container Container growing secrets?

Hey guys. This isn't the first topic I've made on this, but this time I wanted to take the discussion a bit broader. I have most of my plants in pots, like most years. This year, however, I seem to have bought the wrong soil that basically made it all fail. But, I had a few 'rejects' that I was supposed to give away. I planted them in my garden after I couldn't find any takers. The thing is: I felt the soil in my garden wasn't ready yet at all. I had just bought new soil from a company. It was sieved of all organic matter (I wanted to start from scratch) and thus compacted like crazy. It felt like half-set concrete at times and would dry out in a flash. It was the whole reason I did a container grow in the first place.
 
It turns out that the plants in the garden are doing way (and by way I mean WAY) better than all of my container plants. Even after transplanting them a whole month later, they have caught up with all of my other plants. After seeing that success, I decided to dedicate another part of my garden to some peppers. They were a few more weeks behind on the rest, and even THEY caught up so easily.
 
Now I know getting the right potting soil is crucial. But even with a halfway medium soil I never seem to do as well as others on this forum. I'd like to be able to say the success of the garden plants is due to my green fingers, soil amending or perfect conditions, but none of that is true. I didn't feed or water them and yet they're doing so much better than the plants I HAVE been caring for. Of course, I know I'm working on a budget (just started a family etc.) so I can't expect the same results as some of you really dedicated growers. But even then I know there is so much to be gained. I've seen some people here growing plants in window sills in 5-litre pots that are bigger than my container plants outside!
 
This is turning into a bit of a rant so I'll try to end it. I think I'm reaching a point where I should be able to notice a positive difference in the plants that I take care of with the knowledge that I have. Yet I don't feel like I can notice that at all lately. As one of the reasons I'm here for is to learn from you guys, I would like to know what you guys think makes your container grows succeed.
 
TL;DR: I suck at gardening and I want to get better. Share your secrets!
 
There's no secrets.  Just get to know the basics, and don't love the plants too much.  Most of growing boils down to the conditions that you're given to work with.  Good potting mix is crucial.  After that, just basic feed and water does the deed.  Don't try to grow 'ninja level' until you've had a few really great basic grows.  And by 'basic', I mean those grows that you can mostly neglect, and they do exactly what they're supposed to do.
 
Also, you don't have to make garden soil ready.  Lots of people do no-till gardens.  If you have an area of your yard where weeds seem to absolutely flourish, it's probably a great spot for non-weeds.  Ripping up soil decreases fertility instantly.  Much better to just keep everything sequestered in the soil, and plant where the visual cues tell you are the best spots.
 
I had a similar problem this year. I got compost and sand mix and put it in my containers, not knowing that it needed to be amended. The stuff compacted down pretty hard and wouldn't drain properly at all! I found out that through a combination of water tension and fine silt that a huge layer of air can get trapped which prevents drainage. I did some testing and found that I needed to add peat moss and vermiculite to create a good container growing medium that drains well but also holds moisture. 
 
If your finger doesn't penetrate the soil easily then your plant will have a hard time growing roots in it. If soil doesn't drain well then you can have plants that drown and develop root rot. If your soil drains too quickly then you will waste water and the plant will starved for moisture.
 

Edmick

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Since this is my first season growing only in ground and my plants are bigger and healthier than they ever have been in containers, I've come to a couple conclusions. Large enough containers is very important (at least where I live) because the temperature of the root zone is a commonly overlooked issue and second, I should have been using shade cloth all along. Especially when I was only using containers.
 
Edmick said:
Since this is my first season growing only in ground and my plants are bigger and healthier than they ever have been in containers, I've come to a couple conclusions. Large enough containers is very important (at least where I live) because the temperature of the root zone is a commonly overlooked issue and second, I should have been using shade cloth all along. Especially when I was only using containers.
 
Isn't it odd how much container size matters, even though hydroponic grows can have such small root biomass for such large plants?
 
Gorizza said:
 
Isn't it odd how much container size matters, even though hydroponic grows can have such small root biomass for such large plants?
 
True, but hydroponics also wants the nutrient solution to be less than 76 degrees... and shit goes south real fast when that limitation is exceeded.  I have a giant SIP that is made from half of a 55 gallon poly drum, and it keeps the potting mix cool - in the 70's - even on the hottest days of summer.  And, unsurprisingly, it's one of my top performers!
 
Using perlite as a large portion (30-50%) of your potting mix increases aeration/drainage and helps avoid overwatering issues.
 
i specialized in container garden but i'm still hoping for some great response.
 
 
b3rnd said:
Now I know getting the right potting soil is crucial. 
 
once it contains SOIL, you need ninja level.    
get the right potting mix (no soil)
 
 
 
 
 
10 litre or bigger air-pot+coco coir and using a fertilizer that is good for coco coir growing have been working great for me several years now. Did try using peat in the air-pots, but it did not work nearly as good for me as coco coir do.
 
b3rnd said:
This year, however, I seem to have bought the wrong soil that basically made it all fail.
 
Now I know getting the right potting soil is crucial. But even with a halfway medium soil I never seem to do as well as others on this forum.
 
You keep saying soil, do you mean something like Hyponex® Potting Soil? The reason I ask is I've always used potting mix, Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, which is peat based. I have always had great results as long as I add nutes (Which by the way, what do you use, mixture rate and application regimen?), see below for some of my successes....
 
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The first three pix were grown in Five Year Old Potting Soil  during 2015, the last is end of season 2004.
 
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I use Promix potting soil for my indoor plants with GH Flora Nova @ 2ml/3.7L. It's Peat based and is a little less fluffy than the Miracle grow potting mix. Root growth seems unimpeded and moisture retention/wicking is outstanding. Just remember to back off on nutrients as soon as the plant is about to bloom or the flowers get burnt off by nitrogen. 
 
Winegums said:
 Just remember to back off on nutrients as soon as the plant is about to bloom or the flowers get burnt off by nitrogen. 
 
No.  That's not a true statement.
.
Nitrogen burn is all about the roots.  If you have so much that it affects flowers, it's going to affect all parts of the plant.  But there are plenty of growers who continue with full strength nitrogen al through the grow.  This guy included...
 
Sorry, friends! I was on holidays for the last 12 days, didn't have the time to reply.
 
solid7 said:
There's no secrets.  Just get to know the basics, and don't love the plants too much.  Most of growing boils down to the conditions that you're given to work with.  Good potting mix is crucial.  After that, just basic feed and water does the deed.  Don't try to grow 'ninja level' until you've had a few really great basic grows.  And by 'basic', I mean those grows that you can mostly neglect, and they do exactly what they're supposed to do.
 
Also, you don't have to make garden soil ready.  Lots of people do no-till gardens.  If you have an area of your yard where weeds seem to absolutely flourish, it's probably a great spot for non-weeds.  Ripping up soil decreases fertility instantly.  Much better to just keep everything sequestered in the soil, and plant where the visual cues tell you are the best spots.
 
I was clickbaiting a bit, I meant more tips regarding potting mix, container size etc. This is my fourth year growing and the more I learn the worse I seem to do. Next year I'll try to do a good basic grow, I just need to find some good potting mix.
 
Edmick said:
Since this is my first season growing only in ground and my plants are bigger and healthier than they ever have been in containers, I've come to a couple conclusions. Large enough containers is very important (at least where I live) because the temperature of the root zone is a commonly overlooked issue and second, I should have been using shade cloth all along. Especially when I was only using containers.
 
That might be a factor. I see the peppers in bigger pots (same potting mix) doing better than the ones in smaller pots. Thanks for the insight!
 
lek said:
i specialized in container garden but i'm still hoping for some great response.
 
once it contains SOIL, you need ninja level.    
get the right potting mix (no soil)
 
I keep saying soil when I mean potting mix. In my language we don't have that strong difference between the two words (aarde VS potaarde). I'm not using soil in my containers! Sorry for the confusion.
 
Chilidude said:
10 litre or bigger air-pot+coco coir and using a fertilizer that is good for coco coir growing have been working great for me several years now. Did try using peat in the air-pots, but it did not work nearly as good for me as coco coir do.
 
I'll give coco coir a go next season. I'm going to try a few different methods to see what works best for me. Not sure where I could get air-pots around here though.
 
The_NorthEast_ChileMan said:
You keep saying soil, do you mean something like Hyponex® Potting Soil? The reason I ask is I've always used potting mix, Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, which is peat based. I have always had great results as long as I add nutes (Which by the way, what do you use, mixture rate and application regimen?), see below for some of my successes....
 
The first three pix were grown in Five Year Old Potting Soil  during 2015, the last is end of season 2004.
 
Yeah, that's my mistake! I do mean potting mix, I don't use soil in my containers. Thanks for the topic! I use Chili Focus every other week. I can't remember the mixture rate now, but I follow the instructions on the bottle.
 
 
b3rnd said:
I'll give coco coir a go next season. I'm going to try a few different methods to see what works best for me. Not sure where I could get air-pots around here though.
 
 
I am sure you will find one of those Chinese copies somewhere.
 
 
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