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[Aroid-l] Let's talk commercial mixes, eh?

  • Subject: [Aroid-l] Let's talk commercial mixes, eh?
  • From: Ken Mosher ken@spatulacity.com
  • Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 13:07:44 -0500

Dear aroiders,

We've heard from time to time what soil mixes different people use for their Amorph collections. Most of the experienced growers create a custom mix. I've spoken with several people: Dan Devor mixes by hand, Dewey Fisk mixes up a pile with a shovel. But Dan is mixing mostly for his personal collection, even though it's large and Dewey does this full-time. Ron McHatton modifies Fafard's #3B with extra perlite.

The mix I have been using just isn't working. One year it worked great - must have been a fluke of the weather that let me get away with it. I've determined that even when the top 2" are dry the lower part is actually wet - the perfect recipe for rot, especially when I wander by and add more water because they look and feel dry.

I have a problem that I imagine is like what is experienced by larger growers who are under staffed. I work full time (present unemployment excepted) and I just can't afford the time required to create my own potting mix. Nor do I have the stamina to mix up 5+ cubic yards of it all at once in the spring! (I used over 5 yds3 in 2005.) And I've no place to store that much for any length of time so I can't mix it up now for springtime use. Maybe Tony Avent has some advice for me.

I turned to the Milikowski catalog for a commercial potting mix solution. The reason I'm referring to their catalog is convenience - a new one came in the mail while the subject was on my mind.

I've put a 10-page PDF on my server that includes the commercial mix section of their catalog. When referring to page numbers I'll use 1 - 10, not 64-73 (the page numbers in the catalog). http://dragocactoid.com/CommercialGrowingMediums.pdf is 1.6MB.

If people are interested, and will indulge me, I'll go through some commercially available mixes that seemed promising. Some of them are available in bulk, meaning very large bags (60 cubic feet). I circled the ones I'll ask your opinions about.

It would help if I told you where I'm growing; in New England, USA, specifically Andover, Connecticut. USDA Zone 5a. Mostly inside a 52 x 22 foot greenhouse but also outdoors for large specimens and overflow. Growing only during spring, summer, fall. I grow offsets and small tubers in 1/2 gal square nursery pots, larger tubers in 1 to 3 gal pots, really big tubers in 20 gal tubs.

#1 - on the first page is Sungro's Sunshine 910. Sungrow took over Scott's Coir-based line of mixes. I think #910 might not be a great choice.

#2, #3 - page 2, Sunshine bark-based mixes (hi Dan!). I point specifically to Sunshine 500 series and Sunshine PX3. (A brief note on peanut hulls; I've never seen one breakdown, they seem to last a long time in my own experience.)

#4 - page 4, Metro-Mix 380 Coir. Catalog recommends for bedding plants in mid to large size containers. Any good for my 1/2 gal pots?

#5, #6, #7 - page 6, Fafard Mix #3B, Mix #50 and Mix #52. Page 8 gives further descriptions of the mixes; I circled #3B and #52 - both of which are readily available in 60 ft3 bags.

I didn't single out anything on pages 9, 10, but I included them so people could see the entire commercial mix section of the catalog. I've dealt both with Milikowski and Griffin's Greenhouse Supply. They both have warehouses in Connecticut that I've been to.

If I can make a decision well before spring then I can find the least expensive way to get it here, such as maybe piggybacking my order with one of my neighboring nurseries.

Thank you for your indulgence!

-Ken Mosher
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