Earthbox Soil/Mix -- So confused!

joekun(Z10 - L.A., CA)April 21, 2006

Hi all, I just made a homemade Ebox and have a real one coming as a Bday gift. I've been reading a lot of info about potting mix (since apparently I don't want to use potting soil in an ebox?). There are many brand recommendations in this forum and on earthboxresearch.com, but unfortunately I can't find any of them in Los Angeles.

I've been to Wal-Mart, Lowe's, 2 Home Depots, OSH, and a local nursery, the only "potting mix" I can find is Miracle Grow. That might be okay, but it says that it feeds the plants for 3 months, so if this potting mix is okay should I not add a fertilizer stripe to it?

I did also find Sta-Green Container Mix, is that the same thing as potting mix? It apparently has enough fertilizer for 9 months so I have the same question about whether that is okay for the Ebox and if so should I just not add a fertilizer stripe?

I've seen some people recommend Supersoil Potting Mix, but looking at their website it doesn't look like they make a product with that name. They do make a Supersoil Planting Mix and a Supersoil Potting Soil, would either of these be the right thing? My Lowe's has both of those.

Thanks for taking the time to help out a completely confused newbie!!

-Joel

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username_5(banned for no reason)

I don't use earth boxes so I can't comment on mixes for them, but as far as the Miracle Grow mix or any other mix that has fertilizer added, the 'feeds for 3 months' is kind of a joke.

There is a very small amount of fert in the mix and most of it will leech out within several waterings. When you consider that these mixes will be used for light feeding indoor houseplants as well as heavy feeding outdoor vegetable crops and everything inbetween there is no realistic way for the manufacturer to tell how long the fertilizer will feed our plants.

It is just a marketing gimic.

Fertilize your plants according to whatever instuctions you have and ignore the fert in the mixes.

Also, for a long term fertilizing solution consider a liquid fertilizer that is applied with waterings. This provides a much more consistent feeding to the plants over the granular type which are better suited for in ground plants. Also consider using organic liquid ferts over synthetics as the synthetics usually have salts in them which can build up over time (if you use terracotta, you will actually see the whitish stains on it after a season of synthetic fert use). The organics have the added benefit of much lower risk of 'burning' plants from excessive amounts being used.

Good luck and happy growing.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 10:47AM
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klv13440(z5,rome,ny)

Joel,
I have 10 earthboxes and use a generic mix from Walmart. Go ahead and put the granular fertilizer right down the middle as instructed username5 is correct about the pitiful crap they put in it! I have had these boxes for three years and they are wonderful. The only problem is tomatoes--they got so large and top heavy they tip over with any type of wind(if you want tomatoes find a way to secure them down) I now plant eggplants, peppers, greens strawberries in them. The crazy heavy stuff goes in the ground. If you have anymore questions about them let me know I'll be more than happy to help.
Good Luck and enjoy

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 6:06PM
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joekun(Z10 - L.A., CA)

Thanks for the replies! So, klv13440, are you saying that Miracle Grow Potting Mix should be fine? Or are you saying that anything including Potting Soil should be fine? I went to Wal Mart but couldn't find any Potting Mix there. I had gone hoping to find the "Sam's Choice" potting mix but had no luck. I would love to find some cheap generic brand of potting mix, but I'm just striking out.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 9:46PM
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klv13440(z5,rome,ny)

Yes, Miracle grow works great but regular potting soil is to heavy and will smother the roots of plant.I found the generic brand called gardeners choice out in the parking lot with the play sand it's 7.95 for a bag 2cubic feet and that fills the earthbox. If your Walmart does not have it you could try Lowes or Home Depot. If all else fails try making your own-- I found this in another thread
3 gallons pine bark.
1/2 gallon peat
1/2 gallon perlite
handful lime (careful)
1/4 cup CRF
1 tsp micro-nutrient powder or a dash of manure
I am going to use this in a larger amount. I broke it down and it will cut my soil bill in half!
Hope this helped

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 10:44PM
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joekun(Z10 - L.A., CA)

Thanks, I've been to Wal-mart, 2 Home Depots, Lowe's, OSH, and a local nursery. I might check one more Wal-mart and go with miracle grow if I don't have another choice (it's a bit expensive). I've thought about mixing my own but with such bad luck trying to find mere potting soil I don't have much hope for finding everything needed for that.

So, I should add a strip of time release fertilizer to the mircale grow potting mix even though it has some fertilizer in it as username5 suggets? I just want to be sure that's appropriate for an Earthbox, don't want to burn my veggies.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 3:33AM
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jmalt31(NJ Zone 7)

Hello Joel,

Don't worry about the Miracle grow with the fert in it. It works just fine. I have used it with the fertilizer band of the granulated stuff (whatever is cheapest just make sure all 3 numbers are between 5 - 15) and it works great. Make sure that you cover the box so that the band of fert does not get wet and burn the roots. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I have written a guide on making your own if you do not already have it. The link is below.

Thanks,
Joe

Here is a link that might be useful: How to make an earthbox guide

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 1:23PM
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joekun(Z10 - L.A., CA)

Thanks so much for the replies, I think I'm finally ready to get started. And thanks for the guide jmalt31, I used that to make my homemade box earlier this week :)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 3:13PM
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joekun(Z10 - L.A., CA)

Planted my corn today in my homemade Earthbox. I can't wait to see it grow in to stalks, but I'm a little concerned about the quality of my homemade box. I picked up some containers that got bigger as they got taller, but I didn't realize it until I had already cut one. In order to make the one fit in to the other I had to cut some slits in the sides to give it some wiggle room. It seems okay though, I packed soil on top of the gaps on the sides in the hopes that nothing would fall through there. I guess I'll know how I did in 7-14 days when the seedlings are supposed to pop up :) I'm planning to grow tomatoes in my retail Earthbox when it arrives.

I see what you guys mean about the potting mix with fertilizer, I bought a 3 cubic foot bag of Sta-Green potting mix today that says it's supposed to feed for 9 months, but the numbers were all decimals (.14-.11-.08), much lower than the recommended 5-15 range.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 10:31PM
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pistachioman

That was last year. This is 2007.

How about an evaluation of Sta-Green from Lowe's as the potting soil of choice for tomatoes as augmented with dolomite and rock phosphate?

Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 10:09PM
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justaguy2(5)

How about an evaluation of Sta-Green from Lowe's as the potting soil of choice for tomatoes as augmented with dolomite and rock phosphate?

I responded to the Sta-Green question in the other thread you posted this in.

In this thread I will just ask what the purpose of rock phosphate is? Rock phosphate is a rock powder which releases nutrients slowly (years). I don't understand it's purpose in a container mix. Superphosphate, triple super phosphate are rock phosphate treated with acid to make the nutrients available faster and would be more suitable.

But, your best bet in an earthbox is simply using a complete, granular fertilizer rather than trying to get each nutrient from a specific source. Espoma makes a nice, complete fertilizer that is mostly organic with some faster acting synthetics included as well. Of course, there are others.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 8:31PM
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pistachioman

Sir:

I went to the Espoma website and tried to find both product and dealer.

The nearest dealer is about SIX HUNDRED MILES away. Think I will look for another brand of suitable granular, non-water soluble complete fertilizer for tomatoes with at least 5-5-5 rating. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 9:29PM
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justaguy2(5)

The nearest dealer is about SIX HUNDRED MILES away.

There isn't anything special about the Espoma, another will do fine. Espoma is what I use because it is a complete fertilizer, most of it isn't water soluble immediately (and you don't want purely water soluble in an earthbox) and it is easily available for me.

600 miles away is the nearest? Wow. If that were the case for me I probably would look for something else as well.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 9:43PM
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pistachioman

BINGO!

Espoma Garden Lime product found.

Went to my speciality nursery store. Brand-new product. Been in the store one week.

Label says "Safer than Hydrated Lime."

Goes into the mix today. Bought seventeen (17) Early Girl variety tomatoes. Will plant two (2) faux earthboxes and a bunch of five-gallon black plastic containers just to see how they do, comparatively speaking. Also bought five (5) very large tomato plants, some showing blossoms; will put them into the ground and hope for tomatoes before Mother's Day. My wife says we will be tomato poor. All I know is that I am determined to find a winning formulation for growing great tomatoes so that I can pick them fresh and ripe off the vine or put them in a southern-exposure window sill for finishing.

No phosphate amendment or supplement used. Granular fertilizer. Wish me luck. Thanks for your advise.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 2:16PM
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