5:1:1 Cost

johnweh(10 Boca Raton FL)October 19, 2010

Has anyone figured out what the average cost of the 5-1-1 mix is?

John

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you buy the perlite and peat in large bags/bales and the bark in 2 cu ft bags, it usually costs about half - 60% of what commercially prepared soils cost. $6-7 for 3-4 cu ft.

Al

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 11:57PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

It's A huge bargin when your not having to toss out dead plants! :)

JJ

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 12:16AM
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jodik_gw

Personally, I can't believe what stores get for a large bag of commercial potting soil. It's soil, not gold!

But seriously... in my opinion, I'd go with mixing my own medium even if it weren't cost effective... the health benefits alone, are well worth it!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 11:48AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

CHEAP! Shop around now, in the fall, most places are wanting to unload those materials. I saw one place had mulch for 50 cents a bag. Bought enough for next years landscaping. I put it in the shed and I will have it for next spring at a $2.50 a bag savings! To bad they didn't have the pine bark mulch/fines I was looking for.

Jay

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 12:06PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Jodik and Jojo..DITTO on that!

Al, thank you for helping me save my $ and plants..

Mike

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 3:36PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

:-)color>size>

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 4:30PM
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jodik_gw

I'll do ya one better, Jay... a couple of years ago, a friend and I were cruising a back road on our way home from shopping, and we happened upon a trail of bags alongside the road that must have fallen off a truck, or something. We slowed the van, and much to our surprise, we found that they were bags of wood mulch! Some had splits/holes in the bags, but we didn't care! It was free!

She drove the van, slowing at every bag, and I hopped out and tossed the bags in the side door! We ended up with about 10 bags of free mulch that someone either lost or didn't want. An opportunity like that doesn't come along every day, and we really lucked out! We ended up purchasing an additional 10 bags to complete the beds, but they were on sale by then.

Just a fun little anecdote... I'll never forget our surprise at finding those bags! We thought, "Cha-ching! What a savings!" You just never know what you'll find if you keep your eyes open! :-)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 9:35AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Stuff like that doesn't clearance much here! It's not very seasonal here. lol.

Gosh, our big box stores are even too stingy to mark something down when it's split open!

Anyway!
I love the peace of mind knowing i'm not going to have to throw plants away, and that it's easy to change for different plants needs.

The health benifits as Jodi put it. I also find it very relaxing and satisfying making my own mix.

JoJo

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 12:13PM
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paul_30068(7)

I'm finding my cost to be $3.25 per cu ft... $5.00 to $6.00 per cu ft if you count fertilizer.

  1. pine bark fines are nowhere to be found in my area (Marietta, GA) so I have to buy soil conditioner (Walmart $3.00 for a 2 cu ft bag) and sift it which produces maybe 50% pine bark fines if I'm not too picky about some junk being in the mix. [$3 per cu ft]

  2. The best value I've found thus far on perlite is $25.00 for a 4 cu ft bag. [$6.25 per cu ft]

  3. The sphagnum peat is about $3.00 for a 2 cu ft bag. [$1.50 per cu ft]

  4. I'm thinking about the fertilizer: Dynagrow Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 cost me $23.99 for a 32 ounce jug at Amazon.com. That's about $0.13 per teaspoon. If I use a tsp per cu ft of this fertilizer over say 16 weeks then that cost is $2.08 per cu ft -- let's call it $2.00 even. [$2 per cu ft]

So, $3.00 + $6.25 + $1.50 = $22.75 for 7 cu ft of soil mix... $3.25 per cu ft. Add in the liquid fertilizer to get $5.25 per cu ft.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 11:43AM
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greentiger87

Is Miracle-Gro All Purpose + epsom salts + possibly chelated iron/micronutrients any cheaper than Foliage Pro in the long run?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 12:12PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

I would say Foliage Pro wins. It has Ca and Mg in the right ratios. I do not know what cost would be, but the convenience of fp makes it the best choice. I use miracle gro all purpose with another fertilizer that has the missing secondary macronutrients so everything is covered.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 1:43PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

GT - yes, it would be. I would use it for anything outdoors, but I'd still go for the FP for indoor stuff or indoor stuff that summers outdoors. The nitrate N keeps the foliage more refined (smaller & more leaves & tighter internodes) on anything in low light, so helps considerably with reducing legginess. That's why I like it so much for my bonsai trees - keeps them compact.

A quart of MG 12-4-8 is about $6 - the Epsom salts are practically free, and I pay about $125 for 5 lbs of Sprint 138, which is an iron chelate formulated for high pH apps, but I only use 1/8 tsp/2 gallons of solution and apply about 4 times per year. A little goes a long, long way. It works great, though. Add a little gypsum when you make the gritty & you're good to go, if the trade-off is acceptable.

Al

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 3:59PM
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greentiger87

Thank you Al! Somehow you always manage to answer with exactly what I needed to know.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 2:32PM
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capoman(5a)

Al, that's an interesting note about nitrate nitrogen creating tighter internodes and smaller leaves, that I've never seen mentioned anywhere before. Can you elaborate? Is this something you've observed or seen studies about?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 4:39PM
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charleslou23

"It's A huge bargin when your not having to toss out dead plants! :)"

so if you use anything else other than 511, your plants will die?hmmm...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 4:47PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I don't think that was the implication, that if you don't use it your plants will die. If I thought it was, I would have corrected Jojo gently. I'm certain though, that it has stayed a lot of plants that were under the care of heavy-handed waterers from their early retirement to the compost pile, and offered a leg up to a lot of folks struggling with water retentive soils.

Capoman - I've read in several greenhouse management books that greenhouse crops are often started with a fertilizer specifically tailored to the crop, but the strategy might go something like this: Begin fertilizing plugs with something close to 3:1:2 ratio with the N coming from urea sources. When potting up, switch to a lower NPK ratio like a 2:1:2 NPK with a nitrate source to "finish". The lower NPK ratio curtails vegetative growth, so the plant is forced to channel more energy into reproductive parts (blooms), and works in concert with the nitrate N to shorten internodes and offer stocky stems. That's why you get these little tiny plants in cell packs already blooming, when if you'd grown from seed the plant might need to be 3-4 times the size (of the plants in the cell packs) before they bloom. So, that's how it's practically applied, other than on my bonsai. ;-)

I can look for a reference if you're interested, but I suspect it can be found in the Ball Redbook V2 ~ Debbie Hamrick, and Greenhouse Operation and Mgmt ~ Paul Nelson, or Water, Media, and Nutrition for Greenhouse Crops, also a Ball book edited by Dave Reed.

Al

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:17PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No, Charles, that's not what was meant.
Although I will wager that more plants do die in bagged soils than in 5-1-1 mix....
granted, more plants are grown in bagged soils, so the mortality rates would have to be higher.

The hope is that with the 5-1-1, an overall knowledge is gained, including the appropriate use
of fertilizer, as well as essential techniques like root-pruning and re-potting.

In the long-run, the choice of mix, nutrient application, watering habits, and root-maintenance
will determine which plants die, struggle, or thrive.

Josh

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:22PM
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mrlike2u(**)

so if you use anything else other than 511, your plants will die?

In a manner of speaking it's impossible to grow every plant I have in the same mix of 5-1-1 and expect them to live a long term healthy life.

As long as a bagged soil doesn't compact the roots and or perch then no the plant wont die. The H2O flow from a bagged soiled and the bagged soil perching water problems are things I can do better off with out.

Yes A LOT of plants can be grown in custom mixes and are much better off for a longer healthier life and mostly alot easier to care for is just a bonus.

Perhaps as any one else, I too can also make exceptions to the custom made mix soil with a plant type or two that grows well in standing water alone or just air and water.

As I only have a few plant types that make an exception of 5-1-1 and not growing well at all in any type of 5-1-1 mixes of all them plants NONE of them would grow in any bagged soil either.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 6:24PM
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capoman(5a)

There are four main advantages to 5-1-1 that has made me a better container gardener. It not just for the advanced gardeners as it's very forgiving of gardener error.

Forgiveness of watering. Very hard to overwater, even when left out in rain.
Flushing of fertilizers. The drainage prevents salt build-ups even when you are heavy handed with fertilizers.
Aeration. Plants love oxygen at the roots.
Reduction in pests and disease. Saturated soil invites all kinds of pest and disease problems including fungal and fungus gnats. I've even noticed aphids seem to avoid plants in 5-1-1.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:02AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"No, Charles, that's not what was meant.
Although I will wager that more plants do die in bagged soils than in 5-1-1 mix....
granted, more plants are grown in bagged soils, so the mortality rates would have to be higher."

"In the long-run, the choice of mix, nutrient application, watering habits, and root-maintenance
will determine which plants die, struggle, or thrive. "

Greenman,

Can you show me a productive plant in the 5-1-1? You give so much advice, any pics? ;)

This plant was grown in a mix of peat/compost/perlite-about the same thing as any good potting mix :) I have some plants in bagged potting mix looking great!!!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:44AM
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perelaj(5b)

Getting back to the cost concerns of 5-1-1, there is a lumber yard near me that sells composted pine bark mulch by the yard. Beautiful black stuff, with very little sapwood. I bought a yard in Spring for $35. I screened out the large pieces, and I had enough left to fill fifteen 18 gallon containers, plus dozens of other pots and planters, and I still have a little mulch left over. A yard of mulch is 27 cubic feet. So, not counting the perlite ($38 for a 6 cubic foot bag, here) and peat (didn't need it, since there was enough fine material in the mulch) I think it was a pretty good deal. Perhaps other people looking for a good source of pine bark fines should check their lumber yard? Of course, you'll need a pick-up truck to haul the mulch home. ...Or, a friend with a pick-up truck.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:01AM
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capoman(5a)

MasterGardener, you don't get it. No one is saying that you can't grow plants well in peat based soils. But it is a lot more difficult, especially for novice gardeners. I started out awhile back using peat based soils and had the usual issues with peat, especially indoors, overwatering, then underwatering, fungus gnats, pythium, salt build-up among others. Switching to 5-1-1 has made gardening a breeze, especially indoors. And I've also done side by sides and had far superior growth in 5-1-1. Plants are just healthier with all that aeration. You may have had good luck with peat, but I'm willing to bet you haven't even tried 5-1-1 yet or you'd be converted.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 1:09PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Capoman,

No I do get it lol. ;)

What you said is 100% true.

I do however believe mrlike2u said it the best-"so if you use anything else other than 511, your plants will die? "

Yea really lol :)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 2:38PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

MG,
MrLike didn't write that....Charles wrote that, before my post.

As for pics...I've littered these Fora with all manner of pics of plants I've grown
or am growing in 5-1-1. You've seen lots of those pics, and you've commented on how
nice the plants are.

Josh

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 4:33PM
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capoman(5a)

No they necessarily won't die, but will have a much higher chance of it in water retentive soil, especially for a new grower.

Question is, why would you pay more for a commercial soil mix that you have to fight and watch like a hawk, when you can easily make a far superior soil for less money, and give yourself a much higher chance of success? I don't know about you, but I like a mix that's forgiving if I accidently f**k up and leave my plants out in a two day rain, or overwater an inside plant.

With peat based soils, I had to water each plant individually in a very narrow window. With 5-1-1, I can just wait until one plant is dry, and then water them all without worrying about overwatering. That makes growing SO much easier. Same deal for applying fertilizer. It's much more forgiving.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 4:47PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Well said, Capo.

Josh

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 6:23PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

I want to see some more nice plants in the 5-1-1 if anyone else has any to show. It is great to see some new pics on here.

What kind of plant was that Josh? Looks perfect.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 6:48PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

It's a dwarf Castor Bean 'Impala'...

Josh

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 6:55PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Nice. I am gaining more and more interest in growing orimentals, cacti, and other types of plants in containers. The 5-1-1 is a got to for all of my house plants.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 8:03PM
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mrlike2u(**)

MG: If there is any one thing all others have in common is an interest in growing more and different plant types. As you mentioned succulents..... hmmmm Do I foresee a Crassula in your future ?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:09PM
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capoman(5a)

That's the beauty of the 5-1-1. I've tried many different plants in it, and they all seem to thrive. It's also adjustable for plants with special needs such as blueberries, or plants that like a wetter environment. My interest is mainly fruits and vegetables, but my wife who had been container gardening all her life and has many different ornamentals is moving all her plants over time and all new ones to the 5-1-1, even though she has 30 years experience with peat based soils. She is generally one that doesn't change something that already works for her. She is noticing how much easier and healthier her plants are in it, the reason she is willing to change something she has done for decades. We haven't done gritty yet, but I can see trying that in our future as well, but so far 5-1-1 has met all our needs.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 8:13AM
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