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BaconBackn

Potting Mix

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Just wanted to start a thread on potting mix. Feel free to share what you use for your tricho's and discuss cost effectiveness, growth and performance, how it effects your cacti's appearence. 

 

My soil mix is constantly evolving, but is based around 4 things:

25% Drainage - I currently use course creek sand harvested sustainably and free

50% Organic soil - I use soil dug up from the in laws chicken pen. It is black, moist, smells like worms

24% Airation - Zeolite 

1% Fertilizer - seaweed and fish guts 

 

I live in a hideaway in Queensland near Brisbane. It never really rains here. It rains in surrounding areas but misses my house. For this reason I am heavy on the organic matter, even though it holds water (soil composed of chicken poo tends to hold water). 

Zeolite helps maintain moisture due to its porous composition. Oh, and, Seaweed and fish fertilizer because a cactus needs calcium!!! 

 

 

Edit: 

I'm on a tight budget, have figured out a cacti hack 

 

Woolworths brand cat litter is composed of one ingredient:

•Zeolite 

This is better then perlite, and it is volcanic rock just like pumice. 

1. Very cheap

2. Helps airation 

3. Prevent loss of fertilizer nutrients (Not effected by rain or high temperature)

4.. Reservoir for the nutrients which are slowly released “on demand” with the plant itself does the regulating of the nutrients as it needs them

5.. Balances the pH level of soils (soil conditioner)

6. Holds onto water but never encourages rot

7. High cation exchange capacity (CEC)

8. Improves aeration and irrigation significantly

9. 100% natural and organic

10. Absorbs and holds potentially harmful or toxic substances

 

 

109101_1.jpg

Edited by BaconBackn

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Try whatever ideas you can come up with but keep track of things so you can properly assess in the future. 

 

I've been growing and propagating since mid 90's and I can tell you my most common basic mix which I'm very happy with. I buy a trailer load of crusher dust for $23, and I use a cement mixer to mix the crusher dust 50/50 with cheap carbon (wood) based potting mix. Im aiming for 50/50 ratio of mineral to organic matter. Anywhere between 60/40 and 40/60 is fine. Add whatever extras you feel like. To make  a decent seed raising mix, just put it through a sieve and use the fines. It works very well, my trichos grow fat in their  pots.  I fertilise with pure piss fresh from the sausage. I don't even bother watering it in. Try not to splash the cacti skin too much. They can't absorb nitrogen through their skin and you don't wanna burn them or get them sticky or whatever.

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A cheap alternative to pumice could be perlite. Preferably sifted, so the more fine particles don't clog your medium.

They do great in a simple soil mix with added perlite.

 

 

Organics :

Half coco / Half "beach" compost (which is full of fermented seaweed, shells, pebbles,sand and generally whatever i find on the shore)

 

Inorganics :

I go heavy on the pumice ~30% (it's great and cheap!)

Some perlite for the sake of it.

Zeolite and Palygorskite (a type of clay) in coarse grains to keep things... porous.

 

Amendments :

Gypsum and a bit of Dolomite for calc/mag.

Mycos

 

Trichos love their urea so pee, pee, pee!

A good general fert does wonders.... then you can add calc/mag, b vits, micronutrients etc..

 

 

 

 

 

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I never get rot issues with this mix either. They usually come up around planting time for most people but I'll run through a couple tricks with you.

 

 

Make sure the cut is dry and calloused properly -minimum of 2 weeks in a airy place to be sure (3's better).

 

Make sure the cut is clean and has no rot developing in it. If it has any rot it will spread fast so you MUST cut it out and callous again.

 

Pot up into dry or nearly dry mix.

 

Plant just deep enough to safely stand up without any rocks or stakes, any deeper is less good. ie, the deeper you go the higher the chance rot may develop.

 

Put the whole potted cut under a plastic or fibre-glass roof/veranda for a whole month with absolutely no water applied. It won't even start to shrivel in this short time.

 

After a month put the potted cut out among all your others and just let the rain look after it for the next few months. ie don't give it any water, other than what the rain gives it. Don't fertilize it, don't piss on it, nothing, especially if winter is coming. Wait till winter is over and then water and fertilize it like all the others.

 

I usually put all my new cuts out on a pallet together, so I know not to water those ones etc. Even if they get drenched by the rain they won't rot, but I just avoid giving them any additional water for a few months. It also depends on season too. Very hot weather and I would begin adding water sooner. Wintertime and I'd wait a couple extra months.

 

These are just some tips and tricks. Take it or leave it, but I'm getting like 99% success rate. I literally cant remember the last time I had a cut rot on me.

MANY MOONS AGO LOL

 

Good luck with the trichos. What town are you in anyway, there's plenty of us around SE QLD.

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My recent summer tricho mix goes something like this:

About 40 litres of sieved woodchip based composted soil, about 10 litres of perlite (sometimes I substitute zeolite if I'm feeling ritzy), a brick of Coco coir soaked in season solution, about 10 litres of well composted chicken manure and a few cups of dolomite lime. It drains well but holds enough water in pots for the really hot days and all the plants are absolutely loving it. They're all growing very fast and pupping all over.

I think this mix might be a bit rich for a cool wet winter but ive never had any real rot issues and I've planted trichos in almost pure chicken manure as a larf once or twice.

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Are you sure that is zeolite? Generally kittly litter is bentonite clay which turns into a claggy mess when wet (so you can scoop out the poops and wizz from the dry material).

I might have to go check it out. Zeolite is quite heavy so it should be fairly easy to tell just by picking up a bag on the shelf.

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2 minutes ago, Glaukus said:

Are you sure that is zeolite? Generally kittly litter is bentonite clay which turns into a claggy mess when wet (so you can scoop out the poops and wizz from the dry material).

I might have to go check it out. Zeolite is quite heavy so it should be fairly easy to tell just by picking up a bag on the shelf.

Ingredients

Just zeolite, naturally occurring volcanic clay.

 

Proof: 

https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/productdetails/109101/homebrand-cat-litter-clay

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Not all zeolite clays are equal (several mineral clays are called zeolite with differing properties) .

 

You'll get a better quality zeolite (less contaminants and higher cation exchange than cat shit sponge material ) from pool supply places in bulk pretty cheap if they are honest (used in filters). 

 

Used shit loads of the stuff in bulk media (excavator mixed) made for vegetated water quality treatment systems for the improved CEC

 

A little zeolite goes a long way, it's only cation exchange you want it for... Holds as much water as any clay particle due to particle shape and size. 

 

Wouldn't consider it for any aeration improvement. 

 

Edit -.. Pure piss fresh from the sausage.... LOL... Best laugh I've had in days:wink:

 

Edited by waterboy 2.0
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I say that because there has been much discussion about using urine by pissing in a watering can and diluting it with water. Well the can and extra water are completely unnecessary IME. I'll usually do 3 or 4 neighboring pots at the same time nowadays. Spread the golden sunshine with all my babies...

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Learn more in his latest book "Magic Piss" by Halcyon Daze.

 

I really do think you are onto something with golden sunshine my friend.

 

Uric acid combined with caffeine is where the magic is at.

 

That and a sprinkle of worm poo tea invigorates them.

 

Higher plants love the combination.

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You may be onto someting big with the poop there infinity. I know it's said to be an outstanding fertilizer. 

 

How about 'fresh poop straight from the... Cannon!'

 

no takers? :(

 

 

 

.

Edited by Halcyon Daze

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3 hours ago, Halcyon Daze said:

You may be onto someting big with the poop there infinity. I know it's said to be an outstanding fertilizer. 

 

How about 'fresh poop straight from the... Cannon!'

 

no takers? :(

 

 

 

.

A little risky with cacti...

 

My overall philosophy with soils is to use coarse media exclusively. For my watering methods and limits of watering frequency, this means I have to use coarse materials that have good micropores for added water holding capacity. I'm all about high WHC and AFP (air filled porosity).

 

There is a tendancy to conflate rot succeptability with "too much water" but in fact it is often too little aeration that is the problem. Fine particles hold water between the particles. This means their is no aeration to the root zone.

 

Perhaps more important though is that soils with fine particles don't get watered frequently enough due to how wet they remain between these particles.

 

Coarse, porpus particles are great because they hold water within the particles, not between them. This means that there is constant aeration of the root zone. Also, each time one waters, the "space" (air) between particles is filled with water which is then replaced with fresh air once the water drains or has been absorbed into the pores of the media. The roots of whatever you are growing occupy the space between the particles of the media, which is effectively a constantly humid environment with air flow. Essentially like aquaponics or even aeroponics.

 

I do like to include zeolite for nutrient retention due to high CEC. I personally buy mine from Ray Nesci Bonsai Centre  in Dural. It's branded as Castle Mountains Zeolite and Ray stocks many grades. I also purchase coarse diatomite here as my main substrate though many other products can work for this (scoria, pumice, perlite, seramis, various fired clays etc, depending what is available, in your price range, heavy/light enough for your application and watering habits, microclimate etc).

 

I also add a small portion of composted pine bark too. My hypothesis here is that it can harbour saprophytic fungi such as Trichoderma which are generally antagonistic to pathogenic species and help to break down organic fertilisers.

 

The best thing about this growing philosophy is that you can grow a fern and a cactus in the same pot and both will be happy and rot free. It's super versatile and I've used it on a diverse range of things including terrestrial orchids, Lophophora, Nepenthes, Begonia, Lithops, Selaginella, Anigozanthos, Huperzia, Rhipsalis... the list goes on.

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