Peppers in organic mix comparison

emgardenerSeptember 4, 2012

Here's a comparison on how peppers did in various organic, zero cost mixes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pepper container comparisons

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rina_

eg

I asked few questions about your experiment in yout other thread (about eggplants).

Rina

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 9:18AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yikes! Half bark and half turface....that would take more than a week to dry out here.
I wouldn't think that combination would make a "well-aerated" mix, especially if you
added a water reservoir. As I watched, I predicted that there wouldn't be much root in
that mix.

I also noticed that you had different things going on in each container. For a comparison,
I'd recommend a controlled experiment.

Josh

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 1:44PM
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emgardener

Hi Josh,

Well, no water reservoir, the extra tub was just to pipe any drainage off the deck.
Yes 1:1 turface:bark isn't as well-aerated as the 5:1:1, but it was certainly more aerated than the compost used in the other tubs. When the turface:bark peppers wilted, I would water them again and they would perk right up (but start wilting again in an hour to 90 minutes later).

You're in Northern California also, so I've wondered why you've gotten better results than I. Can I ask where in NoCal(many different microclimates here) and also what are the hours of sunlight your containers receive, what time in the morning do they first get sun and until what time in the evening. I'm trying to understand the difference I've observed to what I see you and others get.

Cheers

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 2:46PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

I for one enjoyed your experiment very much emgardener.

"I'm trying to understand the difference I've observed to what I see you and others get. "

Here is two cayenne in 100% top soil :)

I have found my best mix is 50%peat moss/50% topsoil from the garden. Cost=75 cents a cuft.

Fast lived annuals I found anything will work great, like some others on here agreed.

The mix of 50% peat and 50% top soil drains so fast I would never consider ever buying soil for growing peppers! :)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 2:58PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, EM!

I'm up here in the Auburn area, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, about 40 miles
northeast of Sacramento, at an elevation of 1600 feet. My plants are in partial sun/mosaic sun
most of the day, with only a few hours of direct sun around midday. The sun crests the near hills
sometime after 7:00am, and passes below the western oaks around 7:00pm (at this time of year).

I think there was too much Turface in your mix in this trial, and I would recommend cutting
the fraction way down - that would save cost, too. Also, did you sift/screen the Turface before
mixing? The Turface fines hold an incredible amount of moisture!

With your trial mix, I think plants in a smaller container would have performed wonderfully,
given that the smaller volume would have dried out sooner. But then, of course, you would
have had another variable to consider (pot size).

Josh

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:04AM
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emgardener

Hi Josh,

Thanks for the info.
Auburn is a nice area and hot! I drive through it periodically on the way to Nevada City.

Obviously somethings going on with my turface:bark tub that I don't fully understand. I had assumed that since the compost based tubs were wetter and doing well, the turface:bark issues weren't due to wetness. Another conclusion could be the compost helps the plants deal with wetness better.

My main focus is on only using yard materials, cost really isn't an issue, it's just a fun challenge to make good containers without buying any mix or fertilizer.

Well I do have a tub full of bark fines that are unused. I'll make a well sifted/screened 5:1:1 tub next spring. I do want to understand how you and greentiger get good results in hot weather.

Cheers

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 12:13AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

How much mycelium was in the rotted branch chunks?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 12:56AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Thanks for all the work you did, which was pretty effective in displaying the various problems. You were pretty good at showing what does not work. I will look forward to your tests next season. Al

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 8:50AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Why not just start making leaf mold and compost? There you go, endless grow media.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 9:52AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy, EM!

It sure is hot up here, isn't it? ;-) Our soil temps, in-ground, are running 78ðF right now!!!
This gives us a real late season advantage...but as you can infer, our Spring-time soil temperatures
are low and slow to warm, making for a difficult start to the season.

When you trial the 5-1-1 next season, you can add your fine compost to the mix instead of the
peat moss (or potting mix), which I think will really help innoculate the entire media. I notice
that mycorrhizae have colonized the bark mix in my containers by the end of the season.

Nevada City is an awesome little town in a fantastic forested location...about 25 minutes from
where I live (which is actually outside of Auburn proper). Good coffee, music, and people
watching up there :-)

Josh

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 8:00PM
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emgardener

nil,
There was a fair amount of mycelium in the branches in the top half of the tub. In the soggy bottom not as much.

greenman,
Good tip about inoculating 5:1:1, will use it.

em

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 1:39PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I'm wondering if the mycelial mass is what is really holding the majority of the water. That could lead to some interesting experiments with cultured mycelium.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 3:05PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

emgardener,

I noticed you wrote:

"I'm trying to understand the difference I've observed to what I see you and others get. "

So I showed a pic of my peppers in my free soil. I am experementing just like you are and I am very interested in your tests. It is strange that you completely ignored me all together?

"I for one enjoyed your experiment very much emgardener. "

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 12:11PM
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emgardener

Hi MG,

I enjoyed seeing your picture, just didn't have questions about it, understood it. Other ones I didn't fully understand. Most of my posts are ignored, so we share good company :)

cheers and happy gardening

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 2:05AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

After seeing your experiment, I was inspired to make a free mix. I think having a soil that is free and making it work is very impresive. :)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 3:03AM
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paul_30068(7)

Keep up the experiments. I like making free soil, too. I compared Miracle Grow with 3 month slow release fertilizer to home made compost this year for beets and the compost won big time. I need to snap some pictures before I harvest. Next year I plan to put 5-1-1 vs. compost to the test.

Making my own soil has a high degree of satisfaction for me. I start with heirloom seed and soil from my yard and compost pile, harvest fruits and vegetables, harvest some new seed, and repeat. Making soil mixes from store-bought materials is a hassle and an expense and so far I'm not as impressed as I am supposed to be with the experience. Too much watering required.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 5:39AM
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