All Things Gardening forum: Expanded shale

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Oct 29, 2012 12:30 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Last month when I was down at the Arbor Gate nursery in Tomball, TX, the owner was promoting to me the benefits of expanded shale as a soil conditioner.

According to Doug Welsh of Texas AgriLife:

'Blue Shale' from the Midway Shale formation is present in a pattern across Texas through Corsicana to Texarkana and stopping near Laredo. It is usually found 10-15 feet underground. It was formed during Cretaceous times when Texas was a large lakebed and the lakebed sediments solidified under pressure into the present-day shale formation.

Jack Sinclair of TXI Industries has explained that the shale is mined and ground to 1" to l/2" range particles and then kiln fired. As it progresses through the kiln for 40 minutes at 2,000 degrees C, certain chemical processes take place in the silica content (60-70%) causing the material to expand. The expansion of Kitty Litter (calcined clay), for example, occurs at only 800-900 degrees.

As the material cools, cavities are left after gases escape, leaving a porous lightweight chunk capable of absorbing water and releasing it slowly at a later time.


I brought home a bag and have been messing around with it a bit but haven't used it long enough to really get a feel for its benefits. I will say, however, that the soil does have a better feel to it shortly after adding the shale. I plan to conduct much more trials during 2013. When planting new bulbs and perennials I've been mixing the material in with the native soil. I'm also wanting to add some to my potting soil, and I think it will be an excellent media for hydroponics/aquaponics projects.

If it does what I think it will, then I will likely get a dump truck load from TXI.

Has anyone else ever used this?
Name: Lila
North Texas (Zone 7b)
Butterflies Region: Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant and/or Seed Trader Hummingbirder Birds
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imabirdnut
Nov 7, 2012 12:42 PM CST
I started adding shale to my soil 3 years ago...I have both loamy soil & clay fill on my property. It does wonders to help loamy soil retain more moisture & helps clay allow roots to grow better & not compact so tightly. I add shale & compost with all new plantings to ammend the soil. It is the best thing I've found to allow my plants to flourish!
I keep a 40lb bag on hand & do add it to my potting soil!
I also like to use this soil for my containers that already has it in it...
Vortex™ Potting Soil from Lady Bug Natural Brand... High performance formula consisting of a blend of five beneficial compost, mineral sand, expanded shale and perlite.
Hope this helps,
Lila
Take care,
Lila aka 'imabirdnut'
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Nov 7, 2012 2:33 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

That's very helpful, Lila, thank you for sharing!

TXI sells this by the truck where you can get something like 30 tons delivered. I'm just not sure I want that much but maybe I can split this up with some of my local gardening colleagues.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Nov 7, 2012 4:48 PM CST
How finely divided is it when you get it? They said 1/2" to 1" before firing. Does it expnad even bigger, or crumble down to gravel or grit?

[url=www.escsi.org]www.escsi.org[/url]
http://www.escsi.org/ContentPage.aspx?id=204&ekmensel=1b7c39...
"Originally patented in 1918 as Haydite, Expanded Shale, Clay and Slate Lightweight Soil Conditioner"

I'd like to add some eternal, porous coarse grit with water retention to my beds! It would be even better as coarse fibers or twisted ribbons 1/2" to 2" long, 3-4 mm wide and 1-2 mm thick


I keep thinking about putting some bark strips or nuggets into my microwave to see if they expand or pop, and hold more water while still creating big air spaces.

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Nov 7, 2012 5:40 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I've seen the TXI stuff and it gets pretty small. The pieces are about the same size or slightly smaller than pea gravel.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Nov 8, 2012 3:20 PM CST
>> slightly smaller than pea gravel.

Thanks. I bet that would be great in containers & planters.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Nov 8, 2012 3:22 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Definitely.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Nov 8, 2012 4:31 PM CST
They produce a similar product here they market as Utelite...I have not tried it but may
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Nov 8, 2012 6:45 PM CST

Plants Admin

Enjoyed those links and now I know what black gumbo is. I wonder if this would work similarly to moisture crystals for bog/water loving plants in ground.
Evan
Name: Lila
North Texas (Zone 7b)
Butterflies Region: Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant and/or Seed Trader Hummingbirder Birds
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imabirdnut
Nov 12, 2012 12:45 PM CST
Here are pictures of the shale I buy locally from several sources including a local feed store & it ranges from $7-10/ 40 lb bag. The advantage of shale is that it doesn't compress or break down in you soil so it continues to provide aeration for roots to my heavy clay soil as well as helps with sandy loamy soils to retain moisture!
Thumb of 2012-11-12/imabirdnut/350b11
Thumb of 2012-11-12/imabirdnut/270d54

Good luck,
Lila
Take care,
Lila aka 'imabirdnut'
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Nov 12, 2012 12:47 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

That's exactly what the product I'm looking at looks like. In fact, probably they are all coming from the same place outside Dallas.

My cost is about $50 per cubic yard, delivered to my ranch.
Name: Stephanie
Fort Worth, TX (8a)
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Region: Texas Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Region: United States of America
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stephanietx
Nov 18, 2012 6:09 PM CST
We added a couple of bags to our veggie garden this year to help with drainage since we have that lovely clay soil. We've gardened in this plot for about 4 years and every year we've added compost. We've also added green sand. Both help with drainage and this year our garden was the best yet!
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Dec 3, 2012 8:54 PM CST
I just found this thread. I would sure like to give this a try. I have tried to do a search to see if I can buy it in Oregon, but can't seem to find anything.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Dec 4, 2012 5:45 AM CST
I'd like to try some in pots, mixed into the potting mix. I've never seen it sold locally as "expanded shale", or didn't recognize it as such. But I have seen this brand name stuff, which seems to be the same. Next time I'm at the store, I'll get some.

http://wormsway.com/detail.aspx?t=prod&sku=SR334

Karen
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Dec 4, 2012 9:06 AM CST
Hurray! Thank you so much Karen, I found that brand locally in Salem. Hurray!
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Dec 4, 2012 9:23 AM CST
Thumbs up Cool!

I've never tried hydroponics. But that store (Worm's Way) has a store not too far from my house. I love to go there. They just have the most interesting stuff! From grow lights to potting soils...every kind of growing media... propagation stuff...containers...organic ferts...composting stuff... I go there to pick up one single item, and end up spending a couple of hours. And the staff is so nice.

Really, even if you have no interest in growing hydroponically, any gardener could find a hydroponic store an interesting place.

Karen
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Dec 4, 2012 9:26 AM CST
We have one in Salem/Keizer that I have been to a couple of times. I agree with you, very fascinating stuff in there. Needless to say I will be visiting them again in the near future. Thumbs up
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Dec 29, 2012 6:37 AM CST
I got a small bag of the Sunleaves Rocks 0.25 to 0.5" size, (expanded shale) to try mixed with potting mix in a few containers. Any suggestions how to mix it? I'm thinking about a third shale by volume? Any comments?

Karen
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Dec 29, 2012 7:36 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

That link I gave in the first post of this thread suggested a 50/50 mix. I think anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 would be good.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Dec 29, 2012 8:58 AM CST
Thanks Dave, I'll give it a try. (It has been too long since I first read the link. I had forgoten already. Confused )

Karen

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