Have to change soil?

barb_roselover_inAugust 4, 2012

My dtr who lives in CA grew tomatoes in containers. She was so thrilled that she really had a good season. She is home visiting and was disappointed to tell me that they were getting brown at the bottom and she was afraid they were dying. I encouraged her to try planting another crop but did not know whether she should completely change the soil or whether the soil would be contaminated. She has them in containers on a small balcony of her apartment. Can we get some advice on this before she has to go back? Thanks in advance. Barb

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Hard to tell,not know what growing medium she started with

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 11:28PM
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Thanks for answering. She is a first time gardener, and this is te first time she has raised anything although she helped with everything while she was home. She purchased her containers and bags of regular potting soil. She was so thrilled that she wants to continue. Only has room on her balcony for three containers. Barb

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 9:01AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I would probably start over. With only 3 containers, why take a chance. At least I would get potting "mix" next time and not potting "soil." Or she could make her own mix. There's lots of info in this forum on potting mixes.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 9:09AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Barb - in my mind's eye, I can see a new gardener wanting to give her new plants lots of TLC. That translates into her giving them regular doses of water - 'just to make sure they have enough'. So, going strictly by the odds, I'd guess, maybe even bet, that the root cause of the failed crop was over-watering. This can easily become a problem with some soils that are expressively water-retentive from the bag. Plants like a soil that is about as damp as a well-wrung sponge, never wet or soggy at the bottom.

I think that if she, even you, read the link I'll leave, you'll come away with a different (and better) perspective of how you can make your soils work FOR you, instead of against you. Most of the problems associated with container gardening can be traced directly to (unsatisfactory) soils and the compromised root systems that accompany them.


Here is a link that might be useful: Much more about container media if you click me ....

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 1:28PM
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