|Posted by: ion Aug 08 03, 05:35 AM GMT|
So here we are. This is where we explain what the deal is with Nan’s soil mixture, and discuss a few recent developments. Whodathunk there’d be so much controversy over dirt?
Nan's Soil Mix
I've figured out that as long as the soil drains entirely within an hour or so, it is "well-draining" enough for the roots to get the proper amount of air... you just don't want mud.
Also, as the roots grow, the soil aerates further, making it drain better as the cactus ages.
Remember the soil axiom:
Holds air like a balloon, holds water like a sponge, drains like a seive.
If the mix is right, it drains fairly quickly, but still holds lots of water... basically it should be a bunch of tiny sponges with air pockets in between them all.
“OK, I’m ready to do this right! Oh… wait a minute… I can’t find any of this stuff at Wal-mart!!”
Don’t worry, I gotcha covered…
Acid ID: If you're worried about identification of the mineral, bring some vinegar with you. Get a bit of the finest crushed (sandy) "limestone suspect", and pour some vinegar on it. Fizzing indicates limestone for your purposes. Watch it closely for bubbles... sometimes not much fizzing happens, due to the weakness of vinegar. Better yet, use a bit of the muriatic (Hydrochloric) from the hardware store!
I have found some good stuff at a rock-crushing facility. They call it "B-1 grade". Apparently this is nearly the perfect size, from what I gather of Nan's descriptions:
Chicken or pigeon grit is just fine as long as you make sure it is made of limestone (see acid trick above)! You can find this at feed stores... and feed stores are everywhere outside of major cities.
Here are pictures of the limestone bird grit and its bag:
Thanks for the idea and pics, Major Buzz!
This stuff would be perfect for finer mixes, too.
Limestone is available; you may just have to search a bit, and probably settle for some stuff that isn’t perfect. Check feed stores, home improvement, local nurseries, quarries, and even places you wouldn't think to look, normally. You will find it.
Here’s my advice: Do NOT use oyster shell in place of limestone gravel! It completely destroys any semblance of soil structure you may have had… the little plates orient themselves in the soil such that they form a dam, almost. I made some of this soil once, tested drainage, and the drainage got worse and worse with each watering… eventually the water would stand on top until it just absorbed into the sidewalls of the clay pot and evaporated! In addition, the sharp edges of these plates can shred your roots up if you ever repot.
Make it or buy it at garden stores. Sold in big bags for pretty cheap.
"Pelletized" Dolomitic limestone
Buy it at garden stores. Often it is found in the lawn care or landscaping section... near big bags of lime, rocks, mulch, etc. It may be called dolomite pellets, dolomite, pelletized limestone, or any other combination or exclusivity of these words. There will be tiny holes in the bag to allow gases to escape. Smell it. It smells very strongly of "base"... it's almost noxious and fumy up close.
Again, garden stores. By the way, this is topsoil, NOT potting soil… the two are very different.
It's not easy to find good pumice, but you should try ordering it online... it's very light-weight, so shipping shouldn't be too bad. Look for white or gray color, and particles about 1/8” to 1/4" in size.
The kiln-fired clay bits can be found at good nurseries, hydroponic shops, and online. You want particles 1/8" to 1/4" in size. Schultz® Clay Soil Conditioner™ is what I use. Here is a picture of Schultz® Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil™ (the same material, marketed under a different name), courtesy of dephighance (Thanks, friend! ) :
You can easily just crush up some clay pots, sift out the finest dust, and use the 3-5mm bits, too. This is what our forefathers used for aerator material.
Well, at some point we have to put this dirt into something. For some reason, people often have trouble with this… to these folks, I dedicate the next section…
Tip: You can place a rock over the hole in the pot while filling, but you must be sure that this rock does not completely (or even mostly) block the hole off… water still has to get through that thing. I use a cotton ball or two. This allows water to drain later, and helps keep root-eating bugs from getting into the bottom of the pot. Also:
When loading soil into the pot, you are supposed to pack it down a bit with the palm of your hand or your fist… this doesn’t mean you should punch it or ram it down as hard as possible. Do not use your fingertips, either, as the small surface area will allow you to easily over-tamp the soil. You only want to pack the soil in the pot with about 5 to 10 pounds of pressure… this is about the weight of your arm.
Fill the pot with 5 inches of dry soil.
Place your fist on this and allow the weight of your arm to rest on your fist.
Move your fist around in the pot, weighting it, until the soil is all fairly level.
Add another few inches of soil and repeat the process.
When you reach the wider areas of the pot, start using your palm instead of your fist.
Fill the pot up to about 1 inch below the rim with soil. If you added too much, don’t pack it down more… simply scoop some out.
For a cutting, just dig a 1 or 2 inch hole in the center of the soil. Fill the bottom of this hole with a little bit of the finer loose dirt (no pebbles), so there is a level squishy platform for the cactus butt. Press the cactus down on this soil, and then fill around the edges with more dirt, packing it hard between the ribs (you may have a small amount of damp soil on hand for this packing, so you can get a nice firm soil block to hold the cactus steady). You can use a garden stake or some large rocks around the cactus to hold it upright and steady while it roots… I really recommend this. There has been more than one occasion where a cactus just starting to root has been torn out of the dirt by strong winds or the random cat freak-out!
If you are potting a rooted cactus, you may want to enlist some help. Pack some soil in the bottom of the pot. One person should hold the cactus hovering, with the roots dangling in the pot, while the other gently fills around the roots, packing gently. When the pot is nearly full, gently lift it and thump it down on some soft ground a few times, while the other person holds a loose circle with his hands around the cactus… this will get the soil down in between the roots. If you are alone, just fill the pot with soil and pack as best you can around the roots… you may be able to whack the sides of the pot a bit while holding the cactus steady, too.
Side note: Definitely put the cacti in their own pots. Those things get incredibly heavy as they grow, and the soil itself weighs a ton (especially when wet!)… I had one pot with five in it (about 5 feet of total mass) and, because the pot needed to be large for all the separate plants, it weighed over 70 pounds... you may not think that's so bad, but just try lifting it while avoiding a thorough face-spiking! Large pots are not just heavy; they are very awkward to carry. Just put each cactus in a single pot, and put the pots close together. If any of them want friends, trust me, they'll just grow pups.
Looks good… but something is missing, don’t you agree?
After potting, add a layer of smooth, lightly colored pea gravel or naturally white (not painted) aquarium gravel to the surface of the soil. This makes the planting more attractive, while providing many very practical benefits. Some folks use sand, and it has it's purposes, but I think rock looks nicer. Besides...
~ The rocks will reflect light away from the soil, keeping it nice and cool… just as the cacti want it. This reflected light bounces up onto the photosynthetic skin of the cactus, also. Sand does this, as well.
~ Rocks around the base of a cactus actually help to stave off base rot, as well. The reason for this is not fully understood… at least by me… but it really does seem to help. Again, sand helps too.
~ The stone will keep the soil from eroding... every time a raindrop or other sprinkling of water hits bare soil, it splatters mud up onto the cactus and out of the pots. Wind will also blow any dry surface soil away. Eventually, the topmost layer of roots can be exposed to the air, making them dry out and die back. The stones block the wind and reduce the impact of water directly on the soil. This diffusion also helps when liming the pots later… water washes the lime between the crevices of the stones, where it cannot be easily blown away by wind or splattered out by hard rain. Sand does not do this... in fact, sand is very messy when it comes to top-watering.
-- However, sand does one thing that pebbles do not: It creates and abrasive "wasteland" around the plants. Insects with soft underbellies cannot bear to walk across sand or lay eggs in it... the sand will scratch open their sensitive cuticles or the eggs they lay, and this will dehydrate them. You can use both sand and pebbles, and this will help protect against the egg-laying, but the insects themselves can simply use the pebbles as a bridge across the sand underneath.
But back to liming…
This leads us to the next section… (you know you love segways )
I posted it a long time ago, and Nan's been saying it for years... pH is extremely important! It has to be right, or the cactus cannot absorb nutrients to grow, defend itself, or make goodies with.
The main thing about water (and nutrient) uptake in cacti roots is the pH... as long as the pH is right (slightly basic in this case), and the soil mix is well-draining, you can't over-water during the growing season.
Most problems can be solved by correcting pH for the specific type of plant you are growing. Petes and pedros (and most other cacti, in fact) need a pH around 7.5. Up to 8.5 is OK, but you should probably bring it down a notch with some Urea fertilizer if it gets this high.
Other plants like a slightly acid soil... that's the major reason most plants (and not cacti) do so well in store-bought potting soil (peat-based)... most folks think it's because the stuff is nice and fluffy, but that's only a small part of the picture.
Speaking of pictures, here’s a general chart of plant nutrient uptake according to pH:
You want limestone gravel for long-term soil joy. The stone keeps the pH balance up due to its very slow dissolving. In fact, the only reason powdered lime is ever needed is because of drastic drops in pH... the stone would fix the problem on its own, given the time... we just don't want to wait that long, and we want to keep fertilizing.
Understand that drastic movement of the pH will slow or stunt the growth of a plant... the poor thing gets confused and dizzy from being able to absorb water/nutrients and then suddenly not being able to, back and forth, over and over... you get the idea.
Dolomite is less basic than regular limestone (it reacts slower, also), so it is actually better to use as a pH buffer than limestone. Unfortunately, you will be hard pressed to find bags of dolomite stone... it is almost always sold as a finely crushed powder. Again, dolomite is just calcium carbonate (limestone) mixed with magnesium carbonate. The calcium and carbonate ions disassociate slowly in water, and the magnesium ion comes off of its carbonate even slower... so the total speed of ionization is slower than with pure calcium carbonate.
Cacti will grow in neutral and acid soils, but not as well as slightly basic. It probably has to do with the fact that they are CAM plants (they transpire and gather the things they need to make food under cool night conditions, rather than during the day).
There's a great deal of discussion about soil composition for cacti amongst even professional nurserymen.
They all agree on two things:
1. That most cacti and succulents (with the exception of a few exotic tree-dwelling, and tropical species) grow poorly in acid soil.
2. That the soil must be well-drained.
They all have different methods of conquering the natural acidity that occurs as the humus or peat decomposes, and that which happens from nitrogen fixation (which simply pulls a bit of the "basicity" out of the soil).
-- Some just use only neutral materials like sand, perlite, crushed clay pots, etc.
-- Some use charcoal which pulls the excess ions out of the soil as the water leaches them toward the bottom of the pot.
-- Some recommend basifying the soil regularly with Lime and other basic agents.
-- Some use semi-permanent basic solids (like limestone) to keep a constant maintenance of the formed acids.
Most folks use a combination of two or more of these methods.
The strangest thing is that it seems the average educated grower of cacti never becomes aware of other methods... so he ends up just using what has always worked for him. There's no problem with that, unless this inadvertent "stubbornness" leads to the misunderstood death of any cacti.
You may have noticed in the chart (fig. 2) that it looks like a neutral soil would be more ideal… this is true, but only to a point. The reason a neutral soil isn't as good as a basic soil is because the pH is constantly being pulled down by forming acids... if their accumulation goes unchecked (and I mean even just a single day), you end up with an acid soil. Again, cacti are weird… even though it looks like a slightly acid soil is OK, it really isn’t. This is probably because of their odd method of metabolism (That CAM stuff we talked about).
I was going to include stuff about fertilizers here, but that kind of information deserves its own thread. If you’d like to know more about special soil mixes for rooting plants, there is plenty of information in the archives: Rooting San Pedro
In conclusion, I think an anecdote from Nan says it best…
|Posted by: Osprey Aug 08 03, 07:15 AM GMT|
|One thing I do is put a square peice of fiberglass window screen at the bottom of the pot before filling it.It works great for allowing drainage,excluding pests,etc.|
|Posted by: MajorBuzz Aug 08 03, 10:00 AM GMT|
| Here is a picture of the bag my limestone came in. I found it at an animal feed store. 50 lbs was about six or seven bucks.
|Posted by: Fungusmaximus Aug 08 03, 10:23 AM GMT|
Great compilation of info, Ion
|Posted by: Nanook Aug 08 03, 12:10 PM GMT|
|I agree Ion, most excellent work|
|Posted by: CockyMandrill Aug 08 03, 12:34 PM GMT|
|I found some of that shultz clay soil conditioner and it made the soil feel a lot better (I mixed up a new batch for five myrtillocactus's). It holds water so much better now and doesnt feel like cement after a heavy watering.|
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 08 03, 03:03 PM GMT|
|very nice, thankya|
|Posted by: Archaea Aug 08 03, 03:30 PM GMT|
| Good info.
I use a mix quite similar to nans soil but I have a question or two.
Why not use red lava rock? I though this was just large pumice.
What about black lavarock, it has a tougher texture than red?
I have used a few mixes over the years including coir based, peat based, fir bark based, and loam based mixes, all with various amendments and such. They all worked well though I lost some rot sensitive species to orange rot with peat based mixes.
Have you used Shultz Arcyllite (sp?) its a kiln fired ceramic media sold for both soil areation and as a mix for aquatic plants.
|Posted by: John Doe Aug 08 03, 03:52 PM GMT|
|WOW ION you Da man..holly shit thats alot of info...super job..thank you|
|Posted by: ion Aug 08 03, 11:56 PM GMT|
| They may have changed the name, arch... that sounds like exactly what I use. I acquired mine through a request to the Schultz company for replacement of some vermiculite... the bags pictured medium sized stuff and inside it was like sand. I was very polite in my request and they were very helpful... they sent gift certificates for the store where I bought them for the cost of the bags, plus a bag of their "new" professional series stuff, which happened to be this clay. I think they were doing a test market for it at the time. It's also possible that they simply market the stuff under two different names to different demographics.
The stuff with the larger pores (red lava rock, and probably the black stuff if it used for the same things) seems to get clogged with soil and lose it's effectiveness. Also, the dust (sand) from it makes the soil become rubbery... when it's wet, the soil locks up (stops draining water) and has a springy texture, but not in a "light fluffy" way... it's very odd.
I'm glad it works so well for you, cocky... it sounds like you're having the same results I am.
Buzz, the picture is going in. Thanks!
Osprey, that's a fantastic idea! It's going in, also.
Thanks for the lauding, everyone. Just remember that without your questions and input, this wouldn't have been so thorough.
|Posted by: Malformed Aug 09 03, 12:00 AM GMT|
i just fold over a piece of metal screen, and that works great for me.
|Posted by: ion Aug 09 03, 12:25 AM GMT|
| Yep! Both should work well. The metal will rust out eventually, but it's likely no big deal.
The screen will allow better flow-through than cotton, but it won't protect as well against smaller bugs... so it just depends on what you're more worried about. My personal situation is tons of bugs!
|Posted by: Malformed Aug 09 03, 12:28 AM GMT|
| molds and etc here.
bugs are all over and hard to avoid no matter what is done.
so i figured having better airflow is better in the long run.
|Posted by: Lophophophile Aug 09 03, 12:36 AM GMT|
| major- are most brands of pigeon grit minus grade limestone?
ion- excellent work once again
|Posted by: Malformed Aug 09 03, 06:21 AM GMT|
| just a picture...
|Posted by: ion Aug 09 03, 02:23 PM GMT|
| That is limestone, mal, but it seems to be a bit too fine. The stuff I'm talking about is mostly rocks. The bag does have sandy material like that in it, but it's just from the rocks grinding together.
If you use that stuff as your only limestone (especially without an aerator material), the soil will turn to concrete rather quickly. That stuff is made for laying down over dirt to make a nice solid base that won't deform... so it's supposed to concrete up. :/
The rocks are used as a layer over top of that sandy material... this makes the whole area like that chunky conglomerate concrete you see with all the pebbles in it.
I'm considering removing that part about the Paver base, because it's really more confusing than helpful... and in light of the bird grit info, it seems like we now have a much more reliable source of the correct, washed limestone gravel.
I'm gonna go buy some of that stuff as soon as I am able!
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 09 03, 04:05 PM GMT|
|i got that hydroton stuff. its like 1/2" diameter balls. these need to be crushed now?|
|Posted by: Nanook Aug 09 03, 04:12 PM GMT|
|I would think smaller fragments would work better|
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 09 03, 04:19 PM GMT|
|gah. how does it make a difference though?|
|Posted by: Malformed Aug 09 03, 11:00 PM GMT|
i dont give a shit you guys make all this too compicated, i think the whole soil thing is over rated.
dirt and perlite has allways worked great for me in the past.
makes for a nice fluffy mix that doesnt compact.
good healthy root systems below and a healthy plant or cactus above.
im just going to use a little of the crushed limestone, some compost from the back yard, and toss the rest of the crushed limestone in the driveway.
|Posted by: ion Aug 10 03, 01:01 AM GMT|
|Nobody knows anything about cacti... not even me.|
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 10 03, 01:12 AM GMT|
|its true. ion made it all up. its all part of he and nan's master plan to deceive the world into using soil thats too good for the cacti's own good.|
|Posted by: ion Aug 10 03, 01:44 AM GMT|
| Oh! Your question about the balls, deph...
Technically, the balls would work to some extent. There is a least one big problem with them, though: The size.
Large "pockets" within a soil matrix can lead to problems... this is why we want to mix the topsoil and compost together very well, breaking up any chunks. Chunks are equivalent to pockets...
Pockets are bad for 2 reasons:
1. They can easily become safe havens for a specific type of insect egg, fungus, bacteria, etc. Any conditions in the soil that these things would not like can be easily avoided by simply moving, germinating, or colonizing the soil pocket where it can live happily. Roots will eventually have to contact these pockets, making a direct vector for infection of the entire plant, or at least of that section of the roots.
2. Even if nothing bad lives in the pocket, the roots won't be as happy having to adjust to all these different miniature environments... especially if that pocket is deficient in something like minerals.
Smaller particles are best when it comes to particles that are porous (soil balls, clay balls, etc.). Roots are used to having slight variations in the soil matrix, and the smaller the particle is, the less "variation-like" the particle is.
Of course, if the soil was entirely comprised of these clay balls, then there would only be a variation of "ball" and "not ball".
Try hitting one with a hammer and see what kind of particles you get. You probably don't want a whole lot of dust, so you may need to wash the product after smashing it all to bits. I think one good whack with a hammer should net you some good size particles... a quarter of the size of one of those balls is what you are looking for.
If nothing else, you have a large bag of an excellent soil-less media to grow in. You could do some soil-less cactus pots and tell us how well it works.
|Posted by: Nanook Aug 10 03, 02:06 AM GMT|
| [email protected]
Of course we have to make it too complicated... If it were simple people would think it does not work
Really tho... It's a normal process in tek development (which I have seen and done my fair share of)... People come up and want to know the BEST WAY to do things, and frequently that means some refinement on a simpler, perfectly adequate tek.
I would use some of that crushed stone, it looks like good stuff, just don't use it for 1/3 of the mix... Like 1/5 would probably work well, enough you have some stone well mixed in and visible, but not enough to seize the mix when it gets wet
|Posted by: ion Aug 10 03, 02:41 AM GMT|
| Alright Nan... lets see it. I need a picture and a source (one everyone can get to
) of the correct size stone.
Put a ruler or coin in the pic so we can tell.
BTW, that pidgeon grit is about the same size as the clay particles I use.
|Posted by: entheopharm Aug 10 03, 03:06 AM GMT|
|OK ion ... but how about the smaller 4mm - 8mm Hydroton? Could that be used straight from the bag? It's the same price here as the regular and I'm all for not having to pull out the hammer to make soil.|
|Posted by: ion Aug 10 03, 03:12 AM GMT|
The smaller stuff sounds like the perfect size! 8mm is probably a bit large, but it should still be OK. Get me a picture, please.
|Posted by: ion Aug 10 03, 04:00 AM GMT|
| Some links for you folks:
Remember they are talking about pond plants... flourite is a non-porous mineral, in case you are wondering.
The CEC is still important for normal plants, though.
If you cannot find the stuff at all (just look at the problems all those bonsai folks are having ), then just call this number: 1-314-298-2700
Ask them where to find it or if you can order it (or get a free sample )
And, arch, I've figured it out:
Manufacturer's product name- Profile
Marketer's name- Schultz Clay Soil Conditioner
Material name- Arcillite
Material- Kiln-fired (porcelinized) clay aggregate (meaning it was re-hardened out of clay that was made from hard stone erosion)
Confusion factor- 9 out of 10 (second only to fertilizer names)
|Posted by: Malformed Aug 10 03, 07:24 AM GMT|
| btw, i know the mix is suposed to be good and stuff... it just doesnt seem like that big of a deal to me.
ive allways thought of dirt as dirt, ive never been picky.
i have a idea of how dirt works, airation, drainage, etc.
anyway, the paver limestone i posted will work fine...
its got chunks and chips about the size of standard perlite.
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 10 03, 03:47 PM GMT|
still not done with this.
|Posted by: ion Aug 10 03, 06:09 PM GMT|
| Mal, you apathetic little naysayer...
You probably saw many of these posts as they were originally written, and indeed there is a quote in there containing the general idea about all of this:
You can do whatever the hell you want. The cacti will probably live... at least for a while. But... this is the best way in my knowledge to make soil that lasts.
I won't extoll all the other the benefits, again. Those that know, know... those that don't, probably never will. So nyah! ~pbbbt!
The size is likely too large, deph... but hydroton is not something I experimented with in this soil (maybe I should have...), so I really can't tell you. All I know is the stuff about "pockets" like I mentioned in the previous thread. Sorry man... I just don't know. Like I said, though, it's worth it for the experiment! Try it out and report back to us!
Thank you for the excellent picture, bro! I will use the right half (the arcyllite) for now, and if your test results are positive with the hydroton, I will include it, also.
*edited to say: Oh yeah, the aquatic plant soil is the exact same stuff (arcyllite) marketed under a different name.
|Posted by: BoxedFarts Aug 10 03, 07:36 PM GMT|
Plain topsoil mixed with about 30-40% vermiculite is working fine for me, but then again, I've only been into the cactus for a little over a year now.
It's hysterical to me how obsessed you guys get with this!
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 10 03, 10:08 PM GMT|
| yay. finally got the right shit. i'll experiment with hydroton a little maybe. kinda sucks that i went to the hydro shop and bought a 50lb bag of it
i tried crushing it up with a sledge hammer but thats just a mess. most of it gets into this fine lavarock-type powder. and the rest of it is too big, needs to be crushed more. its a pretty shitty situation. those pebbles are actually black inside. i thought it was clay all the way through.
my plants are my children. i give them the most love and care as possible.
|Posted by: ion Aug 11 03, 12:12 AM GMT|
| OK... I'll remove the hydroton bit from the work. Thanks for the heads up! Sorry it had to be considered a waste of cash for you... but it is better than perlite for properly humidifying mushies... and is a wonderful soil-less media for hydro.
Damn straight, buddy!
Ya know, boxy... I'm not gonna gloat, but I'll bet mine is bigger than yours... or faster getting up... or has better stamina...
|Posted by: Samsara Aug 11 03, 12:37 AM GMT|
|Wow I like this thread.....|
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 11 03, 06:49 AM GMT|
|im positive it will be used elsewhere in my garden.|
|Posted by: CockyMandrill Aug 11 03, 07:18 AM GMT|
|dephighance, if your into mushroom growing you can make a killer automated setup with hydroton, Its in the archives somewhere if your interested, they call it the poor mans pod.|
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 11 03, 07:47 AM GMT|
|HMMM thanks for the heads up. i'll look for it|
|Posted by: BoxedFarts Aug 11 03, 10:25 AM GMT|
Im in the process of moving and I only have one of my pedros where Im staying now. Toad sent it to me after I won the Limmerick contest in January.
I measured it 2 days ago and it has grown 13" in 8 months. It's in plain dirt, no verm, I havent even fertilized it yet! I have access to a digicam now so I will post a pic of it in this thread in the next few days
...and Professor Ion: it's not the size of the pedro, but the potency that counts
|Posted by: Nanook Aug 11 03, 12:22 PM GMT|
| No no... It's size and potency, you want both
And... Ion is not talking about dropping a plant in and and growing it in the soil for a year or two... Cacti generally stay potted up for years and years. I have had plants that went 20 years in the same soil, and the pots stayed pH stable and the cacti stayed happy with minimal care... In correct soil.
If you add powdered lime on occasion, you can make just about any soil work.
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 11 03, 05:06 PM GMT|
|wow. you do realize that you have cacti older than i am|
|Posted by: Nanook Aug 11 03, 05:16 PM GMT|
| I have a number of mature specimens started from seed in 1976
If you start at your age, you can enjoy a lifetime cultivating these wonderful plants. I look back now and it was one of the most progressive decisions I made as a teenager... I got some Gottlieb publications from 20th Century Alchemist, wrote a letter to New Mexico Cactus Research, and started buying seeds and plants... And nobody was any the wiser as to the chemical roots of my new hobby.
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 11 03, 05:58 PM GMT|
| heh. cool stuff man
whats the best kind of gravel to top off the pot with? im thinking limestone.
|Posted by: Archaea Aug 11 03, 06:17 PM GMT|
| I like aquarium gravel for inside plants I bet limestone gravel would be just fine.
I wanted to mention that I sprouted cacti seeds in the Arcyllite about four years ago. As a germination medium it tended to be a bit dry but it worked fine. I found that when mixed with coir the pH was about 6.5 or so, just fine for sprouts but too acidic for establishment.
|Posted by: ion Aug 12 03, 02:23 AM GMT|
Let's see some pics, now buddy!
That catus will grow just great until the soil is leached of all nutrients that the cactus is able to take up... then you'll have to fertilize... then the soil will be acid and the cactus won't be able to take up the nutrients... then you'll have to lime... but as soon as you fertilize again, the pH will drop (you have no buffer)... and the routine starts again. By the way, liming after every feeding also wastes about half of your fertilizer... the stuff gets turned into insoluble salts, making it much harder for the cactus to absorb them. This does make for some good long-term minerals in the soil, but if most of them are long-term, then the cactus growth will also be long-term (meaning slow ).
It sounds like you have some very good topsoil in there, but just add some limestone chips to it to make it easier to manage.
Oh... and 13" in 8 months means it's healthy, but not really healthy.
I'm currently getting at least 16-20" in a 6 month (and short summer) season on my established plants...
|Posted by: BoxedFarts Aug 12 03, 01:51 PM GMT|
| Here it is
It was started in this pot with only about 4" of soil. It's getting transplanted into that mosaic terra cotta pot that is next to it later today (I just HAD to show off my handiwork )
Of course, Im using my "Lazy and Frugal Mans Soil Mix" ™
Im thinking the reason for the skinny upper growth is because it was in a screened in patio until about a week ago. If it got full sunlight it would most definately be a few inches bigger.
I've NEVER had a complaint about the size of my Pedro
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 12 03, 03:08 PM GMT|
| its decent looking. nothing to drool over.
is there a benefit to using clay pots? i know they cant possibly drain as well having only 1 hole, where my black plastic pots have 5-6
|Posted by: Nanook Aug 12 03, 03:12 PM GMT|
|Posted by: bluejay Aug 12 03, 04:55 PM GMT|
|Porous and lets water evaporate out thru it is also how to explain that it breathes...|
|Posted by: ion Aug 12 03, 04:58 PM GMT|
| Aww crap... forgot to add that part...
They are all worthy of drool, deph.
But, yes... at least try the mix sometime, boxy. You'll see.
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 12 03, 05:20 PM GMT|
|has anyone tried using this mix on some Sceletium tortuosum ? would you recommend it?|
|Posted by: Nanook Aug 12 03, 05:37 PM GMT|
|I have yet to find a cacti that does not like it|
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 12 03, 06:26 PM GMT|
|ah.. well Sceletium is a succulent..|
|Posted by: Nanook Aug 12 03, 06:59 PM GMT|
|Well try it and see... It can't be any worse for succlents than the peat based bagged stuff they sell|
|Posted by: Malformed Aug 12 03, 07:15 PM GMT|
| i ended up doing a 1:1:2 mix
crushed limestone, perlite, dirt.
the more i dig into the bag of limestone the mire i like it, its not nearly as fine as it looks in the picture.
some is about the size of kitty litter.
after mixing it up and filling the pot, i decided i like it.
we will see how the cactus likes it.
|Posted by: CockyMandrill Aug 12 03, 07:25 PM GMT|
|It'll do fine, just make sure to get some nice food for it, peters all purpose is what most use.|
|Posted by: BoxedFarts Aug 12 03, 10:08 PM GMT|
| I'm really not trying to prove anyone wrong, but rather show/tell the results I got from my situation. I only had a very small screened in patio, so the size of my containers couldnt be large. I also didnt have a place to mix up a bunch of Nans soil mix.
I respect Nans long experience with cactus, and Im not trying to say his soil doesnt work. I just happened to get good results with 4" of plain soil in a tiny plastic pot in a screened in patio. So I guess my reason for coming out with this is that it's not as complicated as people here make it seem sometimes. You can do this without spending a lot of $$ or time. Just put the thing in some dirt and let it grow. In the long run, Nans mix is the way to go, I understand completely.
Once I move (and have a backyard) and my cactus collection expands I will try Nans mix. Fo shizzle
|Posted by: ion Aug 12 03, 10:12 PM GMT|
That's good enough, mal... we won't ask any more of you.
|Posted by: ion Aug 12 03, 10:22 PM GMT|
| I still love ya, boxy!
It's all about their happiness, after all...
I don't care what anyone decides to grow in... as long as the cactus is healthy, I won't have to kill you.
-ion, hitman for the Association Against CDA (Cactacea Domestic Abuse)
|Posted by: Nanook Aug 13 03, 12:21 AM GMT|
|Posted by: CockyMandrill Aug 13 03, 08:26 AM GMT|
Just wanted to say that all the ingredients in nans mix cost me like $8 total and I still have good amount left after making dirt for over 15 pots of varying size...so It ended up a lot cheaper than any premade soil mix, not as cheap as dirt but I think it looks and works better, and I also won't have to repot for years.
|Posted by: BoxedFarts Aug 13 03, 08:50 AM GMT|
| Cool, CM.
Money isn't an issue right now, but a month ago I was digging through the cushions for loose change. I know there are more than a few here that are in a similar situation.
Geez, Im almost sorry I brought it up. If ya'll wore lipstick, Nans ass would look like a rainbow J/K!!!!
I'm just an audacious bastid, I mean no harm to your planet, really.
|Posted by: Toad Aug 13 03, 05:48 PM GMT|
lime 1.00 @Quarry-5 gallon bucket
3.50 for 3- 5 gal. buckets full.
|Posted by: dephighance Aug 13 03, 08:25 PM GMT|
No kiln fired clay? No dolomite limestone?
|Posted by: ion Aug 28 03, 02:37 PM GMT|
|I've updated some pics and info.|