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 Soil mix question

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requiemsong



Number of posts : 12
Location : Perth, WA
Registration date : 2009-12-22

PostSubject: Soil mix question   Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:25 pm

I know this sounds like a stupid question, but bear with me here. I have been growing cacti and succulents for about three years now and the only problem or concern I have relates to substrate. I've lost count of how many articles I've read on the subject.

However, I live in Perth (Mandurah, to be more specific) and am unable to get pumice stone or fine gravel of decent quality. In the past I have used both crushed quartz and brick dust which I spend hours putting through a manual sive. I know it would be quicker to wash it through, but I'm a green-freak and can't stand the thought of wasting all that water.

Anyway, my question, plight, is for other growers of the Perth area and also those who would like to add there two cents. When growing cacti (not tropical species such as zygo and epth.sp) but your average run of the mill sun-blasted sand lovers, what have or do you use in your mix. I know someone is bound to tell me to use perlite, but my problem is that of economics. In truth, I would love to use it, but I can't find anywhere that sells it cheap enough. The local hydroponics place sells it at around $40 for a 25L bag and bunnings, well don't even get me started on them. I was thinking of using those clay balls which are used in hydroponics, but again, they have a price tag and seem overly large (10mm).

So, what do you suggest. Any Perth people out there, if you wouldn't mind telling me where you obtain your supplies I would be most greatful.

Thanks all.

Also, it's great to have finally found a Australian cacti forum. (woot).
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blowng
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Number of posts : 256
Location : Mellville
Registration date : 2008-10-28

PostSubject: Re: Soil mix question   Wed Dec 23, 2009 5:53 pm

Hey mate ,yeah im not far from you...and i make my own mix sieving grit i get from near the coast which is a result of natural erosion of the rocks which i think are a granite quartz type (any traces of salt washed away)... added also is charcoal rubbed off logs from areas of bushfire and collected off the ground ,awesome stuff, can be sieved to various grades also....bunnings has large blocks of coir (coconut fibre) that soaked with water make 90 litres of water holding joy.(use sparingly for some sp.) instead of water to wash out fine particles grab your self some shade cloth and just agitate it through... this is the last part of my sieving process....lime stone gravel which is abundant down south especially near the coast ,i also sieve to add differing sized particles to lime loving north american/mexicans types...also good for top dressing. hope this helps
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shortly



Number of posts : 127
Location : SEQ
Registration date : 2008-06-28

PostSubject: Re: Soil mix question   Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:33 pm

Ask your local nursery supplies (wholesale not retail) or produce about perlite, our local sells a 100L bag for $23.
If you have a lot of sieving to do i bent up some 1/3" reo into a hoop (this holds the sieve) that sits horizontally from a "Z" arm. It has an old fan with a plywood disk with a lead weight on 1 edge fitted 1/2 way up the arm. this shakes like mad, doin all the hard work. the down side is that its not real quiet & very dusty depending on what your sieving.
Just be careful of the coir, some (not all) batches are very salty. eg of 4 blocks i bought on the same day 1 was as salty as sea water but the other 3 were fine.
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blowng
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Number of posts : 256
Location : Mellville
Registration date : 2008-10-28

PostSubject: Re: Soil mix question   Sat Dec 26, 2009 1:27 pm

http://lophophora.blogspot.com/2009/09/recipe-for-cactus-soil-mix.html
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Navajoa
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Number of posts : 599
Location : Australia
Registration date : 2009-09-15

PostSubject: Re: Soil mix question   Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:43 pm

Wouldn't take that mix as Gospel. Might be okay for the North American plants that like the limestone, but the South American plants like Gymnos, Uebels etc won't like it much, they prefer a slightly acid mix.
Personally, I wouldn't use Coir in a mix at all, I don't see it serving much purpose other than to take up space. And you really don't need to have all that "stuff". Just use a decent brand C & S mix, and mix it with some sharp sand (propagating sand) and add some perlite and vermiculite if you wish. You can also add some stone chips/gravel/scoria if you want. But make a mix that suits your conditions. Remember a lot of the European/American grower's conditions aren't as extreme heatwise as ours, so take that in to account as well. Free draining is fine if you water regularly, but if you have a greenhouse that's getting stinking hot in summer and you only water once a week, maybe you need a bit more mix and Verm/Perl and less sand. If your pots are exposed to rain and get a bit of shade, maybe add more sand and gravel...and so on....
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Hellonasty
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Number of posts : 1824
Location : NSW
Registration date : 2008-04-04

PostSubject: Re: Soil mix question   Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:35 pm

Yeah I agree Navajoa Coconut fiber (Coir) for me does not have a place in any of my mixes. I also agree with your above mix for the "Majority" of C&S. The soil mix in the link is aimed at Mexican and North American Miniatures and for these plants I believe that is a sound mix. I use something quite similar.

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My Cacti Blog, please come visit me.

http://astrophytum-and-friends.blogspot.com/

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blowng
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Number of posts : 256
Location : Mellville
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PostSubject: Re: Soil mix question   Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:01 am

Isnt commercial cacti /succulent potting mix full of rotted pine bark?
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requiemsong



Number of posts : 12
Location : Perth, WA
Registration date : 2009-12-22

PostSubject: Re: Soil mix question   Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:25 pm

That, and it's f**king expensive. $7-9 for one of those pathetic 5L bags. If I used that, it would cost me an arm and a leg.
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Olga
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Number of posts : 229
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2009-11-08

PostSubject: Re: Soil mix question   Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:15 pm

I buy mine from a specialist nursery, and it is awesome. It might be expensive, but I have been using it for ten years and I have always had healthy cacti. And it already has everything in it so there is no need to mix it with anything.
Maybe try your local society, I was reading up (when thinking of joining) the Melbourne cactus society and they apparently sell cheap potting mix to members.
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