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Old June 13, 2015   #16
ChristinaJo
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Ok, here's some of Tania's posts about mixes....

Soil mix

Seed starting:
It used to be Promix HP for me. Not anymore. It was a great mix for seed starting, but pepper seedlings will not thrive in it.

We now make a mix from 75% coco coir and 25% perlite. Works so much better for pepper seedlings! When potting up, we just add 50% compost.

Tatiana
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This was about a hugleculture bed..and I don't know if I spelled it right.

We got our first one going, made from hemlock logs, branches, coffee grinds, and kitchen waste. There will be a dwarf apple tree (Honeycrisp) planted there in the near future (next to the mound). The bed is getting about 6 hrs of sun, which is A LOT in our shady garden in the middle of the woods!


perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss are all great additions to your potting mix - they make it light, fluffy, with high porosity and good drainage.

Tania's container mix

I prefer 3:2:1 mix of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite and then mix it with the same amount of comport or composted manure. This mixture works very well for tomatoes and anything else I grow in pots.

I am sure that addition of peat moss and vermiculite will help you, but I good compost is better than garden soil, as it contains lots of good nutrients to support the plant growth.

I add some alfalfa meal (you can add blood meal instead), a bit of lime, and bone meal to the mix. Later I may also occasionally water with some diluted natural goodies rich in N-P-K and Ca (i.e. alfalfa tea, kelp, liquid fish, diluted yogurt leftovers, etc). Tomatoes love it.
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Old June 20, 2015   #17
Sojourner
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I've been searching desperately for a new mix. For 50 years I was a Cornell Peat-Lite adherent, or some variation thereof. I eventually settled on 1:1 peat/coarse vermiculite - but then the availability of coarse vermiculite dried up. I haven't been able to get it for over 20 years now in any of the areas I've lived in in that time. Trying to order it from a greenhouse always - ALWAYS - has ended up with me getting MEDIUM grade or finer, while the greenhouse folks try to insist it is coarse.

I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday. Although I did have another greenhouse again try to convince me that medium grade is coarse grade literally just yesterday, LOL!

Now Home Despot and Lowe's both have stopped carrying coarse grade perlite (unless you are willing to order a whole pallet) and the large 4+ cu ft bags of peat moss. The 3 cu ft bags they are carrying now cost about twice what the 4+ cu ft bags do. I've had to turn to hydroponics stores for potential potting medium ingredients - which, while still more expensive than the Big Box stores, has the advantage of being about half what the local nursery wanted to charge me for coarse grade perlite - and the hydroponics store stuff is higher quality for that price. I think it was $60 for 4.5 cu feet of Thermorock from the nursery and $30 for 4 cu ft of Mother Earth? from the hydroponics store. Might have been 4 cu ft vs 3.5 cu ft.

I'd love to give pumice a try - but despite being mined in this state, I have had no luck at all finding horticultural grade pumice locally. The only stuff I can find is Dry Stall, which is shipped in to some local feed stores from CA.

I have tried "gritty mix" and a modified "gritty mix" and both were utter failures - the modified "gritty mix" actually failed later than the conventional. The modified had 16% peat and growstone in it in addition to the usual gritty components. I suspect the peat contributed more to the staving off of disaster than the Growstone, but who knows. I'm not growing bonsai, cacti, or succulents. It didn't work for me.

I am in the process of transplanting all of those plants out and back into a peat-based boughten mix. Seedlings planted in peat-based boughten mix are doing just fine, btw.

After discussing the "gritty" type mixes with an actual soil scientist, it is clear to me why those failed - and its not because I am stupid, lazy, hate my plants, and/or incompetent. Its because those types of mixes require special handling that I am simply not able - or willing, for that matter - to provide. If gritty works for you, more power to you. It doesn't work for me, and if I don't lose all those seedlings due to giving it way more than a fair shot to outperform garden variety peat mix, I'll be VERY lucky. Honestly I should have done that as soon as the experiment started to fail.

For now I'm pretty much stuck with continuing to experiment to find something I can mix up myself, that doesn't cost the earth, and for which I can EASILY find the components. I have used a dry-stall/bark/peat mix that was ok - but I found it too dense, probably from fines in the bark. My next attempt will be a 1:3 Growstone/peat blend vs a 1:1 peat/coarse perlite blend. I'll see how annuals planted in those do before making any other changes.

Its just that I hate perlite sooooo much.

As for the gross aspersions being cast in certain quarters against peat moss based mixes, calling them "pudding" and "soup" - all I can say is, for 50 years, everything I've planted in a peat-based mix seems to think soup is good food!
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Old August 5, 2015   #18
Tropicalgrower
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https://app.box.com/Tomatoes-in-Containers

Tatianas container presentation.
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Old August 5, 2015   #19
Ed of Somis
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Thanks for the above info! I have learned quite a bit about container tomatoes...and have pretty good luck (we make our own luck, mostly). Next year I am going to try even more plants from the "dwarf project". I was disappointed in "Polish Dwarf" (small and poor taste)...but my Livingston Dwarf Stone maters were pretty good. Anybody have any dwarf reports to share?
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Old August 5, 2015   #20
Cole_Robbie
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Lately I've been into aerated compost tea as a cheap way to improve store-bought pro mix.
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Old August 22, 2015   #21
Gerardo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
Lately I've been into aerated compost tea as a cheap way to improve store-bought pro mix.
You can really push the herd in the right direction with the teas. And indeed, it does allows one to stretch the base ingredients a lot more.

This product has lived up to its billing. It contains vegetable compost, worm castings, kelp, and minerals. So all you have to do is add molasses and voila!
I use a little under 1 cup per 7 gallon batch of tea, so 1 cu ft goes a long way for me.

http://organicsalivegarden.com/produ...dments-7-cbft/

I'm lucky to have access to relatively cheap worm castings, and with every wheelbarrow (deep contractor) of potting mix I add 2 kg of the stuff.

I remember reading a multi-crop study with data suggesting there's a sweet spot for worm castings in the potting mix. It was surprising that the optimal amount was a fairly low percentage by weight. Around 5% or so if I remember correctly, maybe even 10%. I'll dig up the study.

I also add the soluble herd from fungi perfecti when I pot up seedlings. Stuff works.
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Old September 17, 2015   #22
Zenbaas
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Thanks for all the container mix ideas.? Was just wondering do any of you place a wick in your containers at all..? Is it worthwhile especially for early on before your seedling ls have grown a bit deeper.
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Old September 18, 2015   #23
Ed of Somis
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I did use wicks this last summer for my veges and newly grafted avocados. It seems to work pretty well. I will continue.
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Old September 18, 2015   #24
Zenbaas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed of Somis View Post
I did use wicks this last summer for my veges and newly grafted avocados. It seems to work pretty well. I will continue.
Thanks! I see a lot of people here so wicking with peat ect so I think I'll do the same.
So you place anything in the bottom of the container to prevent the roots from growing into the water that the container sits in/above..?

Last edited by Zenbaas; September 18, 2015 at 03:43 PM.
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Old September 18, 2015   #25
Zenbaas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tropicalgrower View Post
https://app.box.com/Tomatoes-in-Containers

Tatianas container presentation.
I don't know if anyone has gone thought this presentation thoroughly but any ideas on what quantity of total soil/mix the gypsum /bone meal /alfalfa meal quantities applies to..? (ie. It say 1 cup gypsum and 1/4 cup Epsom salts but when adding it to how much soil mic..?)

I bought four 7 gallon containers so will be mixing this all up tomorrow. Looking forward to it
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Old September 18, 2015   #26
pecker88
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I recently started 8 SWC in my indoor winter grow. Two 5 gal. buckets, stacked with the inner bucket having a net pot secured to the bottom.

I used a 50/50 mix of ProMix Ultimate Organic, and ProMix Ultimate; I also added a large scoop of coarse perlite. That ProMix is all I could find at Home Depot, I personally think $55 for 4 cu ft of ProMix HP at the local hydro shop is nuts. That's the only place in town that carries it, so I the ProMix options at Home Depot had to work.

After 3-4 weeks, all my tomato leaves were curled under, like claws. For some reason my Jalapeno and Habanero look great. Anyway, I dumped 1 container out to see whats going on and the mix in the bottom 1/3 of the bucket was so wet I could ring water out of it with my hand. The roots of the transplanted tom had barely expanded at all, simply because anywhere they went was saturated.

So, after reading and reading here, I decided to try 2 of the buckets with Raybo's 3:2:1 mix of peat, micro bark and perlite. I found some micro bark at a local hardware store. Some of the pieces are larger then 1/2" but again, "pine bark fines" are not available here.
So far, its only been 2 days since I changed to the 3:2:1 so it's difficult to tell if the plants are doing better, time will tell.

The lesson: There are a lot of physics going on in a SWC. I'm convinced that it takes a perfect mix that wicks water, but not too much. The mix is your only method of controlling how much water is available to the plant. You can't stop watering, as the wicking chamber has to be constantly submerged. So, I'm hoping that the 3:2:1 mix will slow down the wicking action due to the lessened ammount of peat and more non-wicking particles (bark). I also slightly lowered the water level in the reservoir.

Last edited by pecker88; September 18, 2015 at 07:43 PM.
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Old September 19, 2015   #27
KC.Sun
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Pecker88,

I think I'm not understanding something here. Why are you trying to decrease wicking action?
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Old September 19, 2015   #28
pecker88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KC.Sun View Post
Pecker88,

I think I'm not understanding something here. Why are you trying to decrease wicking action?
because the mix was way too wet. The bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the bucket I could take a hand full of mix and when squeezed water would run out of my hand. The medium was way too wet; nothing but cat tails could grow in that.

Why? The mix contained too much peat, and not enough non-wicking particles such as perlite or bark. I'm not a pro, I'm just guessing but from what I've been reading this is a common problem with SWC's; too wet.

This is esp. true because mine are in inside grow room. When outside, I'm sure the sun/heat would help to reduce some of the moisture.
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Old September 19, 2015   #29
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Pecker88,

Are you using a potting mix or a soil mix? I tried googling Promix ultimate/Promix ultimate organic but could not find it on the makers site. I was trying to see what they put in the mix.

I haven't run into that problem yet. So I'll check and see if it develops as the weather cools down.
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Old September 21, 2015   #30
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I have tried various mixes but always came back to the big bag of Fafard! Drains well and is super high quality.

Fox Farm Happy Frog if you can find it!
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