pre-bagged soil mix comparable to Mel's Mix for patio veg garden?

mrshammelFebruary 5, 2013

Hey everyone. I am long-time lurker but not finding the answer I most recently have so I thought I should post.

I have been doing SFG now for 4 years. One year ago I moved into to condo out of necessity and have been forced to continue my gardening by using containers. Last summer was a loooong story but the short of it is I learned that the community garden plot that I planted stuff in in the spring did not get enough sunlight, so I transitioned everything into pots in haste too late in the season. I did grow some stuff but not even close to what I had hoped for.

Now with Spring coming I am already planning my garden for my patio. I have large pots and am repurposing old Rubbermaid bins. I am narrowing down the number of things I am growing so I have a lot of those few things... and I am really trying to get my soil right.

I want to do Mel's mix but the problem I have is lack of space to break up 3 cubic feet of peat moss, and the equivalent of mushroom compost and vermiculite and mix it all up! I have 85 gallons of volume just in my bins, not to mention the pots. I hate to spend the extra money but I am really looking for a pre-bagged soil mix that is going to meet my needs as a container vegetable gardener, comparable in composition to Mel's mix if possible, unless something else is out there that I can use that would do the trick...

I am seeking your recommendations for pre-bagged soil mixes that will work for container vegetable gardening. I plan to grow lots of tomatoes, peppers, pickling cucumbers and hopefully to try blueberries and maybe even watermelon....

Your thoughts and advice are greatly appreciated!

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eircsmith

It's an informative thread and useful for us in future growth. It can help. Thanks for starting thread.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:42AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

2 suggestions: 1. the 5-1-1 mix discussed in great detail over on the Container gardening forum here. That would also be the best place for alternative recommendations as container gardening is quite different from either Sq. Foot or in-ground gardening.

2. ProMix BX - the most frequently recommended and discussed bagged mix on many of the forums here. The problem is finding it locally or finding a local merchant that will order it for you may take some work. it is most commonly sold to professional GH growers in 3 cu foot bales.

One of the professional Metro Mixes is also good - Metro Mix 360 is commonly used in containers of all sizes.

Hope this helps.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Container gardening forum

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:46AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

I have made soil for a long time before I found what I consider the best bagged soil ever. It is the new hyponex soil sold in the green bags in walmart. A 2 cuft bag sells for 8 and change. So for around 4 bucks a cuft of bagged soil ready to go you cant get any better.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:56AM
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thegreatcob

you know they do sell premade mel's mix in bag.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 12:06PM
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jonfrum(6)

Mel's mix is not a container mix, so if you're growing in containers, I'd just move on. It's not like you have to be worried about being disloyal to Mel. ;-)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:09PM
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foolishpleasure

The 5-1-1 is mostly pine park. Where are going to find fine pine park to use. The pine park I bought at HD looks like 2x4 pieces and I don't have the time or the equipment or the desire to grind these things. I grow very limited items in pots namely trees which need winter protection I used soil mix of my own, Perlite, Vermiculite, humus, sand and moss and my Citrus trees are very happy and blooming.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:55PM
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woohooman

Here's a micro bark for the 5-1-1 mix that needs very little screening, is a well-known distributor, and is relatively decently priced considering you can get 95% of screened product.

E.B. Stone is the parent company of GreenAll(name on bag).

I found it for 10 bucks for 2 c.f.

I was also able to find it screened at 1/2" in bulk at a couple local nurseries for $80/cu.yd. You just have to look around for "conifer bark fines". Pine and fir being the most common.

Kevin

Here is a link that might be useful: micro bark

This post was edited by woohooman on Thu, Feb 7, 13 at 2:12

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:01AM
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eircsmith

Thanks "woohooman" for reply.
The link you had shared is really helpful.
Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 4:31AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The 5-1-1 is mostly pine park. Where are going to find fine pine park to use. The pine park I bought at HD looks like 2x4 pieces and I don't have the time or the equipment or the desire to grind these things.

Kevin is right that the proper sized pine bark is relatively easy to find if you want to use 5-1-1 mix. Yes they do sell it in bags at Home Depot (and Lowe's and most nurseries) under the name Orchid Bark but it sounds like you bought the wrong kind.

Dave

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:15AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"Kevin is right that the proper sized pine bark is relatively easy to find if you want to use 5-1-1 mix. Yes they do sell it in bags at Home Depot (and Lowe's and most nurseries) under the name Orchid Bark but it sounds like you bought the wrong kind."

No it really is not easy to find at all. I can get a product that works in lowes. It costs 4 bucks and I end up only getting 5 gal of pine fines by the time I sift it all. Not worth it at all.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:55AM
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jonfrum(6)

Anyone who follows the Container Gardening board here knows that much of the discussion about pine bark fines is regarding where to find the damn stuff. Obviously it is not easy to find for most people, and it is not available in most big box stores. The pine bark mulch sold in most big box stores is not fines.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:16PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Anyone who follows the Container Gardening board here knows that much of the discussion about pine bark fines is regarding where to find the damn stuff. Obviously it is not easy to find for most people, and it is not available in most big box stores. The pine bark mulch sold in most big box stores is not fines.

Most the discussion on the Container gardening forum stems from the fact that most people don't even know what they are looking for, even know what bark fines are despite all the info available about them on the web.

And yes I know that the bags of pine mulch sold in the big box stores is not the same thing. Pine bark fines are not sold outside in the mulches section. They are sold inside the section devoted to starting seeds and growing plants. In the Lowe's here, just there yesterday, they are inside on the shelves next to the exotic plants section where the big containers, container plants, cactus mix, the violet mix, the perlite, vermiculite, decorative container gravel etc. is located.

At Home Depot, in both of them here, they are just outside the door into the gardening section (not with the bags of mulches), the section on the shelves next to the super sized containers and the similar exotic soils and mixes.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Pine bark fines pics compared to pine bark mulch

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:50PM
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jonfrum(6)

In my big box stores, the stuff sold inside, with the orchid mixes, is all in small bags, and is very expensive per unit. Which makes it useless for my vegetable container growing. To get pine bark fines at a price that doesn't make your veggies $20/lb, you need a nursery that will order it for you in bulk volume. Unless, that is, you live next to a mill that processes pine timber. A lot of the people using the 5-1-1 mix seem to be growing trees and other non-veggies. For them, they're willing to pay the price to keep their plants happy. For a vegetable gardener who's not a trust fund baby, it's a very expensive way to go unless you're getting your pine bark fines for free. I'm using it right now to overwinter pepper plants, but that's a small scale luxury I'm willing to pay for.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 4:28PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

jonfrom,

Well said.

Heres one for you!

Some cayenne grown in topsoil. This soil is right out of the garden and the cost is 0.00 a cuft ;) All I have to do is just start seeds in peat, then transplant them into pots filled with "the ground" and watch them grow.
If your growing something so cheap, why spend much to grow it? Good point jonfrom.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:34AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

In my big box stores, the stuff sold inside, with the orchid mixes, is all in small bags, and is very expensive per unit. Which makes it useless for my vegetable container growing.

Jon - what size containers are you using?

Apparently your stores aren't stocking the big bags but have you asked them if they will order them for you? I'm sure demand varies from region to region so shelf stocks will differ but our store will order.

A 2 cu foot bag of fines - which does 3-4 large 10 gallon containers of mix or several smaller containers - here is $3.97. That hardly makes for $20 a lb vegetables, especially since the mix is re-usable for season after season.

At any rate, 5-1-1 mix was just one suggestion and far from the only option. But as for container growing in topsoil/ground soil, glad you are happy with the results but there is plenty of evidence against doing that no matter how wonderful your dirt may be.

Dave

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:51AM
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foolishpleasure

Mastergardners
I love the look of your pepper yes garden soil is great for containers just amend it with vermiculite and some perlite. Adding some sand is a plus. The main issue here is drainage. The 5-1-1 mix is a novelty. usually is used for trees which you need to re-pot every couple of years because the roots get crowded in the pot and you can use the same soil. As for vegetable just added cost.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 2:52PM
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woohooman

Dave:

Where do you get your fines? Big box? What's the brand name and label? And how much "waste" is there?

That GreenAll stuff I posted a link to is a bit pricy, but it has very minimal waste after screening. Actually, one could probably use it right out of the bag.

Thanks

Kevin

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:04PM
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