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Invisibleferrel_human
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Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution * 7
    #19284063 - 12/16/13 03:58 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Let me start out by saying that I have full consent from Dag Panco - Founder & Senior Editor in Xerophilia Team to quote the stone eaters pdf. Everything else without quotes is my project and opinions.

Here we go, now I have read and re-read the stone eaters. I am pretty much aware of what has to be done to try and replicate nature to the fullest.

A couple years back I was looking online at picture of Obregonia denegrii and Strombocactus disciformis. I couldn't help but wonder how was it possible for these cacti to grow among rocks where no soil was around. I have always been into natural looking cacti, never those bloated thai specimens. They looked very rugged, untaken care of and very natural. But no soil and some would say no fertilizer. Yet they grow, flower, set fruit, and disperse seed about almost like clockwork. So that's when I started looking around and then net and it brought me to this bbc page

http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8209000/8209687.stm

As it turns out, cacti have certain bacteria that dissolve rock and provide nutrition them. I was amazed at how this bacteria is transferred to seed and thus the seedling has the capability to take hold in such a harsh environment. They are beautiful and amazing looking, eating nothing but rock.

So as time went on and more money was spent trying to seamlessly imitate nature I failed. Because I never really had the right replication of it. My plants were prisoners and they suffered. There diet did not consist of dirt but, in nature, it consisted of rock. Lifeless rock.

Then one day while on here I came across the stone eaters special issue form xerophilia. I was :mindblown: I had the key to change my cacti grows and start a revolution. Something to help out my fellow shroomerite brethren and minimize the death toll all too is apparent in some grows.

I was on my way to looking at rock in a whole new different way. Much time was spent reading this article; dissecting sections of it. Using what I needed and discarding the rest. It has consumed me in the past months. I obsess over my cacti now more than ever. Trying very hard to keep my captive cacti alive. Having a bird in a cage is no different than having a plant in a pot, if you can understand that.

Posted are habitat photos. Not mine but team xerophilia. Note>> all posted with team xerophilia's consent.









The images of these specimen in the wild are awesome, to say the least. Here in lies the key to grow cacti exclusively on rock.

I'm gonna quote now the soil hexalogue. please do read it and towards the bottom I will post my periments.


Edited by ferrel_human (12/16/13 09:45 PM)


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Invisibleferrel_human
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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284076 - 12/16/13 04:01 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:


All truth passes through three stages:
First, it is ridiculed;
Second, it is violent opposed;
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
(Arthur Schopenhauer)


Reader’s advisory
Due to the structure of the article, illustrations it will be concentrated in certain sections. Photos of plants in habitat that have been chosen to illustrate this work, were selected from among those species more commonly found in collections, thus avoiding intentionally, with a few exceptions, to present some plants from the genera considered difficult and which are commonly covered in books as those requiring mineralized soils. If the reading of the document will be carried out on-line, most of these photos can be seen at their maximum resolution, through a single click on the desired photo. Also, the notes in this article are built on a system of linking of the front-back type, so after reading the note that interests you, you can return to where you left.

Introduction
In December 2006, I decided to make public on the website Cactusi.Com the conclusions of several years of experiments. I relapsed in February 2008, by translating the text originally in French, and publishing it on the website Plantes Grasses. In the same era, Eduart Zimer, the Editor of Xerophilia, shared the text translated into English, with various interested circles. After a while it was made available for download as a PDF document, on the website Cacti Guide. In 2011 an advanced form of the article was printed in the Hungarian magazine Debreceni Pozsgástár, illustrated with pictures by Cristian Perez Badillo and Toth Norbert, in the translation of Levai Magdolna and Levai
Melchior.

Now, in 2013, after several revisions, additions, and sometimes simplifications, after adding explanations requested by readers, I publish in this first Special Issue of the magazine Xerophilia, a completed form of the Soil Hexalogue. The article is aimed at all those who want to cultivate their plants, addressing the phenomenon in an entirely new manner, the only way that I have come to believe truly fair.

The starting point of this work lies in searches generated by my own concerns, from the beginner that I was in 1975 to the passionate I became several decades later that I spent among plants. The experience of the collector, synthesized in the cultivation of his plants, starts largely from their soils, since the substrate is a requisite to the great majority of the representatives of the plant world. Not being an exception, I was forced to look for soil formulas and to prepare soil mixtures. As the years passed by, seeing that I have successes, some of the collectors have begun to want to prepare their mixes following my “method”  as I started once  by preparing them following or inspired by the “methods” used by others 

By giving answers  and sharing recipes as well  writing posts on forums and websites  I’ve found that I cannot formulate a valid concept, although I thought I master well the problem. Although the questions were punctual, I realized that my response was insufficient. And an incomplete response cannot be useful to those who seek to be guided. I started to get frustrated. Then I rebelled against myself, seeing that I fail to define in clear terms principles to believe in and to consider valid, in the light of the experience gained. 

I ended up realizing that when one cannot produce a clear cut definition the concept he’s presenting  it simply means that he does not know what he talks about! In other words, I understood that before giving advice to others, I have to learn myself must why I do the mixtures in a certain way and not in another, and especially to make sure that what I am doing is right.




Edited by Mostly_Harmless (12/17/13 04:01 AM)


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Invisibleferrel_human
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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284079 - 12/16/13 04:01 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:


Thus, I sought and I asked myself questions that, ultimately, have coalesced around two findings:

1. Every “cactus enthusiast” has its mixture which  always  is the best and the only one that is good which demonstrates the inconsistency of the statement;
2. Every time I had to prepare a new batch of mixture, it was more successful than the previous one which shows how approximate can be the approaches regarding this subject.

The two findings pushed me from the stage of interior interrogation, to the need for an experimental phase. So I went to the facts. Using plant batches and exact soil recipes, I started with the easy species, moving on to more demanding species and finishing with those seemingly “impossible” for many the species that many grow, for safety reasons, only grafted.

Searching and searching, I have come to discover an amazing, but true response. Once found and grasped the concept, I was not surprised to see that I can now summarize premises, definitions and a number of laws: the six general basic laws of the soil for Cactaceae, The Soil Hexalogue.

Before sharing them with others, I learned two things, however. The first was that I have to forget all that I knew and all I have learned about this topic: in order to succeed I had to start from scratch.

The second thing was that I entered into the world of The Stone Eaters!







Edited by Mostly_Harmless (12/17/13 04:02 AM)


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Invisibleferrel_human
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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284089 - 12/16/13 04:03 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

The Laws of soil preparation 

“The more northern the origin of the species, the less organic components the soil should contain.” 
(“Coryphantha” by R Dicht & Luthy) 

Assumptions, definitions and rhetorical questions

The first assumption
It is considered plants are watered using only rain water, demineralized water or with the water produced by reverse osmosis, otherwise carbonates and sulfates present in hard water can intervene, through accumulation, in the sense of modifying the pH of the mixture.


NOTE water pH (1) and hardness (2) are totally different concepts!

ATTENTION! The build-up of salts in the soil, in time, largely due to hard and/or highly mineralized water, will change the pH of the mixture, depending on the accumulated salts! regardless of the soil components used, it will be transformed into an unusable mixture. Such undesirable water has hardness greater than 15 dGH, e.g. for Romania: tap water, spring water, or fountain water.

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ISSN 2285 – 3987




The second assumption
It is not the same thing, to plant a cactus in a pot or to leave it grow in natural conditions! Not only plants in pots are captive, but also their soil is captive and, therefore, you cannot compare the reactions of the soil in pots with the reactions of the “free” soil

NOTE by natural conditions we mean habitat conditions... or at least permanent planting conditions in the open or in a huge amount of mixture, prepared from tons of materials.






Quote:

The first definition
In the spirit of this article, the mixture of mineral elements, of natural origin or produced by processing natural mineral components, proper to the cultivation of plants, and which exclude from its composition the elements derived from vegetable or animal breakdown, is named hereby mineral soil or mineral mixture.

NOTE in the spirit of this article, a mixture containing at least 1% materials resulted from vegetal breakdown, is no longer a mineral soil. Therefore the use of the term “100% mineral soil” is a pleonasm.

The second definition
In the spirit of this article, the mixture of elements resulted from vegetal breakdown and mineral elements is called
organic soil. 

NOTE a mixture in which the proportion of mineral components is greater than 60%, is commonly called - in the specialized literature on cacti and succulent plants cultivation – as being a mineralized mixture, dirt or soil. According to the first definition, and in the spirit of this article, it is also considered an organic soil!

COMMENT the above two definitions were necessary, since they define concepts different to those found or defined in pedology (soil science) works  hus  in the pedologists’ (soil scientists’) language  the term “mineral soil”

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(3) refers to something else, the pedologic term, closest to that of the above definition, is “inorganic soil” (3). This time too, it is an approximation, to the extent that inorganic soils in pedology may still have organic components, however, as happens everywhere in nature. Equally, pedologically speaking, organic soil (4) is defined differently than in this article. After defining the terms used in this article it becomes necessary, in order to be able to understand the importance of this work, to find the answers to a set of two rhetorical questions.





The first rhetorical question
Why is it so important to Cactaceae, this feature in regards to the soil mixture?

The answer may seem amazing. Because the most important organ of a cactus is its root system. Except for rare cases of sudden and fatal fungal attacks, coming from the meristems, all other serious fungal attacks resulting in the loss of our plants commence from the roots. 

On the other hand, if one plant becomes very robust and vegetates correctly, having abundant flowers and during the adequate season, this largely is due to a healthy and strong root system. 

The collector has, thus, the interest to foster the increase of the root system, before being concerned about the development of all other parts growing above the ground. Once the root system is well developed, the plant will operate all by itself in the direction of a necessary and sufficient development of the whole of which is formed within the limits of the living world, which means harmony. Furthermore, even this tendency of the plants to prioritize ensuring a strong root system, shows clearly that plants need it. 







Therefore, the soil being the environment of the roots it becomes one of the five crucial elements in cactus culture, along with water, light, ventilation and temperature. 

Of course in the lines above, I turn to collectors, referring to plants grown in decent environmental conditions and not to plants held behind the curtain or on the desk those being tortured and condemned to certain death, regardless of the substrate. To the same extent, this article does not address producers, for which these methods are
counterproductive.


The second rhetorical question
Why do we always have different problems with the soil mixture we plant our cacti in, always seeking a better one??

The answer is, at first glance, as simple as it is difficult to perceive  we have problems because – instinctively – we see cacti as normal plants, as are all those that surround us and which we are accustomed to. Cacti are, however, entirely different. 

Our judgment slip-up is based on the origin of the information we have received. The reverences we have for printed paper prevents us from easily understand this. For us, printed information is provided by “scientists”  In fact things are totally different: botanists, biologists, microbiologists (all scientists) do not cover plant cultivation at all, but study them from the botanical, ecological, biological, microbiological point of view, in their habitat, in greenhouses and laboratories. So, as a result, scientists write articles, but not manuals of culture.

The known cacti books have, in most cases, the cultivation advice chapters written by... professional growers: “the Gardeners”

“The Gardeners” who received or collected these plants  have introduced them first in greenhouses  as curiosities at first, and later on as potential sources of profit. They have acclimatized them harder or easier, according to the species and its origin, and then began to grow them, either directly in the ground, potted or grafted. They still grow them today, as consumer goods. Seeing that there is a market, naturally, they sought to create a phenomenon.

Therefore, in order to sell better, they have written books or participated in writing books on the topic, developing in these contributions, the recipes of their own experiences, as incontrovertible and universally valid truths. Not only that these truths are not universally valid, but even – in regards to the soil mixtures – they are not true at all.

Xerophilia - Special Issue no 1 - August 2013                                                                                  9
ISSN 2285 – 3987






Edited by Mostly_Harmless (12/17/13 04:06 AM)


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Invisibleferrel_human
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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284096 - 12/16/13 04:05 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:


                                                           
’The Gardeners’ point of view and their cultivation behaviours were transmitted from one to the other, from father to son, from generation to generation, from master to apprentice for almost two centuries. Then came hydro cultures, and with them the genial solution of the neutral and spongy substrate; peat, coconut fibre, inert granulation. The substrate is neutral and it does not generate problems. You water whenever you want, as many times as you want, adding the nourishing supplements you want. The plant grows as a Prince Charming. Since that time, the Gardeners have never had a reason why, nor how to think ahead to what a cactus actually is. And this is normal, as long as they either grow a Melocactus, whether it is a Primula, whether it is a trivial Euphorbia pulcherrima, the substrate no longer differs or matters! This is how it works well for them, how they produce, how they make any profit, how they continue doing it, without having reasons to change their way of cultivating cacti, although more often than not, their plants look like small melons or like cucumbers, green, very green and very fat and seemingly very, very well-fed. Mass-produced plants differ so much from those in nature, that sometimes even experienced collectors may not recognize the species.

When we grow them in pots, we all forget that they are the inhabitants of extreme environments, and they have a metabolism (CAM) which is totally different from most of the plants that surround us. Although we know that they have gas exchanges at night and not during the day, far from the burning Sun, which scorches, burns and dries out everything during the day, we want them to behave – in all other aspects – like the plants we see around us, since we were kids! 

Even now, paradoxically, although cactus growing became a worldwide spread hobby, we see that the advice given now in cactus books do not differ much from what we could read in books written forty years ago. 

In all books we find the same quintessence of recommendations, with small variations in form, but with an essentially unchanged content. Following this trend, we – the enthusiasts – have been taught to see xerophytes like normal plants, respecting the laws of ordinary plants, as we know them. But fact is that ordinary plants (the so-called house plants) need rich soil, fertilizer and plenty of water. Therefore, constantly, when nursing cacti in our collections, we forget what environments they live in, even though we know this, even though the weirdness of their habitat attracts us to them.
                                               
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Most of us strive to learn how to water cacti, and in this context notion like necessary and sufficient play a special role. However, with regard to xerophytes, for many collectors, water – this engine of life – remains the image of the fatal error. Partially, true. Mostly, no. In fact, this is the very first thing that we are told... almost the only thing that we are told about cactus cultivation. 

As soon as you bring up the topic about cacti, the “knowledgeable” in front of you assures you that they do not need water in abundance or that they need to be watered only every now and then. And, sometimes, us being told repeatedly this absurdity, constantly, obsessively, some of us go to the other extreme – which is lethal for plants – because we’ve got to be convinced that we should not water them 

By simply growing them, we do not realize that we must first have to take a fight with everything we have learned before, from parents and grandparents and, later, at school, in primary school. To succeed with xerophytes, we must forget that plants need a rich and fertile soil and that they need plenty of fertilizers in order to bear fruit as more and better. The line with the rich and fertile soil that is absolutely necessary to the plant and the line with the fertilizers that also wheat and beet, and maize and soy, genetically modified or not, need, seems to us, however – unfortunately – the obvious truth ; but in fact both are some heresy!

Even more, we are told to use special fertilizers, and we, in our credulous naivety, we do so. We buy, without ever asking ourselves why the recommended fertilizers do not take account of the origin of the plant, genus and species.
For all cacti the same fertilizer type is advised, although, on the other hand, agricultural practices are different - it is widely known that field crops are differentiated, depending on the soil type they grow on and varieties, and looked after much more rigorously. Are cacti less demanding than wheat, corn and beet? 



No, of course not, just they have different demands. For example, if correct soil mixture used, fertilizers are useless, or become even harmful, because adding them to a given soil fertility represents an excess. As you will see in section “Explanations”  in the living world  any excess is a risk factor  even if it seems beneficial at first glance.

From all the treaties of cacti science and from the advice received from all cacti producers, we learn that the soil for Cactaceae is a blend of ingredients like: 33% coarse sand (or other similar ingredients), 33% leaf mould (or peat, black coir, or equivalent ingredients), 33% garden earth (or non-essential variations on the same theme). Depending on the grower, author or country, the principle of 3/3/3, however, is universally accepted. 

At the same time – and from the same kind of sources – we learn that some species, the rarest or the more difficult ones, have to be planted in a mineralized soil (see notes from 1 and 2 definition), but we are not told either what “mineralized soil” exactly means  nor the percentages of minerals  nor any other specifics are indicated.

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ISSN 2285 – 3987




What I consider to be a real revelation for me – after many years of experience and experiences – is realizing that the prerequisites of the gardeners are essentially wrong; therefore all our cultivation prerequisites are also fundamentally wrong; the prerequisites we used to share with others – especially with beginners, are wrong as
well. And if we assume all this was wrong, what should be done? 


Cacti are not – as backyard gardeners may think – plants that grow in the ground, like... roses. They are plants that – as we can see in most of the habitat pictures – grow between rocks. Cacti are essentially not dirt eaters so to speak, but are – first of all – stone eaters!

Starting from these findings, we changed the approach on soil mixture preparation: we are no longer required to ask ourselves what organic soil components, and in what proportion etc., do we need for our cacti, but we need to ask ourselves which of them need organic soil components... and if perhaps needed. I know, it is hard to understand and feel it, but I emphasize, once again, that we have to forget everything and start from the scratch – because what we know does not fit with what we are looking for nor with what we will learn.

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The six laws Back to summary

The first law
Always start with a mineral blend in which you add or not, organic ingredients, only and only if the cultivated plant needs it. NEVER start from an organic mixture which is mineralized  to accommodate the species’ requirements.

At first glance, it looks like being the same thing, as long as – eventually – we mix mineral and organic ingredients with each other. Well, no, it is not the same thing! Why? Because the mineral elements and the rocks in the soil – against everything that is believed and known among the collectors – act as nutrients in cacti cultivation. However, their role is far from being just that of loosening and fixating agent for the mixture and/or draining material. In nature, the mineral mixtures are the basic component of the soils the overwhelming majority of cacti is growing on. 

As I said above, I repeat, and I say once again: the vast majority of cacti are stone eaters!

How do they eat stone? It is true that they cannot do that on their own, but with the help of symbiotic bacteria that live in their roots, nothing stands in their way; the bacteria produce enzymes that dissolve the rock, while the plant is absorbing the necessary minerals; then it metabolizes them for itself and for the bacteria as well. And so, literally, they live happily ever after, feeding, also literally from bone-dry stone (6).


Some cacti groups – not too many – that require something else, apart from the mineral soil. And even fewer are those that do not accept it. Epiphytic species, some very large sized columnar plants - Carnegiea gigantea and Pachycereus pringlei are nevertheless stone eaters – and some prairie cacti, or forest cacti, or those that grow
between mosses, are those that absolutely require the presence of the organic component in the soil.

This organic component can be as low as only 10-15% (as with Mammillaria senilis – that, without humus into the soil mixture, does not bloom), to 60-80% the (as with Stenocereus thurberi) becoming therefore a major component of the soil mixture. Otherwise, most of the species grow on a mineral soil within the pedologic meaning of the word, i.e. having, in the habitat, traces of organic component of up to 5-10%. 

Some cacti species thrive, however, incredibly well, on mineral soils, while others – strictly specialized – cannot live in captivity, on a different type soil other than mineral. 

Do not confuse a mineral mixture with a well-drained mixture!!

The confusion between mineral /mineralized soil and well-drained soil, started also from books. This distinction between the two is rarely explained, although it is of absolute importance in the cultivation of Cactaceae. A minimal excess of water in the soil, can kill for sure a cactus, by rot rather than tearing it in two. Stem pieces can be rooted, rot can’t!

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As I have said, the mineral mixture – the one used in pots – has no components of plant breakdown. This does not mean that a mineral mixture is automatically a well-drained mix. Clay – for example – is a mineral element, but completely prevents a good drainage. Therefore, applicable to the conditions that a pot provides, a mineral soil with clay becomes, in time, lethal for a cactus. A well-drained mixture can have elements of vegetal breakdown or may consist of only such components. We can thus say that: 

The third definition
The well-drained mixture is a mixture which has the capacity to let the water pass through easily – regardless of whether it consists exclusively of mineral components, of exclusively organic ingredients or from a mixture thereof.

NOTE ; the drainage quality of potting mixtures depends only on the physical characteristics of the components used and the way they react in the mixture, whether they are resulting from vegetal breakdown, or are minerals.

This definition allows us to state the second law:

The second law
Mineral or organic, a potting mixture must be as well-drained as possible. Components like clay and structured soil (e.g. garden earth) impede the draining capabilities proportional with their weight in the mixture.

From these first two laws derives in a third one, with immediate practical effect:

The third law
If you do not know what type of potting mix your cactus needs, choose, above everything, a well-drained mineral mixture!

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Of course that the exceptions I have mentioned above will need to be considered: epiphyte cacti and those whose photos in the habitat show them growing in forests or surrounded by thick vegetation - for all these the soil mixture will include the necessary organic ingredients without any doubt. However, regardless of the cactus species, all soil mixtures we use will need to be well draining mixtures. And, in order to easily clarify the type of mixture assortment we have to choose for our plant, here is a fourth law that establishes this:

The fourth law
To know how to understand the best mixture for a plant, you need to know, at least from the pictures if not first- hand, its habitat.


We have to keep in mind, always, another particularly which is important for understanding xerophytes. These specialized land dwellers are found on a wide range of soil types, from wastelands to completely eroded surfaces, and are encountered even in extreme pedologic conditions, such as excessively calcareous soils. We will call the
latter calcicole plants.

The fourth definition 
Calcicole plants are plants “liking” limestone  and support a basic pH of the soil from 7.2 to 8.8, produced by the presence of limestone. 
NOTE ; Bear in mind the term “to support” and that it describes a basic pH produced by limestone and not of other chemical compounds.

The fifth definition
Plants that do not support a basic pH of the soil from 7.2 to 8.8, produced by the presence of limestone, are called calcophobe plants. 
Most Cactaceae accept a neutral pH, but prefer a more acid one, from 6.0 to 6.8, making it desirable not to fall below a minimum 5.8 for most species. The presence of limestone in the soil, depending on the amount, tends to drastically alter the pH, giving the mixture an alkaline pH, especially in confined environments like pots. 
Another extreme environment is where soil salinity takes over. Some cacti live in the proximity of somewhat saline environments. However, in nature, when cacti are confronted with such influences, the amounts of salt in the solution that they are obliged to endure are relatively small, compared to the normal values supported by truly halophyte plants (7).

Some cacti, such as Turbinicarpus lophophoroides, are forced to stand floods with brackish water (8). Other species grow on beaches or on the sand dunes still under the influence of sea water mist. However, these are exceptions and it doesn’t mean that there are cactus species requiring salt for a proper cultivation! So, the use of salt (NaCl / KCl) – and not of salts generally speaking – is completely contraindicated. That is why using sand from the shores of the seas and oceans, can be dangerous especially for potted plants, by the fact that this sand can contain salt and, even worse, we may not know how much, because not everyone can afford special lab equipment to analyse the stuff. There are however solutions: people collecting sand from the banks nearby brackish, salted and very salty waters can remove the sodium, potassium and magnesium salts from those sands, by repeatedly rinsing with fresh water. There will be more washing cycles needed as the water has a reputation of being more salty.

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The first rule
In culture, cacti have not halophyte behaviour – they CANNOT develop properly in a salty environment! The use of salt can be only a practice for the purpose of research/experimentation and God forbid using it in cultivation! I was saying the sand from the sea side is salty. However, most often it also consists of sharp split of shells or coral grinded in the waters, which means not only salt, but also calcareous materials will be added. 

However, informed collectors, who have carried out experiments, are able to use with a great deal of success for their plants these rich in mineral  salts  “spices” – however, being and still remaining not recommended for beginners... especially since they are not really necessary. 

As I was saying above, not all plants support limestone. Adaptation to limestone is an extreme specialization, sometimes even fascinating. But like any extreme, it can cause problems. Therefore, in order to avoid surprises, here is the fifth law of soils:

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The fifth law 
No plant requires limestone in the soil! The grower may, however, need – sometimes – to add limestone in the mixture. 

I will expand a bit the subject, not only because it is interesting, but also because it is very controversial, even among people who have a great experience in the cultivation of exquisite specimen cacti.

Plants that grow on limestone or calcareous soils are plants with a high degree of specialization, they gained a specific adaptation – they are resistant to the high alkaline pH of the soil. This specialization has helped them to gain an ecological niche, where they cannot be followed and fought by too many competitors. However, by becoming specialized, they have lost the ability to endure in a competitive battle – in common environments – with plants that do not have gained this specialization and, therefore, they do not have to compete with outside the areas they have conquered, i.e. in places they originated from. 

When competing with other plants, there are of course species exhibiting a higher tolerance to limestone and a greater adaptability than others. The Thelocactus species are an interesting example in this regard, as they are found in various habitats, reaching from some extreme, to some more lenient and seeming that they grow equally well in all of these situations.





But the fact alone that certain plants feature such adaptability to alkaline pH, does not mean they do not feel great – on short and medium term – on rich soils having an acid pH. The problem that arises, however, is the aberrant growth that such a plant achieves in such circumstances. Why this growth? Simply because in the presence of an
alkaline pH, conferred by limestone, this acts as a growth inhibitor. 

Thus, no longer controlled by an inhibitor, the plant develops to its potential size rather to its natural one. Excessive growth – as though they were pumped up – leads not only to the loss of the specific appearance of the plants, but especially contributes towards their weakening in front of biotic and abiotic factors with which plants are in constant competition. This phenomenon of competition is more apparent in our pots, than in the wilderness which the species comes from. Under such conditions, the plants become unrecognizable, losing their compact form, the specific colours of the epidermis, the particular spination, etc. An injury heals much harder and infestation occurs more quickly. A mite or insect attack is more harmful, the epidermis being thinner and the cells more “fragile” 
 
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Sudden and accidental drop in temperature is more unbearable, the cells of the plant being – even at rest – too turgid. An excess of water is more difficult to bear, because the root system is not properly developed. Sun exposure is harder to tolerate, because of the hypertrophied cellular mass and the sensitive epidermis. And examples may continue, being multiple. 



Few growers say that plants need limestone. Most say that adding limestone into the mixture plant is stupid and – in an absolute sense – they seem to be right. 

As living beings, it is true that the poor plants do not need – in any way – the presence of these limestone rocks, since they can absorb the necessary calcium supply from various other minerals. And yet... lime is recommended and is required, in the case of calcophile plants, so that plants do not look “skewed”  Plants that grow in limestone areas are like natural “bonsai”  Lacking in limestone  they become again what they could have been, and not what they supposed to be. They become plants with a spectacular development. However, for too many tens of thousands of generations,
they are struggling with limestone in their environment and are, genetically, trained to grow in a certain way. If their environmental conditions are too lenient, growth becomes too quick and unhealthy, so the plant is becoming – and I say again – very sensitive and, as such, likely to be put down at first disease or parasite attack. You can easily make a parallel between these plants and farm chickens raised with hormones, so that in six weeks to be sacrificed. Those fowls would not be expected live another year if they continued the regime in which they are bred for consumption
only, and therefore, breeders fowls are kept in different conditions and being fed completely different.

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Reassessing
For long-term wellbeing of the calcophile plants, the grower is required to inhibit their development, by adding limestone.

NOTE ; largely, and without becoming a generalizing statement, South American plants are calcophobe, while North American plants are calcophile; of the North American plants, there are some of them that grow in near-
pristine limestone substrates. 

REMARK ; in the author’s opinion  plants in a cactus collection should look as close to their appearance in the habitat, which is a standard that has resulted from the identification and diagnose of a new taxon and then has been passed on to collected plants. The above compels me to make an amendment to the third law, whose complete representation can be understood only now:

The third law rephrased
If you do not know what your cactus needs, choose, above everything else, a well-drained and limestone free mineral mixture!

a) If the plant “yearns”  adds humus into the mixture!
b) If the plant “swells” too much – add limestone!



The sixth law
The balance of a soil mixture is delivered both by the weights of the main mineral components – with or without limestone – and respectively of the organic ingredients added, and by the porosity of the whole, as well.

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The elements of the mixture ; Back to summary
In order to be consistent with the sixth law, the mineral mixture must have components that make possible, on the one hand, to have a pH ranging from neutral to acid, and on the other hand, to assure a certain porosity of the mixture. We list the main rock types that can be either used or avoided. Artificial materials are also presented as they can be found on the market. Mineral soil components have been grouped into two indicative lists, taking into account their origin.
 
In many countries it is prohibited to collect soil, rocks and other soil components from the wild. Therefore, for every soil ingredient presented below, I will add info regarding the sources and where it can be purchased from by those who want to prepare their own mixture, being already obvious at this point of the work that the specialized soils in shops (the generic “Cacti and Succulents Potting Mix”) is completely contraindicated  Due to both the diversity of the countries of origin of those who will read, and the laws and regulations that govern them, sometimes the sources are indicated in a suggestive way, such as deposits of construction materials or aggregate stations, which are likely to be the sought source. Where possible, I will provide commercial alternatives, these being, however, always very expensive and therefore prohibitive in the case of collections that surpass one hundred liters. 

In regards to the organic material, I recommend – to those who cannot collect – to read carefully the article dealing with compost making, a compost specially designed for cacti and other succulent plants, written by E. Zimer – this being the optimal solution of replacing the natural soil elements, for those who have a backyard.

In line with this discussion, each rock presented here is understood as crushed – this being the optimal solution, taking into accounts the fact that the roots attach more easily to a rough surface with crazing, than to a smooth and polished one. Alluvial gravel type materials will be also listed and explained, but although they are useful to a certain extent, they must be always regarded as a last resort solution and only as a substitute for other desired materials. That is why all the soil descriptions which will follow tin the lists below are based only on crushed granularities.
Chemical elements which are included in the composition of classic fertilizers, commonly known as NPK, will be put in




Edited by Mostly_Harmless (12/17/13 04:55 AM)


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InvisibleMe_Roy
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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284112 - 12/16/13 04:09 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Am I the only one who can't see the pictures?


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284128 - 12/16/13 04:13 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

Natural mineral elements

Andesite is an extrusive igneous eruptive rock, which contains plagioclases (calcio-sodium) and ferro-magnesium compounds. The colour and texture may vary according to the deposit. Some collectors use it as main ingredient in soil mixtures. From my point of view, it is not an absolutely necessary, but surely it augments the mixture; however, if left out no soil eficiencies will emerge. The recommended granulation is between 2 mm and 8 mm. It can be found in aggregates used for roads construction or in quarries where crushed rock sorts are prepared on site. Fig. 39 photo C. Cristian.

Clay is a sedimentary rock composed of silicates, mica and fine quartz sands. Clay is found almost everywhere and is very prevalent and comes in various colours. The best for our intended purpose is quarry clay. It contains a multitude of micronutrients and compounds needed for our plants. Clay is, however, an impermeable element that cannot be used other than in a dry granular form or half-burnt (calcined). In form of powder or crushed, clay is extremely dangerous and leads to the clogging of the soil, obstructing its permeability. However, if we want to use this mineral component, and to preserve the draining quality of the mixture at the same time, depending on the specific requirements, we will add clay only in proportions ranging from 5% to 10% of the mixture. This percentage is directly proportional to the amount of organic component of the soil. Clay can be found in nearby quarries and cement factories or in specialized horticultural shops. Fig. 40 photo C. Cristian.

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Limestone is calcium carbonate in the form of sedimentary rock, often of an organic origin (organogenic). Limestone contains many other minerals such as: clay (aluminium, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and sodium compounds), dolomites, and quartz sands. The recommended granulation is between 3 mm and 8 mm. Limestone is found in quarries near cement factories.

Marble the solubility of a soluble mineral, in this case calcium carbonate, is directly proportional to the surface area being in contact with the solvent, and hence with the porosity of the particles in the mixture; the marble chips, with their more compact crystalline structure, almost lacking porosity, are less soluble in water as other minerals containing limestone, influencing therefore less the pH of the mixture. However, marble still reacts in soil mixtures, but largely depending on the plant, and in a patchy way. Therefore, its action cannot be determined and anticipated correctly when added in order to inhibit excessive growth. However, it is attacked by acid substances added to the water, as well as by the acid environment that forms in some soil mixtures. It also may be dissolved by the roots that work together, in symbiosis, with the bacteria for the production of necessary dissolution enzymes. I do not dispute its  usefulness. I have used it only for a short period of time, later on showing a preference for limestone of marine sedimentary origin, rich in salts and microelements or for dolomite.

Dolomite is a sedimentary rock, improperly called sometimes limestone, being a calcium and magnesium carbonate, sometimes also called dolomite limestone. Dolomite is very interesting in soil for plants, in particular for calcicole plants, whereas they contain magnesium.

ATTENTION!! As it has an increased solubility! (9) – this is why it will be added in smaller amounts than limestone, the effects being similar to those obtained with a larger amount of the latter. If you add dolomites to the mixture, do NOT add limestone at the same time! The recommended granulation is between 3 mm and 8 mm. You can buy it from specialized stores, as it is a construction material used for various types of finishes,


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but it also can be sold as food additives for poultry or livestock, or used for land improvements. Attention! In these latter cases it is in the form of powder and – as such it is contraindicated, its solubility increasing along with its surface of contact with water. In such cases it can be mixed into clay, and once turned manually into granules, it can be dried in the oven (not the microwave oven!) and later incorporated into the mixture.


  Calcareous tuff is a natural rock of chemical precipitation which forms following limestone deposit – in the waters saturated with dissolved calcium carbonate – especially on active supports such as stones, shells, twigs, or certain species of aquatic mosses (Fontinalis antipyretica).

ATTENTION!! Looking – as chips – similar to volcanic tuff, calcareous tuff is extremely dangerous for potted plants, being almost pure calcium carbonate with an extremely high porosity (thus the dissolving surface). Therefore, in pots, it shall not be used, not even in calcicole plants!! It should be noted, however, that on large pieces of this kind of rock – turned into micro-biotopes – by watering with soft and acid pH water, can be obtained very spectacular arrangements of calcicole plants sown and grown directly into the cracks and gaps of the rock. Such rocks do not react in the same way as the chips added to a mixture in a pot. It cannot be found on the market. What you can buy are only the processed forms of a deposit tuff, called travertine. It is totally useless and not recommended.




  Quartz is a natural glass. As far as I know no cactus associated with symbiotic bacteria can consume it. For the cultivation of cacti and succulent plants, the artisanal or industrial cracking is producing very sharp and dangerous chips. Even in the form of sand, quartz does not operate as a mineral feeding substrate. If necessary, it can be used as a support for sensitive roots, but it is mostly used in very specific and purposeful cases.  I know only two categories of Brazilian plants that grow on blunt chips (eroded by rolling) or in coarse quartz sand: several species of Discocactus (especially Discocactus horstii that grows in a mixture of eroded quartz chips and lichen humus), Uebelmannia buiningii and Uebelmannia meninensis. I do NOT recommend this product, its main disadvantage is that it is inert, being likely to be replaced with other active components with nutritional value that, from a physical point of view, have the same properties.


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Dacite is an igneous rock containing silicates and feldspar, and is in my experience an excellent substrate – the best for the growing conditions in Romania – and it can make up to 65-80% of the mixture (when other ingredients are missing). The recommended granulation is between 0.2 mm and 8 mm. It can be found in aggregates used for roads construction or in quarries where crushed rock sorts are prepared on site.  It is a highly recommended soil base. Note the best chips, as in the case of granite, come from area of the deposit, where the rock is denaturated. The best soil base combination is a mixture of equal parts of dacite, granite and mica-schist.

Gypsum (10)  is a hydrated calcium sulphate, found in nature in the form of sedimentary rock of evaporation. Gypsum is more soluble in water than marble, dolomite or calcite, being one of the most soluble of the minerals containing calcium (Ca). The rock has a low hardness, being slightly crumbly, occurring as a result of sedimentation following the evaporation of marine waters. The rock called gypsum does not have a homogeneous structure and contains various other chemical compounds, and many trace elements that are beneficial to gypsum loving plants. The granulation must be bigger, between 5 mm and 8 mm. It can be found in horticultural stores, being designed to improve soils. Fig. 49 photo Z.M. Demeter.




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ATTENTION!!! Gypsum is a crystalline substance that does not absorb water. But larger slabs of this rock have, however, a heterogeneous structure. Thus the rock which is homonym to the chemical compound, gypsum, can retain water in areas where porous structures have been formed, as shown in the above photo, and are clearly differentiated from the crystalline portions. In these heterogeneous formations, clogged gaps and/or gaps filled with clay particles may occur. Sometimes, small crystals debris, mixed with various other deposits and inclusions, can create a kind of slime or suspension, giving the impression that the rock is a great water-absorber. That is why gypsum chips should be well washed. Otherwise, we must take care not to over-water the plants growing in heavy mixtures containing gypsum, these species being typically sensitive or very sensitive to excess moisture. I recommend to beginners to use this rock, only and only if they are well informed.

WARNING!!! Do not use the construction or medical materials, known under the same name (or known as plaster) – you have all chances to kill everything you plant in it!! The industrial materials referred with this name contain or may contain additives that are toxic to the plant.

Granite is an acidic igneous rock. In addition to feldspar and mica, granite has a high content of trace elements and compounds favourable for lithophagous plants: calcium, iron, potassium (K), magnesium, manganese, sodium, potassium, rubidium, strontium, and titan. The recommended granulation is between 0.2 mm and 8 mm.

Note this rock is a recommended soil base, as good as dacite. The highest quality granulations for mixtures can also be found in areas where the rock deposit is distorted. It can be obtained from the same sources as dacite, i.e. from  the  crushing  quarries  or  from  aggregate warehouses for road construction.

Sandstone is a sedimentary rock formed by the cementing of sands, under the pressure of the layers. Depending on the structure, it may be harder or more friable. It is an excellent root support of plants and can be used to stimulate the development of the root system of some smaller plants in larger pots. It is used in plates arranged obliquely or vertically in pots or in the form of larger pieces and chips. The recommended granulation varies largely, ranging, depending on the purpose, from 5 mm to 25 mm. It is a very valuable  component  for  the  heterogeneous  elements contained.
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to obtain it, where its collection from nature is prohibited, as there are no industrial or commercial sources for it – except for decorative landscaping materials, but to truly prohibitive costs.


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--------------------
Nature is my church and walking through it is gospel. It tells no lies and reveals all to those who look, and listen, closely.
-Karode


Edited by Mostly_Harmless (12/17/13 05:03 AM)


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Invisibleferrel_human
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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: Me_Roy]
    #19284131 - 12/16/13 04:14 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

Me_Roy said:
Am I the only one who can't see the pictures?



I'm gonna fix it as soon as I know how. fuckin damn shit of a brain of mine. anybody know how to embed?


--------------------
Nature is my church and walking through it is gospel. It tells no lies and reveals all to those who look, and listen, closely.
-Karode


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Invisibleferrel_human
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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284135 - 12/16/13 04:15 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:


Various volcanic chips and rubble
Lapilli/Lapillo (11) is a form of tephra, a volcanic eruptive rock of the
pyroclastic class, having a similar composition to pumice stone – rhyolite,
dacite and andesite. When it is compacted by time and pressure, it becomes
lapilli tuff, which is a heterogeneous tuff, which contains particles larger in
structure. It is a very good rock in its composition, but which may well be
replaced by tuff and should not replace the dacite/granite/mica-schist chips,
as recommended on forums where cactus cultivation is not dissociated from
artificial feeding of plants. It can be found in the specialized trade, but it is a
relatively expensive horticultural material, if used it as a base when preparing
large amounts of mixture. Fig. 56 photo D. Rubbo.

Lava is magma that reached the surface through volcanic eruptions. A
series of rocks covered in this sub-section are the result of these eruptions,
such as andesite and lapilli; often in gardening, lava is also called pozzolana
(v. pozzolana). Depending on the volcano, lava can be a valuable component
of the mixture or a nearly inert one. In all cases, however, it represents a
material favouring improved drainage. In countries where there are active
volcanoes, lava or an entire series of elements associated or confused with it,
are used for a long time in horticulture. Therefore, lava or other similar
materials can be bought from horticultural shops. Fig. 57 photo E. Zimer.

Pozzolana is an igneous rock, consisting of volcanic ashes and slags. It is
used for its drainage qualities and its porosity, but is in exchange poor in
micronutrients. It is not a mineral component with potential for the nutrition
of cacti. Being anything but nutritive, I do not recommend using it, except if
the collector has no nutritious minerals at its disposal, in order to assure also
an improved drainage of its mixtures. The use of this material is a waste of
space with nutritive potential for the roots. It can be found in specialized
horticulture stores. Fig. 58 photo F. Adriaenssens.


Pumice stone /Pumice is an eruptive volcanic rock formed from fragments
of expanded rhyolite (it is the eruptive equivalent of granite, containing dacite,
andesite, feldspar, and other elements important for life, such as iron and
magnesium). It is characterized by a high porosity. It is recommended for
mixtures, having the qualities of granite, but also the advantage of being a less
compact rock and with increased porosity. It is becoming more and more used
in the culture of bonsai and it gives results in a series of Aizoaceae.
Recommended granulation is 3-8 mm. It can be found in horticulture stores.
Fig. 59 photo D. Rubbo.

Volcanic Scoria I have not used this component, which is actually a form
of pozzolana with a stronger expansion that generates large vacuoles,
communicating with each other. It is a material with properties similar to
pozzolana, but with an almost total permeability, which from the standpoint
of the cactus cultivation is not a quality, but on the contrary, it is rather an
inconvenience. When preparing soil mixtures for cacti, we need to include
various types of granulations that favour a good drainage, but also, equally,
absorb water in their porous structure only to be able to make it slowly,
slowly, over time, available to the roots, while remaining constantly aerated. 
Fig. 60 photo V. Posea.



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Marl are layered, sedimentary rocks, composed of clay and limestone
(calcium carbonate), containing sometimes gypsum or salt. Using marls is
indicated only in case of mixtures for calcicole plants and only if you
completely eliminate limestone from the mixture it has been added to! Do
not forget that you will have to prepare potting mixtures! You do not want to
overdo with adding limestone compounds that can totally inhibit growth or
even kill the plants. If marl becomes a component with strictly controlled
weight into mixtures, it will bring a welcomed addition of micro-elements.
Recommended granulation is 5-8 mm. Fig. 61 photo C. Cristian.
Mica-schist is a metamorphic rock, containing lots of mica and a number
of elements important for plants. Mica-schist contains titanium, iron,
manganese, magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium (K). The amount of
micro-elements in the composition added to its physical properties that
favour some absorption of liquids, recommends mica-schist as one of the
very important mixing elements. The recommended granulation is between
0.2 mm and 8 mm. Even less than the sandstone, mica and mica-schist
cannot be found where the law prohibits the collection of mineral elements
from nature. Fig. 62 photo C. Cristian.

Mica is a widespread crystalline silicate. In its composition there is a
whole series of chemical elements necessary for formation of chemical
compounds beneficial for lithophagous plants, such as: potassium (K),
sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, lithium, etc. Mica is dubbed according to
its  basic  compound. White-silver  muscovite,  with  potassium  and
aluminium. Greenish phlogopite with magnesium and aluminium. Smoky
black biotite, predominantly with iron and aluminium, etc. Mica is added
to the mixture either with mica-schist, in native form or as chips. Fig. 63
photo C. Cristian (biotite).


Sand is – in general - a natural broken rock of alluvial origin, and having exclusively tiny grains. Throughout this article I advocate the use of crushed rocks and not alluvial rocks. However – despite being difficult to control its effects and its behaviour in relation to permeability in a mixture - sand remains the most widely used material for improve draining of organic mixtures. Note, however, that – used in larger quantity - especially in mineral mixtures, it can become a water retainer, through a phenomenon of capillary action, which prevents drainage and/or easy evaporation. There are several types of sand: River sand depending on the river path, the sand may contain many interesting elements collected on the way, or may be an almost inert material in terms of nutrient intake, i.e. the sand is composed mostly of quartz. It can be purchased from building materials warehouses. It can be


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easy distinguished from the quarry sand by the grey colour, compared to the yellow-reddish one, of the other; more, the whiter it is, the more quartz or limestone it has. Fig. 67 photo D. Panco. Quarry sand is at the origin river sand that – through sedimentation – became part of the underground layers. This sand carries with it fragments of loess, which results in a particular fertilizer mixture... but both river and quarry sand less permeable, and the bears the risk of sudden and
unexpected clogging of the mixture;  as a result it becomes necessary to
wash it, if used in mineral soils. Soils mixtures containing organic ingredients
– as in the case of clay – reduce the degree or the risk of clogging. . It can be
purchased from building materials warehouses. Fig. 68 photo C. Cristian.

The so-called “marine” sand whether produced by crushing and grinding of shells, or it is the result of coral grinding – it is an organogenous sand composed of limestone. Organic limestone contains, in addition to calcium carbonate, a series of other compounds and interesting trace elements, but – for pot cultivation – it should be
regarded as a dangerous limestone compound. There is also marine sand produced by the erosion of escarpments and cliff faces, being in these circumstances, similar in texture with river sand, only the quartz content is lower, and mostly consisting of volcanic rocks or limestone. Regardless of the type, marine sand collected from beaches, must be very well rinsed to remove any salt deposits. Marine sands are found in specialized aquarium stores, but the high price paid for such products (sold as “living” sand)  does not justify anyway their use
Other sands see especially Quartz.
Gravel (pearl) is a particular category of sand with a granulation greater than 3-8 mm. Gravel may be used in mixtures, as well as sand, if there is no alternative, replacing rock chips. It can be used for plants that grow among rocks in alluvial organic soils – however, organic ingredients are not really necessary in our prepared mixture, if we have at hand the right rock chips selection. For example, for cacti of the subgenus Coryphantha of the homonymous genus, it goes well – in general – with alluvial granulations (however, with quite a few exceptions). On the contrary, for cacti of the subgenus Lepidocoryphantha, of the same genus Coryphantha, crushed rocks and chips are required and not granulations of alluvial origin. Gravel can be purchased from building materials warehouses. Fig. 69 photo C. Cristian.







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Mine scoria is a natural “brick” formed underground  by exposing two layers of clay at high temperatures, as a result of the combustion of a lignite layer between them. In the form of crushed rock, it is a component with exceptional qualities for the mixture that can successfully replace, in any mineral soil mixture, artisanal crushed brick and clay. The recommended granulation is between 2 mm and 8 mm. Fig. 71 photo E. Zimer.

ATTENTION!! Scoria dust is dangerous, leading to the clogging of the mixture!
In Romania it is found as an approved material used for tennis courts covered
with slag – so it can be purchased from such a supplier. I do not know – depending on the country – where it can be purchased from. Normally scoria crushing stations must be in the vicinity of the lignite loading terminals, where coal is separated from sterile.

Schist is a sedimentary argillaceous rock which, as a result of geological processes,  has  become  a  metamorphic  rock.  Some  slates  are metamorphosed schist. Sedimentary schist is an excellent support device for rooting (see sandstone). Schist is used either in the form of chips with 5-8 mm granulation, either in the form of sheets arranged vertically into the mixture. It is unlikely to find it from the trade. Fig. 72 photo C. Cristian.

Volcanic tuff is a consolidated pyroclastic rock, formed from particles of smaller sizes, particularly from volcanic ashes. Tuff is highly porous mixing material. It is particularly necessary for the improvement of mixtures, but it cannot be used as the base material of it. The recommended granulation is between 2 mm and 8 mm. Fig. 73 photo V. Posea.

ATTENTION!! Not to be confused with calcareous tuff (see above limestone)! It is found in horticultural shops and/or as material for the maintenance of artificial ponds or in aquarium shops. 

Zeolite is a mineral composed of hydrated, natural calcium-aluminium- silicates.  It  contains  sodium,  potassium  (K),  barium,  magnesium,  and strontium. Zeolite is an important ion-exchange agent and a natural filter, having also the capacity to release over time, constantly, potassium (K), a very important macro element for plants. If zeolites are saturated with micro-elements purchased from the trade, they will release them slowly and gradually in the cultivation medium. Fig. 74 photo V. Posea.

ATTENTION!! It is found as a horticultural product, but it can be either non-
enhanced or saturated with fertilizers. Be careful what you order – buy
zeolite that does not contain added fertilizers! (see further below Chabasai). 

ATTENTIONS! There are various forms of artificial zeolite with industrial destination – they are already treated with various chemicals. Do NOT use them, they can kill plants! 

NOTE all crushed components, whether natural or of artificial/industrial origin, and like most sands, contain micro particles resulting from crushing or, in the case of sands, as a result of the retention of various particles suspended in water. These micro particles, with slimy appearance, when grit and sand are wet, have the consistency of dust when the materials are dry. This dust, which becomes ooze, after watering, is an extremely dangerous clogging material, when the mixture is free of organic ingredients. That is why all these materials should be sieved and sorted through successive sieves up to the lower limit of granulation that we want to keep. The last two varieties will have to be washed very well several times. The larger grained sorts will still have traces of dust, but after shaking in the sieve, these remnants will be harmless for any clogging, but will be necessary, however, in order to help the absorbent hairs of the roots to stick to these larger sized grains. Especially do not neglect washing any granulations!


Xerophilia - Special Issue no 1 - August 2013  28
ISSN 2285 – 3987






Edited by Mostly_Harmless (12/19/13 11:54 AM)


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284143 - 12/16/13 04:16 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

Industrial mineral elements

Akadama is a semi-clayish ash rock, with the appearance of granules,
specific for Japan. In a general way it is a professional florist product,
designed for bonsai cultivation. Due to its capacity to maintain the soil very
well drained but moist and plus, due to its ability to slowly release trace
elements dissolved by symbiotic bacteria, akadama can be used successfully
in cactus cultivation. Akadama changes its colour depending on the hydration
level. For bonsai cultivation, the colour is an indicator for watering. After
several years, however, it must be changed, because it begins to become
rather compacted, losing its qualities as a well-draining component. If it is not
used as substrate on its own, but as a mixing element, it can remain in the soil mixture for an indefinite time. It is a very good product, in the absence of other components that can serve as base component, but relatively expensive, especially if used in larger quantities. It can be found in horticultural shops. Fig. 81 photo F. Adriaenssens.

Chabasai is a zeolite in the category of chabazites, a mineral occurring in
glassy rhombohedral crystals. I included it into the industrial products
category, because Chabasai is a registered trademark, the product being a
process of several kinds of chabazite, following a recipe which is the subject
of a patent, even though originally it was natural crushed rock, blended and
delivered as such or treated with macro and micro-elements. Like zeolite,
Chabasai is a substrate which has absolutely remarkable properties in terms
of water absorption due to the porosity of its granules, while leaving the soil
well-aired. This component of mineral soil retains a neutral pH and, and especially, does not compact. It is a professional product for bonsai, increasingly used as a mineral substrate for various rare xerophytes or sensitive to uncontrolled watering. The product can be ordered from the manufacturer or it can be purchased from specialized stores. It is relatively expensive. Fig. 82 photo F. Adriaenssens. 



Xerophilia - Special Issue no 1 - August 2013 29
ISSN 2285 – 3987




Artisanal brick is a product resulting from the burning of clays at high
temperatures. As this material is very porous and very favourable for plants
that can extract “on  the  dry”  substrate  the  moisture  retained  and  can 
consume  thus  trace  elements  of  its  composition. The  recommended
granulation is between 2 mm and 8 mm (see also above – Scoria). Fig. 83
photo D. Panco.

ATTENTION!! 1. I must specify that I recommend only artisanal brick and not
the industrial one, which contains or may contain additives toxic to the plant.
2. Crushed brick shall be washed well before being introduced into the
mixture, brick dust being as dangerous as clay. It is best to be collected from
old buildings under demolition, especially in the rural areas.




Kanuma is a type of mineral substrate similar to akadama (see above). It
is a professional florist product used for cultivation of certain plants, which
prefer well-drained and predominantly acidic soils. It is recommended in the
mix for cacti with similar affinities (especially for South American species).
Widely used, both by bonsai enthusiasts, and Asian cactus collectors, this
product can be easily found in nearly all specialized stores. It is a relatively
expensive product. Fig. 85 photo F. Adriaenssens.


Perlite is a hydrated volcanic glass expanded industrially at high
temperatures. It is used in horticulture and contains: sodium, potassium (K),
iron, magnesium, calcium. It produced in different granulations. It has low
density, which makes it float on the surface of the dish and cling to the body
of the plants. However, in larger granulations, it is beneficial to any mixture,
blending all three major qualities required from a mineral soil component: it
contains various nutrients; it is an excellent draining element and retains
water in its porosity, releasing it slowly. Fig. 86 photo. V. Posea.



Xerophilia - Special Issue no 1 - August 2013 30
ISSN 2285 – 3987



Sepiolite is a magnesium silicate complex that represents a class of clays with fibrous structure. It is used commercially as cat litter, the acidity of cat urine being neutralized by the alkalinity of the composition, with a pH that ranges from 9.5 down to 8.2. I have never used this soil component, however I must mention it, bearing in mind that on many forums or sites there or have been reports on its successful use for sowing substrates. The article “Sowing on Sepiolith” was published in the second issue of 1998 of Kakteen und andere Suculenten journal. I do not know if there was a follow up on the consequences of this experiment. It is sometimes sold in pet shops. However, I draw the attention that the product may contain asbestos, which is considered a carcinogenic substance.

Seramis is the name given (adopted from company name the producing it) for a professional florist product, designed for exotic plants types grown in pots. It consists of expanded clays with the property to store water, and to preserve the necessary aeration of the roots. Among some cactus growers it has a reputation of being a very good rooting substrate. It can be purchased in specialized stores for horticultural products.

Vermiculite is a natural hydrated basaltic rock, expanded artificially by
exposing it to high temperatures, for use in industrial and agricultural
purposes. It contains magnesium, iron and aluminium. It is used in coarse
granulation and presents the same advantages as perlite: it contains various
mineral nutrients. It is an excellent draining element that retains water in its
porosity, releasing it slowly. We add thereto the quality of a specific density,
preventing it float. It can be obtained from the specialized trade. Fig. 87
photo V. Posea.




Edited by Mostly_Harmless (12/19/13 11:55 AM)


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284155 - 12/16/13 04:18 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Alright, the pdf is way better but here is just the text. I know its kinda shitty but its just the basics but most important part. I left out the organic part because I will not use it. YOu may choose to use it but I will go 100% mineral.

now this is what I got so far.

I'm here to shake up the growing cacti growing community. I got this idea from the website www.xerophilia.ro and the pictures they had in the stone eaters pdf. If you have not read it go to the website and do so. So I am basically going to break it down and quote the soil hexalogue a lot.

Now let me begin by saying that I am by no means an expert. I look to nature and, of course, various habitat photos. All you have to do is look and you will see that our precious plants are prisoners and for as much as we may want to replicate nature we fail at every attempt. I do it and everyone here is guilty of it. But, fear not.





Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
(Leonardo Da Vinci)

Now I think I have kept it simple. Only using 5 elements


So this is what I got. This is my rock from various places and the oil rig I'm on; the pad is mainly caliche with rock from various sources.  Let me give you the rundown of each.



This is mica schist.
Quote:

Mica schist is a metamorphic rock, containing lots of mica and a number of important elements important for plants. Mica schist contains titanium, iron, manganese, calcium, sodium, potassium (K). The amount of micro elements in the composition added to its physical properties that favor some absorption of liquids, recommends mica schist as one very important mixing element. The recommended granulation is between 0.2 mm and 8mm. Even less than sandstone, mica and mica schist cannot be found where the law prohibits the collection of mineral elements from nature.







This is sandstone.
Quote:

Sandstone is a sedimentary rock formed by the cementing of sands, under high pressure of the layers. Depending on the structure, it may be harder or more friable.it is an excellent root support of plants and can be used to stimulate the development of the root system of some smaller plants in larger pots. It is used in plates arranged obliquely or vertically in pots or in the form of larger pieces and chips. The recommended granulation varies largely ranging, depending on the purpose, from 5 mm to25 mm. It is a very valuable component for the heterogeneous elements contained. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to obtain it, where its collection from nature is prohibited, as there are no commercial or industrial uses for it- except for decorative landscaping materials, but to truly prohibitive costs.





This one is granite.
Quote:

Granite is an acidic igneous rock. In addition to feldspar and mica, granite has a high content of trace elements and compounds favorable for lithophagous plants: calcium, iron, potassium (K), magnesium, manganese, sodium, rubidium, strontium, and titan. The recommended granulation is between .02 mm to 8 mm.

Note>> this rock is a recommended soil base, as good as dacite. The highest quality granulations for this mixture can also be found in areas where the rock deposit is distorted. It can be obtained from the same sources as dacite, i.e. from the crushing from aggregate warehouses for road construction.





Limestone.
Quote:

Limestone is calcium carbonate in the form of sedimentary rock, often of an organic origin (organogenic). Limestone contains many other minerals such as: clay (aluminum, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and sodium compounds), dolomites and quarts sands. The recommended granulation is between 3 mm and 8 mm. Limestone is found in quarries near cement factories.







Clay in the form of crushed clay pots.
Quote:

Clay is a sedimentary rock composed of silicates, mica and fine quartz sands. Clay is found almost everywhere and is very prevalent and comes in various colors. the best for our intended purpose is quarry clay. it contains a multitude of micronutrients and compounds needed for our plants. Clay is, however, an impermeable element that cannot be used other than in a dry granular form or half-burnt (calcined). In form of powder or crushed, clay is extremely dangerous and leads to the clogging of the soil, obstructing its permeability. However, if we want to use this mineral component, and to preserve the draining quality of the mixture at the same time, depending on the specific requirements, we will add clay only in proportions ranging from 5% to 10% of the mixture. This percentage is directly proportional to the amount of organic component of the soil. clay can be found in nearby quarries and cement factories or in specialized horticultural shops.





--------------------
Nature is my church and walking through it is gospel. It tells no lies and reveals all to those who look, and listen, closely.
-Karode


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284207 - 12/16/13 04:29 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Awesome ferrel! Looks like I'll be busy the rest of the day checking all this out!!!


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: KBG1977]
    #19284330 - 12/16/13 04:47 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Interesting stuff. So this approach produces plants which are more resilient and natural-looking at the expense of growth rate?


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: chums of chance]
    #19284484 - 12/16/13 05:20 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

chums of chance said:
Interesting stuff. So this approach produces plants which are more resilient and natural-looking at the expense of growth rate?




Exactly. I have a few that I refuse to lose to rot. I mean it happens but the odds will greatly be diminished.

Here are some I have done and mixed. The mixture doesn't look so nice but will produce the results that I want.





now the hexalogues says that limestone is not needed. Or that if its used, it should be done so in small amounts. I used it 75% of that pot.

This is a very small batch as its a bitch to crush all that rock. I need a heavy piece of iron from work and maybe a 16lb sledge to finish the rest. I plan to have everything completed by middle to late January of next year. Basically while my cacti sleep, they will get transplanted and not feel a thing.


--------------------
Nature is my church and walking through it is gospel. It tells no lies and reveals all to those who look, and listen, closely.
-Karode


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284534 - 12/16/13 05:32 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

some seedlings germinated in pure sand. Pelecyphora aselliformis, Ariocarpus kotschebuyanus elephantidens and macdowelii, and Strombocactus disciformis




--------------------
Nature is my church and walking through it is gospel. It tells no lies and reveals all to those who look, and listen, closely.
-Karode


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284580 - 12/16/13 05:40 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

I got a buddy who does rock, mainly granite, countertops. I exploit that guy. He gets rid of the scrap and I feed it to my plants. The other rocks I have found the rest throughout different locations in the oil patch. I'm in no short supply of sandstone, dacite, limestone, etc. I have a giant bag of perlite. I plan on using it someday.

So I want to share this with everyone here. Once I get it going with the rock crushed, i'll send some boxes out, maybe 3 members domestic and 3 members international. I will be posting updates as the months go by to see what kinda progress, if any, occurs. Its a slow going process but as the xerophilia team has tried, it takes time to see the results. 

So read the converted pdf here, I wouldn't, or download it from http://xerophilia.ro, I would.


--------------------
Nature is my church and walking through it is gospel. It tells no lies and reveals all to those who look, and listen, closely.
-Karode


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284832 - 12/16/13 06:25 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Glad to see you finally make a post about this. :datass: This is a game changer if it goes as planned.  I'm dedicating a decent portion of my private collection to this if all goes well.


--------------------
:super:D
Manoa said:
I need to stop spending all my money on plants and take up a cheaper hobby, like heroin. :lol:

Looking for Rauhocereus riosaniensis seeds or live specimen(s), :pm: me if you have any for trade


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: ferrel_human]
    #19284930 - 12/16/13 06:46 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

ferrel_human said:
now the hexalogues says that limestone is not needed. Or that if its used, it should be done so in small amounts. I used it 75% of that pot.





The reason that lots of limestone is not recommended is because it will make the pH very high and likely cause nutrient lockout. This might not be a bad thing as you want slower growth and the natural soil is high in limestone... cacti that don't have limestone adaptations and it's present in the soil WILL suffer and possibly die (Mammillaria plumosa seems like its the only exception and can have 100% limestone). Gypsum seems to be safer in then limestone.

Maybe do some more research into how much limestone is found in lopho native soil. Another thing you MAY have over looked is that the older the cactus the less adaptive it is to new conditions and it will be use to its previous environment. You should start all your new seeds completely mineral and keep it that way as you may lose some cacti you repot from other mixes (doubt you'll lose more then a few).

EDIT: They seem to grow in pure limestone so I doubt you'll have a problem with the high content in your mix... I hope I'll be able to see your collection a few years in the future. :awesome:

Dacite, granite, sandstone, some limestone and little clay seem like a great mix based on that article. Careful with how much limestone you use. I was just planning on skimming the article ended up reading most of it lol.


--------------------


Edited by modern.shaman (12/16/13 08:45 PM)


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: modern.shaman]
    #19285191 - 12/16/13 07:43 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Ferrel I always loved how natural your lophos look and I try to make my lophos more like yours. I use 100% OilDri as the soil with nothing else; an oil absorbent so it helps the soil dry out within a few days. I mainly do this due to high humidity and rain in my area. However I'm not sure if it causes any damage to the roots due to it being very absorbent it might be drying out the roots but for the time being it doesn't seem to be causing any harm. I will try upgrading my soil to a mineral mix similar to what you have however small amounts of these material seem difficult; only find bulk.




I understand your lophos are very 'flat' due to very little watering however do you ever bury your lophos below the flesh?

The images I see of habitat lophos that are extremely old have lots of areolas underneath the soil line; yours appears to exhibit the same thing. The lopho naturally buries itself once its cold and also very dry causing the skin under the soil to 'die' and became seamless with the roots. I have done this purposefully to make my lopho flatter in appearance and it makes the appearance very nice above the soil-line. I now water much less, only 4 times times during the growing season, and keep it in high sunlight/part shade to keep the growth compact. I will do this with most of my degrafts that are not already extremely bloated to try and make it more 'natural' looking. I don't think this will cause rot due to the soil not holding moisture for more then 2-3 days and being quite porous. After having the more natural looking lopho I water very little and keep in high sunlight to keep the growth low and compact.

Any opinions on burying lophos below the flesh to short-cutting a flatter lopho? I am growing a few lophos slowly from seed but most of my seedlings died do to my lack of experience, mainly too much sun. Can't wait till I get more seeds from my own cacti.


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Re: Welcome to the Stone Eaters- A Soil Revolution [Re: modern.shaman]
    #19285409 - 12/16/13 08:46 PM (5 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

The images I see of habitat lophos that are extremely old have lots of areolas underneath the soil line; yours appears to exhibit the same thing. The lopho naturally buries itself once its cold and also very dry causing the skin under the soil to 'die' and became seamless with the roots.




I attended a lecture that Keeper Trout gave back in 2011 and this came up. It seems they screw themselves into the soil to escape the sun. This is especially true about ones in the open or ones where the shrubs giving them shelter have died. Also in riverbeds that dry up.

In my experience, if grown in strong light they will do this by themselves. I acquired some babied greenhouse specimens a few years back, have been growing them hard and they've flattened and the lower epidermis is retreating into the soil and callusing. They look a lot like ferrel's hard grown ones.

I wouldn't be too keen on burying the top part of a loph, if you do, then only do a couple to gauge results. I just think you need to grow them hard: That is strong light, infrequent waterings and then time to achieve that look.


Nice article so far ferrel, check your :pm:


--------------------


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