First time Gardener - Did I do it right?

vince_332May 29, 2013

Hi Folks,

I spent all day yesterday reading this forum and specifically Al's 5-1-1 in regards to 5 gallon buckets. Yesterday I spent all evening gathering supplies. I found some great Pine Bark Fines at Ohio Mulch that were the perfect, dime sized pieces. Sphagnum Peat, Pelletized Lime, Miracle Grow 12-4-8, and MG Perlite. I used the following proportions:

4 Cu. Ft PBF
8 Gallons Perlite
10 Gallons Sphagnum Peat
2 Cups conc. Miracle Grow
2-3 Cups Lime

Soaked it, mixed it all up, and then loosely filled 11 5-gal buckets. I saturated the buckets with water; Today I'm going to drill the drainage holes and probably make a mess.

Here are my questions:

1) I added 2 Cups of the Miracle Grow. Then I read it is supposed to be diluted in water by using a hose attachment. Did I just over-fertilize my soil, or will it be alright?
2) Was there any point to saturate the soil overnight in water? I read that I should do that.
3) The lime was pelletized, about the size of pinheads to BBs. It also came in a 40 Lb. bag and is supposed to be use on the lawn. I saw it had Mg and Ca in it. Is this the right stuff? I couldn't find something smaller than that large bag, but it was only $3.97.
4) Do I need to wait a number of days before planting starts?
5) Did I leave anything out of this recipe? I read I should look into micronutrients at some point.
6) I live in Ohio and grow in a 5B area. I was planning on Heirloom Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Jalepenos, Habeneros, Onions, Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Oregano. What else would work well in the 5Gal in my area? Can I put all the herbs in 1-2 buckets?
7) Should I put the drainage holes on the side near the bottom or on the actual bottom?

Thanks for the help everybody!

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Welcome to the party, Vince. I'm in southwest Ohio and very grateful for Ohio Mulch, which has the Golden Nugget mini pine fines. Your mix is very good with the exception of the soluble MG fertilizer as you note. I think you will need to flush your mix by pouring several gallons of water through each bucket. And to do that, your containers will need several drainage holes of about 1/2 inch each. I don't use those buckets, so I'm not sure if you would have structural problems by putting 3-4 holes in the bottom as well as several around the sides near the bottom. (For future reference, it's best to have the drainage holes in place before adding mix. You don't need to actually soak the mix.) Ideally, you should run enough water through the containers to have 5 gallons of water come out the drainage holes.

As for your other questions, the lime is just right; it's best to wait several days after making the mix to plant, but not essential; and the size of your containers is fine for most of the things you want to grow except indeterminate tomatoes, which need containers at least twice that size. But you do need to flush that mix well before planting anything.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 10:29AM
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vince_332

Ohiofem,

Thanks for the response. I'll definitely take your suggestions about flushing the soil. How often do you fertilize? What kind of dilution of the fertilizer is recommended?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 12:37PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I have been adding Osmocote Plus 15-9-12 to my potting mix at the rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon of finished mix. It's a controlled release fertilizer that used to contain calcium and magnesium with all the other trace elements, but it appears they have discontinued that formula. In addition, I start using a soluble fertilizer like Foliage Pro 9-3-6 liguid or Miracle Gro 24-8-16 powder at half the rate recommended on the container once a week. So that works out to about the recommended amount broken up in to smaller, more frequent feedings. This is what I use on all my outdoor containers with either 5-1-1 or gritty mix in them, including vegetables and annual flowers as well as houseplants I've moved outside for the summer.

I'm wondering about the MG you used. Was that a liquid or a powder? I am only familiar with the 12-4-8 version that comes as a liquid. You are only supposed to use one teaspoon per gallon of water every 7-14 days. Did you use 2 cups of the liquid? That would be 96 teaspoons. So, I would guess, you need to run 96 gallons of water through your soil to dilute the fertilizer properly.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 12:53PM
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vince_332

Yes, that's what I used. 2 Cups of concentrate instead of 2 cups dilute. Silly! I'll probably just fill a 5 gal bucket 20 times and dump it through my planters.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 2:45PM
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greentoe357

Vince, if you flush the fertiliser out, would you also be flushing out some lime and would need to refill that? I guess it depends how soon after mixing the mix you'd be flushing out - the sooner, the easier the lime will be washed out of the holes. The later it happens, the more time the lime had to react with the mix. Beyond this, I have no clue - perhaps somebody else can answer if you should replenish garden lime after flushing the soil, and to what extent.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 2:17AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

The pelletized lime is different from a liquid fertilizer. It doesn't become immediately water soluble so it won't be flushed out of the pot with watering. It should stay in the mix gradually dissolving for a long time.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 10:04AM
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