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 Potting media robbery

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Walker87
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Location : Melbourne
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PostSubject: Potting media robbery    Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:50 pm

Hi Guys,
I'm sure some of you will already know this but just thought I would share a tip or two when it comes to cacti potting media.
I got tired of paying excessive amounts for things I knew were available much cheaper!
Hope some of you find this useful...
 
So I used to buy my sand from bunnings, the brunnings propagating sand at $7 a small bag.
Then after a bad experience with it (that stuff compacts and sets like concrete!) I decided I would head on down to my local garden supplies, chatted to the guys down there and they suggested using washed course river sand. So I picked up a 25L bucket full for about $3.
That stuff is an absolutely dream to work with, you can wet it and squash it and it will not compact at all.
 
I am a big fan of scoria for aesthic and functionality reasons (I detest perlite and will never use it) so I use scoria as my airator. Anyways bunnings and masters only seem to have the massive chunky one which is useless in smaller pots and I was not about to take to it with a hammer. Again my local garden supplies was to have the answer, they carry a scoria which is tiny perfect for even the smallest pots and again I managed to pick up a 25L bucket full for about $3
 
The other thing I acquire from the garden supplies is quartz pebbles (very small size but not the smallest, you need to go to an aquarium for that size) but still small enough to make an attractive top dressing. The garden supplies hooked me up with a 25L bucket worth for about $4
Don't even want to mention what bunnings and the like charge for pebbles!
 
As for potting mix, I buy the absolute cheapest stuff I can find and then sieve it through a course sieve and then again through a fine sieve (the kind you would use when making a cake) what you end up with is a fine black soot with virtually not bark pieces.
I use a little of this in my mixes just to give the cacti something organic and so far so good.

For the seedling they also receive some coco coir but that stuff is as cheap as chips and as scroogy as I am I do not feel the need to look for a cheaper alternative!
 
I managed to reduce my media costs to about 1/4 of what I was originally paying and from what I can tell will have absolutely no negative impacts on the plants themselves.
 
I am about to trial water acidification and varying fertilizer regimes but that is another post entirely!!!
 
Happy gardening,
 
Walker87
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Ali67

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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:28 pm

Thanks for that, I have just today got some "sharp sand" from bunnings, to add to my potting mix and I'm hoping you mean the small bags that would fit in a basket, and not the bigger ones ?

As I almost bought, the smaller one and then found the sharp sand out back, and got it instead.
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Walker87
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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:43 pm

Yes, I do mean the small bags. It's called "propagating sand" awful awful stuff.
The stuff from the garden supplies is much better.

I would definitely be checking out your local garden suppliers, it took me a few before I found one that was helpful and didn't mind me rocking up with my buckets. I get a few wierd looks traipsing around the yard with buckets full of this and that but at 1/4 the price I couldn't give two hoots!
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Cereoid

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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:47 pm

I can get river sand from a builders' store at a similar price but it's not washed and is full of silt. I've tried washing it but that's labour intensive and wastes a lot of water. Is there something else I could be doing?
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Walker87
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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:01 pm

The stuff I get is already washed, it is a large particle sand with mini pebbles very very small, perfect size really. I am not sure of what its actually used for but it suits my needs perfectly. I think the guys down at the garden supplies called it washed course sand.
If you only wanted the actual sand component, the mini pebbles could be easily sieved out with a fine sieve. Which would be much much easier than washing and wouldn't waste any water.

This is what it looks like.
I was told it would not compact because it's washed and it hasn't even with me trying.


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Cereoid

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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:39 pm

I don't mind sieving it for the pebbles. My sand looks a lot more brown than that, even after washing. The pebbles in my sand are darker, like little rocks and would make a good topdressing (If I bothered with one for any of my plants!). I wash it to remove the dust which clogs up the soil. I suppose I don't need to wash it very much because natural soil and potting soil are already fairly dusty but I go overboard and make what is essentially grit, without much smaller than about 1/4 mm.
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Walker87
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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:43 pm

I know the sand you mean, if it's not washed it's a nuisance. Clogs things up and has a tendency to "set" I have about 7 seedling trays that unfortunately have this type of sand and the soil is rock hard, I've had to open the containers, break it up and prop the seedlings up they just can't seem to get a foot in. I wonder if this sand is from a different geographic location or if it's the processing that makes it different? I would assume the darker stuff with the silt would contain some level of nutrient?
The new mix I made with the new sand is still light and airy and has not compacted at all.

I've repotted a few mature cacti using this sand it will be interesting to see if they appreciate the extra movement and texture of the soil.

Once the seedlings are ready to pot up I intend to do some experimenting with soil mixes, water and fertiliser program's. Think that will create a level playing field if they've all started from the same place.
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Cereoid

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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:10 pm

My sand isn't that bad. I've got a ~3.5 cm wide Copiapoa cinerea in a ~12 cm round pot with almost exclusively unwashed sand of this type and it hasn't rotted yet. When it's dry it is easily movable and doesn't form any kind of definite shape. When it is wet it dries out almost completely in a few days but can be moulded into simple shapes. It has a lot of dust but the variation in particle size is so great and the particles are so sharp that it probably doesn't matter. The only problem is that with my choice of plant in the pot I can't water it without it splitting! It relies almost exclusively on dew like in the wild!
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Eck



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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:19 pm

Thanks for sharing. I've been using the 'propagating sand' you mention because there was little else available. Where did you get the "washed coarse river sand" if you don't mind my asking as relatively few garden supplies are likely to carry it.  I had difficulty locating fine pebbles until someone suggested Aumanns (South Morang).  They have '7mm marble mix' in bulk or bags.  At $6 (IIRC) for a large bag, it was dirt cheap Smile
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wert

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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:29 pm

Eck wrote:
Thanks for sharing. I've been using the 'propagating sand' you mention because there was little else available. Where did you get the "washed coarse river sand" if you don't mind my asking as relatively few garden supplies are likely to carry it.  I had difficulty locating fine pebbles until someone suggested Aumanns (South Morang).  They have '7mm marble mix' in bulk or bags.  At $6 (IIRC) for a large bag, it was dirt cheap Smile


try "all green nursery" old gelong rd, hoppers crossing.
you can buy bags there cheap... they can be really heavy!
they have a variety of stuff.
there is a mix they have out back near railway line... i used this affter sifting out the silt, adding mandatory charcoal and organics/soils to suit.
by far the best medium ive come across and the little greenies just love it.
cant remember what they called it.
its been a few years sonce ive picked anyy up but im sure they had a decent sand i mixed into some of my pots.
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Walker87
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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:47 am

Hi Eck,
Just checked this post and realised my response did not post.

The washed river sand I get is from a garden supplies called d'abaco they are in keysborough but I think they have other sites.
The guys at the keysborough site are fantastic, really helpful and they know their media. Perhaps not from a horticulture perspective but they've been able to provide useful information in regards to how the media reacts once it's wet, whether it will compact and what's actually in there.
Plus you can take down any size container and they will price it up based on how much you need. Much better if you don't need a trailer load of a product which a lot of suppliers will only allow.
They do not have the tiny gravel, but have a relatively small one which makes for a nice dressing.
The tiny stuff I get from an aquarium not far from d'abaco called fishworld (it's on the same road) they sell it for $2 a kilo which is enough to dress up quiet a few pots and they have a good range of colours. My favourite is a reddy brown one, looks amazing against most cacti.

Check around your local garden supplies though, I don't think the washed course sand is a speciality product and I think it is used in some sort of building application.

Hope that helps.
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Eck



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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:22 am

Thanks for the information everyone. I'll check them out when I'm in the area.

On the subject of sand I read 'brick sand' intentionally contains clay which may explain why some sands tend to clog.
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powerinformation

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Location : Western Australia
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PostSubject: Re: Potting media robbery    Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:07 pm

im trying out pure crushed limestone at the moment because I have deceided I don't like potting mix.

It seems to be going well except with water seems to stick a bit like you mention, time will tell if it is too much (not watering a lot at the moment)....any problems with uprooting and repotting too often I wonder?
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