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Wed Dec 21, 2011, 10:57 AM

Foundations of our plantings - soil, composting, container gardening

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Thoughts I would add the container gardening part on, since it is a way that more and more people are adding veggies to their life!

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Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
Reply Foundations of our plantings - soil, composting, container gardening (Original post)
NRaleighLiberal Dec 2011 OP
JDPriestly Dec 2011 #1
HopeHoops Dec 2011 #2
Kolesar Dec 2011 #3
JDPriestly Dec 2011 #4
mopinko Dec 2011 #5
NRaleighLiberal Dec 2011 #6
Agony Dec 2011 #7
JDPriestly Jan 2012 #8
beac Feb 2012 #9
ColumbusLib Jan 2014 #15
there but 4 fortune Feb 2012 #10
wildeyed Feb 2012 #11
NRaleighLiberal Feb 2012 #12
wildeyed Feb 2012 #13
NRaleighLiberal Feb 2012 #14
kemah Jun 2014 #16

Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:36 AM

1. Thanks. This is especially true in cities.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Fri Dec 23, 2011, 10:07 AM

2. We have a lot of raised bed space, and a large herb box, however,...

 

We still use containers for the chives, some of the mints, and all of the hot peppers (so we can keep them away from the sweet peppers - they cross-pollinate). We did the peanuts in containers as well. I'd say we've got a good 30 containers with various things in them. My wife brought in one of the habanero plants because it still had an unripened fruit. It took a while, but it is beginning to change color now. Just a few days before, she suggested composting it because it had no chance of changing. I said to let it go.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Fri Dec 23, 2011, 03:55 PM

3. If you have soil good enough to grow grass, then it has enough organic matter to start a garden

I grubbed off 200 square feet of sod to put in new planting beds. I sent the soil to the U Conn soil lab and was quite surprised to learn that the soil had an adequate amount of organic matter and "decent" levels of major nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. I could have grown low demand crops like greens in that soil if I needed to. However, this is a hobby, and I eagerly added grass and leaf mold to the beds to enhance them. They sat from October to June and had nice looking soil to start crops in the spring.

A new gardener needs to add organic matter and nutrients to the soil for healthy plants and adequate yields. One could go to the garden center and buy a fertilizer that will perform well for the season. Good results would be obtained. Much could be added to this thread to explain soil fertility, nutrients, and organic material. However, my simple advice is to acquire a complete fertilizer with major and minor nutrients and I have a definite preference for organic fertilizer because the soil microbes stay healthy and the nutrients are released throughout the season.

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Response to Kolesar (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 25, 2011, 03:14 AM

4. Thanks.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Sun Dec 25, 2011, 10:18 PM

5. what do you do with "used" container soil?

i invested quite a bit in soil mix this year, and will need to do a lot of things in containers again next year. is freezing, etc, good enough, or should i be re-engineering this soil?

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Response to mopinko (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 25, 2011, 10:22 PM

6. Because yours freezes, you can likely use it just fine - just amend it with

compost/nutrients.

here in Raleigh, where we don't get good winter low temps, I am not confident that diseases that build up in the soil here - esp Fusarium and Bacterial Wilt, Septoria Leaf Spot, Tomato Spotted Wilt - are killed.

So I dump out all my pots in a big pile and we use it for mulch of our flower gardens, or veggies other than the tomato family.

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Response to mopinko (Reply #5)

Fri Dec 30, 2011, 06:38 PM

7. re-using soil

Be extremely careful about reusing soil if you are talking about starting seeds or for small "pricked in" seedlings because you might have problems with "damping off". With damping off your tiny seedling rot off right at the soil surface, fall over and die. This is caused by fungal organisms that don't normally cause serious problems with larger or mature plants but manage to attack the very soft tissue of new seedlings. High moisture levels at the soil surface from watering (e.g.) can trigger this and suddenly all of your plants just fall over! This is why seeds/seedlings are often grown in sterile soilless mix. Growers use steam to sterilize soil, and you can use your oven or solarization to do small batches. (solarization is done by covering a container of damp soil with clear plastic and letting the sun get the temperature up above 100degF, 117deg can kill the relevant pathogens in as little as 6 hours)

most importantly!
have fun.

Cheers
Agony

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Response to Agony (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 10:12 PM

8. So far I haven't had that problem.

But it may be because in S. California, it is so dry that we don't get that much fungus.

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Response to mopinko (Reply #5)

Sat Feb 4, 2012, 02:11 PM

9. At the end of the season, I boil huge pots of water and pour

the boiling H2O through the soil while it's still in the pots. Then I allow it to cool a bit, dump it out into a large plastic tub, remove the drainage rocks from the bottom and let it cool completely. I pull out any remaining roots and store the soil in large garbage bags in a large trash cans outside over the winter,

The next year, I amend that soil with worm poop and other organic fetilizers and use it to plant flowers. My veggies and herbs get fresh soil. The flower soil goes into the in-ground garden at the end of the season.

So far, so good with this. However, last season my tomatoes definitely had some kind of blight or fungus (despite being in virgin soil and likely airborne and unrelated to the planting medium) so, rather than risk the blight living on in nearby flower pots this year, I boil-treated the soil, but dumped it far away from the garden in the woods.

Luckily, I had a smaller than usual garden last year, so I still have a trash-can's worth of reusuable soil from 2010 for my 2012 flowers.

FWIW, I also disinfect my pots every year before re-planting. I used ozone-purified water (made using my Lotus machine) which disinfects better than bleach, but is all-natural and organic.

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Response to mopinko (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 2, 2014, 09:11 AM

15. Re-using soil from potted annuals

As freezing weather approaches, I dump the soil into buckets and then mound it up around my roses when the soil freezes. When it begins to get warmer in spring I remove the extra soil, using some of it to fill low spots in the lawn and dumping the rest over weedy spots between my fence and a neighbor's fence. Some also goes on my compost pile. I've read it's not best to re-use potting soil, but the ideas here to sterilize it and add nutrients back in could be helpful.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 10:26 AM

10. Thank you for your post!

 

I will be reading this more thoroughly when I have the time. I need to learn this stuff better. My first attempt at gardening last summer was a mixed bag at best.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 05:30 PM

11. What is your potting soil mix for tomatoes?

I am moving mine to pots this year too. Curious what the best combo is. I have some great composted chicken poo out in the run waiting for spring planting!

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Response to wildeyed (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 05:32 PM

12. I go a route that I don't love but it works great.....

I use a 2.5 cu ft bag of Miracle Gro potting mix (not soil) combined with a 25 lb bag of composed cow manure to fill the pots. It ends up being costly, but is really a good solution because it doesn't compact, drains well and you start off being confident of no disease (as long as you bleach the pots before hand, if not new). When I've got time I need to see if I can make my own soilless mix from perlite, peat, etc (whatever they make it from)....

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #12)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 05:36 PM

13. I will sub in the chicken poo for the cow manure then.

I have way fewer pots than you so it makes sense for me to buy pre-mixed. Do you add tomato fertilizer or anything like that later in the season? I have some organic brand left over from last year.

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Response to wildeyed (Reply #13)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 05:38 PM

14. I just buy the water soluble MG plant food - mix 1 tbsp/gal, use it every 2-3 weeks.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Original post)

Mon Jun 2, 2014, 09:33 AM

16. I just use peat moss and horse manure.

I mix them 50-50. Horse manure is free just go on Craig's list and look under farm. Most stables have so much of it.
Peat moss is very inexpensive, go to Lowes and buy it 3 cubic feet $10.
I use cinder blocks for my raised beds, no cement, just butt them together, you can then add more later.

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