Help with 3:2:1 mix - First timer

tnkrerMay 17, 2012

I have made a big container (4' x 3'6", height 3') This being my first time, I have bunch of questions .. I am creating multiple threads with questions on each different topic.

This thread is about the mix I will be using. I am following the Raybo guide for the 3:2:1 mix.

For the potting mix I am looking at Fafard Growing Mix No.2 or Premier pro-mix BX. from here They come in compressed bales - 3.6cu ft. So is this volume after I open the bale up or is it the compressed volume? And if its compressed, what would it be after I open up the bag?

Any recommendations between these two?

For the bark fines .. I am going to get the pine bark mulch from agway from this post .. Is the size requirement as strict as 5:1:1 ? Is it recommended that I use 1/2" sieve for the bark fines?

I have already bought coarse vermiculite. Can I use that instead of perlite?

Fertilizer - One fertilizer tube provides fert for two tomato plants? So in my big container, I can make a foot long tube of 3" diameter between two tomato plants to get the same effect?

Thank you very much

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Did you fallow the directions when building your big container ? If you want 3 2 1 mix ,then you have to follow the directions or it wont be 3 2 1 mix.That includes using the stated particle sizes

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 11:58AM
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When I built the container I had not discovered this site :( I was building it based on "family handyman" article where they use miracle grow potting mix. Now that I have found this site and know about different mixes, I am thinking that it would be better than miracle gro potting mix .. I am going through the earthtainer-construction-guide.pdf from raybo and 3:2:1 is in the appendix and I couldnt find any mention of particle size for the fine bark ..

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 1:18PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

The Agway Microbark you show in the picture will work fine for the SWC 3:2:1 combo mix. You do not need to sift it at all.

Definitely use Landscape Fabric versus cloth to cover over the water reservoir pipes.

Keep your tall plants like cukes on a trellis, planted on the North side of the container. I would err the first Season planting fewer plants than you showed in your diagram. You can indeed "dense plant" in SWCs where you control the moisture, fertilizer, etc. - but as no one has experience with the design you've adapted, I would rather see fewer plants which are healthy - rather than leggy plants all jammed in together.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 6:13PM
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Raybo, thank you very much for your response. I have updated my garden plan based on your comments and others in the other thread.

Should I just ignore that "compressed" part? and assume that its 3.6 cu ft? I need about 16 cu ft of growing mix (4' x 3' 6" x 14"). So I need about 8 cu ft of that. So two bags or one bag would make 8 cu ft?

I hope the nursery allows me to return vermiculite .. (they should, I will be buying perlite and growing mix from them)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 9:42PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

The "compressed" is pure marketing hype, in my opinion. One would expect the mix to expand when you slit the bag open - - but it doesn't. Wet the mix by sticking a hose down the bag and it will actually compress down a bit.

Bottom line - if the bag says 3.6 cu. ft. make the assumption after wetting it that it will yield no more than 3.6 cu. ft. in your container.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:49PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

What's also nice about the Agway bark is that it's fir bark.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 10:09PM
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Is it fir? They call it pine bark mulch. So does that mean that fir is a type of pine?

I got all the materials yesterday Bought the premier promix instead of fafard. Fafard had less peat than promix but was a little costlier.. promix has mycorrizae .. some fungicide. Will post a picture once plants are in the container :)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:26AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Well, kind of. I know what you mean. They are usually described as Spruce, Pine, and Fir. To me they are all pine trees. Bags will usually say Pine, but you might get Fir or Pine. Fir is easy to tell. The pieces are very flat. Pine is chunky. You know it when you see it.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:32AM
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