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Author Topic: store-bought potting mix vs homemade mix for my diy earthbox? advise please!  (Read 5486 times)
ydfz
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Posts: 4


« on: July 12, 2012, 02:08:51 AM »

hello friends.

construction on the 30-gallon diy earthbox knockoffs for my fall garden is almost complete, and as my attention turns to the potting mix to be contained therein, i figured this would be the most appropriate place to seek advice regarding all things sub-irrigated from seasoned and knowledgeable gardeners.

i have several containers to fill and am carefully weighing quality and cost. i consulted some of the other threads on the topic, but i'm still leery of committing to one type of mix or another without some guidance. i'd hate to invest in an inferior mix and end up with a correspondingly inferior harvest.

so, i've scoured the big-box stores and the local nurseries (i live in south texas, zone 9a, by the way), and these are the options i've come up with. as you can see, i'm looking to avoid mixes with synthetic fertilizers as well as anything from the scotts company:

OPTION 1: jungle-growth premium organic mix w/fertilizer (from big-box store)
$5.97/cu ft
ingredients: 55-65% composted pine bark fines, sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, charcoal ash, organic fertilizer (did not specify, but inconsequential as i'm adding a fertilizer strip)

OPTION 2: lady bug brand vortex potting soil (it's a local mix)
$6.66/cu ft
ingredients: humus & manure compost, steamed cedar flakes, ground rice hulls, texas granite sand, hadite, humates

OPTION 3: garden-ville brand potting soil (another local mix)
$5.99/cu ft
ingredients: peat moss, coir, rice hulls, compost, perlite, mill sand, red lava sand, greensand, granite, zeolite, and worm castings

OPTION 4: homemade potting mix,
$76.06 for 20 cu ft (whole batch) or $3.80/cu ft
ingredients:
12 cu ft fafard brand (or premier brand--same price--please tell me which is better) sphagnum peat moss, $19.94
4 cu ft perlite, $19.50
4 cu ft vermiculite, $29.99
2.2 lb (5 cups) espoma garden lime, $1.64
5 lb garden-ville brand worm castings, $4.99

i realize the recommendation for the earthbox and similar sub-irrigated container systems is a potting mix sans compost and sand, and those two ingredients are what worry me about option 2 and option 3, respectively (option 2 is compost-based and option 3 seems to contain a lot of sand).

so what's the verdict? store-bought or homemade? also, are there any changes i should make to my mix recipe if you think i should go that route? i left pine bark fines out of my recipe both because i couldn't locate them and because i'm starting to think that they're more filler than anything else.

THANKS MUCHLY!
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alwayslearning
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Posts: 1029

SF Bay Area near SJ Zone 8b


« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2012, 08:02:07 AM »

Make or buy potting mix, it's your choice.
I can comment only about what works in an Earthbox; your physics may vary.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 08:43:38 AM by alwayslearning » Logged
chrissykr
Full Member
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Posts: 99

Chicago Burbs zone 5a


« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2012, 09:05:23 AM »

Head over to Tomatoville. Raybo (the creator of earthtainer) hangs out there. He is a wealth of info and incredibly nice.
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kathy
Horticulturalist
The EarthBox
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Posts: 3815


The mountains of PA Zone 5, almost 4.


« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2012, 09:22:00 AM »

Wow  I was just about to "slap" chrissykr for suggesting you go to another forum and for bringing up a knock off. I sure am glad I read all the posts in the thread....by all means, good advice, we like to keep our forum on general gardening questions and specific EarthBox questions....You bet, there are lots of very qualified expert gardeners here, and we love them all, but since we host the forum, spend the time to moderate it etc, we don't like a lot of discussion on home-made/knock offs....that should be on the other forums. We do understand that people are going to own other product, or make do with a some homemade self watering containers, but it is not our intention to have entire threads started to discuss homemade boxes.  Thanks for the understanding.
Thanks Chrissy,  for your good suggestion.  
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 10:35:01 AM by kathy » Logged

kath, gardening is my game,  over 45 years in the business.
chrissykr
Full Member
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Posts: 99

Chicago Burbs zone 5a


« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2012, 10:35:33 AM »

Wow  I was just about to "slap" chrissykr for suggesting you go to another forum and for bringing up a knock off. I sure am glad I read all the posts in the thread....by all means, good advice, we like to keep on forum on general gardening questions and specific EarthBox questions....You bet, there are lots of very qualified expert gardeners here, and we love them all, but since we host the forum, spend the time to moderate it etc, we don't like a lot of discussion on home-made/knock offs....that should be on the other forums. Thanks for the understanding.
Thanks Chrissy,  for your good suggestion.  

Sorry Kathy, I know what your saying.

I am an Earthbox girl myself and I have to say for my first year with them I am super impressed. I plan on adding more to my collection but I still learn a lot from Ray.

I actually found EB through Ray. I loved his idea but I knew they weren't for me. I started doing some research and found EB and am glad I did.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 10:37:35 AM by chrissykr » Logged
kathy
Horticulturalist
The EarthBox
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 3815


The mountains of PA Zone 5, almost 4.


« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2012, 11:47:01 AM »

Wow  I was just about to "slap" chrissykr for suggesting you go to another forum and for bringing up a knock off. I sure am glad I read all the posts in the thread....by all means, good advice, we like to keep on forum on general gardening questions and specific EarthBox questions....You bet, there are lots of very qualified expert gardeners here, and we love them all, but since we host the forum, spend the time to moderate it etc, we don't like a lot of discussion on home-made/knock offs....that should be on the other forums. Thanks for the understanding.
Thanks Chrissy,  for your good suggestion.  

Sorry Kathy, I know what your saying.

I am an Earthbox girl myself and I have to say for my first year with them I am super impressed. I plan on adding more to my collection but I still learn a lot from Ray.

I actually found EB through Ray. I loved his idea but I knew they weren't for me. I started doing some research and found EB and am glad I did.

No need for sorry Chrissy, you did absolutely nothing wrong, I almost did though, by almost slapping you...and I always worry about ticking people off, but EarthBox is very proud of this forum (really its' awesome members) and our product.
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kath, gardening is my game,  over 45 years in the business.
bobk
Hero Member
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Posts: 1319


West, Central FL - Zone 9b


« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2012, 05:19:25 PM »

It's early in the morning and already slap happy hour.  Cheesy
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Sowing outside the box but still in the box.
ydfz
Newbie
*
Posts: 4


« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2012, 07:47:41 PM »

Wow  I was just about to "slap" chrissykr for suggesting you go to another forum and for bringing up a knock off. I sure am glad I read all the posts in the thread....by all means, good advice, we like to keep our forum on general gardening questions and specific EarthBox questions....You bet, there are lots of very qualified expert gardeners here, and we love them all, but since we host the forum, spend the time to moderate it etc, we don't like a lot of discussion on home-made/knock offs....that should be on the other forums. We do understand that people are going to own other product, or make do with a some homemade self watering containers, but it is not our intention to have entire threads started to discuss homemade boxes.  Thanks for the understanding.
Thanks Chrissy,  for your good suggestion.  

wow. okay. well, the question was less about the box and more about what goes inside the box; whether or not i'm using the branded product is, i feel, irrelevant. the reason i posted here is because the necessity of a good potting mix is universal among all sub-irrigated planter systems, and so i thought the advice i receive here regarding my setup may well benefit others in the community here who are having a similar dilemma.

can we not all learn from one another? is it not in the spirit of organic home gardening to foster a free and open exchange of knowledge that is unfettered by consumerist interests? sad that even the world of small-scale organic home gardening is pervaded by fierce brand loyalty (though i'm sure the people at earthbox aren't complaining ($$$)). we should all have access to the tools and know-how to grow our own produce by the innovative and eco-responsible sub-irrigation method. i'm asking about dirt here, not proprietary trade secrets or anything.

while i realize this forum is built around a branded product, i did not expect it to be so insular. i see i have come to the wrong place for help. perhaps it was my use of the term 'knock-off' that threw some people. it's not a copy of an earthbox. i've never even seen an earthbox in person before. my system, for instance, uses sleeved, perforated drain pipe instead of a screened-off reservoir. i only used the term to clear up any potential confusion by noting that my system works by the same wicking principle, and so would require a similar potting mix to function well.

again, apologies, and i will ask around elsewhere for help. luckily there are additional community resources available that are more open-source in nature.
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movrshakr
Hero Member
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Posts: 2329

Zone 10a- near Cape Canaveral


« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2012, 07:57:46 PM »

Wow.

The point is, sir or ma'am, that this forum is established and run (funded) by the Earthbox company.  Yet you "demand"--maybe "desire" is a better word--that they allow discussions on topics that would logically result in fewer sales of their products.

You need to stop and think about that just a bit.

"luckily there are additional community resources available that are more open-source in nature"
Indeed there are.  So why the slapdown of a commercial company pursuing their interests (and ours)?  You act as if people spending their own money owe you something...kind of a comment on what has happened to our country right there.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 08:00:52 PM by movrshakr » Logged

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Wandering Rose
Sr. Member
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Posts: 136

"Hi-Desert Gardening" is NOT an oxymoron.


« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2012, 08:16:12 PM »

Sometimes we forget that visiting a forum is like visiting someone in their home and guests need to be respectful of their host, whoever that might be.

I don't think Kathy's reaction is out of line at all. For one think, YD, it's good to be sensitive to the use of branded names in reference to the similar and knockoff products. Kleenex and Xerox have pretty much given up the fight to reserve their names for their products, but I would not want to see that happen to Earthboxes.

Just my .0002 cents worth,
rose

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alwayslearning
Hero Member
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Posts: 1029

SF Bay Area near SJ Zone 8b


« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2012, 08:33:23 PM »

With respect to your comment about same wicking principle, it does not necessarily follow that you would use the same potting mix. Some potting mixes are intended for containers 12" or less, for example. Look at Raybo's description of how he tweaked his for different containers and size of wicking "columns".  Your drain-pipe project sounds like some at insideurbangreen.org; their focus is more about approaches and less about potting media.  Enjoy your experimenting.
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kathy
Horticulturalist
The EarthBox
Hero Member
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Posts: 3815


The mountains of PA Zone 5, almost 4.


« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2012, 12:22:32 PM »

Thanks, folks. I think, most of you know me well enough, that you know I try not to blow the whistle very often. I really dislike having to do it at all. And indeed this forum is hosted by EarthBox, and indeed we do have the right to ask that we don't spend time on talking about the other containers. In the true spirit of gardening, we let all types of gardening questions happen here, provide resources on our website etc, to help the gardener. It is never our intention to cause any ill will with any gardener. I have spent  1185 hours on this forum, that's a lot of time invested to keep this running as a great resource, a fun place to be and a true "forum of EarthBox users". We realize not everyone can afford to have all EarthBoxes, we understand our boxes are a premium price, for a quality, long lasting,  US made food safe product. I never slap people for mentioning their homemade or knock off containers, or how many they have or even pics that include them, as long as you own at least one EarthBox. Enjoy the other resources, I encourage it, we can't be all things to all people.
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kath, gardening is my game,  over 45 years in the business.
Sun City Linda
Hero Member
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Posts: 979

SoCal Inland 9A


« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2012, 02:32:29 PM »

Earthbox really has such incredible Brand loyalty.  The product is great, the customer service is great and the forum is great. The End!   Smiley
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ydfz
Newbie
*
Posts: 4


« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2012, 12:21:17 AM »

Wow.

The point is, sir or ma'am, that this forum is established and run (funded) by the Earthbox company.  Yet you "demand"--maybe "desire" is a better word--that they allow discussions on topics that would logically result in fewer sales of their products.

You need to stop and think about that just a bit.

"luckily there are additional community resources available that are more open-source in nature"
Indeed there are.  So why the slapdown of a commercial company pursuing their interests (and ours)?  You act as if people spending their own money owe you something...kind of a comment on what has happened to our country right there.

yes, "desire" is a better word. "demand?" "slapdown?" that's a bit harsh. again, i realized this forum is centered around a branded product, but i fail to see how inquiring about a suitable potting mix for an earthbox-type container "results in fewer sales" of earthboxes. i simply thought i'd approach a community knowledgeable about sub-irrigated systems and learn some information useful not only in my gardening pursuit but also for any others here on the forum that happen to have similar questions. i'm building a sub-irrigated planter, and i thought i'd consult with some earthbox owners for advice. i didn't know i was doing anything wrong, and i do apologize. to borrow wanderingrose's example, if i were designing facial tissues, i'd ask kleenex users what works or doesn't work for them.

again, apologies for treading on your territory. i don't feel entitled to anything. begrudgingly, i have already come to terms with this profit-driven world. sad that that is the case even when it comes to organic home gardening, and i think that is an even more poignant comment on what's happening to our country than the one you mention movrshakr.

happy gardening.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 12:27:35 AM by ydfz » Logged
ydfz
Newbie
*
Posts: 4


« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2012, 12:24:10 AM »

With respect to your comment about same wicking principle, it does not necessarily follow that you would use the same potting mix. Some potting mixes are intended for containers 12" or less, for example. Look at Raybo's description of how he tweaked his for different containers and size of wicking "columns".  Your drain-pipe project sounds like some at insideurbangreen.org; their focus is more about approaches and less about potting media.  Enjoy your experimenting.

ah, thank you for the relevant reply. i did not realize the depth of the container might indeed necessitate a different mix formulation. i will look into raybo's methods as i continue my project.

thanks :]
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