bought soil from pick up truck...problem?

jardinerowaMarch 7, 2013

Hello,
I live in Mexico where buying soil for containers is not an easy thing to do. Most people either buy soils from the guys that come around the neighborhood in pick-up trucks selling dirt. I know that this dirt is not ideal for containers but sometimes it is the only option.
I already employ with the wicking technique and turning-pot-on-angle that we learned from Al to keep the PWT as low as possible but here is my problem.
The dirt I bought from this last guy I'm worried has NO nitrogen or very little and/or possibly no micros due to plant problems. Look at the pic and you can see that it has some dry leaves throughout the soil. The guys say they mix it themselves and but what if they messed up the pH or any nitrogen is locked up. The very top of the soil looks grey brown when dry.
I've sowed many seeds and while the cotyledons come up, most take forever to develop true leaves....I mean forever. The only ones that did seem to develop true leaves fast were the cosmos but they always seem to anyway. Maybe I try to find worm castings or something.
When I've fertilized I tend to see a shot of growth right away so I'm thinking nutrient deficiency.
I don't know if I will be able to get 5-1-1 mix here but I'm trying to get all the ingredients, I just have perlite so far lol. Thanks.

Z

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If your plants respond well to more N, it might well be that the ingredients in the soil are breaking down quickly, supporting a large and growing population of microorganisms, which are in turn immobilizing (tying up) all the N released as the microorganisms cleave the hydrocarbon chains in the soil's organic fraction. Ideally, your soil's organic component would break down slowly.

Do you know if the soil contains lime? Try a test container using more fertilizer and/or a fertilizer with a ratio that significantly favors N - like 12-4-8, 24-8-16, or 30-10-10.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 4:24PM
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jardinerowa

I don't know think it has any lime in it although I'm not sure. Also, I did already mix a batch with some fertilizer with micros in it and planted some lettuce and radishes, they have come up and I will post back how they do. If they do better than the initial batch. Thanks!
Z

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 10:02PM
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calistoga_al

I am familiar with peddlers selling fruit or veggies from the back of a pickup but this is the first for selling dirt. Al

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:13AM
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jardinerowa

LOL Calistoga,
Actually it is very common to sell everything under the sun out of cars or trucks that go around the neighborhood. As many people here don't have their own vehicles. It's easier to buy whatever things from sellers in cars/trucks that pass by one's house.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 12:50AM
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jardinerowa

I'm still trying to see how I can salvage this soil. I don't even know the pH of it. Does it look too acidic? So am I to understand that even pH strips aren't really useful for container gardening? It's just that if I add a little lime to the soil, it will be a crap shoot if I don't know the pH. I'm not going to buy that soil again but it's like 5 cu ft I have and I want to use it if I can as I need to save money.
Anything I can do to lessen compaction on the soil that I've already planted in containers? Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 9:08PM
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