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Old 27-01-2006, 11:09 PM posted to rec.gardens
Mark Anderson
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

This summer will be the 5th year for my rooftop container garden. Last
summer we had a pretty bad drought here in Chicago which I think
exasperated some mistakes I have been making with regards to my soil
recipes. So now looking forward to Spring I'm researching on how to
build container soils and its getting so confusing I feel like my head
is about to explode. Some say add sand for drainage but sand clogs
macro and micro pores. Other sites say you need good drainage but your
containers also need to retain water -- two completely opposite
requirements. Some say use compost in your mixture others say compost
does no good and micro-organisms in your container soil is not a good
thing.

So the more I read about container soils the less I know and the now I'm
completely confused. It now amazes me how anything grew in my garden
these last 4 years because I've been doing everything wrong.

I want to keep things simple so I found this one recipe that I might use
this summer:

1 part top soil
1 part peat
1 part perlite

That seems like a lot of perlite but I suppose it helps in aeration.
There's a nursery by me that sells perlite in 3 cu. ft. bags for not
that much so that's not a big deal. But even the potting soils I see in
the stores never have this much perlite. I'm also considering using
pine bark but am a little concerned about having woody stuff in the
soil. I thought wood leeches nitrogen. Last summer I used building
sand in my soil mix and apparently that was a *big* mistake. Although I
had a good pepper and cuke crop, my tomatoes didn't do so well even
though I watered them every day.

Does anyone have good (hopefully simple) recipes using material that can
be purchased at Home Depot or preferably Menards?

Is it bad to use compost in the soil for veggies? I read last year that
growing tomatoes in a container requires about 1/3 compost and that's
what I used last summer but now I'm reading that using compost is not
good. Compost supposedly breaks down the soil, reduces aeration, and
increases water retention leading to root rot. I suppose everything is
a tradeoff but some of these sites use absolutes.

I'll be digging out all my containers and recycling the soil as the top
soil component in any recipe. Some sites say not to use this recycled
soil because its broken down and get fresh soil. But how can this soil,
after I break it up in the soil mixing box, be any worse than those bags
of dirt that you get from Menards? How do I know if the Menards soil
isn't broken down either?

Also if anyone has good links to soil recipes that would be good too.
Thanks for any help.

  #2   Report Post  
Old 28-01-2006, 12:21 AM posted to rec.gardens
Timothy
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

On Fri, 27 Jan 2006 17:09:25 -0600, Mark Anderson wrote:

This summer will be the 5th year for my rooftop container garden. Last
summer we had a pretty bad drought here in Chicago which I think
exasperated some mistakes I have been making with regards to my soil
recipes. So now looking forward to Spring I'm researching on how to build
container soils and its getting so confusing I feel like my head is about
to explode. Some say add sand for drainage but sand clogs macro and micro
pores. Other sites say you need good drainage but your containers also
need to retain water -- two completely opposite requirements. Some say
use compost in your mixture others say compost does no good and
micro-organisms in your container soil is not a good thing.

So the more I read about container soils the less I know and the now I'm
completely confused. It now amazes me how anything grew in my garden
these last 4 years because I've been doing everything wrong.

I want to keep things simple so I found this one recipe that I might use
this summer:

1 part top soil
1 part peat
1 part perlite

That seems like a lot of perlite but I suppose it helps in aeration.
There's a nursery by me that sells perlite in 3 cu. ft. bags for not that
much so that's not a big deal. But even the potting soils I see in the
stores never have this much perlite. I'm also considering using pine bark
but am a little concerned about having woody stuff in the soil. I thought
wood leeches nitrogen. Last summer I used building sand in my soil mix
and apparently that was a *big* mistake. Although I had a good pepper and
cuke crop, my tomatoes didn't do so well even though I watered them every
day.

Does anyone have good (hopefully simple) recipes using material that can
be purchased at Home Depot or preferably Menards?

Is it bad to use compost in the soil for veggies? I read last year that
growing tomatoes in a container requires about 1/3 compost and that's what
I used last summer but now I'm reading that using compost is not good.
Compost supposedly breaks down the soil, reduces aeration, and increases
water retention leading to root rot. I suppose everything is a tradeoff
but some of these sites use absolutes.

I'll be digging out all my containers and recycling the soil as the top
soil component in any recipe. Some sites say not to use this recycled
soil because its broken down and get fresh soil. But how can this soil,
after I break it up in the soil mixing box, be any worse than those bags
of dirt that you get from Menards? How do I know if the Menards soil
isn't broken down either?

Also if anyone has good links to soil recipes that would be good too.
Thanks for any help.


Good day Mark, Here's the recipe for potting soil out of my MG manual.

1 part garden soil (not clay)

1 part washed builder's sand, perlite or pumice

1 part peat moss

1 quart of steamed bonemeal per bushel (8 gallons) of mixture

1 pint of dolomitic lime per bushel of mixture.

When I've made this, I mixed it and stored it in a 32 gallon garbage can
with a sealing lid.
To help with moisture issues that you may have, add some form of hydrogel,
better know as soilmoist, to your high water using plants such as
your tomatos. In a perfect world, a drip irrigation system on a timer
would be best but hydrogel is a good alternative. I use a lot of the stuff
every year on my clients' hanging baskets. With out the hyrogel, the
baskets would need watering 2 or 3 times a day.

I would recommend against recycling the old soil in the containers and
re-using it in new containers. The old soil will very likely have salt
build up in it and can also contain diseases. The store bought soil
_should_ be fresh and un-used with no salt traces in it.

If you have access to a pick-up truck, I'd suggest that you go and by a
yard of fresh top soil. A yard of high quality soils cost 16 dollars
around here and is much cheaper than soil by the bag.
Good luck.

--
http://resources.ywgc.com

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Old 28-01-2006, 01:04 AM posted to rec.gardens
sherwindu
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Hi Mark,
I'm a neighbor of yours just north of Chicago. I don't know where you are
getting
your information, but some of it sound suspect. I use the coarse sand in my
raised
beds and containers. Used in moderation, I think it's effect is
contributory. It prevents
topsoil from caking up and assists in drainage. It's hard to recommend a
single size
that fits all, in this case. Different vegetables have their own
requirements for soil
composition, ph, etc. I don't fret about this too much. It's more
important that your
containers do not dry out in the summer sun. I have been using less peat
now than in
the past, because it tends to made my soil too acidic. It is good for very
heavy clay soil,
which is only a problem for our region if you dig down about a foot in my
yard. I don't
know where you heard bad things about compost. It can only be a problem if
it is not
fully processed, which in that case it will leach out nitrogen from the
soil. It is very useful
to spread around the top of your plants to keep them from drying out in the
sun. Perlite
is good for starting plants and has less potential for containing diseases,
but I would not
use it for long term growing for containers growing veggies outside.

Mark wrote:
This summer will be the 5th year for my rooftop container garden. Last
summer we had a pretty bad drought here in Chicago which I think
exasperated some mistakes I have been making with regards to my soil
recipes. So now looking forward to Spring I'm researching on how to
build container soils and its getting so confusing I feel like my head
is about to explode. Some say add sand for drainage but sand clogs
macro and micro pores.

I'm not sure what pores you are talking about. For proper drainage in
a container, you should put stones over the holes in the bottom so that
the soil mix does not block these up.

Other sites say you need good drainage but your
containers also need to retain water -- two completely opposite
requirements.

Retaining water is not the same as drowning the roots. Just keep the
roots moist is your best guideline.

Some say use compost in your mixture others say compost
does no good and micro-organisms in your container soil is not a good
thing.

I have been getting good results using compost both in my containers.
Microorganisms are not necessarily bad for growing things. You have
them
inside your stomach helping to digest your food.





So the more I read about container soils the less I know and the now I'm
completely confused. It now amazes me how anything grew in my garden
these last 4 years because I've been doing everything wrong.

I want to keep things simple so I found this one recipe that I might use
this summer:

1 part top soil
1 part peat
1 part perlite

That seems like a lot of perlite but I suppose it helps in aeration.
There's a nursery by me that sells perlite in 3 cu. ft. bags for not
that much so that's not a big deal. But even the potting soils I see in
the stores never have this much perlite. I'm also considering using
pine bark but am a little concerned about having woody stuff in the
soil. I thought wood leeches nitrogen. Last summer I used building
sand in my soil mix and apparently that was a *big* mistake. Although I
had a good pepper and cuke crop, my tomatoes didn't do so well even
though I watered them every day.


There can be dozens of other reasons why the tomatoes didn't do well.
If you don't go overboard on the sand, you tomatoes should do fine, and
will benefit by the soil not clumping up.



Does anyone have good (hopefully simple) recipes using material that can
be purchased at Home Depot or preferably Menards?


You can't buy good compost at these stores, nor can you buy the coarse
sand
there, as well. You also cannot buy real manure there. You can use
manure
if you place it at the bottom of the pot out of direct contact with the
roots, or
mix it very thinly throughout your mix.



Is it bad to use compost in the soil for veggies?


definitely not.

I read last year that
growing tomatoes in a container requires about 1/3 compost and that's
what I used last summer but now I'm reading that using compost is not
good. Compost supposedly breaks down the soil, reduces aeration, and
increases water retention leading to root rot. I suppose everything is
a tradeoff but some of these sites use absolutes.


I don't know where you are reading these things, but using 'fully cooked'

compost as I explained, will be of great benefit. You only get root rot
if
you overwater, or block the drainage somehow by using pots with inadequate

drainage. There is a much greater danger of roots drying out than
drowning,
in most containers outdoors in the sun.



I'll be digging out all my containers and recycling the soil as the top
soil component in any recipe. Some sites say not to use this recycled
soil because its broken down and get fresh soil. But how can this soil,
after I break it up in the soil mixing box, be any worse than those bags
of dirt that you get from Menards? How do I know if the Menards soil
isn't broken down either?


I don't know what you mean by broken down soil? Soil does not 'wear
out'.
It might lose nutrients, if you don't replace whatever you take out.
Unless
your soil contains some pathogen, it's probably ok to re-cycle. You may
want to amend it, depending on what is needed.



Also if anyone has good links to soil recipes that would be good too.
Thanks for any help.


Never hurts to research this, but I think you are putting too much
emphasis
on this soil thing. Don't hesitate to add compost and sand to your
mixtures.
Proper watering, good seeds, and sufficient sunlight are much bigger
factors
in successful vegetable growing.

Sherwin D.


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Old 28-01-2006, 02:29 AM posted to rec.gardens
Dwayne
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Before you decide to add lime or not, determine what pH needs you have to
raise what you are planting. Lime will raise the pH, as will watering with
hard water. Most good plants require an acidic soil to produce well. If
you get the pH too high, the only thing that will grow in it is weeds. I
would suggest a pH of between 6 and 6.5 unless you are going to raise
blueberries or other plants requiring more acid, and then get it down to
around 5.

Dwayne


"Mark Anderson" wrote in message
.net...
This summer will be the 5th year for my rooftop container garden. Last
summer we had a pretty bad drought here in Chicago which I think
exasperated some mistakes I have been making with regards to my soil
recipes. So now looking forward to Spring I'm researching on how to
build container soils and its getting so confusing I feel like my head
is about to explode. Some say add sand for drainage but sand clogs
macro and micro pores. Other sites say you need good drainage but your
containers also need to retain water -- two completely opposite
requirements. Some say use compost in your mixture others say compost
does no good and micro-organisms in your container soil is not a good
thing.

So the more I read about container soils the less I know and the now I'm
completely confused. It now amazes me how anything grew in my garden
these last 4 years because I've been doing everything wrong.

I want to keep things simple so I found this one recipe that I might use
this summer:

1 part top soil
1 part peat
1 part perlite

That seems like a lot of perlite but I suppose it helps in aeration.
There's a nursery by me that sells perlite in 3 cu. ft. bags for not
that much so that's not a big deal. But even the potting soils I see in
the stores never have this much perlite. I'm also considering using
pine bark but am a little concerned about having woody stuff in the
soil. I thought wood leeches nitrogen. Last summer I used building
sand in my soil mix and apparently that was a *big* mistake. Although I
had a good pepper and cuke crop, my tomatoes didn't do so well even
though I watered them every day.

Does anyone have good (hopefully simple) recipes using material that can
be purchased at Home Depot or preferably Menards?

Is it bad to use compost in the soil for veggies? I read last year that
growing tomatoes in a container requires about 1/3 compost and that's
what I used last summer but now I'm reading that using compost is not
good. Compost supposedly breaks down the soil, reduces aeration, and
increases water retention leading to root rot. I suppose everything is
a tradeoff but some of these sites use absolutes.

I'll be digging out all my containers and recycling the soil as the top
soil component in any recipe. Some sites say not to use this recycled
soil because its broken down and get fresh soil. But how can this soil,
after I break it up in the soil mixing box, be any worse than those bags
of dirt that you get from Menards? How do I know if the Menards soil
isn't broken down either?

Also if anyone has good links to soil recipes that would be good too.
Thanks for any help.



  #5   Report Post  
Old 28-01-2006, 07:57 AM posted to rec.gardens
presley
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Maybe this only works in my climate, but I don't change my soil in my large
18X18 containers at all. Every year, I top dress them with a few trowel
fulls of compost and steer manure, (the soil usually settles with time, and
alos with ripping out old plants - and plant my seeds or plants in them - so
far so good. (5 years later) The original mix was just store-bought
container mix with added compost, real soil from the garden, and manure. I
find I don't need much fertilizer - just a couple of teaspoons of osmocote
or similar long-lasting fertilizers. I've planted everything from
nasturtiums and marigolds to geraniums, sweet peas, verbena, lobelia,
chinese forget-me-nots, morning glories, cosmos, nicotiana and portulaca in
them.
"Mark Anderson" wrote in message
.net...
This summer will be the 5th year for my rooftop container garden. Last
summer we had a pretty bad drought here in Chicago which I think
exasperated some mistakes I have been making with regards to my soil
recipes. So now looking forward to Spring I'm researching on how to
build container soils and its getting so confusing I feel like my head
is about to explode. Some say add sand for drainage but sand clogs
macro and micro pores. Other sites say you need good drainage but your
containers also need to retain water -- two completely opposite
requirements. Some say use compost in your mixture others say compost
does no good and micro-organisms in your container soil is not a good
thing.

So the more I read about container soils the less I know and the now I'm
completely confused. It now amazes me how anything grew in my garden
these last 4 years because I've been doing everything wrong.

I want to keep things simple so I found this one recipe that I might use
this summer:

1 part top soil
1 part peat
1 part perlite

That seems like a lot of perlite but I suppose it helps in aeration.
There's a nursery by me that sells perlite in 3 cu. ft. bags for not
that much so that's not a big deal. But even the potting soils I see in
the stores never have this much perlite. I'm also considering using
pine bark but am a little concerned about having woody stuff in the
soil. I thought wood leeches nitrogen. Last summer I used building
sand in my soil mix and apparently that was a *big* mistake. Although I
had a good pepper and cuke crop, my tomatoes didn't do so well even
though I watered them every day.

Does anyone have good (hopefully simple) recipes using material that can
be purchased at Home Depot or preferably Menards?

Is it bad to use compost in the soil for veggies? I read last year that
growing tomatoes in a container requires about 1/3 compost and that's
what I used last summer but now I'm reading that using compost is not
good. Compost supposedly breaks down the soil, reduces aeration, and
increases water retention leading to root rot. I suppose everything is
a tradeoff but some of these sites use absolutes.

I'll be digging out all my containers and recycling the soil as the top
soil component in any recipe. Some sites say not to use this recycled
soil because its broken down and get fresh soil. But how can this soil,
after I break it up in the soil mixing box, be any worse than those bags
of dirt that you get from Menards? How do I know if the Menards soil
isn't broken down either?

Also if anyone has good links to soil recipes that would be good too.
Thanks for any help.





  #6   Report Post  
Old 29-01-2006, 04:21 AM posted to rec.gardens
WeeWilly
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

I've had the same question. We are "blessed" with clay soil here in most of
Calif. I'd like to build some raised bed gardens but can't get over the
cost of not only building the structure.. but mainly filling the beds. If I
build six beds that are 4'x10'x12" I'm looking at about 40 cubic feet of
material per bed if I dig some of the material down into the local soil.
This times, let's say 5 beds is 240 cubic feet or about 9 yards..

Anyone know a way to reduce the overall cost of the soil? Might be a dumb
question.. but thanks for bearing with me.

Bill

"Mark Anderson" wrote in message
.net...
This summer will be the 5th year for my rooftop container garden. Last
summer we had a pretty bad drought here in Chicago which I think
exasperated some mistakes I have been making with regards to my soil
recipes. So now looking forward to Spring I'm researching on how to
build container soils and its getting so confusing I feel like my head
is about to explode. Some say add sand for drainage but sand clogs
macro and micro pores. Other sites say you need good drainage but your
containers also need to retain water -- two completely opposite
requirements. Some say use compost in your mixture others say compost
does no good and micro-organisms in your container soil is not a good
thing.

So the more I read about container soils the less I know and the now I'm
completely confused. It now amazes me how anything grew in my garden
these last 4 years because I've been doing everything wrong.

I want to keep things simple so I found this one recipe that I might use
this summer:

1 part top soil
1 part peat
1 part perlite

That seems like a lot of perlite but I suppose it helps in aeration.
There's a nursery by me that sells perlite in 3 cu. ft. bags for not
that much so that's not a big deal. But even the potting soils I see in
the stores never have this much perlite. I'm also considering using
pine bark but am a little concerned about having woody stuff in the
soil. I thought wood leeches nitrogen. Last summer I used building
sand in my soil mix and apparently that was a *big* mistake. Although I
had a good pepper and cuke crop, my tomatoes didn't do so well even
though I watered them every day.

Does anyone have good (hopefully simple) recipes using material that can
be purchased at Home Depot or preferably Menards?

Is it bad to use compost in the soil for veggies? I read last year that
growing tomatoes in a container requires about 1/3 compost and that's
what I used last summer but now I'm reading that using compost is not
good. Compost supposedly breaks down the soil, reduces aeration, and
increases water retention leading to root rot. I suppose everything is
a tradeoff but some of these sites use absolutes.

I'll be digging out all my containers and recycling the soil as the top
soil component in any recipe. Some sites say not to use this recycled
soil because its broken down and get fresh soil. But how can this soil,
after I break it up in the soil mixing box, be any worse than those bags
of dirt that you get from Menards? How do I know if the Menards soil
isn't broken down either?

Also if anyone has good links to soil recipes that would be good too.
Thanks for any help.



  #7   Report Post  
Old 29-01-2006, 04:04 PM posted to rec.gardens
Dwayne
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Find a building contractor that is going to have to get rid of a lot of
dirt, and see if he can help you. Get it piled near your home and amend it
to your needs before putting it in your garden area.

Dwayne

"WeeWilly" wrote in message
...
I've had the same question. We are "blessed" with clay soil here in most
of Calif. I'd like to build some raised bed gardens but can't get over
the cost of not only building the structure.. but mainly filling the beds.
If I build six beds that are 4'x10'x12" I'm looking at about 40 cubic feet
of material per bed if I dig some of the material down into the local
soil. This times, let's say 5 beds is 240 cubic feet or about 9 yards..

Anyone know a way to reduce the overall cost of the soil? Might be a dumb
question.. but thanks for bearing with me.

Bill

"Mark Anderson" wrote in message
.net...
This summer will be the 5th year for my rooftop container garden. Last
summer we had a pretty bad drought here in Chicago which I think
exasperated some mistakes I have been making with regards to my soil
recipes. So now looking forward to Spring I'm researching on how to
build container soils and its getting so confusing I feel like my head
is about to explode. Some say add sand for drainage but sand clogs
macro and micro pores. Other sites say you need good drainage but your
containers also need to retain water -- two completely opposite
requirements. Some say use compost in your mixture others say compost
does no good and micro-organisms in your container soil is not a good
thing.

So the more I read about container soils the less I know and the now I'm
completely confused. It now amazes me how anything grew in my garden
these last 4 years because I've been doing everything wrong.

I want to keep things simple so I found this one recipe that I might use
this summer:

1 part top soil
1 part peat
1 part perlite

That seems like a lot of perlite but I suppose it helps in aeration.
There's a nursery by me that sells perlite in 3 cu. ft. bags for not
that much so that's not a big deal. But even the potting soils I see in
the stores never have this much perlite. I'm also considering using
pine bark but am a little concerned about having woody stuff in the
soil. I thought wood leeches nitrogen. Last summer I used building
sand in my soil mix and apparently that was a *big* mistake. Although I
had a good pepper and cuke crop, my tomatoes didn't do so well even
though I watered them every day.

Does anyone have good (hopefully simple) recipes using material that can
be purchased at Home Depot or preferably Menards?

Is it bad to use compost in the soil for veggies? I read last year that
growing tomatoes in a container requires about 1/3 compost and that's
what I used last summer but now I'm reading that using compost is not
good. Compost supposedly breaks down the soil, reduces aeration, and
increases water retention leading to root rot. I suppose everything is
a tradeoff but some of these sites use absolutes.

I'll be digging out all my containers and recycling the soil as the top
soil component in any recipe. Some sites say not to use this recycled
soil because its broken down and get fresh soil. But how can this soil,
after I break it up in the soil mixing box, be any worse than those bags
of dirt that you get from Menards? How do I know if the Menards soil
isn't broken down either?

Also if anyone has good links to soil recipes that would be good too.
Thanks for any help.





  #8   Report Post  
Old 29-01-2006, 08:58 PM posted to rec.gardens
David E. Ross
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Mark Anderson wrote:
This summer will be the 5th year for my rooftop container garden. Last
summer we had a pretty bad drought here in Chicago which I think
exasperated some mistakes I have been making with regards to my soil
recipes. So now looking forward to Spring I'm researching on how to
build container soils and its getting so confusing I feel like my head
is about to explode. Some say add sand for drainage but sand clogs
macro and micro pores. Other sites say you need good drainage but your
containers also need to retain water -- two completely opposite
requirements. Some say use compost in your mixture others say compost
does no good and micro-organisms in your container soil is not a good
thing.

So the more I read about container soils the less I know and the now I'm
completely confused. It now amazes me how anything grew in my garden
these last 4 years because I've been doing everything wrong.

I want to keep things simple so I found this one recipe that I might use
this summer:

1 part top soil
1 part peat
1 part perlite

That seems like a lot of perlite but I suppose it helps in aeration.
There's a nursery by me that sells perlite in 3 cu. ft. bags for not
that much so that's not a big deal. But even the potting soils I see in
the stores never have this much perlite. I'm also considering using
pine bark but am a little concerned about having woody stuff in the
soil. I thought wood leeches nitrogen. Last summer I used building
sand in my soil mix and apparently that was a *big* mistake. Although I
had a good pepper and cuke crop, my tomatoes didn't do so well even
though I watered them every day.

Does anyone have good (hopefully simple) recipes using material that can
be purchased at Home Depot or preferably Menards?

Is it bad to use compost in the soil for veggies? I read last year that
growing tomatoes in a container requires about 1/3 compost and that's
what I used last summer but now I'm reading that using compost is not
good. Compost supposedly breaks down the soil, reduces aeration, and
increases water retention leading to root rot. I suppose everything is
a tradeoff but some of these sites use absolutes.

I'll be digging out all my containers and recycling the soil as the top
soil component in any recipe. Some sites say not to use this recycled
soil because its broken down and get fresh soil. But how can this soil,
after I break it up in the soil mixing box, be any worse than those bags
of dirt that you get from Menards? How do I know if the Menards soil
isn't broken down either?

Also if anyone has good links to soil recipes that would be good too.
Thanks for any help.


See my recipe for home-made potting mix at
http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_potting_mix.html. This requires
no pH adjustments (lime or sulfur) for most plants.

If you can't get a small amount of compost from a friend, use topsoil
where something was actually growing. You need only a small amount,
just enough to supply the beneficial soil bacteria that will release the
nutrients from the bone meal, etc. In a gallon of mix, I might use only
a handful of compost. With only a small amount of compost or topsoil,
local variations in texture and pH have little effect on the mix.

This mix will drain very well. But it will also remain moist. Yes, it
is moist without ever being soggy (unless the container does not have a
drain hole or is sitting in water). Unlike many mixes, the moisture
remains available to plant roots until the mix is almost totally dry.
In other mixes, existing moisture gradually becomes unavailable as they
dry.

In any case, either use a porous container that allows moisture to
escape through the sides and thus stay cool, put the container where it
is in the shade while the plants get sun, or put the container inside
another container. Many container-grown plants fail in the summer
because the roots cook. No amount of moisture can prevent this.

--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean
influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
Gardening pages at http://www.rossde.com/garden/
  #9   Report Post  
Old 30-01-2006, 04:11 PM posted to rec.gardens
Tex John
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Collect up bags and bags of leaves from peoples trash and compost them in
place. Taks a few months but the price is right!

John


"WeeWilly" wrote in message
...
I've had the same question. We are "blessed" with clay soil here in most

of
Calif. I'd like to build some raised bed gardens but can't get over the
cost of not only building the structure.. but mainly filling the beds. If

I
build six beds that are 4'x10'x12" I'm looking at about 40 cubic feet of
material per bed if I dig some of the material down into the local soil.
This times, let's say 5 beds is 240 cubic feet or about 9 yards..

Anyone know a way to reduce the overall cost of the soil? Might be a dumb
question.. but thanks for bearing with me.

Bill

"Mark Anderson" wrote in message
.net...
This summer will be the 5th year for my rooftop container garden. Last
summer we had a pretty bad drought here in Chicago which I think
exasperated some mistakes I have been making with regards to my soil
recipes. So now looking forward to Spring I'm researching on how to
build container soils and its getting so confusing I feel like my head
is about to explode. Some say add sand for drainage but sand clogs
macro and micro pores. Other sites say you need good drainage but your
containers also need to retain water -- two completely opposite
requirements. Some say use compost in your mixture others say compost
does no good and micro-organisms in your container soil is not a good
thing.

So the more I read about container soils the less I know and the now I'm
completely confused. It now amazes me how anything grew in my garden
these last 4 years because I've been doing everything wrong.

I want to keep things simple so I found this one recipe that I might use
this summer:

1 part top soil
1 part peat
1 part perlite

That seems like a lot of perlite but I suppose it helps in aeration.
There's a nursery by me that sells perlite in 3 cu. ft. bags for not
that much so that's not a big deal. But even the potting soils I see in
the stores never have this much perlite. I'm also considering using
pine bark but am a little concerned about having woody stuff in the
soil. I thought wood leeches nitrogen. Last summer I used building
sand in my soil mix and apparently that was a *big* mistake. Although I
had a good pepper and cuke crop, my tomatoes didn't do so well even
though I watered them every day.

Does anyone have good (hopefully simple) recipes using material that can
be purchased at Home Depot or preferably Menards?

Is it bad to use compost in the soil for veggies? I read last year that
growing tomatoes in a container requires about 1/3 compost and that's
what I used last summer but now I'm reading that using compost is not
good. Compost supposedly breaks down the soil, reduces aeration, and
increases water retention leading to root rot. I suppose everything is
a tradeoff but some of these sites use absolutes.

I'll be digging out all my containers and recycling the soil as the top
soil component in any recipe. Some sites say not to use this recycled
soil because its broken down and get fresh soil. But how can this soil,
after I break it up in the soil mixing box, be any worse than those bags
of dirt that you get from Menards? How do I know if the Menards soil
isn't broken down either?

Also if anyone has good links to soil recipes that would be good too.
Thanks for any help.





  #10   Report Post  
Old 30-01-2006, 09:48 PM posted to rec.gardens
simy1
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

To you:

the best way to fill a new bed for free is to have a tree service dump
200 cubic feet of wood chips on your front lawn. They will do it for
free.Once in the beds, it will take a couple of years to both decompose
and mix perfectly. The earthworms will do the mixing for you and
initially you will be limited to crops that like clay topped with
partially decomposed wood chips (things like tomato or potato or
garlic). Wood chips produce excellent humus when they are done. You can
speed up their decomposition by dumping N-rich organic matter on top of
the chips, of which the best is kitchen scraps. Manure is not
seed-free, whereas the chips are, so it is best to avoid contamination
and hold the manure until weeds come in on their own three years later.

To the original poster:

1) garden soil does not mean much. In my back yard, garden soil is 90%
sand. Your garden soil might be 80% clay.

2) different crops react differently to high levels of compost.
Tomatoes, radicchio, garlic, melons and squash, potatoes, all love to
grow directly in the compost pile. So for those go ahead and use pure
compost. Other crops prefer a fine, neutral, settled soil, things like
cabbage and onions and okra for example, for maximum performance.
Lettuce will grow in unfinished compost so long as it is neutral
(leaves-dominated).

3) Then you have to figure out the root system. Most melons have a
taproot and they might not be happy in a container. Same for carrots
and parsnips.

4) finally, some crops do just fine in waterlogged soil, but things
like garlic or melons or beans will not accept it. Melons will tolerate
some drought if they have a fully developed taproot. Others, like
cardoon and many greens, will rather be too wet than too dry.

so go ahead experiment and change what does not work. You can't have
just one soil for all plants.



  #11   Report Post  
Old 31-01-2006, 02:41 AM posted to rec.gardens
RobinM
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Hi

Though northern Virginia has the dreaded clay soil, I was surprised
when I moved into my current house and found that it's built on what
used to be an old river bed. My soil is mostly sand and gravel, with
"gravel" up to the size of baking potatoes. Raised beds it had to be.
The guy who tried to till me a garden with a rear-tine tiller made
beautiful spark showers on the rocks.

I made 4 raised beds, using 2" x 10" X 8' boards. The beds are 4' x
8'. Going on the instructions of a book called "Cubed Foot
Gardening", I plopped the frames down on my yard grass and filled them
up. What I used was a mix that my local topsoil company makes that's
regular clay topsoil mixed with leaf mulch. I mixed this with
additional composted leaf mulch at about 2/3 topsoil mix to 1/3 leaf
mulch and filled the beds up. I didn't dig it in, didn't bother to
kill the grass, or anything like that. I DID need to add a bit of
nitrogen the first year, since I used so much leaf mulch to begin
with, but that was the only deficiency noted. For the 4 beds, I spent
about $150 for the soil, which was about 5 cubic yards, if I remember
correctly. (3 of the mix, 2 of leaf mulch) They were filled to about
1" from the top. I had a wonderful harvest the first year. Zucchini,
tomatoes, chiles, eggplant, beans, cucumbers. (Made 52 pints of bread
and butter pickles, in addition to the cucumbers we ate fresh!) After
the first year, I got another yard of leaf mulch that I mixed in and
things grew great the second year, also. The beds are FULL of
earthworms during the summer.

I was just out on Saturday doing some clearing of weeds and leaves.
The soil is gorgeous black stuff. In the next day or so, I'll be
putting down black plastic on one bed to warm the soil a bit, then
removing that and planting lettuce, radishes, beets, and broccoli raab
under tunnels. Come spring, I'll be putting in 2 more beds, both 6' x
20' x 10", one for corn and one for tomatoes. They'll be filled with
the same stuff. As far as I'm concerned, you don't need to dig the
raised bed soil into the ground soil, and 10" beds are plenty deep
enough. Let the passage of ground insects and worms meld the two, and
let the sod decompose to add to the organic material.

YMMV

Robin
Alexandria, VA



On Sat, 28 Jan 2006 20:21:16 -0800, "WeeWilly"
wrote:

I've had the same question. We are "blessed" with clay soil here in most of
Calif. I'd like to build some raised bed gardens but can't get over the
cost of not only building the structure.. but mainly filling the beds. If I
build six beds that are 4'x10'x12" I'm looking at about 40 cubic feet of
material per bed if I dig some of the material down into the local soil.
This times, let's say 5 beds is 240 cubic feet or about 9 yards..

Anyone know a way to reduce the overall cost of the soil? Might be a dumb
question.. but thanks for bearing with me.

Bill

  #12   Report Post  
Old 31-01-2006, 03:17 PM posted to rec.gardens
WeeWilly
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Thanks David.. all good info.. actually, these will be rather large redwood
containers.. likely 4 feet x 10 feet x 12 inches

Bill

"David E. Ross" wrote in message
...

In any case, either use a porous container that allows moisture to escape
through the sides and thus stay cool, put the container where it is in the
shade while the plants get sun, or put the container inside another
container. Many container-grown plants fail in the summer because the
roots cook. No amount of moisture can prevent this.

--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean
influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
Gardening pages at http://www.rossde.com/garden/



  #13   Report Post  
Old 01-02-2006, 03:43 AM posted to rec.gardens
Dwayne
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Can you get cedar? Termites wont bother it like they will almost everything
else I know about.

Dwayne

"WeeWilly" wrote in message
...
Thanks David.. all good info.. actually, these will be rather large
redwood containers.. likely 4 feet x 10 feet x 12 inches

Bill

"David E. Ross" wrote in message
...

In any case, either use a porous container that allows moisture to escape
through the sides and thus stay cool, put the container where it is in
the shade while the plants get sun, or put the container inside another
container. Many container-grown plants fail in the summer because the
roots cook. No amount of moisture can prevent this.

--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean
influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
Gardening pages at http://www.rossde.com/garden/





  #14   Report Post  
Old 02-02-2006, 05:55 AM posted to rec.gardens
WeeWilly
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

Dwayne.. probably.. but, I'll probably use redwood.. it's local.. It's the
soil in the box I'm concerned with..


"Dwayne" wrote in message
...
Can you get cedar? Termites wont bother it like they will almost
everything else I know about.

Dwayne

"WeeWilly" wrote in message
...
Thanks David.. all good info.. actually, these will be rather large
redwood containers.. likely 4 feet x 10 feet x 12 inches

Bill

"David E. Ross" wrote in message
...

In any case, either use a porous container that allows moisture to
escape through the sides and thus stay cool, put the container where it
is in the shade while the plants get sun, or put the container inside
another container. Many container-grown plants fail in the summer
because the roots cook. No amount of moisture can prevent this.

--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean
influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
Gardening pages at http://www.rossde.com/garden/







  #15   Report Post  
Old 03-02-2006, 09:12 PM posted to rec.gardens
Mark Anderson
 
Posts: n/a
Default Building Container Soil

In article says...
I'm a neighbor of yours just north of Chicago. I don't know where you are
getting
your information, but some of it sound suspect. I use the coarse sand in my
raised
beds and containers. Used in moderation, I think it's effect is
contributory. It prevents
topsoil from caking up and assists in drainage.


I'm also on the North side of Chicago. Where do you get this coarse
sand everyone mentions? Last summer I used sandbox sand which I now
find out was not the right ingredient. I only used it because I needed
to get rid of it -- and the drought last summer exasperated this
mistake. I did read many recipes calling for this coarse sand though.
My favorite nursery around here is that Farmer's Market on 4500 N Elston
but since it's winter I'm not sure if they're even open to go shopping
for this stuff.

I don't
know where you heard bad things about compost. It can only be a problem if
it is not
fully processed, which in that case it will leach out nitrogen from the
soil.


I read that compost clogs macropores reducing the drainage capability of
the container. It was also mentioned that micro-organisms, although
beneficial for non-container gardens, can be harmful in a container
environment. This is why I'm confused because there are so many
different scientific explanations proposing opposite solutions. I would
prefer to use compost in the veggie containers. Farmer's Market sells
bags of Mushroom compost that has a lot of texture which would seem to
help improve the soil structure. I'm not sure, however, how much
nitrogen this compost leeches since it looks like it might be under
decomposed.


Never hurts to research this, but I think you are putting too much
emphasis
on this soil thing. Don't hesitate to add compost and sand to your
mixtures.
Proper watering, good seeds, and sufficient sunlight are much bigger
factors
in successful vegetable growing.


My veggies are on the main rooftop so they get sunrise to sunset sun in
the summer. It's encouraging that the soil isn't the biggest factor and
maybe I just need to make small adjustments to my mix. As others have
pointed out in this thread, I think my tomato problems might have been
due to root burn. I use 20 gallon plastic tubs (with holes cut for
drainage) and it does get pretty hot up there. This summer, along with
a different soil mix, I'm going to build something to shade the soil and
the pots from getting hit with direct sunlight.




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