About the Soil....

Sugi_C(9a)February 25, 2013

Finding non-peat based packaged potting soil has proven to be difficult. Even more difficult is finding pine bark, fine or otherwise, in Northern California. I had two people correcting me, saying, "You mean fir bark."

So I went to the nursery I like the most and while I was in another aisle contemplating enormous bags of soil, one of the reps there led me to "the soil we use as the base for everything".

Gardner & Bloome: Eden Valley Blend Potting Soil

It's not often that a Google search yields as little as this particular soil does! Does anyone out there use this?!?!

Here are the ingredients:
Coir, forest products, peat moss, rice hulls, pumice, composted chicken manure, horticultural sand, dried poultry litter, feather meal, bone meal, bat guano, seabird guano, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, worm castings, dried sardine meal, crab meal, kapok seed meal, dolomite and oyster shell (for pH adjustment), mycorrhizae and beneficial microbes, Saponin (Yucca) extract (which protects microbes)

Again, couldn't avoid peat moss entirely in these pre-made versions and I don't have the outdoor space to buy large bags of many things to truly make a custom soil at this point.

You see quite a bit of coconut stringie husk thingies in it, looking like dead roots. But overall, the soil is quite...silky? Something about it is quite satiny and smooth compared to other soils I've tried. I've noticed with my seedlings, the tops have not crusted over like using a predominantly peat-based soil usually does, but used alone (or with very little amendments) it doesn't remain crumbly and loose on top either.

So I take this at about 50%, and the remainder half consists of perlite, bark, charcoal, sand and a toss of vermiculite.


I've used this mix for both indoors and outdoors (all containers, all on two balconies) except my seeds, where I used much more soil with less of the other ingredients. The houseplants look...happier, though this makes my boyfriend retort with, "Eh...repotting alllll of your plants made YOU happier; I dunno about the plants."

Anyway, while this doesn't accurately follow Al's mix, it's eons ahead of just regular MG potting soil, I think. And...it could be my imagination but everything really does look happier!

Also, even when thoroughly soaked, the soil feels "moist" rather than wet -- soaked rather than spongy, if you know what I mean. And, the ones with the greater roots are nicely drying out after two days, which will feed my need to water at least once a week! :-)

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Which particular bark you'll find in potting mixes is a local sort of thing.

In CA, most common are fir bark or redwood. Pine bark is south & east US, possibly more -- don't know, as I've never gardened other than the west coast. Here in OR it's fir or hemlock.

In other words, you get to use/purchase local products or put yourself in debt mail-ordering something from out of the area.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 11:27PM
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I have no intention of ordering pine bark. I ended up buying some orchid bark and for bark. :-) The small amount of acidity will have to included another way!

It does occur to me, though, that that's a lot of animal dung in the containers inside my home, haha.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 2:19AM
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Gardner & Bloome makes excellent quality potting soils - perhaps some of the best prepackaged potting soils on the market. I have used them extensively in the past myself and garden almost exclusively in containers. My favored blend was their Blue Ribbon potting mx, which I think competes very successfully with Al's mix. The Eden Valley wasn't available at that time and I am now living in area that is serviced by another Kellogg bagged soil line, which is equally as good.

AFAIK, Eden Valley is more coir-based than the Blue Ribbon's peat......neither one is an issue with regards to drainage due to the percentage of bark fines/pumice/perlite these products contain.

The difference between these and MiracleGro potting soils is like the difference between a Kia and a Ferrari -- not even in the same ballpark!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:43PM
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Thank you, gardengal! (Your name spellchecks on iPad to "gardenia", haha). I'm relieved to hear that because reviews re: this soil are practically nonexistent out there, aside from promo material that Kellogg put out there. It's also my first time using a coir-based soil. I presume there's more coir than peat based on the order of ingredients listed but I don't know if soil manufacturers have to follow that guideline...

Anyway, thank you. I was afraid ppl would chime in saying it's horrid and my poor plants would have to undergo yet another forced repotting!



    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 4:27PM
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Most of my indoor plants are okay on the average potting soil plus the pellets of organic plant food. But getting it right with Ferns indoors is difficult. Besides the dry winter air, the soil moisture is hard to keep the right balance. At least for me.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 12:11AM
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Hi Grace,
You kindly helped me out in my avocado thread, and I know you mentioned this potting mix... Could you tell me which nursery sells the Eden Valley mix, and approximately how much they charge? I make it up to Redwood City occasionally, and my local nurseries AND landscape companies in San Jose have been disappointing ("No, I can't use an entire cubic yard of redwood bark...").


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:52PM
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Nathan (Keo) -- I know you got my email. :-) Sorry, I didn't realize that post was both a posting and an email! :-)

I eventually caved and repotted the fern into 5:1:1. I was convinced it would die a quick death -- but so far, we're now into day 3 and it's quite deliciously happy.

I don't know why this plant always makes me crave vegetables.

Anyway - I had just commented on a different thread that this soil has made that delicate balancing act between "drowning to death" and "dry as hell" for this ferm MUCH more manageable. I touch and I can immediately tell that it's actually "moist" -- never wet. It's fascinating!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 7:00PM
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