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

A pair of aji pancas I have growing in coco coir have been exploding ever since I potted them up to one gallon fabric pots and gave them CNS Grow fertilizer, though the rainbow honey pepper I have in in a five gallon pot hasn't been quite as impressive despite the same treatment.
 
The Pro Mix I have two of my Aji limons growing in seems like it's run its course nutrient wise, though, as both plants are starting to have yellowing/dropping leaves after not having any issues initially. I assume they probably depleted the nutes much faster then the annuum peppers I have in the stuff due to how ridiculously bushy their growth habits are, but giving them the CNS grow once every few waterings doesn't seem to be helping to stave off the yellowing leaves.
 
 
 
acs1 said:
Does anyone use a wetting agent in their media mix. If so what one...?
 
 
 
Vermicompost will achieve the same result as a wetting agent.  But without overdoing it.
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I'd honestly try to steer you clear of actual wetting agents in humid climates...  If you have a real problem with peat drying out, maybe consider switching to coco based mixes.
 
solid7 said:
 
Vermicompost will achieve the same result as a wetting agent.  But without overdoing it.
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I'd honestly try to steer you clear of actual wetting agents in humid climates...  If you have a real problem with peat drying out, maybe consider switching to coco based mixes.
 
When we had a super hot summer (by Finnish standards) last year, my drip system was using almost 50 gallons per day (the tank only holds 65 gallons) and I had to constantly refill the barrel because we didn't have an outside faucet. I very seriously thought about importing some TerraSorb so that I could be away from the house for more than 1 day at a time. I came to the false realisation that my peat-based medium had become really freaking hydrophobic - water just ran right through it. But that wasn't really true - the reality was that the roots had consumed 90% of the damned medium.
 
This year I switched to a coco based mix, vowing to never let my shit dry out again in one day so I used 20% vermiculite. Here toward the end of the season, my shit is again drying out in one day because I have used 8 gallon pots (way too freaking small) and the roots of these monster-sized pubes has again consumed all of that space.
 
Summa summarum: it's likely more about the size of the pot than the water retention properties of the medium.
 
solid7 said:
 
Vermicompost will achieve the same result as a wetting agent.  But without overdoing it.
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I'd honestly try to steer you clear of actual wetting agents in humid climates...  If you have a real problem with peat drying out, maybe consider switching to coco based mixes.
 
Isn't worm castings the same as vermicompost...?
 
 
podz said:
 
When we had a super hot summer (by Finnish standards) last year, my drip system was using almost 50 gallons per day (the tank only holds 65 gallons) and I had to constantly refill the barrel because we didn't have an outside faucet. I very seriously thought about importing some TerraSorb so that I could be away from the house for more than 1 day at a time. I came to the false realisation that my peat-based medium had become really freaking hydrophobic - water just ran right through it. But that wasn't really true - the reality was that the roots had consumed 90% of the damned medium.
 
This year I switched to a coco based mix, vowing to never let my shit dry out again in one day so I used 20% vermiculite. Here toward the end of the season, my shit is again drying out in one day because I have used 8 gallon pots (way too freaking small) and the roots of these monster-sized pubes has again consumed all of that space.
 
Summa summarum: it's likely more about the size of the pot than the water retention properties of the medium.
 
Interesting story, thanks for sharing...
 
  My problem is when/if I let it dry out like it should between waterings,  water runs right off the media coming out the sides of fabric pots after just 2 cups of water. or the media floats if its newer, repelling water like its rolling off a ducks back,,,
 
  A combination of bottom water/top water working it into the media kind of solves this,, till it dries out again. Using a media mix that the plants love, 7/2/1 peat/perlite/worm castings with 1/2 cup Dr Earth org rolled in with 1/2 cup powdered egg shells rolled in also. Even been adding a tbs of dol lime. All per 5 gal bucket.
 
Ya, the plants love my media and are doing great, but watering is a royal pain for all the plants I can't bottom water,unless I do not let the media dry out even a little... You are probably correct about the pot size. I'm using #5 fabric mostly now. Most all plants have just been up-potted in the last month or 2.
 
On a side note... Went hog hunting last night off the Kissimmee river at my friends ranch. He has a hog infestation in his pastures. Was late at night and stepped on a dung patty. It was dried out and reminded me of my my media. Wonder if that dung would be usable for my garden. Did look like there was some type of white/brownish fungus or plant bulb growing up from the dung patty...?
 
 
 
acs1 said:
On a side note... Went hog hunting last night off the Kissimmee river at my friends ranch. He has a hog infestation in his pastures. Was late at night and stepped on a dung patty. It was dried out and reminded me of my my media. Wonder if that dung would be usable for my garden. Did look like there was some type of white/brownish fungus or plant bulb growing up from the dung patty...?
 
Ha! There where you live, psilocybin mushrooms grow on cow dung in the pastures.
 
Sure, you can use the cow patties in your grow mix, good stuff there. Don't be surprised if you also get some magic mushrooms popping up in your chili pots :-)
 
podz said:
 
Ha! There where you live, psilocybin mushrooms grow on cow dung in the pastures.
 
Sure, you can use the cow patties in your grow mix, good stuff there. Don't be surprised if you also get some magic mushrooms popping up in your chili pots :-)
 
Supposedly, there are inhibitors in commercial cattle feed that prevent the growth.  Also, you won't have nearly the same issue with growing mushrooms, if you give your cows a salt lick. ;)
 
Is organic granular fertilizer worth adding to a coco coir mix?
 
I did it by impulse with my most recent transplant and didn't really think that it's likely not necessary if I'm already using a liquid fertilizer.
 
Takanotsume said:
Is organic granular fertilizer worth adding to a coco coir mix?
 
I did it by impulse with my most recent transplant and didn't really think that it's likely not necessary if I'm already using a liquid fertilizer.
 
I stopped adding ferts to soil directly some time ago.  The problem is it's a lot harder to control what the plants gets and when if it's added to the soil.  Also you may end up over fertilizing if you also plan on using liquid ferts later on. 
 
LGHT said:
I stopped adding ferts to soil directly some time ago.  The problem is it's a lot harder to control what the plants gets and when if it's added to the soil.  Also you may end up over fertilizing if you also plan on using liquid ferts later on.
But you don't actually control what the plant takes up, anyway. Not in the way that you may think you do. Sure, you can induce deficiencies by withholding. But no plant on Earth is going to discriminately take up more of one nutrient, over another. Unless you have issues with say, massive rainfall, or some other other inclement condition, there's not a real need to double down on fertilizer. One method should work as well as the other, for the fairly basic needs of capsicum.

The best you can ever hope for, is carefully controlled environmental variables. "Soil" is a different conversation. But container plants should have no problem with nutrient uptake, when everything else is in check. It's literally one of the least critical factors, at that point.
 
Caveat: your fertilizer should be appropriate for the media you've chosen.

You wouldn't put a dry organic fertilizer in pure perlite (a hempy bucket), for example.
 
The transplants in question were doing okay until around early December, after which their health took a nosedive for reasons I'm not entirely sure of (with most of their leaves falling off despite looking relatively healthy). Still got about a gallon bag's worth of Aji Panca before they started struggling, so I suppose they did their job even if they never manage to recover from what's ailing them.
 
Coco coir has gotten me the best (Albeit somewhat unsatisfactory) results out of any medium so far, so I intend to try putting the latest batch of seedlings in the stuff, though perhaps with a finer grain of perlite as I'm not sure the coarse stuff I was using was providing adequate aeration for the roots.
 
Another thing that came to my mind recently is that I've been using a peat-based medium in fabric pots for most of the peppers...which is slightly problematic due to the tendency of peat to become hydrophobic when it dries.
 
Due to the fabric being porous, the water tends to seep out the sides of the pot instead of sitting on top of the peat to properly rehydrate it, which has likely been causing uneven watering.
 
Would be better to just stick to easily rehydrated stuff like coco coir when it comes to fabric pots?
 
Had a question. I'll be growing 23 different varieties of peppers. I was thinking since I have the mulch yard up the road from where I live, they're garden soil is 50% top soil and 50% compost. Was thinking of cutting it with peat moss,pine bark fines and rice hulls? Would it be cheaper than making a soiless mix or cutting promix with something else?
 
On their website.
 

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solid7 said:
Soil does't go in containers.  Sure, it would be cheaper, though.
Right but I've done it before no problem. Maybe it'll be just as cheap to cut promix BX with 40% pine bark fines?
 
I can't in good faith give any recommendation for a container mix with that amount of fines (in the form of soil), at any price.  You may have gotten away with it, yes. But it violates the most fundamental principle of building a container mix, which is to control particle size.
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If you have access to pine bark fines, why wouldn't you just use that with peat?  Roll your own, start to finish...
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I use a mix that is 80/10/10, pine bark, peat, sand.
 
solid7 said:
I can't in good faith give any recommendation for a container mix with that amount of fines (in the form of soil), at any price.  You may have gotten away with it, yes. But it violates the most fundamental principle of building a container mix, which is to control particle size.
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If you have access to pine bark fines, why wouldn't you just use that with peat?  Roll your own, start to finish...
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I use a mix that is 80/10/10, pine bark, peat, sand.
I think I plan on adding compost to this mix too. But since we get dry spells quite a lot here in Greensboro NC I think a 60/20/20 mix would be great right? I think they sell pine bark fines as soil conditioner.
Just so I am on the same page here the sand you mention is called coarse builders sand right?
 
Codeman said:
I think I plan on adding compost to this mix too. But since we get dry spells quite a lot here in Greensboro NC I think a 60/20/20 mix would be great right? I think they sell pine bark fines as soil conditioner.
Just so I am on the same page here the sand you mention is called coarse builders sand right?
 
The compost that you get from a bulk source is not the same quality as something that you'd use for a container amendment. (like vermicompost)  It's better for raised beds or soil amendment.  Compost heavy mixes can work ok in a climate that is very dry, but the first time you get a good rain in NC, you're going to be bogged down.  Composted bark is great, but you don't need to mix heavy on other things.  I'm not sure what you are referencing with your numbers, but I can tell you that the 80/10/10 that I listed is a phenomenal mix in non-arid regions.
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Pro-mix is a bit overrated.  Good if you can get the right price, or only need small quantities, and don't want to store ingredients, post mixing.  But you can reproduce it quite cheaply.  It's peat, perlite, wetting agents, maybe/maybe not mycos (depending on which type you buy) and maybe/maybe not fertilizers.(again, depending on the type)  For 23+ containers, you can bulk that pretty cheaply.  I'd be more inclined to cut a peat/perlite mix with up to 50% pine bark.  You can't get much cheaper than that.
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Yes, the sand that I referenced is builder's sand.  I like mixing basalt or andesite, when I'm rolling small batches, but that isn't practical for large batches, if you haven't got a local source. (but if you do, go for that)
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My absolute recommendation, for a really good, home rolled mix, is 70/20/10.  (peat, perlite, compost)  Once you've mixed that, you can cut it with 30-50% pine bark. 
 
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