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All about soil - A great resource I thought I would share


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#41 Kraken

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 04:54 PM

Mix #1: The classic formula for potting mix before soilless mixes became popular:
1/3 mature compost or leaf mold, screened
1/3 garden topsoil
1/3 sharp sand
This mix results in a potting soil that will be heavier than the modern peat mixes, but will still have good drainage. Compost has been shown to promote a healthy soil mix that can reduce root diseases. Vermiculite or perlite can be used instead of sand. To this base can be added fertilizers.


Classic Peat-Lite Mix from Cornell:
1/2 cu. yd. sphagnum peat
1/2 cu. yd. vermiculite
10 lbs. dolomitic limestone
2 lbs. superphosphate
1/2 lb. calcium nitrate
1/2 lb. potassium nitrate

Organic Substitute for Cornell Mix:
1/2 cu. yd. sphagnum peat moss
1/2 cu. yd. vermiculite
5 lbs. ground limestone
10 lbs. bone meal (or rock phosphate)
5 lbs. blood meal

Mix #2:
13.5 cubic feet sphagnum peat moss
13.5 cubic feet vermiculite
1.5 lbs. calcium nitrate
2 oz. micronutrients
2.5 lbs. superphosphate (0-20-0)
10 lbs. ground limestone
3 oz. wetting agent

Mix #3:
13.5 cubic feet sphagnum peat moss
13.5 cubic feet sharp sand
4 oz. potassium nitrate
4 oz. potassium sulfate
2 oz. micronutrients
2.5 lbs. superphosphate (0-20-0)
10 lbs. ground limestone

Mix #4:
13.5 cubic feet sphagnum peat moss
13.5 cubic feet vermiculite or perlite
5 lbs. dried bloodmeal (12% nitrogen)
10 lbs. steamed bonemeal
5 lbs. ground limestone

Mix #5:
40 quarts sphagnum peat moss
20 quarts sharp sand
10 quarts topsoil
10 quarts mature compost
4 oz. ground limestone
8 oz. bloodmeal (contains 10% nitrogen)
8 oz. rock phosphate (contains 3% phosphorus)
8 oz. wood ashes (contains 10% potassium)

Mix #6:
6 parts compost
3 parts soil
1-2 parts sand
1-2 parts soil
1-2 parts aged manure
1 part peat moss
1-2 parts leaf mold, if available
1 6" pot of bone meal
2 tablespoons lime

Mix #7:
2 parts compost
1 part peat moss
1 part vermiculite, pre-wet

Mix #8:
5 gallons screened, sterilized garden soil. Bake at 150 for 45 minutes in an oven.
5 gallons peat moss
5 gallons screened compost
5 gallons vermiculite
1 cup bonemeal
1 cup bloodmeal
1 cup greensand
1 cup pulverized limestone

Mix #9:
15 qts. screened black peat
15 qts. brown peat
17 qts. coarse sand
14 qts. screened leaf compost
3 oz. pulverized limestone
9 oz. greensand
3/4 cup dried blood
3 oz. alfalfa meal
3 oz. colloidal phosphate
9 oz. pulverized bonemeal

Mix #10:
20 qts. black peat
20 qts. sand or calcined clay
20 qts. regular peat
10 qts. soil
10 qts. compost
1/2 cup lime
1 cup greensand
1 cup colloidal phosphate
1 cup bloodmeal

Mix #11:
.5 cu. yd. shredded sphagnum peat moss
.5 cu. yd. horticultural vermiculite
5 lbs. dried blood
10 lbs. steamed bonemeal
5 lbs. ground limestone

Mix #12:
10 lbs. composted cow pen manure
10 pounds sphagnum peat moss
80 pounds garden soil
8 pounds calcium carbonate
4 pounds soft rock phosphate
2 pounds sawdust

Mix #13:
10 pounds compost
30 pounds sphagnum peat moss
60 pounds white sand
8 pounds calcium carbonate
4 pounds soft rock phosphate
2 pounds sawdust

Mix #14:
70 pounds white sand
25 pounds sphagnum peat moss
5 pounds chicken manure
8 pounds calcium carbonate
4 pounds soft rock phosphate

Mix #15:
2 parts vermiculite
2 parts perlite
3 parts topsoil
3 parts peat
2 parts cow manure
1/2 part bonemeal

Mix #16:
1 part peat
1 part perlite
1 part compost (or leaf mold)
1 part bonemeal
1 part worm castings (optional)

Mix #17:
9 quarts compost
3 quarts garden soil
3 quarts sharp sand
3 quarts vermiculite
1 cup greensand
1/2 cup blood meal
1/2 cup bonemeal


Wow!!! New member reading an old post. Will use for future grows...

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#42 TylerInNiagara

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:03 AM

Over the last year I have been playing with different soils, peat, coconut coir, “triple mix” and so far nothing has worked as well as pepper Joe’s dirt mix witch has compost (mushroom compost)(leafs) and cow manure but also pearlite or vermiculite, hay/straw and very fine pine wood mulch (maybe some sulfur or Epsom salt). I will try and figure out the best amount later on. When using coconut coir it’s best to have some dirt near the bottom of the pot…

Edited by TylerInNiagara, 17 November 2011 - 04:30 AM.


#43 andro

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 12:26 PM

My uncle uses this mix for his potted pepper plants, big healthy plants with tasty peppers.

He also throws in some dolomite lime and starts feeding when they need it.

I'll probably use this soil mix this year too, important to use a high quality compost.

5 peat
3 compost
1 perlite
1 vermiculite (or just 2 parts perlite and no vermiculite)

#44 wrightdaddy

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 10:26 AM

Great info thanx.
come on ice cream!!!

#45 busamadman

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 07:39 PM

This is a little "out there", but I've had truly fantastic results using intensive growth media from the green roof industry. It is usually made from calcined (expanded by heat) clay, shale or slate, and sometimes pumice on the West Coast. It's about $100/yard, which is darn cheap compared to the ProMixes and other peat-based blends out there. The one drawback is that they have a lower CEC than peat/coir-based blends, but if you are doing some regimen-based fertilizing (fertigation, etc.) this stuff works incredibly. You also don't have to replace it or add to it in raised beds since it doesn't settle over time, being ~75% inorganic matter by volume (~91% by mass).

Below is a spec sheet on the material. I'm intimately familiar with this material so if you have nay questions, just let me know (I don't work for the companies that make the stuff, just had a lot of experience with it).

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#46 armac

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 08:10 PM

What is the average weight of 5 gallons of a good mix. All my mixes tend to be heavy. Just a guestimate on the 5 gallon weight will give me a reference point.
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#47 LGHT

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 12:20 PM

What is the average weight of 5 gallons of a good mix. All my mixes tend to be heavy. Just a guestimate on the 5 gallon weight will give me a reference point.


Good question. Unfortunetly I've never weighed my mixes, but I can say mine are very light. A few pounds if that. Since my area doesn't get too hot and really doesn't need a lot of water retention I make it as light and fluffy as possible and usually only fill it up about 3/5 of the way. Half way through the grow season I do add some worm castings and light fertilizer and then top with mulch.

#48 armac

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 04:04 PM

I am going to try this,

60% pine fines
10% compost
10% perlite
10% potting soil
10% peat


On the advice of a valued member here, I will add 10 10 10 fertilizer to the mix.


See how this works out, it will be in 7 gallon black nursery pots.
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#49 windchicken

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 11:21 AM

The following paper is some of the most important information on soil formation ever published. It completely changed the way I understanding agriculture and soil fertility.

I take that back. It is the most important work available to anyone who is growing anything:

http://www.hydrogeoc...gcbr/doc140.pdf

#50 gumbii

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:21 AM

what about coco coir...?

i have a ton of this laying around... i was thinking about trying it on seeds to see if it works... i use it on my plumerias with perlite...

#51 windchicken

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 02:18 PM

I've read a lot about that stuff, and lots of folks on this board swear by it, but that's the extent of my knowledge...

#52 compmodder26

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 02:38 PM

what about coco coir...?

i have a ton of this laying around... i was thinking about trying it on seeds to see if it works... i use it on my plumerias with perlite...


My knowledge of it is limited but I believe it is supposed to be a substitute for peat moss. I believe it is supposed to be a sustainable source where peat is not.

#53 gumbii

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 02:52 PM

My knowledge of it is limited but I believe it is supposed to be a substitute for peat moss. I believe it is supposed to be a sustainable source where peat is not.


my local hydro place said that it's way better than peat for it's natural low PH, prevents water logging, and it's

70-30 moisture-to-aeration level... i dunno... i think i should plant some seeds in some to see if it works...



#54 compmodder26

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:11 PM

my local hydro place said that it's way better than peat for it's natural low PH, prevents water logging, and it's

70-30 moisture-to-aeration level... i dunno... i think i should plant some seeds in some to see if it works...



Go for it! But I'm not sure about the accuracy of the hydro shop's statement that it has a natural low PH. I'm not questioning that coco has a low PH but rather that the statement would imply that peat is not low in PH. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that peat is an acidic medium as well. If they are implying that coco is more acidic then you might want to be careful as peppers don't like soil that is TOO acidic.

Most people I've seen recommend combining peat with something more basic to bring the PH up to something more tolerable for peppers. So if coco is more acidic then you'll want to do the same thing, if not more.

#55 busamadman

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 10:55 AM

Go for it! But I'm not sure about the accuracy of the hydro shop's statement that it has a natural low PH. I'm not questioning that coco has a low PH but rather that the statement would imply that peat is not low in PH. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that peat is an acidic medium as well. If they are implying that coco is more acidic then you might want to be careful as peppers don't like soil that is TOO acidic.

Most people I've seen recommend combining peat with something more basic to bring the PH up to something more tolerable for peppers. So if coco is more acidic then you'll want to do the same thing, if not more.



A couple things I've learned about peat and coir over the years:

There is a HUGE variety of coir on the market. Most gardening coir comes from Sri Lanka. Some of it is very salty with an excessively high eC as delivered. The best comes from inland Sri Lanka locations where it is surrounded by freshwater, rather than near bodies of salt water where the material picks up salt from the sea. When I dealt with a lot of coir, we would test each batch and refuse about 20% of them.

When properly manufactured and "cured", coir is great. Good coir tends to have a pH around 5.8 +/- 0.4

One of folks' favorite things about coir is its "re-wetability" when compared to peat. Years and years ago, it wasn't like this with peat. Here's why.

Peat nowadays is usually "mechanically" dried, meaning they speed up the drying process before it is baled or processed. This involves low temperature ovens that dry it out quickly. As a result, the natural oils and waxes are forced the surface of the peat fibers, making them hard to "re-wet". That's why you sometimes get the dried out potted plant in ProMix that just lets the water run down around the perimeter and out the bottom when you hand water the plant.

Sun dried peat doesn't have this problem. It is naturally dried in the sun and the waxes and oils remain evenly distributed throughout the fibers. This stuff re-wets just like top grade coir and is a fantastic product. It also doesn't break down as fast and for reasons unknown to me, has a higher CEC. The best peat I've ever seen was sun dried and came from B.C. and it was very light in color ("blond peat"). Haven't seen it in years.

On pH, peat tends to be in 4.X range, so I've only used it to buffer potentially alkaline mixes that are based around expanded shale or slate, both of which have a pH up around 8.5-9 by themselves.

The best all-round growing material for most plants that I've found is fossilized diatoms. Goes under the name Axis. Neutral pH, reasonably high CEC that locks onto the macros our plants need, light in weight and it doesn't break down so it can be sterilized and re-used. Not the cheapest material, but in mixes I've used 60-70% Axis and gotten ridiculous results. I suspect that part of this is the high saturated air porosity which allows roots access to to copious amounts of air, wven in a fully saturated state (usually >20% air porosity by volume.)

#56 gumbii

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 04:28 PM

diatoms as in diatomaceous earth...? i use that stuff on my poultry to control mites and other bugs... it is expensive... 5 bucks a lb... but it's a fine dust... not even a powder... is this the same stuff...?

after some research online, yes, this is the same stuff... gotta find non-food grade DE now and give it a whirl...

#57 busamadman

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:54 AM

diatoms as in diatomaceous earth...? i use that stuff on my poultry to control mites and other bugs... it is expensive... 5 bucks a lb... but it's a fine dust... not even a powder... is this the same stuff...?

after some research online, yes, this is the same stuff... gotta find non-food grade DE now and give it a whirl...


Here's the material I've used in the past: http://epminerals.com/axis.html

They have several grades, I've used a mixture of course and fine. Course is screened 3/8" on the top and 1/16" on the bottom and is quite granular. Cheaper than Hydroton/agri-grade LECA and considerably better IMO.

#58 puppet89

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 06:30 AM

Really useful info! Thanks.

#59 Helldozer

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 07:46 PM

Does anyone know if Navlet's, Orchard Supply, Home Depot, etc. carry a decent mix? The first two I listed are better places for me.

Here are three mixes on Navlet's web site, though they have more at the store: http://www.navletsga...ucts/index.html

Thanks.

#60 hotjohn9

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 11:59 PM

WOW thanks alot my friend




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