homemade soil question

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  Gary Swiech on Fri Nov 25, 2011 5:24 pm

drgonzo wrote:Oil dry is actually something called Fullers earth, which is baked. Unfortunately it will turn to mud after only a few months. Turface is a calcined clay product and is very stable. Oil dry seems like it would make an excellent Bonsai soil amendment, alas in my opinion its unsuitable for more than a few months after that point it begins to quickly break down.

after 3 years of experimentation with 100% inorganics I have found that Pro-field conditioner (Turface) cut with a little turkey grit, has been the winner for my trees. Simple, elegant, easy to deal with and effective.
-Jay



Oil Dry™ is a product name. It is not Fullers earth and act and behaves just like Turface. It is calcined clay and silicon and is as stable as Turface.


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Re: homemade soil question

Post  JimLewis on Fri Nov 25, 2011 5:56 pm

Semi Correction: USUALLY as stable as Turface. There seems to be a (reported - I've never used it) small quality control problem in that I've been told that some batches do mush up. Probably a firing problem.

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  Gary Swiech on Fri Nov 25, 2011 6:33 pm

JimLewis wrote:Semi Correction: USUALLY as stable as Turface. There seems to be a (reported - I've never used it) small quality control problem in that I've been told that some batches do mush up. Probably a firing problem.

I agree with you. After all there are going to be a few variances in batches but I buy mine at Fleet Farm a country outlet that sells everything from udder cleaner to auto parts.
It comes in a brown bag-40 lbs. Like most soil amendments I use the Oil Dry™ I sieve it very well before using. Very important. I even screen my small chicken grit!

Hi Jim,
I buy my Oil Dry

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Fri Nov 25, 2011 7:05 pm

I'm sorry to disagree with you Gary but I was making the same mistake you are when I began my experiments with Oil-Dri, after a while and some research, I learned the difference between the product sold by Oil-Dri and the product commonly known as Turface,

From Oil-Dri's website:
"Oil-Dri controls attapulgite and montmorillinite mineral reserves that have been used for thousands of years. The earliest references to Fuller's Earth, a common name for some of these clays, appears in the Bible. In this reference, fullers, who worked with sheep's wool, used these clays to remove natural oils from the wool."

Calcination is a process by which a substance such as montmorillinite is heated to just below its melting point usually in a rotary kiln, this process induces a phase transition and the substance becomes a different mineral, Arcillite which is the mineral that is sold as Turface or Pro-field conditioner. Though they seem to behave similarly in horticultural use, Fullers earth when allowed to soak will break apart and decompose, where as calcined clays do not. This makes a huge difference when used in Bonsai soil. Particularly over winter when our soils freeze.

Oil-Dri, (Montmorillinite/attapulgite) the product sold for absorbing spills, becomes Turface, (Arcillite) after the calcination process.
It is indeed confusing but I hope this helps clear it up for you.
-Jay

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  Gary Swiech on Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:40 pm

I know what Turface and Oil dry is. I was a golf course superintendent and maintained baseball fields.

Oil dry works fine for me and doesn't break down fast. I don't use it for conifers. I use pumice, lava rock and akadama.

For deciduous trees Oil dry is fine for me. They love it.

BTW, nice biblical reference.

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:49 pm

That biblical reference is taken directly from Oil-Dri's website...

As for maintaining baseball fields, I've actually bought so many bags of pro-field conditioner that one of the guys at the Agway I order it from asked me (jokingly I think) If I was building a baseball diamond. Very Happy

-Jay

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  coh on Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:19 pm

Jay, where have you been able to find oil-dri in upstate NY? I don't think I've ever seen it around here (though I haven't looked very hard). I'd love to grab some and do some tests.

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:04 am

Chris..
sent u a PM

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  Gary Swiech on Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:19 pm

drgonzo,


Could you give a link to the Oil Dry website you are referring to?

I can't find what your talking about when I go to their site. Thanks. Gary

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:29 pm

Gary Swiech wrote:drgonzo,


Could you give a link to the Oil Dry website you are referring to?

I can't find what your talking about when I go to their site. Thanks. Gary

Yup, its right on their main page third paragraph down,
http://www.oildri.com/about/index.html

Also its seems these folks make Oil-Dry with a 'Y' as well, I believe its all the same company.

I have also sent them an e-mail asking if they do make calcined clay products and I'll post up the answer if I get one.
-Jay

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  Gary Swiech on Sat Nov 26, 2011 7:00 pm

drgonzo,
I found the page. Thank You.

I'm going to do a little research myself. I have an open mind but I'm pretty pragmatic. If it works don't fix it.

Other than my conifers Oil-Dry has worked for me for 30 yrs. Maybe I'll get a bag of Turface and do some side by side sudies.

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Sat Nov 26, 2011 10:02 pm

Gary Swiech wrote:drgonzo,
I found the page. Thank You.

I'm going to do a little research myself. I have an open mind but I'm pretty pragmatic. If it works don't fix it.

Other than my conifers Oil-Dry has worked for me for 30 yrs. Maybe I'll get a bag of Turface and do some side by side sudies.

I think my preference for Turface comes from my preference for using 100% inorganic soils. I grow trees in basically straight up Turface. When I rooted a massive (5 inch thick) grape vine this summer, I put it in pure oil-dri because I happened to be out of Turface, after a couple months, I had to slit the 5 gallon pot up the side to get the now well rooted grape out because the oil-dry had already lost its friability and turned to mush. If it was a component in a soil mixture, as you use it, this problem would not be as pronounced.

-Jay

P.S. "If it aint broke don't fix it." is the core of any good cheap Yankees philosophy, I plan to have it carved on my headstone Laughing

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  bucknbonsai on Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:13 am

If you get the NAPA autoparts brand oil dry it will not turn to mush. Do you have problems with turface and japanese maples or other deciduous trees? A local expert/chemist says that turface has ph problems and that it holds onto salts to much.

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:52 am

bucknbonsai wrote:If you get the NAPA autoparts brand oil dry it will not turn to mush. Do you have problems with turface and japanese maples or other deciduous trees? A local expert/chemist says that turface has ph problems and that it holds onto salts to much.

You make an important point in that the Montmorillonite that comprises oil-dri absorbent products is mined from high altitude ancient alkaline sea beds it therefore can certainly adversely affect the soils PH when you water.

the Napa Oil Dri seems to hold together a bit better than the oil dry you get in the brown paper bag I agree, yet both decompose quickly when compared to a calcined clay product such as Turface.

As far as holding on to dissolved salts I believe that would have to to with its cation exchange capacity, Turface's CEC is quite high, but in an inorganic soil mix CEC is not as crucial as it would be if you were working with High CEC substrates mixed with organic material, like out in a vegetable garden. The Oil-dri ITSELF as it dissolves may leach calcium carbonate salts into the soil, that could explain unusually high salts in soils containing oil-dri. Its very possible that the Oil-dri does not "hold on" to dissolved salts in the soil but is actually the source of them. Someone should PH test Oil-dri with distilled water and see what we get. i may have a bit hanging around if I do i'll test it. I'm curious what it would test out as.
-Jay

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:00 am

bucknbonsai wrote:If you get the NAPA autoparts brand oil dry it will not turn to mush. Do you have problems with turface and japanese maples or other deciduous trees? A local expert/chemist says that turface has ph problems and that it holds onto salts to much.
I heard that the curator of the US National Exhibit in DC quit using Turface over the salts issue. But I still use it.

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  coh on Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:54 pm

Well, then the obvious question is, what has he replaced the tuface with?

Chris

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Sun Nov 27, 2011 5:51 pm

coh wrote:Well, then the obvious question is, what has he replaced the tuface with?

Chris

Thats the big question, and there are some folks who are expert hydroponic inorganic gardeners that would opine that the soil components can't hold on to excess salts unless those excess salts are first watered in to the soil. I.e. look to your water for salts, not your soil. Turface is pretty inert stuff, I wonder if he believes the Turface is retaining salts or is the source of them? Perhaps his water quality has changed, it can happen!

-Jay

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  JimLewis on Sun Nov 27, 2011 8:41 pm

Billy . . . are you talking about the current curator, or was this Warren Hill? I seem to recall that he moved away from Turface, but I don't know about his successors.

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:25 pm

JimLewis wrote:Billy . . . are you talking about the current curator, or was this Warren Hill? I seem to recall that he moved away from Turface, but I don't know about his successors.

I know the information I had is some years old so it was probably an earlier curator than the present.

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:07 pm

Here is my response from oil dry,


"Yes, they are made from calcined clay, and the varieties we mine & manufacture are also referred to as Fullers Earth."

John Franklin
Customer Service Manager
Industrial Automotive & Sports Products
Oil-Dri Corporation of America
800-645-3747

So my question is, what explains Oil Dry's "calcined clay" product and the very obvious difference between it and Turface's Calcined clay product. I'm going to ask a follow up question...will keep you all posted.
-Jay

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:49 pm

John has just written back the text is quoted below.

"The term "calcined" refers to a process used in drying and hardening the clay. It is not specific to a particular variety. Any of the absorbent clays can be or are calcined, or are dried using various other methods. The specific varieties we mine & manufacture are Attapulgite, Montmorillonite and Amorphous Opaline Silica."


This is his answer back to me just now, after I asked if oil-dri contains Arcillite (which by definition is what Montmorillonite becomes after calcination). Which he didn't directly answer,

I also asked him what the difference was between Oil-Dry's calcined clay products and Turface's Calcined clay products , a question he also didn't answer.

the statement "or are dried using various other methods".. is telling I think. I think he's using a different definition for "Calcined" then what I'm seeing as I look up what calcination really is.

take it for what its worth folks.. If I wrote to the makers of Turface and asked similar questions I wonder what they would tell me?...I may just do that...
-Jay




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Re: homemade soil question

Post  JimLewis on Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:07 pm

Probably temperature.

Oil Dri is, I suspect, not fired at as high a temperature because the use for which it is intended does not require long life in/on the field. It goes on garage floors to sop up spilled motor oil, then is scooped up and disposed of.

Turface is used on sports fields and must be able to withstand heat, cold, wet and dry.

Various undoctored cat littler products are made of the same material, and some of them soup up quickly when wet and some do not. The difference is firing temperature. Again, there is no need for persistence.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  drgonzo on Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:48 pm

JimLewis wrote:Probably temperature.

Oil Dri is, I suspect, not fired at as high a temperature because the use for which it is intended does not require long life in/on the field. It goes on garage floors to sop up spilled motor oil, then is scooped up and disposed of.

Turface is used on sports fields and must be able to withstand heat, cold, wet and dry.

Various undoctored cat littler products are made of the same material, and some of them soup up quickly when wet and some do not. The difference is firing temperature. Again, there is no need for persistence.

This is exactly what my thoughts were as well.
-Jay

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Re: homemade soil question

Post  Gary Swiech on Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:56 am

Hi drgonzo and others,

Here's the Oil Dry I was talking about. Oli Dry site information

I'm re-potting now and bought 2 bags of Turface to try out instead of Oil Dry.

I used it on a large Trident maple grove I started from seed back in 1985.

I hope I don't have any problems with it.

BTW, I hadn't transplanted the grove for 3 years and while cutting the roots the Oil Dry was still intact.

I'll compare the two substances and see how it shakes out and let you know. I'm going to run PH tests on both of them w/distilled water. I will report back.


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Re: homemade soil question

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:31 am

I might have said this before in this thread, but I think the actual material that is labeled "Oil Dry" and/or "Turface" varies in different places.

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Re: homemade soil question

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