Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Poultry grit and/or paver base as "soil?"

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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 19, 2016 11:20 AM CST
I do not live in the SW (USA) so no one around here sells pumice. S&H adds up. I have read some +/- on using poultry grit and/or paver base (both available locally) in succulent soil mixes. Any thoughts? Yes, I live in a sandy area and have been using a fine sand so far. No S&H, no sales tax. Maybe just stick with that? Gene
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
May 19, 2016 11:36 AM CST
Have you looked for a product called Dry Stall (for horses)? Pumice under another name. Fine sand is not going to help much with drainage. It pack tighter than coarse sand and mixed with soil can hold onto more water than soil alone.
Name: Daisy
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DaisyI
May 19, 2016 11:40 AM CST
My pumice substitute is perlite. Poultry grit is crushed oyster shells (at least around here) - the idea being that the chickens get calcium with their grit. Otherwise, they could just eat gravel.

Gravel will work though. There a people in the wet states planting cactus in the clay pellets that were designed to work in hydroponic systems. My daughter has an aquaponics system and she uses gravel. The idea with gravel or clay pellets is that the plants get watered and fertilized often but they never sit in water.

I would be concerned about fine sand as it tends to pack and turn into concrete. If you can keep it from becoming concrete and its working for you, don't fix it if its not broke. Smiling

Daisy
Name: tarev
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tarev
May 19, 2016 11:51 AM CST
I use Poultry Grit too, the one that is insoluble crushed granite. I do not use the one that is oyster shell. Using it more as mulch, there is cactus soil with pumice under that poultry grit. But I am also mixing it in now with the cactus soil when I have to repot, in case I have no pumice around.

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[Last edited by tarev - May 19, 2016 12:00 PM (+)]
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Name: Deborah Pryor
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Deebie
May 19, 2016 12:02 PM CST
I use the same product you use, Tarev. There are 2 products called poultry grit. You are both correct.
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 19, 2016 12:31 PM CST
Great answers - thanks all! I'm doing well with what I have, just always looking for better. My sandy soil is fine and loose with lots of organics in it (peat) and no clay at all. Does not compact nor turn into concrete. I'll look for Poultry grit that is not shells. Going to look for Dry Stall (never heard of that.) Gene
Name: Karen
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plantmanager
May 19, 2016 12:45 PM CST
Napa floor dry is cheap and works well, too.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 19, 2016 12:47 PM CST
If you pass construction sand (for making concrete) through a window screen and lose the fines, you will end up with something that is essentially poultry grit (the granite kind). Around here that's the cheapest thing available for making a rocky mix. The key is to avoid any sand that has other stuff added (like wax or whatever) as there are treated products out there as well, for specialty purposes.

Pictured: pumice, grit from sand, lava rock (all suitable for this purpose).
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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 19, 2016 12:50 PM CST
Sounds like Napa Floor Dry absorbs moisture which is the exact opposite of what I need. Baja - I will go to the local Home Depot and see what they offer with what you said in mind - thanks! I just remembered that I bought a 40 lb. bag of what they call Pea Pebbles from them last year. I was mixing the small pebbles into my "soil" mix and adding them as a top dressing - for looks only. Seemed to be a good idea at the time. Gene
[Last edited by gasrocks - May 19, 2016 12:56 PM (+)]
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Name: Dee Moore
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DomehomeDee
May 19, 2016 12:58 PM CST
I use poultry grit without the oyster as a topper in my rock garden. It's basically just small rock / clay? It does help the texture of our sandy SW soil and is much less obnoxious than perlite. I don't use perlite out in the garden as it works it way to the top in my sand based soil.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 19, 2016 1:21 PM CST
gasrocks said:Sounds like Napa Floor Dry absorbs moisture which is the exact opposite of what I need.


Pumice absorbs water (and actually changes color from white to grey when it gets wet). Not a lot, but a measurable amount. That is why it is used in products like Dry Stall. But then perlite absorbs water, too. The exclusion of water is not really the point of the aggregate, though that may be part of its effect (relative to organic soil). The desired effect comes mostly from breaking up the organic soil matrix, providing gaps, and promoting the efficient passage of water through the medium. Pumice and perlite have the advantage of being light and airy; the air pockets in pumice are open but the air pockets in perlite are closed.

Perlite works like pumice but it comes with a really nasty dust and you have to be careful to protect yourself while you handle it.
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 19, 2016 2:34 PM CST
More good info. Searched the internet, made some phone calls. No one around here has Dry Stall, just Stall Dry which is a whole 'nother thing. Had to go to the local Walmart so I stopped at TSC store along the way. They are not known for low prices, IMO. Got a 5lb. bag of poultry gravel (granite.) A feed store 30 miles from here has a 50 lb. bag for the same price. Something new to try out. Gene
Name: Deborah Pryor
Orangeburg, SC Zone 8a (Zone 8a)
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Deebie
May 19, 2016 3:48 PM CST
Yes, you're right Gene. If you have to buy granite, get it from the feed store. It is so much cheaper. It's a shame that in order to get a small amount, you have to pay several times as much as the regular product in a 50 lb. bag. Thumbs down If you can't use a large bag, perhaps you can share the cost with another local gardener.
Name: 'CareBear'

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Stush2019
May 19, 2016 4:25 PM CST
Here in Pittsburgh, PA I can't get pumice with out great cost and just found out about the poultry (granite) grit last year. Also at the feed store they sold small bags (8 lb.) almost the same cost as 50 lb. bags. Also there are two sizes. small and large. The small is almost like sand and the large is like the size of large perlite. So live and learn, I buy the large only at $8.50 a bag. Seems to work very well so far for me. I have gone thru 4 bags so far. I like the weight of the product that holds the plant and roots together. At a 50-50 mix, what water I add seems to run right out. Just what the doctor ordered.
Stush
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 19, 2016 5:43 PM CST
Years ago I had an external pump/filter for my aquarium it used Diatomaceous earth. The local aquarium store sold it for $11. a pound. 2 blocks down the road was a pool supply house. They sold 50 gal. barrels for $7. Gene
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 20, 2016 11:01 AM CST
Don't add THAT to your cactus mix! Smiling

Name: 'CareBear'

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Stush2019
May 20, 2016 4:52 PM CST
No but maybe as a top dressing. It stops snails and slugs from eating your plants. If kept outside.
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
May 20, 2016 6:17 PM CST
It does stop most insects. I might have to try it as a top dressing!
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 20, 2016 6:20 PM CST
Why would you not add it to your mix, Daisy?

http://www.out-of-africa-plants.com/culture/
Name: Deborah Pryor
Orangeburg, SC Zone 8a (Zone 8a)
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Deebie
May 20, 2016 7:51 PM CST
I think Daisy may be thinking of garden DE which is fine, powder like. That you would not want to use in your soil mix as it will interfere with soil drainage--like fine/playground sand. The Out of Africa website says that they use the NAPA brand. That one has particles the size of aquarium gravel or the large chicken/granite grit. Is my explanation close to what you were expressing, Daisy? Anyway, it's just my 2 cents, and I felt that it's worth mentioning. *Blush*

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