Monday, March 12, 2007

Questions for the Experts!!!

One of our actual club members wrote in asking for some advice today.... Let's all share some of the experiences that we've had to help answer this problem!!! M.K.F. writes:

I thought I'd send this out to any and all who could help with some suggestions on modifying my African Violet potting mix. I started making my own mix a couple of months ago with a soiless mix recipe I found on the AVSA website which primarily calls for a 1-1-1 mix of sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite and perlite with some dolomite lime and charcoal mixed in as well.
I'm finding that it is quite dense and I'm having trouble not only getting the wicking to start but also to keep it going as the mix dries out very quickly or it is not absorbing water very efficiently. Could you suggest an adjustment to the recipe or
suggest a different recipe mix that would be lighter and would absorb water better.
Thanks for your help with this!

Please leave comments for her! Check the post about leaving comments if you have any problems. Remember to ignore the "blogger, and password" part and just indicate either anon. or other user when replying!!! Feb. 18th's post has the directions to comment.


NSAVC said...

I've had situations like this too and I find that the quality of your mix is only as good as the quality of the sphagnum peat you start with. Some brands (the ones at the big-box home centers) just don't seem to "wet" or stay wet for me. Their consistency isn't all that it could be and no matter what you do with the perlite and vermiculite it just doesn't seem to make up onto a good mix.

I got a tip a long time ago from another club member that liked "Sunshine" brand peat and potting mix. I have a hard time finding it anymore, and it might have changed formulas in 15 years, but the Sunshine brand was the best I could find. PS: I'm experimenting with Miracle Grow's all organic mix with my own perlite added.... don't know yet.

Sharon said...

I was advised to use Sunshine, too, and have never switched to anything else. It is available at a Garden store close to Bachman's. I have found it in garden stores in northern Mn, too.

One thought I might add is what size vermiculite do you use? One of our members had bought a bag of coarse vermiculite to use for her minis. She uses a 1-1-1 mix and she felt the mix stayed to wet. I bought it from her and I have been happy using my 3-2-1 mix for minis and standards.

So your problem could be both the brand of peat and the size of the vermiculite.

barb w said...

I also go with Sunshine Basic 2. I had been using 3-2-2 but keep making it lighter. I currently am using a 1-1-1 mix, but may try omitting the vermiculite next time. Since all my plants are on some type of wicking or matting system and vermiculite is primarily for retaining moisture, it may not be needed. I buy my Sunshine at a greenhouse supply center, but that means having a 3 cu. ft. bag around. Home depot did carry it a few years ago, but don't know for sure anymore.

Mary said...

Thanks for all your great suggestions!