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Greg M.
user 3541854
Acton, ME
Post #: 406
I'm growing a bunch of indoor potted citrus for a breeding project and I've noticed that over a few years potting soil really starts to break down and compact. This means repotting every few years...not excited about that. So I've been reading a bunch online about bonsai media and ran across people using diatomite they bought at NAPA Autoparts. NAPA sells Floor Dry (#8822) as an absorbent for spills. It's very light weight pebbles made from fused diatom shells. It is very granular and drains very well. I soaked a liter of it in water, then let it drain overnight (9" collumn height) and it held 435 grams of water...that's 43.5% of the volume in water in a well draining media...wow! It was about $8 for 6 gallons. I've started experimenting with using it in potting soil blends with some of the Poncirus seedlings I'm growing up. I'm really hoping that it will do well blended with biochar to mimic the terra preta beds (it would be an easy to get analog for the pottery chards they used...though pottery chards should have a MUCH higher CEC...could use Turface, but more expensive).

Material background: Diatoms are algae that template silica to make glass-like porous shells around themselves. In some places they have formed thick sediment that has sintered into this light weight "stone". The low density is due to the diatom shells being almost all air space, with silica nanostructures that create the equivalent of a glass open celled foam. It survives freeze thaw cycles so it can also be useful outdoors.

I'll try and update this with more info as the trial goes forward...but thought I'd mention it now for any interested tinkerers.
Barbara R.
123bubbles
Oakland, ME
Post #: 68
Thanks Greg! I too am growing quite a few citrus trees indoors. So I am very interested in seeing how this works. Keeping moisture in the air is a big factor and hard to do in dry wood heated homes.
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