soiless mix

montuckyMay 8, 2011

Hi, fairly new to soiless mixes. First I live in the Big Horn river valley of south central Montana, near the site of Custers last stand. The summers get hot here quick come the end of june, and its not uncommon for summer days in late june, july, august, and early sept for tempt to be in the 90's low 100's, with very low humidities. Temps overnight still get cool in june and sept. More often than not there is a breeze present and occasional gale force winds.

I have on hand:

3.8 cubic feet peat moss

3.8 cubic feet coco coir

1.5 cubic feet composted chicken manure listed 3-2-1

1.0 cubic feet worm castings no listed fertilizer value

as much one inch gravel and coarse sand I want.

Small bag of dolomite lime

small bag of fox farm 5-5-5 with calcium

small bag of "mater magic" 8-5-5 organic slow release

I was thinking something along the lines (in 5 gallon buckets for tomatoes, determinate and indeterminate):

Drilling 8 holes in the side of the bucket, four at the very bottom along the side and four an inch higher or so along the side.

In the buckets 1-2 inches gravel in the bottom of the bucket, on top of the gravel I would add my mix of equal parts peat and coco coir.

I would then add approximately 10-20 percent by volume the composted chicken manure and 10 percent by volume worm castings.

I was thinking of adding each of the fertilizers according to the manufacturers specifications, but have no idea of how much dolomite lime I should add.

For my Peppers, many different varieties, the same except that I was going to omit the lime.

Uh, does this sound like a workable solution? I am wanting some advice specifically addressing how much lime i should add, and whether I should add it at the middle portion or at the top. There will two seperate weeks where I will be out of town, one early july and one late august, at this points I was either going to rig a automatic drip system or have friends water for me, but other wise I will be hand watering as needed.

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Oh, by the way, I also have on hand a couple hundred pounds of kaolin ball clay (part time potter), and access to a lot of water holding gels, we have an abundance of it at work.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 10:38PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You definitely won't need any water-holding gel, as water retention is directly related to particle size & everything you mentioned is a small particulate. Also, using 50% coir sort of brings the wisdom of using lime as a Ca/Mg source into question. If you're sold on that mix, you probably should use gypsum as a Ca source and include Epsom salts in your fertilizer program (this depends on what your fertilizer is supplying in terms of Ca & Mg %s) as a Mg source.

You might want to give the thread I'm going to link you to a read through before you commit to what you're proposing.


Here is a link that might be useful: More about particle size & water retention in container media if you click me

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 11:28PM
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I have those ingredients given to me second hand, and don't have the money to invest in a lot of additional components. But probably could scare up the money to purchase a nice big bag of perlite if it would be worth it, and would extend my materials to a few extra buckets worth. The coir is composed of mixed components, fines, medium, and long strands and small pieces of husk.
I am committed to the majority of these ingredients for good or ill, but want some advice to tweak the ratios of said ingredients.... If I were to buy a bag of perlite should I purchase the large chunked variety or smaller stuff, thanks for the link, I will continue reading thru and try to glean some info that can help me pertaining to my ingrediant list...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 11:56PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Perlite doesn't significantly help with drainage (flow-through rates), but it does reduce water retention, which will be a plus for you. I would opt for the larger size if available.

Best luck. ;-)


    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 12:17AM
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