If you’re green-fingered and enjoy gardening or indoor plants, you’ve probably heard about using horticultural grit to improve the structure and drainage of your soil. The interesting thing is that you can also use chicken grit for plants, and sometimes it makes more sense to do so.
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Why Use Grit for Gardening and Potting Plants?
Grit is basically just finely ground insoluble pieces of stones. It’s commonly mixed in with soil to help improve the drainage and aeration of the soil.
When you add small stones to soil it helps water and air flow more freely through the soil. This is particularly important - and even essential for some plants - as it helps drain excess water from plants’ roots.
Grit can also help balance the pH of the soil and deliver some essential nutrients.
If you don’t use grit, there is a risk of saturating the roots of a plant and essentially restricting the amount of oxygen being released. This can cause some plants to wilt, and eventually die.
What Is Horticultural Grit?
Horticultural grit is small stones that have been washed and contains a neutral pH. It’s great for loosening up the soil, aiding aeration, and loosening clay in the soil.
Using horticultural grit is essential for some plants and under certain conditions. You can usually easily find this type of grit at any gardening store, or of course online.
What Is Chicken Grit?
Chicken grit is also made from small stones. It’s typically made from flint or granite, as these two substances are best-suited to making tiny pieces of grit and it’s known that chickens use these substances.
For those who are wondering, chickens need grit in their diets to help ‘chew’ up their food. This is because chickens, along with a lot of birds and some other animals do not have teeth.
WIthout teeth, they are unable to chew their food before swallowing it. This means they are essentially swallowing large pieces of food whole.
After being stored for a while and passed through part of their digestive system, food ends up in a large internal organ called a ‘gizzard’. The gizzard essentially does the job of teeth, by contracting and chewing up food to break it down to be digested.
It needs a coarse substance to be able to break down the food though, and this is where grit comes in.
As the gizzard contracts, it smushes food and grit together to grind it up. The food is then passed through the chicken’s digestive system and all the good nutrients are absorbed.
Why Use Chicken Grit for Plants?
I’ve heard about people using chicken grit for their plants for as long as I can remember. In my opinion, it’s not that it’s any better or worse than horticultural or gardening grit, it’s often to do with the price and how accessible it is.
Depending on where you live, chicken girt may be easier to find and less expensive than horticultural grit. If that is the case, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it.
Or, you may be raising backyard chickens. If this is the case, you’re always going to have some chicken grit available.
Something to note is that it’s always a good idea to check the ingredients when shopping for poultry grit. Sometimes there will be some added calcium and other minerals for laying hens.
But typically, a poultry grit like this one from Manna Pro is just crushed granite and is fine to mix into the soil for your plants.
Some Related FAQs
Can I Use Chicken Grit for Succulents?
Chicken or poultry grit is often used to make succulent soil. Succulents are different from regular plants, they are part of the cactus family and require efficient drainage.
This is why it’s good to plant them in chicken grit, sand, or some substance equally as coarse mixed in with their soil. This ensures that excess water will drain well and the roots of a succulent will not rot.
Is Poultry Grit Good for Bonsai Soil Mix?
Yes, poultry grit is fine for creating a fast-draining soil mix for any plants that benefit from it as bonsai trees do.
Some of the most common plants that require fast-draining or aerated soil include cactus plants, alpine plants, and spices to name just a few.
Can You Make Your Own Grit?
You can’t make grit per se as grit is just small pieces of coarse material like flint, granite, and general stones.
If you have larger pieces of stones that will be fine for your plants (or your chickens), then, of course, you can break these down to create a grit.
For chickens, grit needs to be fairly fine. For plants, however, it’s not as important that the grit is very fine or tiny pieces.
Now you know; you can use chicken grit for plants to improve the aeration and drainage of the soil just as you would with horticultural and gardening grit.
If you are raising backyard chickens, you should always have some grit handy, so this shouldn’t be a problem. It’s often less expensive and easier to get hold of than gardening grit, too, so it’s always worth considering.
Image credits - Photo by Sidny See on Unsplash
How to care for your succulents - Surreal Succulents