Your preferred soil mixes?

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iann
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Re: Your preferred soil mixes?

Post by iann » Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:34 am

sometimes I have accidentally knocked over a plant in a plastic pot that is dry and doesn't contain much grit in its mix

It is so generous of you to take the blame for your cat ;)

[i[there aren't many cacti or other succulents on beaches... a few halophytes, and Fenestraria, perhaps.[/i]

Fenestraria is one of the very few mesembs, possibly the only one, that typically grows in areas where windblown sand collects. But even there it is usually rooted into something soil-like underneath, with the sand just collecting around the leaves.



Post Edited (11-18-06 10:37)
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Re: Your preferred soil mixes?

Post by Guest » Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:18 am

Hi Julie,

There are loads of mixes which people swear by as the other say. I have tried many with mixed success but I now use JI no3 and alpine grit as a base, one bag of each (25kg) in a cement mixer. For limestone lovers I add 12kg of limestone
I have used a product called ultrasorb which is the same as cat litter but in 25kg bags but I find it holds to much water for most north american cacti, it is probably fine for succulents though.

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iann
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Re: Your preferred soil mixes?

Post by iann » Sat Nov 18, 2006 12:29 pm

Ultrasorb is diatomaceous earth. I believe they cook it to thoroughly dry it out, then it can absorb about its own weight in liquid. Doesn't release the liquid very easily though. Haven't tried this in soil, I bet you'd never get root mealies!

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Re: Your preferred soil mixes?

Post by David_L » Sat Nov 18, 2006 1:45 pm

Hi Bob

Loved the bit about the cement mixer! I take it you have a l-a-r-g-e collection!!

David

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Mainly small Cacti + a few Mesembs.
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Julie
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Re: Your preferred soil mixes?

Post by Julie » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:16 pm

Whee!! I just got me a bag of Perlite today. Which made me smile.

I've just done a thesis on supporting palladium (catalyst in pharmaceutical syntheses) on various microporous solids. ( Pd is expensive and toxic, so desirable to stick it on a solid, so can be recovered by filtration rather that distillation) and went for a variety of microporous solids (synthetic, or very young volcanic ash based solids - ie. only a few millions of years old), and thought.. wow, this is light. Bet it has to be microporous. Checking the packet, it was.

The result of my work was that it does not really matter your solid, pore size, acidity, pore structure, the weather at the time of the experiment, granny's birthday, etc. and that the best support is simply the cheapest one. This would have been great to use in these experiments alongside the fancy expensive synthetic zeolites with perfect 3D pore systems... as at the end of the day, the reaction worked like musical chairs. The palladum popped off the support, did it's business in solution, and at the end of the reaction reattached itself to the solid support. That's the only conclusion that can be drawn.. and it's one that the boss didn't really want to see.

Thankfully I found someone else who had reported the same findings in the literature and had the facilities to measure concentrations of Pd throughout the reaction (which I had not), and so that saved me in the final (oral) exam.

--------------------

OK, back to the topic.

Now there's a reason to avoid cat litter!!! In fact our delightful cats have been known to do the biz in a freshly filled plant pot which would have got it's plant after a teabreak.

David L, I hadn't realised there were so many grits. I chose so-called grit sand as I thought the others looked too coarse (I have a 250ml bottle of the coarse stuff) and silver sand looked a lot finer.. too fine.

I might then use JI2 and some of the white stuff, and some gravel. I once got a bonsai as a gift, and the so-called "bonsai soil" which I used in repotting the poor little cramped thing, was full of little white chunks which were probably perlite.

Perlite's home page... plenty of applications for the stuff but no numbers/pie chart on how much is used in the range of applications.



Report on the growth of it's use.. seems horticulture is a small area of the market.



I'd better go easy on the stuff, if Greek islands have to be quarried for it.

-----------

Another thought.. what is the advantage to having air in the compost? Does it prevent anaerobic smelly bacteria getting a hold? Do roots need CO2? Or just to be not constantly in contact with water, so that bacteria can't rot them?

I remember seeing a documentary on Kew where they pumped air into the soil around some huge old trees. I thought that the soil compacting over time had prevented smaller roots from growing. Although this is probably a daft idea - after all, mushrooms can push up paving slabs. Anyone know the reason for doing that to old trees?

---

25kg?!? I went on a camping/hostelling tour for a fortnight with 20kg. Let's just say that I NEVER want to pick up 20+ kg ever again. :) That was a fortnight of dried food and one change of clothes.. priorities. :)

Today I invested in a rucksack... so perhaps walking for an hour with all that lot will not kill me next year.

By the way, I am 53kg... :)

And I'll do my mixing with hands in a bucket, I think..

Until I get my own patch, and a greenhouse..... then I might just need a concrete mixer. ;)

Happy carrier of Forby Disorder - an obsession with Euphorbia obesa.

NB. Anyone failing to provide a sensible name for me to address them will be called, or referred to, as Fred.
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Phil Hocking
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Re: Your preferred soil mixes?

Post by Phil Hocking » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:28 pm

Hi Julie

Apparently roots like to have access to oxygen (don't know if they want CO2) and compacted or waterlogged soil deprives them of it. No doubt the anaerobic bacteria and fungi take advantage of any dying root material.

Phil in Somerset, UK
Member of Somerset branch. I have a diverse mixture of small cacti plus a few larger survivors from a previous collection. I also like Stapeliads, Titanopsis, Anacampseros, and various other succulents. Now proud owner of many self-raised seedlings.
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Re: Your preferred soil mixes?

Post by Julie » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:31 pm

Aaaah, thanks Phil.

Happy carrier of Forby Disorder - an obsession with Euphorbia obesa.

NB. Anyone failing to provide a sensible name for me to address them will be called, or referred to, as Fred.
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Re: Your preferred soil mixes?

Post by Guest » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:40 pm

Ian,

True, as I said it is the same as cat litter, absords but holds onto water as it is designed to do.

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iann
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Re: Your preferred soil mixes?

Post by iann » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:51 pm

Bob, diatomaceous earth is not at all the same as the cat litter that I use. I can't directly compare their properties because I haven't use the diatomaceous earth, but the one thing my cat litter doesn't do is grab and hold onto water. Strange but true. It is small particles of hard fired clay. It hisses when you water it because of the tiny air pockets, but you can soak if underwater for a week and it will be dry shortly after you take it out of the water. It certainly doesn't absorb its own weight in water, not even close.

Cheshire, UK
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