AMKuska's 2023 Garden

Cosmo spring garden

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@AMKuska I have also noticed that bagged soil is basically woodchips and a little bit of peat, perlite and vermiculite. Its garbage really. I started using promix last year and really like it! Mostly fine mix with some big pieces but those can be easily removed. It was great for soil block making. I get mine from a local feed store but I know that ace hardware sells it and sometimes even has coupons. It comes in a square "bale" and lasts a long time! It does come dry so I put some in a bucket, add water and let it sit for 15 minutes and then stir it all around with a big spoon or even my hand. It absorbed water fast after the initial soaking.
Soil becomes hydrophobic when it gets too dry, especially peat based. Some people even add a few drops of dawn soap to the soil to help it absorb the water better. I haven't tried that so can't tell you for a fact if it works.
 

digitS'

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bottom watering ...

I've been really disappointed in potting soil the last few years. If I understand right, these companies don't make their "soil" all in the same place. Shipping costs, you know. So, they purchase the ingredients in diverse locations and with so many municipalities composting, there is that material easily available anywhere in the US. Unfortunately, it is poorly decomposed and much of it is from tree removal.

I'm not sure about the pricier stuff, including the starter mixes. It has been my intent to buy that after I screen & when I finish what is here at home. And, I'm willing to add some good organic fertilizer just about immediately to what I have. But yeah, seed starting became riskier in recent years.

Steve
 

Branching Out

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It has been my intent to buy that after I screen & when I finish what is here at home. And, I'm willing to add some good organic fertilizer just about immediately to what I have. But yeah, seed starting became riskier in recent years.

Steve
I am pulling a fair amount of wood out of the ProMix potting soil that I am using for soil blocking too, but once I screen it through a sieve what is left works really well for the little blocks.

Do you think we could just make our own seed starting mix, with screened compost, well rotted manure, and peat moss? If so it sure would be a lot less expensive.
 

digitS'

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I mix potting soil for the perennial plants with garden soil, compost and peat moss. 1:1:1. For potted tomato plants, it's just 100% compost. However, my compost never reaches a temperature where there isn't some weed seeds or seeds from squash and tomato scraps from the kitchen.

A 1/4" screen is used for clearing debris and rocks. Hardware cloth.

It works well and I have thought of cooking it so as to render it seed-free. I'm not gonna do that indoors, however ;). I've wondered how the barbecue might work for that (& what would DW think of it 😬). I do have an old cast iron heating stove, unused for years in the garage. I'd have to make some sort of oven to set on top of it ... and then, torment the neighbors with the smell of cooking compost.

Steve
 

ducks4you

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I will take a look at the bag of potting soil I left in the garage from last year, and YES, I will use this!
It was very dark and had few if any twigs in it.
Maybe it's time to make your own compost and really turn it this year.
I will take pictures of the now 3yo compost that I dumped out of a pot recently outside.
It WAS soiled bedding made up of: pine shavings, powedered pine pellets, horse manure and straw, and it's beautiful, NO twigs.
I dump from the stalls and don't bother to turn any piles so it takes a lot longer to make up, but I have great quantities of it.
I agree with picking out the crud, but Man what a waste of money! So sorry!! :hugs
 

AMKuska

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I will take a look at the bag of potting soil I left in the garage from last year, and YES, I will use this!
It was very dark and had few if any twigs in it.
Maybe it's time to make your own compost and really turn it this year.
I will take pictures of the now 3yo compost that I dumped out of a pot recently outside.
It WAS soiled bedding made up of: pine shavings, powedered pine pellets, horse manure and straw, and it's beautiful, NO twigs.
I dump from the stalls and don't bother to turn any piles so it takes a lot longer to make up, but I have great quantities of it.
I agree with picking out the crud, but Man what a waste of money! So sorry!! :hugs
I have tons of compost. I put every organic scrap (Minus meat and dairy, this goes in the dog food) into the composter. I have two rotating composters and by the time I fill one the other is ready to be emptied. Looking online I can mix some with my coco noir and some vermiculite and bam! Potting soil!
 

Zeedman

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All of the potting soil & "garden soil" I've purchased has a large percentage of woody material, with quite a few larger pieces. For the outdoor pots, sticks & bark are not much of an issue (within reason) but I draw the line at stones.

For seed starting, I've been using a Jolly Gardener mix that comes 2 c.f. bags - dry. Which is not a bad thing, since it would be a lot heavier if wet. The mix is hydro-phobic initially, so I dump it into a plastic garbage can, add water, and stir until all the mix has been moistened. As long as I keep it moist (which the covered can does) I can bottom-water after planting.

I mix potting soil for the perennial plants with garden soil, compost and peat moss. 1:1:1. For potted tomato plants, it's just 100% compost. However, my compost never reaches a temperature where there isn't some weed seeds or seeds from squash and tomato scraps from the kitchen.

A 1/4" screen is used for clearing debris and rocks. Hardware cloth.

It works well and I have thought of cooking it so as to render it seed-free. I'm not gonna do that indoors, however ;). I've wondered how the barbecue might work for that (& what would DW think of it 😬). I do have an old cast iron heating stove, unused for years in the garage. I'd have to make some sort of oven to set on top of it ... and then, torment the neighbors with the smell of cooking compost.

Steve
I've thought about making my own seed starting mix; but since I am often starting old seed, sterility is paramount. It would take a means of sterilizing large amounts of soil & compost outside (yes, I've tried baking in the oven, NOT a good idea). I've thought about using one of the steel 55 gallon drums I've seen being used for burn barrels, loading it up half way with wood, then putting a 5 gallon pail of soil or compost in to sterilize it. It might even be possible to solarize soil in a barrel painted black, provided it was not over-loaded. There is a place 10 miles down the highway from me that sells clean used barrels. Maybe an experiment to consider this summer, should I find time.
 

AMKuska

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Well, color me impressed.

I wrote the company about the chunky potting soil and they wrote back almost immediately. They offered refund/replacement, and asked to take at the pictures so they can figure out how to pack it better. Hard to say with any company but they seemed genuinely concerned by it.

Check out the latest giant I found in the bag though.
 

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flowerbug

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Well, color me impressed.

I wrote the company about the chunky potting soil and they wrote back almost immediately. They offered refund/replacement, and asked to take at the pictures so they can figure out how to pack it better. Hard to say with any company but they seemed genuinely concerned by it.

Check out the latest giant I found in the bag though.

i'm not sure what you mean by chunky, because with some potting soil that is compressed for packing and shipping it just comes that way and needs to be wetted and broken up a bit, but if it was a problem of the chunks being different materials and such then that would mean it wasn't really mixed or screened very well.

with the complaints i'm seeing here of twigs and odd materials being in the potting soil or seed starting blends it looks to me like they don't screen their materials when they should. especially for a seed starting blend.
 

digitS'

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I certainly recognize the problem but haven't startled with what you are finding in bagged potting soil quite yet, AMKuska. From a company that I have trusted for years, I have found those rocks, that Zeedman mentioned, and bits of black plastic bags.

I don't really see inappropriate stuff that some of my neighbors put in their yard waste barrels for the trucks to pick up but what goes in, and often overflows their recycle bins, amazes me. Material often is bagged, styrofoam isn't recycled here or most anywhere, containers with food in them, I have even seen tree branches in with the plastic etc. recycling ...

Steve
 

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