15 years ago

    Lbd, I wonder what could have gone wrong. Was the tree healthy to begin with, or already in decline?

    CHCs are so neutral in ph that I don't know how they could hurt a plant. I've used them on at least 20 citrus, pome and stone fruits, grapevines, and many tropicals.

    I'm in South Florida, the sweaty armpit of the world(G). I credit CHCs for the survival of my potted fruit trees on a burning hot concrete patio during our horrible summers.

    I don't soak the roots before repotting into chcs. After a tree is planted in chcs, it is almost impossible to remove the soil from the roots- they hold it so tightly. I just plunk them in the ground, or in a larger container, as they are, and they do well.

    So far, I have not had *any* transplant shock with chcs. Not even with Cacao, Tree Tomato or Papayas, all very picky plants.

    How have your trees responded when planted in other potting mediums? Have you tried an orchid/cactus mix? Those are similar in that they are fast draining, but they lack the moisture holding properties of chcs. You could try fir bark or pine bark to see how your trees respond to each ingredient.

    Is the Tangelo the only tree you switched? What was it in before?

    Lisa

  • MikeP46
    15 years ago

    I have repotted all of my 60+ citrus trees to CHC last year. I will swear that the mixture has saved my trees all in containers. I had been using Miracle Grow potting mix and found it to be too heavy and will pack down, smothering the root system. The only thing I will mention is to be careful and do not add too much peat to your mix. It will retain too much water. I have experimented a little and found that planting in 100% CHC does not hurt citrus trees at all. I have also changed my fertilizer regimen to a small 1/2 cup of fertilizer every month for my container citrus along with a handful of STEM once a year. I would not recommend disturbing your root systems when you repot other than pruning away rotted or overly long roots. Also, some citrus trees are slow to recover when placed in new growing media. Tangelos and satsumas are notoriously slow-growers. I have a Kara mandarin that I repotted last September. It is the only citrus that has not shown any signs of new growth but the leaves are green and I am still hopeful. Be patient but persistent. HTH

    Mike

  • bencelest
    15 years ago

    I just received my STEM from 1st Orchids.

    LBD:
    My 2 cents worth:
    I think your trouble started when you removed all the soil from the citrus you transplanted.
    The reason why all the leaves droop was because you deprived the plant the oxygen and water it needs in order to breath or take in nutrients.
    I never have any trouble transplanting my plants either in the ground or pots. This is because I am careful not to disturb the roots. Almost always they did not even know they were transplanted because they were as perky as when before transplanting. And if I damaged some root system I cut the stems and leaves in proportion with the damaged roots. I transplalnted even 6 to 8-foot tree successfully.
    You gave your plant the very shock of her life. That's why.
    And don't put the plant in direct sun right away. Wait about 3 to 5 days depending how perky the leaves are.

  • ecomtl
    15 years ago

    I transplanted my Calamondin about 2 weeks ago. I did infact soak the root system in ambient temperature water, not warm, to remove some of the medium it was in, but not all of it. I left the center of the root ball covered in a clump of dirt.

    It rewarded me with a huge amount of new growth sprouting everywhere within a week.

    Maybe you removed too much or were a bit rougher than you thought? Maybe the water was a bit too warm? Good luck, I hope they bounce back soon!