Author Topic: Potting Mix Question  (Read 22739 times)

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #45 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

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #46 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

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #47 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

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #48 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

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #49 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

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #50 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.


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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #51 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?

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #52 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.

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #53 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)


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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #54 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!

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #55 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

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #56 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.


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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #57 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

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #58 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

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Re: Potting Mix Question
« Reply #59 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