Will this custom potting mix work in EarthTainer??

dancinglemons(7B VA)June 9, 2012

Hello all,

I've done quite a bit of reading about Gritty Mix and 511 mix. I have been using the 511 with good results. I am now ready to ask these questions. Is there any situation where 50% peat moss and 50% bark fines will work in SWC/SIP. Will this wick in EarthTainer and Earth**Box ?? Will it be too wet?? I've only these items and some PermaTill -- with no Perlite and need to fill a few SIP/SWC. I could mix 50% bark with 50% PermaTill. My problem is I have these containers that need filling and I am out of ingredients.



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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Go buy some more ingredients.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 4:45AM
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I agree. Why risk a year trying to find out by trial and error what works? Al

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 9:21AM
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well thats what use, 3 parts bark fines(soil prep or conditioner), 3 parts peat moss, 2 parts perlite. some lime to get it at a ph of 6.5

i made up 1000 gals of it and reuse it. last 2 years i added 20% more bark fines each year. where i live i get the stuff in bulk.

i dont no what permatill is.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 10:09AM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


I've literally spent years trialing 38 combinations of ingredients for the optimum Combo Mix for use in SWCs like the EarthTainer. The 3:2:1 ratio of Sunshine Advanced Mix #4, Microbark, and Perlite has given me the best results to date.

I am now experimenting with breaking the "3" component into equal portions of Sunshine Mix and Happy Frog with promising results to date:

If you are going to put in all that effort to growing tomatoes, etc. then why not try to give them the best growing media that you can blend.


Here is a link that might be useful: Rev 3.6 EarthTainer Construction Guide

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 12:08PM
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looks good ray, the only reason i use my blend. is i cannot get the sunshine mix or promix or anything. so i have to use what is avalible.:(, but it works to the most part.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 1:41PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


I used the 3:3:2 combo you are using on Peppers a few years ago in the EarthTainer and it worked extremely well. I think the keys are good drainage as well as aeration to the roots. You've got a good recipe there.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 2:24PM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

Thanks all for the comments. Purchase of more ingredients is not an option at this point. I should have stated I am not using this 'mix' for tomato growing.

Your recipe sounds close to what I have available as the ProMix has about 13-14% Perlite already mixed in. Perhaps mixing the bark fines with the ProMox will wick and NOT be overly wet. I get that I will add lime and fert. PermaTill is little rocks. Here is info from their website:

Potting mixes generally contain coarse particles of perlite or bark for the purpose of aeration and drainage. However these materials decompose over time causing a settling and compaction of the media. PermaTill is strong, durable, and low in absorption to insure capillary action of water and air movement through the media. PemaTill particles act as reservoirs for water-soluble nutrients. The pH of Stalite PermaTill is stable and will not alter the pH of other media components.

I agree that the potting medium should be the best available and in 98% of the containers -- that is exactly what I do. Problem is I have this stuff AND some empty containers which I want to use. I should have mentioned that the tomato containers have already been filled with the proper mix for optimum growth and production. These items (PermaTill, ProMix BX and bark fines) are in less than optimum quantity and I need to get them mixed for use. Was just wondering if one of the 'recipe' I intend on using would wick properly and not be too wet. Do you think the 3-2-2 could be loosely approximated with my ProMix (40%)+ Bark Fine (40%)+ PermaTill (20%) mix?? I have included a link to the PermaTill website if you are not familiar with it. Went to a sales rep demo at a local farm store and got several bags - almost free - well it cost about 15 minutes of my time.

Thanks again all,

Here is a link that might be useful: PermaTill information

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 3:58PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


I wasn't familiar with PermaTill, so now I am - Thanks! Looks like interesting potential replacement for the Perlite. I'll try to locate some out here in NorCal, if it is available. Looks like flower growers might be a source.

For the Mix you intend above, while you said it was not for tomatoes, it might be fine in the ratios you specify. In any event, keep us posted on how the PermaTill works out for you. Geez - - now ANOTHER trial series I'm tempted to run......


    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 5:09PM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

Thanks Raybo. I will post an update in September re: PermaTill.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 4:41PM
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I grew perfectly good tomatoes in 100% peat plus dolomite and ferts in my Earthboxs a couple years ago. I had saved the package of growing medium from my first purchase of a complete kit from Earthbox and the list of ingredients only listed peat moss. I later learned that perlite and vermiculite and other things were in the mix too. Who knew? LOL

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 1:05AM
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A good rule of thumb is 1:1 peat:(some fast draining material, like bark or perlite).

But it also depends on how high your container is. The 1:1 from my experience is good for a SWC that needs to wick up 1 foot. This is what my old 5-gallon SWCs did.

The eart**boxes I've seen for sale at nurseries (SummerWinds in NorCal), hold less than 1 foot deep for the mix. So you might want to use less peat maybe 40:60???

Also depends on how hot and how much sun you get.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 1:05PM
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Emgardener - You bring up a good point for my project. I am using a 5' round horse trough that is 24in deep. I will have 5" reservoir and fill to 4" from the rim, so that leaves 15" bed. I also live in Tucson, AZ which is 8A and HOT/DRY.

What would the key be for my mix OR should I change the bed and/or reservoir height?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 7:26PM
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I'm a little late in chiming in, but I wanted to experiment before I posted. Now that I've had great results, I'll share my experience.

Ray's Earthtainer guide calls for a 3:2:1 mixture of ProMix, bark, and perlite. However, people are constantly asking for home-brew mixes. And to be honest, based on Ray's formula, it couldn't be easier.

ProMix is fine, if you want a bagged mix. The only thing it really contributes is a wetting agent, and some mycos. The wetting agent, IMO, is completely unnecessary for a SIP. The mycos can be supllied from ANY good organic fert.

So, based on several sources, the ProMix is roughly 70% peat, and 30% perlite. It is 3 whole parts of the 3:2:1 mixture. So, if I figure what part of the complete mix it is, I find that the 3 parts ProMix translates into 2.1 parts of peat, and .9 parts perlite. That makes the overall mixture 2.1 parts peat, 2 parts bark and 1.9 parts perlite. Or, 2:2:2, which reduced to lowest terms, is a 1:1:1 mixture of peat, bark, and perlite.

How simple is that? And it works extremely well. ;)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2014 at 11:00AM
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