Need some help

jbest123(Zone 5 PA)July 29, 2013

This coming spring I will be gardening on a balcony. I currently garden in raised beds with the exception of a dryer drum. The raised beds are filled with 100% compost and do extremely well. The dryer drum is filled with 5 sq. ft. Osmocote potting soil and doing very poorly. I think it is a water retention problem. Has anybody had similar experience? I wonâÂÂt have my compost bins anymore and I donâÂÂt trust commercial compost. My best guess is I will have to water every day or install a irrigation system. Any suggestions are appreciated. John

Here is a link that might be useful: John's Garden Journal

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To gain more perspective into soils and water retention in container environments, I would suggest reading "Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XVII", written and posted by Tapla, within this forum.

It's a great knowledge base from which to begin, in my opinion, and has helped numerous gardeners, including myself, understand their growing issues from the soil up, as it were.

The article talks in depth about soil and water in that confined environment from a scientific point of view, and how it relates to the needs of the plant's roots. Healthy plants begin with healthy root systems, and growing within the rather confined space of containers is vastly different than growing in the garden/ground.

When it comes to soils, Tapla is our resident "go-to guy"!

Happy Gardening!

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XVII

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 7:45AM
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jbest123(Zone 5 PA)

Thanks for the link jodik, good information but making my own potting soil won't be an option in my new residence. After reading the post, I am wondering if Miracle Grow with moisture control is worth the price difference. I wonder what they use for moisture control. John

Here is a link that might be useful: John's Garden Journal

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 6:04PM
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Do some research through the forum archives on Miracle Gro potting soils - I think you will find that consensus on this product is pretty poor and even poorer on the "moisture control" formulation.

The moisture control product most often used with commercial potting soils is acrylic polymer crystals (brand name, 'Soil Moist', 'Watersorb'), the same thing they use in disposable diapers.

One does not necessarily need to make your own to obtain a good quality potting soil. Sometimes it is just a matter of locating a good commercial base product (NOT the MG!!) and adding to it, either drainage enhancers like pumice, perlite or clay and/or texture and durability with bark fines.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 7:06PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Retaining water is what you want to avoid unless your schedule does not allow you to water plants often. Your mention of being able to water daily should alleviate the need for something like that, and watering almost any pot daily, especially one so big, and that has a predominance of peat or moisture control crystals in it is probably way too much/often. Does the dryer drum container have a hole in the bottom?

Some soils come with time-release fertilizer in them, so adding more can be too much. Could that be an issue?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 10:50AM
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