Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum: chicken grit, oyster shell, etc..

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Name: Kate
NEKingdom of Vermont (Zone 3a)
[url=www.LabourofLoveLandscaping.co
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LabourofLove
Jun 25, 2013 7:03 PM CST
OK, so I've searched and read regarding preferences about whatever stony topdressing to use and I'm confused. Why would oyster shell have salt in it? I live where it ought to be easy to get crushed granite, but have spent a fair amount of time trying to locate 500 or so lbs. and have had zero luck. The only product my reasonably local feed store has is crushed oyster shell. It's size is about 1/8" particulates.

The reason I need to do something immediately is that one of my employees mis-heard my instructions to mulch between the raised beds and mulched the tops of the beds themselves. Above and beyond the fact that this took her 2 days before I realized what she was doing (she's not a new hire and should have known better), we've had so much rain that I'm more worried about the semps' bases rotting than I am about altering the Ph. Ph can always be amended later. Salt, though, is another matter.

Elucidation, please.
Kate Kennedy Butler
Glover, Vermont

life without music would be a mistake Nietzsche
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
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webesemps
Jun 25, 2013 7:15 PM CST
Oysters from the sea.
Name: Mark
South Paris, Maine (Zone 5a)
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markb
Jun 25, 2013 7:23 PM CST
Kate, If you can find a gravel pit where they crush stone the leftover product is stone dust. I use it to mix with my potting mix to make it have more tooth. I've taken some and put it on a window screen to rinse off the dust the end product is just like chick grit.
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
Jun 25, 2013 8:08 PM CST

Moderator

Great idea Mark.
Also you can use the small pea gravel from Home Depot or Lowes.

Oyster shells have salt for the reason Bev gave.
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
Jun 25, 2013 8:08 PM CST

Moderator

Great idea Mark.
Also you can use the small pea gravel from Home Depot or Lowes.

Oyster shells have salt for the reason Bev gave.

Sorry to hear what happened Kate.

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twitcher
Jun 25, 2013 10:52 PM CST
Oyster shells also break down over time (as the mineral content will dissolve in water, although slowly) and would contribute to soil collapse. Also, oyster shells are not chemically neutral and will make the soil alkaline.
[Last edited by twitcher - Jun 26, 2013 8:01 AM (+)]
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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
Jun 25, 2013 11:42 PM CST

Moderator

Thank you twit, that is way more information than I had. Thumbs up
Name: Kate
NEKingdom of Vermont (Zone 3a)
[url=www.LabourofLoveLandscaping.co
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant and/or Seed Trader Sempervivums Tropicals Garden Ideas: Level 1
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LabourofLove
Jun 26, 2013 6:40 AM CST
Thanks all, but it still doesn't make sense that a processed oyster shell would STILL have salt on it after the processing: surely they are washed before being shucked. Or does the shell absorb salt during the growth process?

I've bought (for another job) the smallest pea stone HD and Lowe's sells, and it's wa-aaay to big for many of my semps.

I've tried our local crushing operations and they just looked at me as if I were speaking Martian.

Twit, "soil collapse" WTH is that? I've got a lasagna of road gravel (semps are planted in this), bark mulch (I actually thought about firing the person who did this) and just enough oyster shell to prevent the lower leaves of the semps from touching the bark.

After the problems I had last year with the road gravel growing moss all over the place, I decided against using more of it.
Kate Kennedy Butler
Glover, Vermont

life without music would be a mistake Nietzsche
Name: tabby
denver, colorado zone 5
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tabby
Jun 26, 2013 7:24 AM CST
I don't think there's that much salt in the oyster shell since I've used it to raise and buffer the pH in some aquariums. And I put a LOT in those aquariums!
I also have mixed some of my chicken's oyster shell in the tomato garden for added calcium since I don't need it anymore for my ancient hens who are way past egg laying. My soil is already pH of over 8 without anything added and I don't think the oyster shell raises it any higher than that.

Around here I can get all kinds of crushed granite at the landscaping places. They have stuff called breeze or crusher fines which is 1/4 inch down to dust. But I'm near giant granite boulders called the Rocky Mountains so that might make it much more available.

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twitcher
Jun 26, 2013 8:11 AM CST
"Soil collapse", as I used it, merely refers to plant media getting more compact over time. Preventing this is one of the main reasons for adding chicken grit, course sand, pine bark, etc to soil mixes. As an example, but maybe not the best, I once spent a season adding fine, white play sand as a top layer (for display purposes) to a number of my potted semps. A couple years later, I found out that the sand, over time and with the accumulation of dust, etc, became nearly as hard as concrete due to just settling (or collapsing). When working with my potted plants, I seldom use tools but in this case had to use tools to break the soil layer to get the semps out. Needless to say, the plants did not have the best of growth either which is one of the reasons I was transplanting them.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
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gg5
Jun 26, 2013 10:59 AM CST
For me working on a very small scale - 2 beds, total space 3 x 22 feet, I have noticed that the semps seem to like the dust from the chick grit, so I don't even rinse it. Whenever I renew the top dressing, they seem to perk up within a day or so. I find this very interesting, I'm sure there are minerals in this stuff that they like
Kate sorry - what a mess! I can't imagine that this isn't available there given like you said, being near mountains. Also I can't imagine there aren't chicken farms around?? Its odd
Good luck with it all though! I tip my hat to you.
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
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CDsSister
Jun 26, 2013 11:53 AM CST
If you have a farm store I am sure they sell Purina products.

Even Amazon carries the stuff -- not in amounts you need, but perhaps calling Purina would give you a source in your area for bulk amounts

http://www.amazon.com/Land-OLakes-Purina-0044570-Supplement/...

go here and type in zip code http://www.purinamills.com/

[Last edited by CDsSister - Jun 26, 2013 11:58 AM (+)]
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Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
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gg5
Jun 26, 2013 8:46 PM CST
Good idea Marilyn! Thumbs up
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
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
Jun 26, 2013 9:26 PM CST

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I agree
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Jun 27, 2013 6:46 PM CST
I use a bagged small stone that Lowe's sells for terrariums and dish gardens. It has a mix of colors that set off the semps well but is not the monotone of grit so it looks better in a bed. The stones are small enough that I can even use it in the rows between seedlings. It's the only one I've found totally satisfactory. The plants definitely grow better with it.

Kevin
Name: BlueFox
Grand Forks, B.C. Cdn. Zone 5A (Zone 4a)
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BlueFox
Jul 8, 2013 12:57 PM CST
My favorite mulch is lava rock, but again, this might be too big for what you want. It never breaks down, which is good, and it also releases a tiny bit of whatever kinds of nutrients they like. Everywhere I've used it the plants seem to do really well.

So sorry you have had such trouble with your employees Blinking
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
Jul 8, 2013 2:05 PM CST

Moderator

Kate, how are things going? Did you get it all fixed? Group hug
Name: Kate
NEKingdom of Vermont (Zone 3a)
[url=www.LabourofLoveLandscaping.co
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant and/or Seed Trader Sempervivums Tropicals Garden Ideas: Level 1
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LabourofLove
Jul 11, 2013 4:35 PM CST
valleylynn said:Kate, how are things going? Did you get it all fixed? Group hug


All seems OK - no losses except for a few bloomers. But, Lordy, the rain...
Kate Kennedy Butler
Glover, Vermont

life without music would be a mistake Nietzsche
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
Jul 11, 2013 5:33 PM CST

Moderator

I've been hearing the rain has really been bad in that part of the U.S. Sorry to hear it.
Opposite here. Dry, very dry.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
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gg5
Jul 12, 2013 4:25 PM CST
Isn't it crazy how dry its been here Lynn...Hard to remember that you all are having such different weather from our side of the USA -
hope your plants stay healthy!
I tip my hat to you.
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling

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