acquiring soil in bulk

kawaiineko_gardener(5a)January 19, 2010

I plan to do container gardening in the spring when the weather is warm enough. What is going to kill me the most as far as cost is the soil.

I have 3 earthboxes which is a form of self-watering container gardening. It says for each box you need a 2 cubic foot bag of soil. I have three earthboxes so I need a total of 6 cubic feet of soil.

I also have some containers leftover from last year. I have three or four 10 gallon containers and one 15 gallon container. I know I'll need 27 gallons of soil to fill up

all of the 10 gallon containers, and 14 gallons to fill up

my 15 gallon container.

Currently I have two options. One is to buy the soil in bulk which I believe will be more economical the other

option is to get some dark rich black soil from a dump that's close by.

However I don't know where to buy soil in bulk cause the biggest size bag carried is the 2 cubic foot bags. Can I get bags that are bigger than this? If so, where?

I'm kinda leary of using the soil from the dump, because I'm wondering if it'll be too heavy or dense for container gardening? I also don't know if it'll have all the nutritional needs required for what I plan to grow, which will be veggies.

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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

The dump sounds like an unusual place to get soil. I'm not sure what's available locally around you but many garden centers or sand and gravel companies sell planter's mix by the yard. If you can't get a truck to use they will deliver for a fee. Generally they will also sell by the half-yard.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 6:23PM
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jonas302(central mn 4)

I would ask a local landscape yard or nursury what they have or where they get it

Your yellow pages usually have a lot of dirt suppliers also

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 7:15PM
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I would hope that the rich back soil from the dump is actually compost from a green can recycling progam. These are common in my area and the compost makes a fine amendment and mulch, but I would not use it straight. If it is really soil from the dump, I would leave it be!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 7:45PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I've never seen an earth box, so forgive my ignorance. It is a container with a bottom, right? Not just a frame like a raised bed? So why would you use soil in it, as opposed to potting mix which is generally recommended for container planting?

Pro-Mix potting mix can be bought in bulk in compressed bales containing, I believe, 3.7 cu ft of potting mix/bale.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 5:44AM
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Many of the dumps around here take the leaves people rake up from their yards and pile them up in a back corner and residents in that governmental unit are allowed to come in and take the residual leaf mold, usually free. Although it may look like soil it is organic matter that will improve any soil it is added to. If that is what is at your dumpit would be a good start for potting soil.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 12:20PM
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Well the soil is rich and black. The reason I'm asking is cause unfortunately I'm on a tight budget with gardening.

It's basically just a huge mound of soil. I don't know what a green can recycling program is, nor am I sure if such a program is offered in my area.

The only reason I ask is because somebody at the local
hardware store recommended this to me as an option.

Also where can I find pro-potting mix? What stores would carry it?

Which would be better to use, run-of-the-mill top soil
or something like miracle gro?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 7:44PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

Never had any experience with an earthbox so no opinion on that. What does the manufacturer recommend, soil or potting mix? I have never used soil in container planting. Don't like pure compost for containers either unless it's cut with perlite and maybe peat or pine fines. I find compost alone stays too wet.

If you don't reveal your location in your profile nobody can recommend places you might find any product.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 8:55PM
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I did a google search and found that Ace Hardware advertises the Pro-Mix potting soil.

I did a google search on earthbox planter and found several sites ... even a forum, which has quite a long discussion about different kinds of "soilless mix" to use in this kind of container. That might prove helpful to you.
Did your earthbox not come with directions? Not very "user friendly", huh?

The Garden Web Container Gardening Forum might also prove helpful.

Since cost is a factor ... the free "soil"[?] at the dump sounds tempting. But Mendopete's caution is well-placed. That can be very nasty stuff, no matter how attractive. How does it smell? You may want to test it out in one earth box and other container, just to see how it works out. If good stuff, it will set your timing off a little, but not as much as filling all containers with 'iffy' stuff. It's a gamble ... gamble big or gamble small ... it's your call.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 10:05PM
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I can understand needing to work within a budget, but if you are doing all your gardening in containers, cheaping out on the soil is not the way to go - the correct soil mix can make all the difference between an OK gardening season and a great gardening season.

I'd second barb's recommendation to visit the Container Gardening forum and specifically to read through this link: Understanding Container Soils.

Bulk soils are just that - they are sold in bulk (by the yard), NOT in bags and it is significantly less expensive to purchase any soil product in this manner. But not all areas will have appropriate soil mixes, and especially container mixes, available in bulk. Many folks elect to make their own container potting mix using the recipes you'll find in the above attached thread - the ingredients are not that hard to find and they tend to be less expensive when purchased individually than if already combined into a prepackaged mix.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 10:08AM
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The soil at the dump doesn't smell. As to where I live, I live in Boyne City Michigan; this in the northern part of the lower peninsula.

Any major hardware stores are in Petoskey, which is 40-60 minutes round trip from where I live. By major hardware stores I mean Lowe's or Home Depot.

As for instructions with what type of soil it does specify with the earthbox, I should've been more specific. My apologies.

Unfortunately it's kinda vague with what type of potting mix to use. It just says "almost any kind of potting mix will work, just don't use one that has rocks". It also says per earthbox you need 2 cubic feet of soil.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 4:02PM
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