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organic_wonderful

Please critique my potting mix!

13 years ago

I've adapted a recipe designed by someone who appears to be quite knowledgeable about soil science.

* One handful of ground rockdust and calcified seaweed mixed together, mixed with every 6 litres of final potting mixture

* 5 parts composted pine bark

* 1 part Moorland Gold peat (which is filtered from streams/rivers)

* 1-2 parts coco coir

* dolomite lime

* organic base fertilizer with NPK 5-5-5

The original recipe had perlite in it, however I do not wish to use this as it gives off a harmful dust and is not exactly organic. So, I substituted it with coir, which is a bit more organic and just better overall since it's easier/safer to work with.

Do you think this would work well? If I buy the composted bark, do I need to put it through a riddle/sieve to remove all the coarse bits of bark?

Also in the original recipe it had peat moss. I've substituted it with Moorland Gold peat, since this is organic and just seems very pleasant. Will they behave the same? If not, will the Moorland Gold peat still work in the above potting medium?

I wish to grow tomatoes, chillis and various other vegetables in the medium. So, will it work?

I didn't want to make it too complicated since I believe in the KISS approach. I also want to avoid using sand, for reasons I don't want to go into and I'd prefer for it to be soilless.

Comments (55)

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Honestly, I wouldn't consider the results obtained from using a liquid all purpose plant food to be that far away from the results obtained from growing organically in the garden. The only difference is... it's a lot more difficult to control organic growing within the confines of containers... which I why I use a more inorganic approach.

    An all purpose liquid plant food is essentially giving the plants the right amounts of nutrients in base chemical form needed for good growth and production. In the garden, the plants take what they need from the soil.

    I think when we're talking about produce that's not organically grown, we mean grown commercially using possible growth hormones, genetically altered seeds, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other harmful chemicals, irradiation, and methods of growing on a large scale.

    I wouldn't consider using a little Miracle Gro to equate with commercial agricultural practices.

    Personally, I'd stay away from coco coir products. I'd stick with 100% fir bark, along with other various ingredients of large particulate... such as turface, perlite, granite chips, etc...

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Tapla when you say 'bark fines', what do you mean by that?

    I can get composted bark (http://www.fertilefibre.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=33&products_id=46) but I'm not sure if you could call it 'bark fines'. Would this be suitable? Would I need to sieve it to remove the largest bits of composted bark?

    Also, tapla, will the Moorland Gold peat behave in the same way as the sphagnum peat you suggest using? I understand that they're pretty much the same thing and hence the Moorland Gold can be used in the medium in the same ratio without any issues. Is this right?

    Tapla, when you've used organic nutrients, have you incorporated rockdust and beneficial fungi (e.g. mycorrhizae fungi) and bacteria into the medium? From all that I've read rockdust has a very significant effect on both taste and the levels of trace mineral nutrients in fruit and veg.

    When I've used Biobizz fishmix, an organic fish emulsion type fertilizer, on my tomatoes, I've never had these issues with supplying nutrients in the correct ratios. There were no deficiencies to speak of and the plants were healthy. Unless this would be different with other plants? I don't know, but I've not had the issues you're speaking of. Perhaps I was just lucky?

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  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    When I talk about bark fines, I mean small pieces of pine bark from dust to dime-size or a little larger.
    {{gwi:2389}}
    The bark particles at 3,6, and 9 are the size I prefer for the soil that everyone calls the 5:1:1 mix - the one very similar to what you're making. The pile in the middle is what my 5:1:1 mix looks like when dry.

    I've never used Moorland peat, so I can't guess at it's physical properties. If you're using it at only about 15% of the o/a mix, its only real function will be to hold water, or allow you to +/- the amount of peat to adjust water retention. For best results, try to build your soil so it holds a minimum of perched water. That provides the best environment for root health, and the roots are the heart of the plant. If the roots ain't happy - ain't no part of the plant happy.

    You asked about my using organic sources of nutrients. I guess my reply is I tried that route for several years when I first started studying soils and the difference between good ones & bad ones. I determined then, that container culture was much closer to hydroponics than it is to growing in the garden, so I figured why not borrow a page from hydroponics & try soluble fertilizers. I'm sure no ground breaker in that regard, being that practically all commercial operations rely on soluble or controlled release fertilizers for plant production. There are good reasons for that, which I touched on earlier. Commercial ops need a reliable way of delivering nutrients to optimize growth and yields, and they know that the soluble fertilizers provide that reliability.

    I don't use rock dust or bone meal because both are essentially insoluble & probably do little for the plant over the short term - I'm sure of that statement where bone meal is concerned, and I can't imagine that rock dust would be mineralized any faster than bone meal. I do pay close attention to ensuring that all my planting get all 12 essential elements required for normal growth, however. When I was using MG fertilizer, I used it in conjunction with Micromax and STEM, both micro-nutrient supplements that reliably deliver nutrients. Recently, I switched to Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 fertilizer, which has all the required elements in one solution. I've been well-pleased with how it performs, and I have to say it hardly gets any more foolproof.

    In the end, at the point where plants take up nutrients, ALL the nutrients are the same elements. It doesn't matter if it came from manure, feather meal, alfalfa ....... or from Miracle-Gro - the ions in the soil solution are the same, regardless if they came from a chemical or organic source.

    If you're pleased with the results you've had, you can just skip over my offerings. I do understand the desire to maintain an all-organic approach. I think that in most cases there is more ideological influence involved in the comparison between 'organically grown' vs crops grown using synthetic fertilizers than there is science, and in the full view, it's a debate it would probably fruitless to try to chase to ground.

    I do think you're on the right track with your soil recipe. Setting grower convenience aside (watering intervals), the most productive soils are going to be those that need watering most frequently. The added aeration and superior drainage that forces the extra effort to water is what provides so healthy an environ for roots.

    Take care.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I used composted bark and didn't sift anything. Mixed it into some bagged soil. I added additional perlite and some small bark chips (only because they were close by). I had some sphagnam moss and added that. Made a nice mix and the tomatoes grew well. I used readily available products which I had on hand. I didn't measure anything, just mixed until I liked how it looked. I like shredded, composted bark for outdoor plants. I use it in all my outdoor containers.

    I used chemical fertilizer, either MG or orchid fertilizer. I am sure you could get good results with a fish emulsion or any good organic fertilizer.

    Don't over-think. Just plant!

    Good luck,

    {{gwi:5753}}
    Jane

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you for your help, and I do understand why you might want to go down the route of using chemical salt fertilizers. However, I'm a little confused - why don't you just use passive hydroponics if you're going down that route? Surely you'd just get faster growth? The only difference is that you would have to do a quick and simple pH adjustment of the nutrient solution. Once you know what nutrient concentration to use, you can work out what volume of pH up/down to use for a given amount of nutrient solution and just water it in like you would water a container with your potting mix.

    The thing I would be concerned with when using these chemical salt fertilizers is that they contain a limited number of nutrients that we understand that a plant needs. However, to put it crudely, there are lesser minerals, hormones and a plethora of other compounds present (e.g. if we were to add seaweed, we would be providing cytokinin and gibberellin-type chemicals that modulate plant growth), some of which we are not even aware are present or that the plant can use in the first place and these may result in the fruit or veg providing health-giving properties over and above what non-organic fruit or veg can offer the person consuming it. With chemical salt fertilizers I have known some people that have had to 'flush' them out of the plant with plain water, to remove these chemicals from the plant before harvesting. Now with organic nutrients this simply isn't necessary in the first place usually, and this leads me to believe that they may be better for you over the long term, since even if you flush you might still end up ingesting trace but significant amounts of these chemicals over a long period of time (granted, this is just speculation but it is one of a number of reasons I am wary of these fertilizers.

    As far as I'm concerned, a lot of people tell me they believe organic tastes better and in my experience it does. This real life evidence might be anecdotal, but with organic gardening being a feasible alternative, I see no harm in choosing it over chemical fertilizers. Growing fruit and veg with organic fertilizers is still cheaper than buying in the supermarket, so for me it's a no brainer.

    We'll just have to agree to disagree on our approaches! Still, I am grateful for your help. It's been very useful indeed.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Gosh I love this site, with all it's forums! I wish I had discovered it sooner. There seem to be so many knowledgeable people here.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    OW - I can see that you're trying to do the very best you can, and putting some serious thought into your decisions is a very good thing. I applaud you for it. Once you decide how you're going to build your soil, and once you plant in it, you're pretty much locked into your choice for the season; so your choice of soil is probably going to be the most important decision you'll make.

    In my travels, I find that the best growers and those best equipped to recognize and deal with problems as they arise are those that put some serious thought into what they're doing. There are absolutely no penalties meted out for making the effort to learn and get it right the first time - only rewards. Forum pages are full of people looking for help precisely because instead of thinking, all they did was just plant. It's good to see you on a divergent path. ;o)

    Wish you the best.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you tapla!

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ever hear the Paul Simon song 'You Can Call Me Al'? ☺

    Play the tune & watch the dancers hit the beat!

    Al

    Here is a link that might be useful: Call me Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks, I've not been to that forum yet. I'll have a gander!

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Organic Wonderful..
    I've always had all organic garden beds, so I can understand your wanting to go this route. I've found this thread to be great reading.

    I too want to wish you the best! :-)

    Al~
    Love the dancing cartoon! LOL! :-) Great song too! ;-)
    JJ

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    When it comes to growing outside, in the ground, I'm all about organic growing. But I realize that the same methods don't translate very well to containerized growing, so I go a slightly different route.

    In the garden beds, I rely on Mother Nature and her army of living things to do the work of decomposition, which breaks down organic matter into usable nutrition for plants... and I also rely on nature to maintain the balance of good and bad bacterias, fungi, etc... not easy to do within the confined space of a planter. Having access to horse, goat, and fowl manures, and composting everything, helps me stay organic in the garden beds.

    In the container environment, I want and need to have more control, so I use a liquid chemical fertilizer so I know exactly what ratios of which nutrients my plants are getting. I wouldn't know if I used an organic approach, and I'd have no control over the balance of good and bad.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just one last thing. Tapla, when you said:

    The bark particles at 3,6, and 9 are the size I prefer for the soil that everyone calls the 5:1:1 mix - the one very similar to what you're making. The pile in the middle is what my 5:1:1 mix looks like when dry.

    What do you mean by 3, 6 and 9? Is that the size in mm?

    Also, what do you mean by 'partially composted' bark? I can't find any of this - only normal bark or completely composted bark. I have some bark from B&Q (large DIY chain in the UK) like this:

    http://www.diy.com/diy/jsp/bq/nav.jsp?action=detail&fh_secondid=10288046&fh_view_size=12&fh_eds=%3f&fh_location=//catalog01/en_GB/categories%3C(9372012)/categories%3C(9372020)/categories%3C(9372097)&fh_refview=lister&isSearch=false

    So I was just wondering whether I can just use the bark I already have rather than paying a fortune for the composted bark to be delivered after purchasing it online?

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Organic W.

    The numbers Al referred to are in reference to a clock. 3 is for the bark in the picture that would be in the same place as the 3 if looking at a clock.

    If you look close at his picture, you will see all the fine and small pieces, to dust. That is the partially composted. It means the bark has broke down some, not totally. The bags have a large range of sizes in them.

    A lot of people find it at places like Lowe's and Home depot, but i'm not sure if you are familiar with these in the UK. They are big home improvement stores.

    I think most use a 1/2" screen and keep what falls through for the 5-1-1 mix.

    I'm not sure about the product you posted a link to.

    Al will have to look at that when he gets here. It looks like it may have too much sap wood in it.

    I hope that helps you some.

    JoJo

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Doh! I should have realized - it was a school boy error.

    So it looks like I'm going to have to just spend the money on the composted bark, which costs �17.64 for 60L (free delivery), which is not too bad I guess.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The advantage in partially composted bark is that there is less heat during the continuation of the composting process and less nitrogen immobilization occurs, but if I can't get a partially composted bark, I just use uncomposted & keep in mind it will require the addition of a little more N. Partially composted bark will have been wind-rowed, moist, for several weeks to several months and turned often to promote aerobic breakdown.

    If the bark in the picture you provided the address for has more fines than it looks like it has, it should be marginally ok, but it's on the large side (1/2 that size would be much better). I'm thinking you'll probably want to use something like 5:2:1, bark:peat:perlite because of its large size.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks Tapla, you're a star :)

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    By the way, does anyone know if I can actually use this mix with blueberries if I leave out the dolomite lime?

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sure - use gypsum instead (as a Ca source). You'll probably need to include a little Epsom salts regularly when you water or fertilize. I don't know what you settled on for a fertilizer program, so I can't be specific other than to say when you supply Ca, you need to supply an appropriate amount of Mg, too.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks.

    I've been reading your posts and you do seem to have a good understanding of all of this, so I'm tempted to just do exactly what you've advised me/others to do.

    Since I'm growing a large number of plants, I've decided to split the group of plants into two - half will be made with the 5-1-1 mix using perlite and bark/peat moss and the other half will be the same 5-1-1 mix but using fytocell and bark/peat moss. These two groups will be further divided into two - one half will be fertilized with a controlled release fertilizer and the other half with organic Biobizz fishmix.

    That way I'll be able to tell whether changing from perlite to fytocell makes a difference and whether changing from organic nutrients to CRF also makes any difference.

    Is this a good plan?

    The problem is that I had a look for 'Osmocote' CRF today but couldn't find it. Will a generic Tomotorite CRF work (designed for tomatoes, which I'll be growing)? Or will this Osmocote be a better option (I guess I'd have to buy it online)?

    Sorry for all the questions! You've been every so patient and I'm very grateful. It's just there aren't many people around that really know what they're talking about, so I may as well take advantage if I can.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Organic W.
    Most of us get the Osmocote at home improvement stores with a nursery. Do you have stores like that where you are?

    I got mine at Home Depot.

    I think your idea of dividing the groups is great. I plan on trying a few things in each mix this year too!

    JoJo

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ^ I may as well take advantage of the opportunity. I'm used to growing in NFT (nutrient film technique, a form of hydroponic cultivation), so having lots of individual plants in separate containers is a luxury to me!

    I went to B&Q and Homebase, but couldn't find anything, so I'll just have to order it online (should be cheaper anyway!). I take it the Osmocote is all right for tomatoes?

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    OW - I'm all for experimenting if you have the ambition; so yeah - that's a plan! You can come back and report your findings after you settle into your conclusions. ;o)

    Tomatoes like more nutrients than most plants - I should say they like a higher concentration of nutrients, so for the synthetic fertilizer (if you want to use a CRF) you might want to consider dosing with a CRF like 14-14-14 or 13-13-13 at 1/2 cup/cu ft, then supplementing as required with a 3:1:2 ratio soluble fertilizer like MG or Foliage-Pro. Alternately, you might consider Dynamite's rose or palm/citrus formulas if you think you'll skip the liquid solubles. Both should be very good CRFs for tomatoes, based on their NPK %s and the fact the minors are included.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well it turns out I managed to actually find the packet of Levington Tomorite CRF (designed for tomatoes) which has an NPK of 10-11-18.

    Given that this fertilizer is actually designed for tomatoes, shouldn't I just use this instead of buying a new CRF? The NPK level seems quite a bit different to what you're recommending...

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    There are lots of fertilizer strategies for tomatoes. I prefer a 3:1:2 fertilizer until the plants get to the top of the cages (about 3'), then reduce the dosage considerably and increase the K supplied by adding Pro-TeKt 0-0-3. Essentially, at that point I'm fertilizing with a 2:1:2 ratio fertilizer, which would be great if you can find it. For me, I'd prefer it soluble and it should contain all 12 essential nutrients, though I could do w/o Ca & Mg if I had to because it's in the lime.

    There are many fertilizers that are labeled for various plants, and the main reason they're available isn't because they are any more effective, they're available because there is a market for them. I think a 10-11-18 fertilizer will supply a lot of excess P and K, but it won't really hurt anything if you're careful about not over-fertilizing, though I think over-fertilizing will be easy to do with that fertilizer if you're using leaf color as your cue as to when you should give your next application.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hello Everyone...

    just wanted to pop in and say that i like the dancing figures...also "call me Al" song...all great songs from Paul SImon... LOL...great stuff!!

    Hii JOJO

    HI Jodi!!!

    Take care everyone...

    Laura in VB

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Paul Simon, Art Garfunkle, Simon and Garfunkle ....... grew up on them - LOVED their music. Still listen to it all the time. ;-)

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi everyone! :-)

    Me too Al. :-)
    Great music!

    JJ

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have a bag of Osmocote that I just bought, and after looking at the back, it's says the NPK levels are 10-11-18! The 10-11-18 is written under the 'UK fertiliser declaration'. However, under the 'RoI fertilizer declaration', it says the NPK levels are 10-4.8-14.9. So, can I use this? Will it work well for tomatoes?

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The reason for the different numbers is that the P % fertilizers actually report isn't really the % of P, it's the % of P2O5 (phosphorous pentoxide), and they report the K % as the amount of K20 (potassium oxide). Phosphorous pentoxide is only 43% phosphorous, and potassium pentoxide is 83% potassium, so to get the ACTUAL amounts of phosphorous and potassium, you need to multiply the REPORTED %s by .43 and .83 respectively. (Bored yet?) ;o) When you do, you come up with your second set of numbers as the ACTUAL P and K content.

    You CAN use it by virtue of the fact that plants take what they need and leave the rest, but you'll have trouble keeping up with N demands w/o over-fertilizing. Plants use more N than either P or K, in the case of P, they use about 6-7 times more N than P. Your fertilizer will supply LOTS of extra P and K as you continue trying to keep up with the N demands. An excess can be as bad as a deficiency, so it would be less than ideal, for sure.

    One way you COULD use it effectively is to incorporate it into the soil and then use a high-N soluble fertilizer (like 30-10-10) to regularly supplement N.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm a bit confused. Are there different types of Osmocote? I thought most people use this fertilizer, like jojos said?

    Should I look for a different type of Osmocote rather than have to add extra N with a high N fertilizer?

    Can anyone from the UK recommend a good fertilizer to use?

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    There are dozens & dozens of different NPK and other nutrient combinations of Osmocote and other CRFs like it. I prefer using soluble fertilizers for tomatoes because they give me more control, but if you're intent on using a CRF, look for one in as close to a 2:1:2 RATIO as possible (RATIO is different than the NPK %s - if you don't understand, just ask & I'll explain). If you can't find something in close to a 2:1:2 ratio, use something in a 1:1:1 ratio, like 14-14-14, which is commonly found here.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    No, I understand thanks tapla.

    If I do decide to use the gritty mix, can I use seramis instead of turface? I really don't mind spending the money on it, especially since it'll be used for a number of years.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I really can't tell the difference between turface and seramis. They're the same thing, more or less, aren't they? Surely they can be used interchangeably?

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It sounds good - interchangeable. 2.5 - 4.5 mm would be ideal size.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Brilliant, thanks tapla. I think your influence is going to make a big difference to my garden, hopefully! Now I just have to find the crushed granite. I already have some rockdust (crushed quartz), but I'm not so sure I can use that.

    I have dozens and dozens of tomato plants etc in 7-8cm pots, and a few in 12.7cm pots, all of which are filled with John Innes sowing/cutting compost. Can anyone tell me whether it's okay to pot up into larger pots filled with the 5:1:1 mix? Or do I really need to have planted the seeds or cuttings straight into the 5:1:1 mix? If so, should I continue growing in the John Innes compost and then when the plants are big enough, take cuttings and root them in the 5:1:1 mix?

    Also, in future is possible to plant peat pellets with seeds germinated in them or cuttings rooted through them straight into the 5:1:1 mix?

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You're fine to plop what you have directly into the 5:1:1 mix ..... as long as the root/soil mass is not congested to the point that it can be lifted from the starter pot intact. If it is, just tear off the bottom of the roots and work your fingers up into the root mass to separate the remaining roots. Then, remove the bottom leaves and plant the tomatoes or peppers VERY deep. New roots will form up and down the buried stem and your plant will be off to a superior start to what it would have been had you planted only as deep as they are now.

    I really can't say if there is much difference in growth if you plant the entire peat starter pellet into any soil. It wouldn't seem like the difference should be noticeable, but not having done it, I'm reluctant to guess. I try very hard not to operate at beyond the limits of my knowledge and/or experience so you can always be sure you're getting sound info.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks tapla.

    I didn't know how excited I could get about planting a plant into some compost! I can't wait.

    Hopefully I'll receive my bark tomorrow so I can get started.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hello :-)
    I've used the peat pellets in the past and one thing i've noticed is the netting does not rot away like they say it should. It ends up restricting roots. So if you do use them, I would gently cut a few slits in the netting to allow roots to better spread. :-)

    JoJo

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ^ thanks for the great tip jojo! I'll make sure I do that.

    I got the bark in the post today.

    Jojo (or tapla or anyone else), here is a photo of the bark I received today. Just copy and past the URL (website address) into your browser to visit the website. I'll try and figure out how to post images properly (I think tapla explained it so I'll have to go back and read his instructions again), so sorry about that.

    Here's the URL:

    http://i1103.photobucket.com/albums/g462/jonnyautoenfield/resizedbark.jpg

    Can you tell me whether it looks okay? I haven't screened it yet, but I plan to do so later on. I'll use a 1/2" screen if I have one, and keep what falls through.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Al, Up thread you mentioned,

    I prefer a 3:1:2 fertilizer until the plants get to the top of the cages (about 3'), then reduce the dosage considerably and increase the K supplied by adding Pro-TeKt 0-0-3. Essentially, at that point I'm fertilizing with a 2:1:2 ratio fertilizer.

    Could you please tell me how to mix the FP and Pro-TeKt to get that 2:1:2 ratio? Thanks. Ed

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think I answered my own ? If I mix equal parts of both FP and Pro-TeKt, I'll end up with a 4.5-1.5-4.5. At half strength it would be a 2.25-.75-2.25. This is close to the 2-1-2 you spoke of.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    OW - it's probably usable, but you'll need to add an extra part of peat (it looks like). It would be better if it was 1/3 that size (5:1:1). What will you be planting and can you refresh us on where you live - maybe add it to your user info?

    ED - the ratio isn't as important as the actual amount of N you are supplying. IOW, you can supply more N than idea just as easily with a 1:1:1 ratio fertilizer as you can with a 3:1:2 fertilizer, if you're using both to supply the plant's N needs. The idea is to moderately DEPRIVE plants of some N w/o creating nutritional deficiencies.

    3:1:2 ratio fertilizers have more P than is required for normal growth, so reducing the dose of 3:1:2 ratios leaves you with enough P, but not enough K, which is why I supplement when I reduce the dose with the ProTeKt. I would use the K supplement quite sparingly in relation to the main nutrient dose. In summer, after I have some foliage on the plants, I usually fertilize tomatoes with something like 4-5 teaspoons of 9-3-6 in 2-1/2 gallons of water, along with about 1/2 tsp of ProTeKt.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Al,

    OK, I understand how the ratio is not as important as the actual amount.

    I'm just a little confused as to how to fertilize my container tomatoes throughout the season. When you say, "In summer, after I have some foliage on the plants, I usually fertilize tomatoes with something like 4-5 teaspoons of 9-3-6 per 2-1/2 gallons of water, along with about 1/2 teaspoon of ProTekt," are you talking about when the plants are growing robustly early in the season, until they reach the top of the cages? How often do you fertilize? The FP instructions state every 2-4 weeks at that concentration. After the plants reach the top of the cages, at what concentrations, and how often, do you fertilize?

    The FP directions mention "PRODUCTION" and "MAINTAINANCE" methods of fertilizing. What is the difference between the two? Is it an either/or thing, or can both to be used at the same time?

    My gut tells me that I'm a 'fertilize every time I water' kinda guy. So I trying to come up with a plan for fertilizing throughout the season using the FP and Pro-TeKt.

    Thanks a bunch. Ed

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I rarely pay attention to what the fertilizer label says as far as recommended dosages, but I DO pay attention to my plants, and they'll tell me when they need a little dose of fertilizer.

    I generally watch leaf color on tomatoes. Early, I fertilize as hard as they want to keep them nice & green. When they reach the top of the cages, I cut back the frequency & add the ProTeKt. How I do this is by making sure the plants aren't as vividly green as they were earlier in the season. This slows vegetative growth and allows the current photosynthate that WOULD have gone into leaves, to go into fruit & blooms.

    This is sort of micro-managing, but with a little experience and by paying attention, you'll see the subtle color change that tells you you're on the right track.

    Al

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Al, I can't thank you enough. I'm sure I'll figure it out. I have a whole new obsession this year...container gardening! A month ago I wasn't even thinking about gardening, then it hit. I'm almost obsessed with pine bark. I'll make a long story short and say that after a lot of investigating, I have 4 different piles of bark to choose from in my yard. I know I'll have some bags left over. I'm assuming there is no downside to letting a few bags sit around for a year or two. I can't wait to start screening some of this stuff. Thanks again. Ed

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    LOVE the enthusiasm! No problem carrying bags over from year to year. I usually buy by the pallets because I use it to milch my gardens, too. Often I have a LOT to carry from year to year.

    Al

  • 11 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    All the information here is so interesting. I do not have much experiences about pot gardening. However I have planted some chilli plants and I used pot soil available in the markets. I am curious about all these soil mixture for pots. So I am requesting your advice, whether should I use usual pot soil or should I do mix preparation for my pots? How much it should be benefit from this mix preparation? My plants are habanero, ghost, Trinida moruga scorpion and going to germinate some Thai chillies.

  • 11 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What ever works for you. I have tryed inert soilless hydroponic media. Sure I like the high porosity, high yields, and they are very clean and nice to work with. I do use potting soil now because I like the ph buffering of soil even more then those things I listed about the soilless media. :)

  • 11 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I use the same pot soil for all my pots the soil is for flower (labeled on the bag). I did overwinter and replaced the old soil with pot soil mixed with Coco coir brick I bought it from Ikea. I have about 2 years old habenero I got a lot of fruits but this season's habanero (new plants I germinated) were not yields much fruits most of them have about 2/3 but bigger than the old plant's fruits and the plants are also very healthy.

    I have germinated ghost, Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and some thai chilli for the next season, I do not know whether it is too early or not. I have to repot it, so I would like to be more successful that is why I am requesting advice here.

    I am very happy for this website I consider it is very helpful and resourceful. Thank you very much for those people who spends their time to help each other.