Can I grow vegetable plants in compost, peat moss Mix

vid_nand(Z 9 CA)February 27, 2009

Hi All,

I am planning to plant veggies like tomatoes, beans, Cucumbers and eggplant in pots (My seedlings are growing indoors with their baby leaves). I have 2 big bags of finished compost i got from my city dump yesterday. I also have have half a big bag of peat moss and some compost I made around 3 years back. I don't want to spend money on soil again, Can i just mix all these three(or layer it in pot) and grow my veggies. Or should i add something more to this. My ground soil is very clayish. I don't prefer using it as i noticed lots of bugs(like bill bug, centipedes etc). It will be great if you can give me your valuable suggestions.


Happy Gardening!

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The Square Foot Gardening folks might tell you to mix your peat moss and compost with another part vermiculite and you're good to go. The lasagna gardeners might tell you to layer your peat most, compost, and any other organic material you may have and plant your garden in that.
If you don't want to buy anything, and you're set on planting in pots, I would suggest mixing your peat moss and compost together and adding some of your clay soil as well.
Better still, if you can plant in the ground, don't disparage clay soil. It has advantages and disadvantages but certainly can be made into a fine growing medium with the addition of things like... oh... uhhhh... hmmmm... peat moss and compost for example. Rumor has it you have some of that. All things being equal, veggies do better in the ground than in pots, assuming you have a suitable space.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 12:30PM
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Also, don't worry too much about pillbugs and millipedes in your soil. They don't bother growing plants much, and they'd make a b-line to your compost-filled pots anyway.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 12:39PM
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I would be very careful with city compost. They use a lot of diseased material from downed trees and you also don't know if pesticides were used on the materials collected for composting.
I tried it once and had insects and invasive weeds I never had made for a disastrous season!
Now I buy worm castings from a local worm distributor and it's the best soil!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:27PM
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vid_nand(Z 9 CA)

Hi tcstoehr,
Thanks for your suggestions. I am planning to plant some Okra, Tomatoes, carrots and Radishes in my ground. But I was really worried about the bugs, As you say will give a try. I just spoke to my gardener about the bugs. He also said that he'll add some pestiside that will kill these bugs. BTW when you say organic material what do you mean by this. The compost i made at home is organic as per my knowledge. Or are you talking about something else? I do have some worm castings from my worm bin. I this enough?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:31PM
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Re: "Organic material" refers to decomposed leaves, grass clippings, weeds (without seeds), anything organic and natural, not synthetic or man made. It would be best if your gardener avoided most pesticides--since you are growing for the kitchen table. Ask him if he has an "organic" solution--in this case, organic would refer to non-synthetic, man-made chemical pesticides.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 2:03PM
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vid_nand(Z 9 CA)

Thanks Stephen. This is what i was thinking..

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:21PM
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I still don't like that square ft. gardening method of soil mix.

It's a recipie for water logged roots with the wrong watering regime, especially when it comes to treating compost or the soil under the amendment as being the same.

You lay that stuff on some hard clay and you're asking for water to bowl up in the root zone unless you dig and ammend it deep enough.

Amending with peat, on whole, is something I'm not a fan of except in extremely sandy soils...even then there's better ways such as adding more organic matter.

It seems like adding peat and it's water holding capacity would be good, but amending with clay is a whole lot better (and adds high nutrient capacity) to your soil.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 4:04PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

I have a bunch of raised beds made of peat moss, compost, and some composted sheep manure.

They grow well, especially my tomatoes. The strawberries do very well in it too.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 7:31PM
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You can grow veggies in containers using the mix you listed, but drainage and the resulting low oxygen in the root area may produce sub par performance from the plants.

Growing in a container is *not* the same as growing in a raised bed. The raised bed is in contact with the earth which makes all the difference in the world in terms of drainage and not having an anerobic, water saturated layer toward the bottom of the container.

If you were to cut the bottom off the containers such that soil contacted the earth the mix would work just fine. Alternately you can shove a wick into the drain hole and let it hang in the air. This will pull the excess water at the bottom (the perched water table) out of the container.

If will still likely work, but you wouldn't be the first to express disappointment at how a fine particled, heavy mix like that does in a closed container.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:00PM
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I'm not a big fan of peat moss either. I'd suggest you just amend the soil you have with the other organic matter you have (all that compost) and leave the peat moss out of it. If you have a large enough area in beds that the peat would be "diluted" a good bit by the composts, it wouldn't hurt to use it then. I wouldn't use it in pots though. Like was already suggested, mix that compost with some of your native soil and it'd be best. The insects will definitely find your pots eventually anyway.

I don't much like peat because it's "feast or famine" ~ either really soggy wet or so dry you can barely wet it again. When it's that wet, it takes forever to dry out and when it's completely dry the water just runs off it instead of soaking in. If it's diluted enough by the compost, that wouldn't be so much of a concern.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 11:13AM
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The problem i have with peat moss (besides the limited supply we're mining out) is it's just useless besides it's water holding capacity.

It does nothing for nutrient holding/exchange. You can get a similar water-holding effect from clay along with an outstanding nutrient holding/exchange capacity.

Clay gets a bad rap, but it's REALLY good stuff as long as it's not all hardpan/compacted, wet all the time, or extremely fine to the point of having little soil structure.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 3:05PM
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Have you priced vermiculite lately? Because of the asbestos issue, vermiculite prices have skyrocketed lately because they either have to put it through a process to remove the asbestos or get it from a mine that doesn't have it, which is hard to find. So vermiculite now costs $37 for a 3.5 cubic foot bag, way to expensive to use as a soil amendment. I just use it for seed starting mixes. You might be able to find some stuff that's been laying around that has asbestos in it cheap though.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:24PM
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