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Gritty mix for nm citrus?

I have found myself to be the new parent of several citrus trees. This is my first time growing citrus and I may already be at a disadvantage due to my location (Albuquerque) so I want to do things right from the start. Right now I have Meyer lemon, rough lemon, tangerine, Valencia orange, and something called a dwarf venous orange. They are currently in a mix of coco coir, vermiculite, worm castings, and a small amount of basic potting soil (with azomite or glacial rock dust mixed in) that I had on hand and use for all my other plants with great success.

The current mix mentioned above I use for everything including my indoor cacti, succulents, dracaenas and various houseplants, as well as my outdoor tomatoes and peppers with great results. The indoor plants I water from the bottom and the outdoor plants get watered from the top. I've been using this mix for two years or so and all my plants have grown huge and have no issues. Would this mix be acceptable for citrus as long as I stay on top of letting it dry out between waterings like I do for my cacti?


I have been trying to find the most suitable medium for citrus and keep coming back to Al's gritty mix. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the basic mix is conifer pine fines or reptibark, turface, and chicken grit in equal parts with the addition of foliage pro or a suitable fertilizer each time I water, right? My concern is that this mix will not be adequate in terms of water retention for my dry desert climate even with daily watering. We have hot dry air and hot dry winds that sap moisture from leaves with a fury here and I don't have the option of putting my plants on a drip irrigation system. Has anyone else had success with the gritty mix in a dry desert climate? Would the addition of somthing more water retentive be detrimental to the whole mix or plants?

Right now all the citrus are little babies not much more than a foot tall but I want them to have the best start possible. I have a south facing yard that gets full sun for the most part, there is a 10x2' strip of partial morning shade in one spot because of a tree and around 4-5pm I start to get a little shade against the house but not more than 10x3' along the exterior house wall (gives off heat, good in cold temps bad in hot temps). We get a fair amount of wind, I'm renting so cannot put up a proper wooden fence or mesh bur am trying to grow morning glories up the chainlink to slow the wind a bit. I'm looking into a shade sail or structure at least for the plants to help protect them from the sun and help them conserve moisture this summer.

Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated. My kiddos are very excited with the possibility of citrus in a few years and I don't want to mess this up. Thanks everyone!

Edit: also if anyone knows a good source for the ingredients for the gritty mix please let me know. I typed them into a few online retailers search box with no results.

This message was edited May 24, 2015 8:05 PM

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