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First time in containers - am I on the right track?

Florida containers organic

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#21 solid7

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 07:56 AM

I have some starts that were originally intended for a hydro setup. They are firmly rooted in rockwool. Will this cause any problems with localized saturation around the plant base? Or will the coco wick the moisture out of the rockwool? (to the point of equilibrium)

 

The home-made soil I had the best luck with was roughly 1 part composted manure, 1 part perlite, 2 parts compost and 1 part peat moss with a small amount of bone and blood meal added in...it did very well, but probably could have used a tad more perlite as it compacted over the course of the season.


I'm going to be doing a bit of tinkering. I'm going to go with my original plan, and will monitor the feeding situation. I may need to up the feedings as necessary. (which I don't anticipate at all in the early stages) The plants will certainly tell me what they need.

This mixture that you have mentioned, I'm going to give a try in another container. I really like the sound of it, as it sounds a lot like the dirt farming that I'm used to. (minus the perlite, of course) Plus, I have calculated some of my quantities, and I'm going to have leftover materials. This will help me use up things that I won't have to store. So a big thanks for throwing that out there.

Edited by solid7, 30 January 2014 - 09:11 AM.

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#22 solid7

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:39 PM

OK, I made a trip to the local grow store, and didn't find what I needed. So, I'm taking a different angle, for now. Let's just call this my "baseline"

What I have:

Roots Organic Original (soil/media)
10 gallon "SmartPots"
For top dressing, I'm going to use Excelerite, Kelp meal, Alfalfa meal, and worm castings.

I will be hitting this once a week with compost tea. It's free at our local grow store, so I'm taking full advantage of that. In addition, I have just started 3 gigantic worm boxes in the back yard. We have a neighbor with a ficus tree, and it just ocurred to me that whenever I looked for worms with my daughter, they were always in the leaf litter from this tree. (and there are millions of them!) The sand is full of richness out there - the only spot in the whole yard that anything grows worth a damn. So I filled up my boxes with the leaves. It was too cold to find the worms, but I'm sure that there are plenty of egg pods already in there. Once it warms up, I'll start throwing them in by the handful. Will grab some coffee grounds at the local Starbucks, and start dumping all fruit and veggie waste in there. (along with eggshells) In a year's time, I should be rich in worm castings. I will continue to top dress with these castings, when they start to become readily available.

Not what I had in mind, but I have plants ready to be planted right now, and I can't wait around... I will think about starting a glog, if time permits. New job begins on Monday, so things will get hectic. I've been working from home for the past 6 months. No more. :(

Edited by solid7, 30 January 2014 - 10:39 PM.

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#23 solid7

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 05:54 PM

there will be minimal compaction with a smart pot anyways because there will be good air movement. the problems that correlate ith soil compaction is loss of oxygen to the roots and overwatering, both of which will be solved with the air pots unless you are using straight clay soil. I would say add compost because the top dressing and nutrient feedwill be kinda diluted by the time it reach the bottom of the container imo. check out this growlog he grows organic with compost and in smart pots. http://thehotpepper....882-gurus-2013/

 

I started making a few different pots since this thread started.  Basically, the ones I like best right now, are a tall pot - about 14" in diameter, and about 18" high, self wicking, with burlap liners.  I make the container with "hardware cloth", which is basically a 3/8" plastic mesh.  I have used these pots both as self-watering, (setting in an open reservoir) and manually watered, and am pleased with the results either way.  I am growing in several mixes - one of which is mostly peat and eartworm castings, with no perlite whatsoever.   And it's doing pretty darn well...


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#24 Bob_B

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 07:15 PM

I'm a strong believer in top dressing with compost - seems to really help with the compaction issue. My plants really "pop" after doing this. I will also say that peppers don't need much "love". I give mine a shot of MG once a month and top dress twice during the season. 2013 was an outlier for me with the heavy rain. I had to double up.....

Have a wonderful season!

#25 solid7

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 08:40 PM

Good to hear from a fellow Floridian.

I got a little aggressive, and tried making some starts when our weather hadn't quite stabilized. (hey, it's Florida - you got a 50/50 chance of having 4 full growing seasons)  Well, I got hurt a bit by that decision, and some of my stronger plants aren't looking so good - for now.  But they're hanging in there.

Since I'm doing a full up organic grow, I decided to do the top dress, and mulch with leaves.  I've actually been pretty satisfied with this system.  Once a week, I hit my plants with Alaska fish and Alaska kelp, and that's all she needs.  The airpots are awesome.  Don't think I'm ever going back to traditional containers!

Next experiment is bark based growing medium.  I think I'm going to do a mix with recycled peat based mix (after this season) with the pine bark fines mixed in.  Just perfected a self watering system, so I'm thinking the bark mix in well aerated pots could be a real winner.


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#26 stc3248

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 12:46 AM

I use a couple of worm farms myself...and they are freaking awesome! Leftover fishing worms or collected as you mentioned. Through farming them and using the castings I now have a very healthy worm population throughout the garden and find several in each shovel full. Sounds like a great deal your local grow shop is doing with the tea...and I use starbucks for grounds too...well done, hope to see some pics and recipes of your soil experiments...what worked well and what didn't, we can all learn from those type of successes...or (hopefully not) failures. I have had my share of failed soil combinations and still do from time to time. The big tricks are aeration...drying to quick or staying too soggy. Most of my organic stuff does well for a while, but as it breaks down the muck kind of settles toward the bottom of the container and they dry out quickly on top, but stay soggy down low. Your smart pots may help deal with that with the additional air exchange.

 

Keep us posted!


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#27 solid7

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 04:41 PM

Thanks for the encouragement!

No time right now to do a grow log...  but I'll certainly add some pics later in the season.

Love the worm farms.   Even if I wasn't planning on using the byproducts, it's awesome having a micro ecosystem in my backard to observe.  Those worms found my bins and man do they work fast!


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#28 ZackTheLion

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 07:06 AM

I dont know if you mentioned starting from seed or with starter plants, but I wouldn't use any fertilizers/liquids or any other grow enhancer for the first 6 weeks or so.  Everything else sounds great.  I think simpler is better.  I started my first grow in the beginning of February with basic tools and household items, and I've had great success.  People would be surprised to find out their plants would grow just fine under simple natural circumstances.







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