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EarthBox Chat => Questions and Answers => Topic started by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:26:55 am

Title: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:26:55 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Marcia. This user is located in Zone 9, Northern CA. This was originally posted on April 29, 2008.

The whole "mix vs. soil" question is very confusing even after reading most of the posts on the forum regarding this question.  I just bought and filled 3 EBs with "Natural Organic Gardner and Bloome Planting Mix."   Underneath that it says "Premium Garden Soil. Ideal for general soil amending. Raised Bed Planting.  Bare Root Planting.  Large Outdoor Container Planting."  The ingredients are: forest humus, peat moss, rice hulls, chicken manure, worm castings, bat guano, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, oyster shell and dolomite limes"    It didn't have any rocks or sand in it, or any perlite or vermiculite. It didn't seem as "fluffy" or "spongy" as the Earth Box potting mix I used previously which had a lot of perlite in it.  So is this going to be okay?  When I bought it I thought that "Planting Mix" was synonymous with "Potting Mix."  Is perlite or vermiculite an essential ingredient or will I be okay without it.  Any answers out there?
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:29:58 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on April 29, 2008.

The primary secret of the EBs success is the wicking of water from the bottom to the top, as opposed to the typical garden method of watering from the top to the bottom.  As such, the primary functional criteria and requirement of the potting mix is the wicking capability.  Therefore, the two main ingredients on the contents list should list as the first Sphagnum Peat and/or Coir - usually 70-80%, with the balance some combination of Vermiculite, Perlite and even Carbon (with the emphasis on the Vermiculite).  Mix components which do not contribute to this wicking action are anything Partially Composted..., Forest Biproducts, Sawdust, Bark, Screened Topsoil, etc.  Currently most Soils and Mixes available today have listed these very ingredients as the first few, which in my opinion are not suitable for THIS application.

Note: The first ingredient your mix lists is " Forest Humus", which I have serious doubt is an accurate description.  Forests typically do NOT have Humus in sufficient quantity to harvest as a main ingredient in a commercial mix.  It is usually listed more accurately as Partially Composted Forest Biproducts which, besides NOT acting as a wick, is actually a nitrogen thief in its attempt to finish its composting.

That is why I have taken the unusual step, in both time and effort, to make my own mix for my 34+ boxes.  I just could not get what is needed within a reasonable shipping distance, and the EB mix cost with shipping is unrealistic.

I hope this helps clarify what was missed in all of the other Mix vs. Soil posts.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:32:57 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Guest, new2ebs. This was originally posted on April 29, 2008.

I too was confused by the potting mix vs. soil question, and had to replace all of my potting soil in all 6 boxes I had just planted.  The main thing that I came to realize was that you need to find a soilless potting mix and there is a big difference once you have used both (the water used to run out brown and now it is clear)  Now that I have changed out all the soil to mix everything is growing and looks very good - it was definitely worth the effort to get it right.
I used the potting soil around some spots in the yard to put some of my extra plants that couldn't fit in my boxes.  Well see how they do.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:34:35 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, JD. This user is located in Zone 8B: TLH, FL. This was originally posted on April 29, 2008.

I am preparing a variation of Donald1800s Potting Mix using the following (all from a local nursery):

Black Gold CocoBlend (2 cu ft) contains Sphagnum, Coir, and Earthworm casings (http://www.blackgold.bz/organic.html#WaterholdCocoblend)
Horticultural Vermiculite (8 qt bag)
Perlite (8 qt bag)

Will check the PH via a soil test kit once the EBs are delivered.

Concerning the soil amendments: I ordered Granular Azomite (www.thenaturalabode.com) and Gardens A Plenty organic fertilizer (www.gardensalive.com) to partner with worm casings and agricultural limestone already on hand. I play with the amounts using Donald1800s map as a guide

FYI. I am waiting on 5 EBs. The plan is 2 tomato, 1 lettuce, 1 spinach, and 1 corn/bean.

JD
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:36:07 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, MacJim. This was originally posted on May 11, 2008.

I have been having a problem finding an Organic Potting mix and plan to mix my own using this formula 60% peat, 30% vermiculite, and 10% perlite.
My question is do you measure this by volume or weight? I am assuming you mix by volume, because, for example vermiculite, for its volume, is very light compared to peat. Is my thinking correct?  Thanks Jim
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:39:58 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Deb. This user is located in
The Pacific NorthWET - Sunset - W. Climate Zone 6. This was originally posted on May 11, 2008.


My guess is by volume, but I agree it gets confusing looking at different size packages and the way they are labeled.  I thought I had it all figured out and then ran across some stuff that was measured and compressed so 3.5 cubic ft of mux will fill 3.5 EBs.  ...sigh...

When I emptied my old boxes of the potting soil (that didnt grow very well last year) I had 2 full five gallon buckets out of each EB.

I've seen both 2 cu ft and 2.5 cu ft as the amount needed to fill the EB and have figured the .5 cu ft is in the top dome.  Mix up 2.5 buckets full and you should be ok.

Deb
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:41:06 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on May 11, 2008.

All ingredients are measured by volume - peat and coir are measured AFTER moist and fluffed.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:43:22 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, MacJim. This was originally posted on May 11, 2008.

Thanks all for the reply's..

Donald1800 question for you.  I know you said that you order from Peaceful Valley some items.  For a person who wants to just buy a mix, have you ever seen their "Pro-Mix" Item # PSO240  Here are the ingredients, per their website.

? Canadium Sphagnum Peat Moss (75-85% by volume)
? Perlite - Horticultural Grade
? Mycorise? Pro - endomycorrhizal inoculum (Glomus intraradices)
? Vermiculite - Horticultural Grade
? Dolomitic and Calcitic Limestone (pH adjuster)
? Wetting Agent

If this is not suitable, do you know of any other prepackaged product they carry that might be suitable mix to use in EBs. I do see that they carry all of the ingredients to make your own mix, but for someone who doesn't want to do that, its difficult to find an alternative.

By-the-way shipping is not an issue for me I live right in the same town and I can go right to their store and pick up. They are a very nice group of people there.
Also I looked on their site for the coco-peat in the large bag you mentioned in another post, but could find only a small bag. Would you happen to have a part number.

All of your help is very much appreciated....You are a wealth of knowledge.... Thanks Jim
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:45:06 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on May 11, 2008.

Yes, it should work fine.  The "wetting agent" listed will NOT have a negative effect.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:46:54 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Deb. This user is located in
The Pacific NorthWET - Sunset - W. Climate Zone 6. This was originally posted on May 11, 2008.


The Pro-Mix is what Kathy said that EB company is using.  Several other regular posters are also using it.

You're lucky to live so close to a distributor.  They are few and far between.  I'm also lucky as the only Oregon distributor is about 5 miles from my Dads place, and 3 bales will fill my 10 EBs and left enough room in my stationwagon for my big dog.  ;>

I'm experimenting a little with it because I had started to gather ingredients to mix my own when I found the Pro-Mix.  I put straight Pro-Mix in the wicking corners and about 1-2" deep on top of the screens.  Then I mixed 1 5gal bucket each of coir and vermiculite into about 10 gallons of the mix.  I'm going to add this (fill to the top of the box) and mix in the dolomite and earthworm castings then pat it down.  Then use the same mixture without dolomite and castings, to fill the box and make the dome.

Donald- do you see any problem with that?  It is exceptionally fluffy mixed like that.

By doing it this way Ill have enough mix to fill a few other containers I have and not waste or store the things I had already bought.

Deb
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:49:21 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on May 11, 2008.

Just make sure that the Peat and Coir are well moistened - wet but when squeezed hard will not drip liquid.  THEN measure.

In general, I have Dolomite mixed throughout the mix - top and bottom.  EB uses only the top 3", and you propose to use the bottom 3".  I wouldn't limit the plants access to either the Ph adjustment OR calcium/magnesium.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:50:46 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Deb. This user is located in
The Pacific NorthWET - Sunset - W. Climate Zone 6. This was originally posted on May 12, 2008.


Thanks Donald-

Since I went to a family picnic today instead of filling my boxes I knew Id have to rewater the mix.  It rained last night but not very much.  ;>

So I've got the bottom layer (the corners and 1-2" covering the screen) in all the boxes and after rewetting, Ill fill the boxes with the mix.

I figured if I filled the boxes to the top with mix I would be able to stir in the dolomite and castings and make sure each box had the right amount and that it would be at root level.  If I put it in, pat it down and build the mound and pat it down, how do I mix anything in clear to the bottom layer?  If I put the dolomite and castings in the mix before filling the boxes how can I be sure each box is getting the right amount?

Am I making this too hard?

I'm not really a newbie, but this is the first year I'm doing it right - or trying to at least.  ;>

I sure notice a lot of differences between the new and old boxes.  The old ones have holes on each end of the screen so I could stick a pole (much like the Ultomato pole) clear to the bottom of the box.  There are holes at the top of the box I stuck a zip strip through and fastened the pole to the box.  The zip strip holes are on the long sides too, but the screen isn't cut out.  The new screen is much sturdier.  The old boxes bow out a bit after several years of use and the mix fell through to the reservoir along the sides and through the post holes then clogged the overflow hole.  I like the looks of the new overflow, but it isn't as easy to see when the reservoir is almost full.  That wont matter at all when I get the AWS hooked up, but the old ones are easier to stick a stick in to see if the reservoir is clogged.

Deb
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:51:39 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on May 12, 2008.

Deb:
I usually premeasure 2 1/2 - 3 cu. ft. of moist fluffed mix into a larger plastic tub and add the dolomite, mixing by hand down to the bottom.  Then I add the mix to the EB probing with my fingers and wetting as I go.

I know that this is more work than what EB states in their instructions and videos, but I feel better knowing that the needed nutrients are fairly evenly distributed.  Just a personal preference.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:56:59 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Deb. This user is located in
The Pacific NorthWET - Sunset - W. Climate Zone 6. This was originally posted on May 13, 2008.


Thanks Donald-
I do have a big empty tub that I can use.  I'm not sure it really will be too much more work because this tub is smaller than the one the mix is presently in.  Remember I've mixed 2 cu ft of Pro Mix with 1 cu ft each of vermiculite and coir and water and have enough room to stir and fluff.  (Sounds almost like doing laundry)  ;>

So, I've got straight Pro Mix in the corners and covering the screen.   I can put a bit more than 2 5gal buckets in my smaller tub, mix in the dolomite and worm cast, stir well, and just fill one EB at a time.  Actually this should be easier than the layers I was thinking of doing - I can pick up and pour the smaller tub.  And it will give me more chance to play in the dirt.  ;>

Am I remembering right that it is 1 cup dolomite for everything except tomatoes which will get 2 cups?  EB directions are different, but they weren't written for using extra coir.  My Master Gardener sis thinks that is too much dolomite, but its because of the acid level of the coir and peat, right?  I would be so pleased to show her just what an EB can do, especially after watching her weed the onions the other day. 

Deb
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 08:58:36 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Horticulturalist, over 45 years in the business. The EarthBox Hero Member, kathy. This user is located in the mountains of PA Zone 5, almost 4. This was originally posted on May 13, 2008.

Just what to clarify the Pro mix statement, I personally use Pro-Mix, we at EarthBox do not use or sell pro-mix. Our mix comes from Canada and is a high peat based mix.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:01:47 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on May 13, 2008.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Deb. This user is located in
The Pacific NorthWET - Sunset - W. Climate Zone 6. This was originally posted on May 13, 2008.


Am I remembering right that it is 1 cup dolomite for everything except tomatoes which will get 2 cups?  EB directions are different, but they weren't written for using extra coir.  My Master Gardener sis thinks that is too much dolomite, but its because of the acid level of the coir and peat, right?  I would be so pleased to show her just what an EB can do, especially after watching her weed the onions the other day. 

Deb

Yes, 2 cups for tomatoes, 1cup for everything else.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:05:30 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, carolg. This user is located in Denver, Co Zone 5. This user is located in May 26, 2008.

Howdy Donald,
After you fluff your soil with your hands adding the dolomite, are you then wetting down all the soil before you put the EB cover on top with that strip of fertilizer actually added before the cover is?

CO weather has been ?winterish? and got many plants, more than I want to count, that need homes. I will use the 10 EB I believe I am at as well as the ground.  Yes, you are so helpful always.

Carolg, z5, colorado
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:08:58 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Active Member, ccchang16. This was originally posted on May 27, 2008.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, JD. This user is located in Zone 8B: TLH, FL. This was originally posted on April 29, 2008.

I am preparing a variation of Donald1800s Potting Mix using the following (all from a local nursery):

Black Gold CocoBlend (2 cu ft) contains Sphagnum, Coir, and Earthworm casings (http://www.blackgold.bz/organic.html#WaterholdCocoblend)
Horticultural Vermiculite (8 qt bag)
Perlite (8 qt bag)

Will check the PH via a soil test kit once the EBs are delivered.

Concerning the soil amendments: I ordered Granular Azomite (www.thenaturalabode.com) and Gardens A Plenty organic fertilizer (www.gardensalive.com) to partner with worm casings and agricultural limestone already on hand. I play with the amounts using Donald1800s map as a guide

FYI. I am waiting on 5 EBs. The plan is 2 tomato, 1 lettuce, 1 spinach, and 1 corn/bean.

JD

How is that working for you so far?  I found BlackGold Cocoblend at my friends store, and is interested in using your mix. 
What's the ratio of your mix?

Christine
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:11:54 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on May 28, 2008.

carolg:
All addition of water to the mix is done while in a seperate plastic container and before placing in the EB.  After filling the EB, the only time water is added to the top of the EB is AFTER adding the covered fertilizer strip and mulch cover while watering in the seeds/transplants through the mulch cover planting holes - per printed instructions.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:15:03 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, carolg. This user is located in Denver, Co Zone 5. This user is located in May 28, 2008.

Donald,
I think last year I wet the soil right in the EB. I suppose I screwed up then.  I bet the wheel barrel would be a great place to mix the soil then.  Thanks.

I know I felt the EB made at our nursery and the soil was wet.  Summer is not here yet and very frustrating as we have a short growing season too.  I may just have to get the plants and the EB done regardless sadly. 

carolg
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:16:18 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on May 28, 2008.

There is no intrinsic problem with adding water to the mix while you are adding it to the box, other than not having enough capacity to do a good job of mixing without a lot of spillage.  My only reason for mixing the Dolomite and water to the mix in a large plastic tub is the 2-3 times larger space for mixing without spillage.  You should be O.K. with doing it the instructions way.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:17:18 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, carolg. This user is located in Denver, Co Zone 5. This user is located in June 3, 2008.

Donald,
Thanks.  I suppose Ill always be around asking questions, learning and hopefully helping others.  It takes a while for something so simple to click, but still I love all the sharing so have to find an excuse to stay and not leave. 

carolg denver co
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:18:27 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Zamfir. This was originally posted on June 8, 2008.

So what exactly is the perlite and vermiculite doing?  Can the box just use peat moss?  I added some of both but that stuff was expensive so I do not have 20% in the mix.  I used about 4 cups perlite and 2 cups vermiculite in each box with the rest spungham peat moss.  I hope it works!
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:19:30 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on June 8, 2008.

I hope that you did NOT purchase these items in tiny bags at your garden center.  NEVER buy this size of ANYTHING.

Both help to bulk/fluff up the mix, provide air spaces for air/oxygen, and the Vermiculite also retains moisture for your plants.  BOTH are preferred in the quantities suggested.  Otherwise,  NO QUALITY POTTING MIX would include them.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:20:13 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Zamfir. This was originally posted on June 11, 2008.

I did buy them where I got my peat moss which was a good deal but the other stuff was more $$ and they were small bags.   Do you think I will be ok with the 4 cups perlite and 2 cups vermiculite and the rest peat moss in the earth box or do I need to tear them down and mix more in?
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:23:08 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Full Member, jer. This user is located in Zone 9 West Central Florida. This was originally posted on June 11, 2008.

I live far away from a place that sells pro-mix stuff, so i bought  some perlite, vermiculite, and sphan peat moss from hd. *had lime from planting potatoes in my ground garden* could i make my own pot mix or should I take it all back?
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:25:41 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on June 11, 2008.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Zamfir. This was originally posted on June 11, 2008.

I did buy them where I got my peat moss which was a good deal but the other stuff was more $$ and they were small bags.   Do you think I will be ok with the 4 cups perlite and 2 cups vermiculite and the rest peat moss in the earth box or do I need to tear them down and mix more in?


No, that's not right. It should be more. Donald1800 has a very good custom mix... do a search to find his post with the recipe.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:26:46 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on June 11, 2008.

Somewhere about 80% Peat, 10% Vermiculite, 5% Perlite, 5% Activated/Acid Washed Coconut Carbon is the ideal.  In general the Vermiculite:Perlite should be 2:1

Actually, There is a wide variation in the proportions of these ingredients between commercial producers and growers that make their own.  It has a lot to do with personal preferences.  They all work fine.  A workable formula without the hard to find carbon can range between 70% Peat, 20% Vermiculite, 10% Perlite to 85% Peat, 10% Vermiculite and 5% Perlite.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:27:50 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Zamfir. This was originally posted on June 11, 2008.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on June 11, 2008.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Zamfir. This was originally posted on June 11, 2008.

I did buy them where I got my peat moss which was a good deal but the other stuff was more $$ and they were small bags.   Do you think I will be ok with the 4 cups perlite and 2 cups vermiculite and the rest peat moss in the earth box or do I need to tear them down and mix more in?


No, that's not right. It should be more. Donald1800 has a very good custom mix... do a search to find his post with the recipe.

Mickie

I know it is not enough.  What I need to know is do I have to un-plant my 7 earthboxes with the mix I used and fix it?  It sems I have about 90% peat moss and the rest perlite and vermiculite instead of the amount mentioned in Donald1800s post.  If the plants will be fine this year that is great and I will simply mix in a BUNCH more next year when I replant.  I am looking for suggestions on how dire my situation is currently.  

Thanks!
-Zam
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:28:40 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on June 12, 2008.

Here is a test you can make to help make that decision.

1. Are you using the AWS for your watering system?  If no, you may want to consider redoing the boxes.
2. Using a trowel, scoop down to about the middle of the mix, then grab and remove a handful of mix.  Squeeze firmly.  If water drips out, you may want to consider redoing the boxes.

On the other hand, you will probably do just fine leaving everything just as it is and waiting until getting ready to replant the next crops, unless you lose a lot of plants due to disease.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:31:07 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, carolg. This user is located in Denver, Co Zone 5. This user is located in June 14, 2008.

Donald,
On the sqeeze test, why do we not want some water to drip out?  I made sure my soil was "wet" when I put it into my EB.  The Eko planting mix is super dry right from the bag.  I even learned a lesson when using it for my houseplants.  Thanks.

carolg denver co

Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:32:02 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on June 14, 2008.

You want to have the mix full capacity of water, NOT water filling the air/oxygen spaces allowing an anaerobic condition.  A drip or two is fine depending on how firm your squeeze is - but never a short stream or string of drops.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:35:30 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Guest, Greg Draiss. This was originally posted on July 8, 2008.

Miracle Gro potting mix is horrible. If not for the fact we sell about 20 truck loads a year I would not deal with it.
Pro-Mix is a good brand of soil-less, outing mix with no fertilizer that is light and fluffy and can be reused year after year.

greg draiss
www.gregsgardens.blogspot.com
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:40:49 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Canyon Gardener. This was originally posted on July 9, 2008.

Does anyone have experience substituting pumice for vermiculite and/or perlite as a mix for the Earth Boxes? My experience with traditional potted plants is that it does not break down and keeps the soil loose. Of course, I am watering from the top down rather than from the bottom up.

Does anyone have an opinion on the use Dr Earths All Purpose  organic fertilizer? Should Dolomite be added? What about Azomite?
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:41:39 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on July 9, 2008.

Your questions and statements suggest that you are in the dark on a lot of subjects, including the proper use/application of the EarthBox.  My suggestion is to study WHY and HOW the EarthBox was designed and functions from the EarthBox site pages, and do some basic gardening searches on the net.  Then, try doing an EB Forum  search for the subjects you are interested in for information fill in.

After that, you will understand WHY you DO NOT want to top water, why the EB Automatic Watering System (AWS) is the way to go for an automatic, true demand irrigation system.  You will also learn WHAT you need in a good planting mix, fertilizer, etc.

You see, all of this has been covered IN DEPTH previously and is too much to repost .  Its all there - just look for it.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:42:32 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Canyon Gardener. This was originally posted on July 9, 2008.

Donald 1800
I think you misunderstood me. I am installing in the process of installing the AWS system. I have 20 boxes on AWS at this time. My reference to top down watering referred to my long time experience with soil mixes and the watering of pots.
Do you have any opinion regarding my other questions about pumice and an organic fertilizer?
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:44:11 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, luvgardening2. This user is located in Southern California, Zone 8. This was originally posted on July 9, 2008.

Canyon Gardener, I cannot answer your question about the Pumice.  You can look it up and experiment and let us know.  But as Donald has said before, only commit to 1 box.  Do NOT experiment with all of your Earthboxes. 

I stupidly purchased the largest bag of Dr. Earth Organic fertilizer to use with my Earthboxes last year.  I should have purchased the 4lb box and tried it before I purchased such a large bag.  I personally did not like it.  I much prefer Fox Farm or Sweet Earth or E.B. Stone.  I would like to try Espoma but I cannot seem to find it locally. 

Nancy 
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:45:12 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on July 9, 2008.

No, I have no experience with either volcanic pumus or Dr. Earth fertilizers.  In general, I use ONLY powdered rock and clay for all basic soil major/macro/micro nutrients, and bat guano for nitrogen, so philosophically the volcanic pumus sounds right.  My only concern would be to make sure that the pumus did not contain asbestos or other bad contaminants.  Also, the purpose of vermiculite in mixes is to lighten/fluff up the mix, provide small air pockets and absorb/retain moisture which is gradually re-distributed in the mix as it dries out.  Perlite has all of the same benefits except water absorbtion/re-distribution.  These expanded rock amendments are feather light and add volume, fluffyness.  I don't think pumus has ANY of these benefits.  Why do you want to use it?  What benefits do you see in it?

As a replacement, I don't see a correlation.  As a nutritional supplement, you will need to know what it supplies and what rate is recommended.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:46:54 am
disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Guest, Greg Draiss. This was originally posted on July 10, 2008.

If you can stand the freight charges I can send you some Espoma fertilizers or other products as I sell them in my store here in NY.
Check out our website www.adamsfarms.com for further information.

Espoma is a "mostly organic/natural" line of plant foods and soil amendments.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:49:11 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Jr. Member, Moonglow. This user is located in Corte Madera, CA - Zone 10a. This was originally posted on October 9, 2008.

Very good thread.  Im very new to self-watering containers.  I have Gardeners TSK and Earth Box.  I use the formers self-watering container mix for the EB.  The mix has dolomite added already.  Plants seem happy.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:51:05 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Horticulturalist, over 45 years in the business. The EarthBox Hero Member, Kathy. This user is located in the mountains of PA ZOne 5, almost 4. 

Nancy, Have you tried the dealer locator for Espoma, they are a New Jersey company and have worked really hard to get themselves all the way across the US. I know you have a friend in the nursery business, she should be able to buy the Espoma products from Excel, one of her distributors. Espoma was definitely at the Excel San Diego show.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:53:22 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Nancy_Claire. This user is located in Seattle, WA - Zone 7-8. This was originally posted on November 3, 2008.

Hello All,

I am a newbie and I have yet another variation on the endless potting mix question. (I have read the whole thread, it is very informative). My particular situation is that I am planning to use the earthbox on the deck of my house barge and would like to minimize the weight of each box. I have a pretty good sized deck and I am afraid the load would be quite heavy if I used the traditionally recommended mix. I have read of houseboat gardeners filling the bottoms of regular containers with packing peanuts...but I can see that that would definitely interfere with the wicking action of the peat/coir. I wonder if using a higher percentage of perlite would be acceptable if I was available for frequent refilling of the reservoir? (I know this undermines the whole "self watering container" thing a little, but I still think the moisture level in the earthbox would be easier to maintain than in traditional top watered containers). Does this sounds like a reasonable solution? Does anyone have a good estimate of what an earthbox weighs when full of potting mix and water?

Thanks!
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:55:02 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on November 3, 2008.

Nancy, the mix is the lightest part of the system. Anything you do to replace a portion of the mix will be negligible once the box is planted and you have mature plants, such as tomatoes or peppers. The bulk of the weight is the box, water and the plants, which are mostly made up of water.

We have rooftop gardeners who must be very weight conscious so their roofs dont collapse... perhaps they can tell you what the fully loaded box weighs.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:57:34 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Canyon Gardener. This was originally posted on February 5, 2009.

I'm the roof garden gardener that installed 60 AWS containers beginning in April of 2008. My first round was with my own potting mix that I had successfully used for pots that water from the top down. My success was modest at best.
My second round of planting in the late summer was with ProMix BX and a fertilizer strip with fantastic success. I had tomatoes until December and a much larger yield of all the vegetables I planted.

In the fall I began planting my winter garden, staggering my plantings and using only 40 of my 60 containers. I've had excellent results growing lettuce, arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choi, onions, carrots, beets, peas, chard and flowers.

Forgive me if I ask some questions that may have already been addressed. I have read extensively in the EB Forum and have been unable to find the answers.
One question I have seen answered several times is that you can use ProMix multiple times. What I haven't seen clearly addressed is the actual refurbishment process of the mix before reusing.

Let me explain.

1. I have found that some of the plants have very extensive root systems that had virtually filled the reservoir and matted the soil. In addition to removing what remained of the fertilizer strip and the top 1 or 2 inch layer of salts, it seemed logical to me that  the majority of the roots had to be removed.
I found out that allowing the mix to dry out for a week or two made the process easier. I then could easily separate out the majority of roots, and remove the root layer in the reservoir. I found that mixing in about 1/4 to 1/3 new ProMix topped off the box, to which I added the recommended 3 cup strip of organic fertilizer.

2. What I have not been able to ascertain is whether to add dolomite, and how much; as well as, any other additives. I am skeptical of the accuracy of over the counter pH testing products and have not sent the mix for lab analysis.

Can anyone answer these questions for me.
Is my approach towards reuse of the mix adequate?
What else to I need to add to the reconstituted mix?

Thanks in advance for assistance.
The Canyon Gardener
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 09:59:56 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, JD. This user is located in Zone 8B: TLH, FL. This was originally posted on February 5, 2009.

TCG,

Congrats on your results. I also use Pro-Mix BX with very good results growing several of the same crops.

I refurbished three boxes (tomato, cucumbers, eggplant) to grow broccoli, strawberry, and cabbage via the following process:

1) Dry out the box
2) Dump the mix out of the box and rinse/wash all parts
3) Remove most of the roots (tap, large, and other) from the mix leaving the fine
4) Repack the box mixing in whatever amount is required. My metric is 14 dry scoops PMBX gives me approximately 7 moist scoops of PMBX to fill an EB

I regularly test soil test and have found that PH is lower (via the visual color scale) and I have always added at least 1/3 to 1/2 more mix. for those three boxes I scaled the dolomite and additives TO THE NEW MIX accordingly. If I add 1/2 more mix then I add 1/2 cup dolomite as well as 1/2 # casting, azomite, etc for my particular mix blend. I was not as concerned about the old mix because like you, I have not found a definitive answer nor process that does not require multiple soil test.

I have and on-going side by side experiment with the strawberry in a replenished versus fresh box.

I will keep you posted.

JD
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:04:43 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on February 5, 2009.

I use Pro-Mix BX in my 60 boxes, and will be my 4th year coming up. I disregard any of the additives in the mix, and just follow the Earthbox instructions, which state 2 cups of dolomite every replanting. They also say 5-7 years with the same mix, although the 2-season tomato farm at the EB Research Center has the same mix for longer than that. The mix gets more acidic with time, so its critical to add the dolomite.

Since I'm in NJ I get a full-blown winter. I found that if I leave the boxes sit over winter, in early spring when I'm ready to refurbish, most, if not all the roots have decomposed. I don't dump the contents... I simply discard the top inch or two with the fert. strip, loosen the media a bit, add new dolomite then add new mix, stirring up as I go. I make the mound, add my fertilizer strip, cover it with a little mix, and put on the shower cap.

I don't have the time or patience to make it more complicated than necessary. If it gets to the point that I'm splitting hairs, buying 50 different ingredients, spending hours with my calculator to get just the right micro-balance, and measuring/weighing bits of this and that like a mad scientist, then it will no longer be enjoyable or worth doing. I don't care if things aren't absolutely perfect... all I want is enough harvest to feed my family of two and maybe share a little. I will go to bed satisfied.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:07:56 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Deb. This user is located in The Pacific NorthWET - Sunset - W. Climate Zone 6. This was originally posted on February 12, 2009.

Well said, Mickie.

I was just at the EarthBox Research center in Florida and talked to Blake (the inventor) himself.  He says were trying to make this process harder than it needs to be.

When you consider that they are growing trees in the EarthBoxes, you know they are not dumping the potting mix and washing out the box every few months.  Cliff told me that hell say that trees can stay in the box for 6 years with proper nutrition.  He might say 7 years next year, but for now hes only had them growing for 6.  Those papaya trees were loaded with fruit.  He said if you watch the trees, you'll know when they need more fertilizer - I hope so, because I plan to plant some trees this year.

I use the Pro-mix BX and am completely happy with it.  I buy it from a gardeners supply in big bales that will generously fill 3 boxes.  (That's the new boxes, I think my older boxes are bigger.)

Deb
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:09:22 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on February 13, 2009.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Deb. This user is located in The Pacific NorthWET - Sunset - W. Climate Zone 6. This was originally posted on February 12, 2009.

I use the Pro-mix BX and am completely happy with it.  I buy it from a gardeners supply in big bales that will generously fill 3 boxes.  (That's the new boxes, I think my older boxes are bigger.)

Deb

I too use the Pro-Mix BX, also available locally... and you and I are on opposite ends of the country. I like it very much and will stick with it for as long as I can.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:12:13 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, MrsMonday. This was originally posted on February 25, 2009.

I dont want to use peat because of the environmental damage caused by using peat bogs so what can I use in the boxes?

Thanks
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:14:27 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on February 25, 2009.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, MrsMonday. This was originally posted on February 25, 2009.

I dont want to use peat because of the environmental damage caused by using peat bogs so what can I use in the boxes?

Thanks


You are pretty much limited to peat-based mixes. You cannot use anything with composted products, dirt, sand, rock or clay. The coco fiber mixes by themselves may draw too much water in the Earthbox system and perform poorly. Even if you use the coco fiber as part of the mix, peat is still necessary. The up-side is the mix will last for 5-7 years, so that minimizes the damage.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:18:23 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on February 13, 2009.

Hi and welcome!

Since you are a beginner both in gardening and in using the Earthbox, its generally recommended that you start out with the complete kit so you can learn what the potting mix looks like and how it behaves. There are too many mixes out there that confuse new users, and many are no good in the Earthbox.

This is a fairly standard request of new members... it makes it easier for folks in your neck of the woods to help and offer localized advice:

Please put your location and zone, if known, in your profile. That way, it will show up in all your future posts... it helps when diagnosing problems, answering questions and we wont have to keep asking you where you are. Click on PROFILE at top of this page, then under MODIFY PROFILE, click on FORUM PROFILE INFORMATION then enter your text in PERSONAL TEXT.

Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:24:17 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, CTRedSoxFan. This was originally posted on April 9, 2009.

I just planted Strawberries last weekend in my first earth box exactly according to the directions noted on the box.  I bought the box at a local garden center along with fafards Potting Mix (which is what they assured me was what I needed)  I've kept water in the reservoir, but I think the mix is not wicking properly because it seems awfully dry to me and one of the stems seemed to be wilting today. I added some water around the base of the plant and it perked up.

What's wrong-should I unplant, scoop out the fertilzer strip and some how figure out how to redo the box?
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:25:32 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Guest, cushman350. This was originally posted on April 9, 2009.

When you set up the box did you pack the wicking chambers well with wet mix? Did you fill the box with wet mix or was it put in dry then wetted? Ive used Farad Professional Potting mix and it performed excellent. Box set up technique is key to proper wicking.

Mickie suggests:

A box that has been wicking properly should have a dark brown color - somewhere between dry coffee grounds on the dark side to damp/wet earth/ground on the light side.  And when you grab a handful, it definitely feels damp like a wrung wash cloth uniformly across the whole surface.  Drier or a lighter color and not a uniform color (aside from the surface fungus/salts/etc.) are signs of faulty wicking. If you think the box may not be wicking properly, try this:

Get a 2 qt. pitcher filled with warm water (baby formula warm) and SLOWLY, and carefully pour along the full length of the planting area, then the middle but keeping away from the fertilizer strip (assuming the strip is along one long side). If the strip is in the middle, pour along the side with the wicking corners and again on the other side.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:30:18 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Miss August. This user is located in Zone 8 - The Silver State. This was originally posted on April 23, 2009.

Many garden centers and chain stores will have their own mixes, and in some cases their own brands (i.e. Lowes Professional Potting Mix). Below are some national and regional brands of potting mixes that are okay to use. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a general guide.

    * Miracle-gro Potting Soil
    * Miracle gro Moisture Control Potting Mix
    * Miracle-gro Organic Mix
    * Pro-mix BX
    * Pro-mix numerous other formulas
    * Jungle-Growth
    * Fertilome
    * ASB Potting Mix
    * Eko Potting Mix
    * Sun-Grow Metro Mix 360
    * Sun-Grow, numerous other formulas
    * Baccto Professional Potting Mix
    * Baccto Lite Premium Potting Soil
    * EB Stone Ednas Potting Soil (west coast)
    * EB Stone Flower & Vegetable Planting mix
    * Kelloggs Gardener & Bloom Blue Ribbon Blend Potting Soil (west coast)
    * Kelloggs Champions Blend Potting Soil (west coast)

Custom Potting Mix
Somewhere about 80% Peat, 10% Vermiculite, 5% Perlite, 5% Activated/Acid Washed Coconut Carbon is the ideal.  In general the Vermiculite:Perlite should be 2:1

Actually, There is a wide variation in the proportions of these ingredients between commercial producers and growers that make their own.  It has a lot to do with personal preferences.  They all work fine.  A workable formula without the hard to find carbon can range between 70% Peat, 20% Vermiculite, 10% Perlite to 85% Peat, 10% Vermiculite and 5% Perlite.

The mix I would recommend is:
     70% Peat
     20% Vermiculite (optional, can be omitted)
     10% Perlite
     2 Cups Dolomite (agricultural limestome w/ magnesium) for all tomatoes and vegetables.
     2 Cups Granulated Fertilizer (on top, in a strip)

Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:32:56 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, nnrjj. This was originally posted on April 23, 2009.

I used the OSH last year after first mistakenly using the dreaded potting soil.  This year I tried to save gas and bought three bags of Potting mix from Ace Hardware here in Los Gatos Ca, with the following ingredients, in this order:
70% Sphagnum Peat moss
20% Regional fillers (derived from one or more of the following:  Reed Sedge Peat, Fir Bark, Pine Bark, and compost)
10% Perlite
...and slow release plant food.

I have read all the posts, including Dons so I think I should be good, since its mostly peat but this morning when I watered, the water came out the overflow valve almost immediately, which was the first "bad" sign I noticed when I had planted the wrong mix last year.  So my question is whether you think the above mix will wick the water appropriately? 

I think that I did water quite a bit later yesterday and the weather turned very cool last night, and my peppers are still tiny, so maybe I am just overly nervous about the "fast overflow?"
Hope you can relieve my anxiety!
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:34:04 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on April 23, 2009.

nrnjj-  Stop and think for a minute... if you watered late yesterday, your plants are tiny, the weather was cool... why would you need more water in the box? If the plants aren't drinking much yet, and there's little to no evaporation, where else would excess water go? Out the overflow... just wait and watch, don't worry too soon.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:37:02 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Full Member, 5terre. This user is located in Northeastern MA, Zone 6a.This was originally posted on April 27, 2009.

Just ordered two EBs yesterday and Im excited!  Ive spent a lot of time reading here and I wanted to ask about a potting mix I found.  Its called Natural Guard Organic, says no bark filler, ingredients are peat moss, perlite, natural dolomite lime (is this a problem since I will be adding it?), no chemical additions.  Does this sound good?  I wanted to use Coast of Maine Bar Harbor but it may have too much bark/compost (I tried calling them for percentages but didnt get in touch), and even the Miracle Grow Organic which is on the list seems to have a too low peat and a lot of bark.  I saw this Natural Guard today and there are only 7 left, so I have to act fast if I want it.  Thanks!!!

ETA:  I did put my location in my profile but its not showing now.  MA 5b.

Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:39:26 am
Disclaimer: THis post was originally posted by Full Member, Vincerama. This user is located in San Mateo, CA - Zone 8b(9 GW), Sunset zone 15. This was originally posted on May 5, 2009.

You know what we need? A standard rule-of-thumb potting mix test! At least for wicking.

Like, if you fill a paper towel tube with mix and put it in a bowl standing up, then fill the bowl with some water, then you should be able to feel moisture in the mix at the top of the tube in 5 minutes, or something similar to that. Yes, I know a paper towel tube may wick a bit of moisture since its cardboard...just an example! Of course, if you can do the test, that means you've opened up the bag of mix and cant return it.

Any thoughts on a good quick test other than "fill the earthbox, fill the reservoir...wait"

V
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:43:41 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Donald1800. This user is located in Fontana, CA Zone 8. This was originally posted on May 5, 2009.

Yes.  Read the ingredients - if the first ingredient is Sphagnum Peat and you pack the wicking chambers with wet mix all the way up, filling the box with wet mix into a loaf/mound, then it should work perfectly.

If any of these factors have NOT been done, you could have a problem.

Donald1800
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 10:59:32 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Tbird. This was originally posted on June 14, 2009.

Hi every one!  Greetings from Las Vegas,NV.  Planted six strawberry plants on Friday, using Miracle Grow potting mix without the moisture control, I want to make sure that I do not have any wicking issues.  I followed the directions that came with my earthbox, but after reading a lot of these posts, I see that I should have made sure that my box was wicking before planting.  The mound where the fertilizer strip is definitely dry at the very top.
I tried some of the tips suggested regarding wicking, but how do you press down the corner over the wicking chambers when you have seedlings planted at those spots?   I have tried the warm water at the sides avoiding the fertilizer strip down the middle which in a stocking.  I did pour water down the sides until it ran out of the overflow.  The plants are in pea pots and they look good so far
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:03:17 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, cushman350. This user is located in Tomato Hell, Wichita Falls, TX Zone 7b. This was originally posted on June 14, 2009.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Tbird. This was originally posted on June 14, 2009.

 how do you press down the corner over the wicking chambers when you have seedlings planted at those spots? 

Now this is just a " what if " suggestion to the above comment but, what if you plugged up the drain hole and filled the earthbox through the tube until the box was completely full then open the drain hole? Would this be an acceptable way to restart wicking? Please don't throw stones.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:07:23 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, gardendoc. This user is located in Ocean Springs, MS Zone 9a.This was originally posted on June 21, 2009.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, cushman350. This user is located in Tomato Hell, Wichita Falls, TX Zone 7b. This was originally posted on June 14, 2009.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Tbird. This was originally posted on June 14, 2009.

 how do you press down the corner over the wicking chambers when you have seedlings planted at those spots? 

Now this is just a " what if " suggestion to the above comment but, what if you plugged up the drain hole and filled the earthbox through the tube until the box was completely full then open the drain hole? Would this be an acceptable way to restart wicking? Please don't throw stones.

Cushman, I think you have come up with a brilliant idea for restarting a stuck wicking problem. Now can you help me with a batch of fine that has a stuck fermentation?
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:10:05 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on June 24, 2009.

Whenever my potted plants get so dry as to just run the water off, I take a glass of warm water and very slowly dribble it around the soil/mix and watch it soak in. A small amount will soak in, where a larger amount just runs off. I do that again several hours later, and it soaks in faster. The next day, I water the regular way, and it soaks it in ok.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:15:35 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, gardendoc. This user is located in Ocean Springs, MS Zone 9a. This was originally posted on June 29, 2009.

A common practice when spraying any kind of solution on leaves was to add a couple of drops of Ivory dish soap, the cheap white stuff, to act as a surfactant.  This is important since water is a polar molecule and sticks to itself. The Ivory reduced the surface tension of the water and allowed it to spread out over the leaf.  Now adding too much will produce the soapy foam.  There are commercial surfactants, ionic and non-ionic, available at your friendly local garden center that are much more suitable.  All peat- and coir-based potting substrates benefit from these compounds.  Many of the higher end potting substrates like Promix have this added at the manufacturing plants to help wetting the media. 
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:19:17 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Full Member, Italian Mama. This user is located in Laguna Niguel, California Zone 9B.

Hi Everyone,
Ive been gone awhile and having a fairly successful EB summer. Question: do you keep any of the soil from one season to the next? Should I throw out the soil and start again for winter crops? Here are my 8 boxes: 4 boxes of tomatoes, 1 box eggplant, 1 box squash, 1 box peppers, 1 box cucumbers. The zucchini looks knarly and with deep roots, maybe that should be tossed? Cucumbers same.
Thank you for answering in advance.

Update: for my first go around: lots of great tomatoes but you can have the heirlooms on a silver platter. They all went into blossom end rot. Very fussy. Late bloomers as well. I would not suggest putting heirlooms with determinates could that have been the blossom end rot problem? Cucs good pickling great. Wouldn't mix green zucchini and crookneck. They begin to take on each others form. Hybridizing or what? Eggplant fair. No more black beautys. Jap ones good. So I am ready for the winter crops. What is everyone growing for that?
Peppers: next year I am not going with baby bells. They are miniscule. Anaheim chilis didn't grow very long. Lots of ants with that box.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:22:13 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on August 18, 2009.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Full Member, Italian Mama. This user is located in Laguna Niguel, California Zone 9B.

Hi Everyone,
I've been gone awhile and having a fairly successful EB summer. Question: do you keep any of the soil from one season to the next? Should I throw out the soil and start again for winter crops? Here are my 8 boxes: 4 boxes of tomatoes, 1 box eggplant, 1 box squash, 1 box peppers, 1 box cucumbers. The zucchini looks gnarly and with deep roots, maybe that should be tossed? Cucumbers same.
Thank you for answering in advance.

The potting mix in your EBs should be good for 5-7 years or more. Ive found the cukes, melon and squash plants dont have as many roots as I expected. If you have time, just cut off the plants a couple of inches above the cover and let the box sit as long as possible. Grab the stem and twist so you get out the large, main roots. The smaller ones will just rot away. Prepare the box just as you did the first time with the dolomite and fresh fert. strip.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:39:14 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, Pyewackit. This was originally posted on June 24, 2010.

This was my first year for EarthBox and I started with 3. Being a newbie, wasn't really sure about the type of potting material either. Local Big Lot had Scotts Potting Mix for $8.00 a bag. Figured I blew it because I started to read that many people had spent quite a bit on a bag of potting mix. Planted Memorial Day-corn,melon and heirloom tomatoes all started by seed in an AeroGarden-and crossed my fingers. One month later-the corn is going into full tassel, the melons are loaded with blooms and the heirloom tomatoes(Old German, Cherokee Red and Black Krim) are loaded with buds and tomatoes and are topping the trellis system. Just hope this isnt beginners luck as Ill add more EarthBoxes next year. The trick really is in the wicking properties of the mix as opposed to soil as I noticed the potting mix I used was lighter and more fibery than potting soil. 
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:41:09 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Active Member, bclaudio. This was originally posted on July 14, 2010.

Hi everyone,
Im new to earthbox, and I  would like some feedback on some problems I am having.  I have done my gardening in containers for years but this year I am completely at a loss for what is going on.  As of today I have thrown out 89 ber tomatoes out of 8 plants.  The first wave came in pretty good but now all Im getting is little green tomatoes with ber.  I have used lime, calcium and fertilizer but it didnt seem to do anything.  I had my soil tested this morning and it showed no nitrogen and a ph of over 7.5.  They told me I needed sulfur. 
I have never had a problem like this.  I have grown tomatoes in containers for 20+ years with bushels of them.  Never saw ber until this
 year. I have never had a soil test either.  I am using Miracle grow moisture  control potting mix in my earthboxes and I water well. My tomato plants are 6 feet tall and growing very nice, but ber sucks...Help!  thanks everybody
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:44:14 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Active Member, Kathy in Washington. This user is located in Sequim, WA - Zone 8b - Cool and never hot. This was originally posted in July 15, 2010.

bclaudio:  Being fairly new at this myself, I dont profess to know more than what Ive read from the Earthbox website, their instructions, and ten days of reading everything I can on this forum.

I don't know if you purchased your EBs new or used -- but if you purchased them new you should have received, at the very least, instructions regarding potting mix, fertilizer, and dolomite.  If you followed that to the company's instructions, you would know that Miracle Grow Potting Mix with Moisture Control is NOT what you want in the boxes.  I don't know what kind of lime you used, why you used calcium, or what kind of fertilizer you used.  If you purchased the EBs second hand, then I would guess that you researched on the website how to plant, etc.

To help you know whether the problem is in the mix/lime/fertilizer that you chose, and/or how and where the amendments were applied, please check the RESOURCES section of this website.  There is extremely clear information under the PRODUCT INFO section -- and I would read everything in the Resources section, just because the more information you have, the better you are. 

I think you'll have a better understanding where the problem might be then.  Please write again and advise (those who know much more than I do) what you've done -- and they might have some good ideas for you.  Good luck.

Kathy in Washington
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:46:40 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, PaulB. This user is located in Southeast New Mexico, Zone 7. This was originally posted on July 15, 2010.

I used Miracle Gro potting mix in all of my earthboxes, but I don't recall if it had the moisture control beads in it or not.  At any rate, my garden has been doing very well.  I'm only growing two large-type tomato plants out of 11, and while those two had a few tomatoes with BER, its finally gone away without treatment.  This is the first year of my using EBs, and it is typical for lots of growers to have some BER the first year.  One thing I did, however, was to mix the dolomite completely throughout the potting mix and let it set a few days before adding the fertilizer and plants.  The fertilizer was only added as seedlings were acquired and gotten ready to plant.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:50:36 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, cushman350. This user is located in Tomato Hell, Wichita Falls, TX Zone 7b. This was originally posted on July 15, 2010.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Active Member, Kathy in Washington. This user is located in Sequim, WA - Zone 8b - Cool and never hot. This was originally posted in July 15, 2010.

bclaudio:  Being fairly new at this myself, I dont profess to know more than what Ive read from the Earthbox website, their instructions, and ten days of reading everything I can on this forum.

I don't know if you purchased your EBs new or used -- but if you purchased them new you should have received, at the very least, instructions regarding potting mix, fertilizer, and dolomite.  If you followed that to the company's instructions, you would know that Miracle Grow Potting Mix with Moisture Control is NOT what you want in the boxes.  I don't know what kind of lime you used, why you used calcium, or what kind of fertilizer you used.  If you purchased the EBs second hand, then I would guess that you researched on the website how to plant, etc.

To help you know whether the problem is in the mix/lime/fertilizer that you chose, and/or how and where the amendments were applied, please check the RESOURCES section of this website.  There is extremely clear information under the PRODUCT INFO section -- and I would read everything in the Resources section, just because the more information you have, the better you are. 

I think you'll have a better understanding where the problem might be then.  Please write again and advise (those who know much more than I do) what you've done -- and they might have some good ideas for you.  Good luck.

Kathy in Washington

Ohhh but it is.
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:53:10 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, katwoman59. This was originally posted on March 13, 2011.

First time EB user here.  I am using an organic potting mix that is made with coir instead of peat.  My understanding is that dolomite lime is used to counteract the acidity of the peat, but coir is supposed to be pretty neutral.  So do I still need to use the dolomite if I am using coir?  Also our water is fairly hard so I am wondering if using dolomite would make the mix too alkaline.
KW
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:55:16 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Active Member, Ann FL. This user is located in North Florida Zone 8.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, katwoman59. This was originally posted on March 13, 2011.

First time EB user here.  I am using an organic potting mix that is made with coir instead of peat.  My understanding is that dolomite lime is used to counteract the acidity of the peat, but coir is supposed to be pretty neutral.  So do I still need to use the dolomite if I am using coir?  Also our water is fairly hard so I am wondering if using dolomite would make the mix too alkaline.
KW

Kat,
The calcium is required by the tomato and other fruits for their tissues to develop properly, that's why you need it. Its not a question of acidity.  I have very hard water here, but the first time I tried to grow tomatoes in a container (not an Earthbox) they all had horrible blossom end rot.

Ann
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 11:56:58 am
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, mjb8743. This user is located in Zone 7, South NJ, Garden State. This was originally posted on March 15, 2009.

Just to clarify, the need for dolomite is not just for the calcium... dolomite contains both calcium and magnesium, in a 2:1 ratio. When buying lime, read the ingredients panel to see if this ratio is there. If there's only small amounts of magnesium, its not dolomite. Magnesium is as important as calcium for healthy plants.

Mickie
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 12:00:15 pm
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Jr. Member, moxie. This was originally posted on March 19, 2011.

Hello,

Im brand new to EarthBoxes and I just finished setting up my two boxes before I saw this thread!  Now Im worried that I used the wrong mix... I filled up with "Great Gardens" garden soil, which is 40% composted manure, 40% leaf compost, and 20% sphagnum moss.  Will this wick poorly or drown my plant roots? Can I amend it by mixing with perlite or vermiculite? And if so, do I need to dig out all the soil, including the fertilizer strip and dolomite, or can I just mix it down to the dolomite layer? 

Thanks!
Title: Re: Potting Mix Question
Post by: EarthBoxAdmin on June 06, 2017, 12:01:39 pm
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, cushman350. This user is located in Tomato Hell, Wichita Falls, TX Zone 7b. This was originally posted on March 19, 2011.

Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Jr. Member, moxie. This was originally posted on March 19, 2011.

Hello,

Im brand new to EarthBoxes and I just finished setting up my two boxes before I saw this thread!  Now Im worried that I used the wrong mix... I filled up with "Great Gardens" garden soil, which is 40% composted manure, 40% leaf compost, and 20% sphagnum moss.  Will this wick poorly or drown my plant roots? Can I amend it by mixing with perlite or vermiculite? And if so, do I need to dig out all the soil, including the fertilizer strip and dolomite, or can I just mix it down to the dolomite layer? 

Thanks!


No, Its wrong for the Earthbox science. Wicking is really the only purpose for the pmix other than a place for roots.

Peat, no manure, top soil of any kind. It will fail your efforts. Compost does not belong in your Earthbox. Your making it an expensive planter. The EB must wick. "Great Gardens" garden soil, which is 40% composted manure, 40% leaf compost, this will rot and interfere with wicking and air spaces are wiped out.