Tuesday, 25 June 2013


When I first started growing cacti, over 50 years ago, if a plant needed to be re-potted I simply used soil from the garden. As a child I lived on the banks of a river and the soil could not have been too bad as on the opposite bank there was a nursery, although subsequently a furniture warehouse was built on the site.  

Another possibility came to light following a visit to my local library where I borrowed a book on cacti and succulents. I was reminded about this recently as I obtained a copy of that book.

The recommended compost mixture did not contain any imports from Japan but was made up as follows (by bulk):-

1/4 good fibrous loam
1/4 very course sand
1/4 well decayed leaf mould
1/8 crushed brick 
1/8 ground or crushed charcoal (to help keep the compost sweet)

The author did anticipate there could be some problem in obtaining some of the items and advised that if leaf mould was not available granulated horticultural peat sold by every bulb shop could be substituted. Should crushed bricks not be available crushed oyster shell or tennis court dressing could be substituted. Unfortunately oysters never seemed to appear on the teatime menu and we did not have a tennis court. 

Clearly no problem was anticipated in obtaining ground or crushed charcoal and no guide was given as to what the consistency of crushed brick or oyster shell should be.

PS. The nursery left behind a vast quantity of old clay pots which now would be much sought after

PPS. Whitstable beach is a source of oyster shells

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