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Sta-Green potting mix- don't do it!

Is atrocious. Most of you probably knew this already, but I'm a newb this year and didn't know any better, so that's what I went with.

It was full of sticks and looked like someone mixed 1 cu ft. mulch with 2 cu ft. potting soil. It is also horrible at draining water. After planting my peppers, I had some sta-green and some miracle grow potting soil (regular, not the organic) left over so I planted one tomato plant in each to do a side by side comparison. After a thorough drenching from rain, I picked up each pot and the sta-green pot was literally over 2x heavier because it was so water logged. I have numerous ~3/4 inch holes in the buckets on the bottom and also on the sides very near the bottom, so drainage shouldn't be an issue. I also have a 1-2 inch layer of pebbles in the bottom (which I've read some think is a bad idea because it reduces suction from the roots?). The plants I had in the Sta-Green barely grew at all in 2 weeks despite great, sunny, dry, weather. The new leaves started curling upwards and growing twisted and deformed, the lower leaves turned yellow and fell off. The upper leaves turn a light green. I went a week with no rain and no watering and they soil was still waterlogged. One plant (poblano) shriveled and died (or was very close) with the bottom half of the stem turning brown.

I ended up pulling all the plants out. The bottom of the pots looked like straight mud. I removed the sta-green from these pots, filtered out all the sticks and bark, and mixed it with a couple bags of pro-mix I was able to find at Menard's, some vermiculite and perlite, plus some bone and blood meal and fish emulsion, and repotted them. 2 days later, they're looking much, much better. The pots are much lighter despite a lot of rain last night, and the healthy dark green color is quickly coming back. The leaves are uncurling as well. I'm glad I did something when I did.

Of course, these soil mixes probably vary quite a bit by location, but if anyone is considering Sta-Green, I would highly recommend against it! Hopefully if anyone is considering this potting soil they can learn from my mistake and save some time and money. Next year I think I'll make my own, as the Pro Mix I found is great, but it's $6 for 1 cu ft. bags, which is the only size they carry and I haven't found it anywhere else here.

I've been reading the board for a few weeks now and trying to absorb as much knowledge as I can. This board is a great resource, there are some very knowledgeable people here with some impressive plants, so thanks to all of you :). I started out just wanting to grow a few bhuts but I now have about 25 chile plants and I'm already planning grow light and seed purchases to start my 2011 plants indoors this winter. :lol:
This is also my first year of growing peppers. I have a bag of Sta Green potting mix that I used and it is similiar to MG. I also tried MG Organic as one site said it was good. I found out the hard way. i have some plants that are in sta green mix and come to think of it they are kinda slow growing. I did re-pot one plant that was in sta green mix and the bottom half of the soil was like mud. When I water, it appears to drain well, so I never gave it another thought. I just recently mixed up my own soil with top soil, peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, garden tone & lime & manure. Can't provide any results as the plants were just potted over the weekend. It is really pathetic that more places do not carry better soil. Everything Lowes or HD has is MG and there are not alot of choices. Pro Mix is unavailable in my area and the cost would not be beneficial.
The miracle grow I got was wayyyyyy better than the sta-green. Much lighter, finer and without all the twigs and bark, but like I said there seems to be a lot variation in these mixes. I'm in Indiana FWIW (edit: duh, didn't realize it was showing in my profile). I haven't heard anyone say anything good about the MG Organic, it is pretty uniformly hated. I nearly went that route, yikes.

I looked at Lowe's, Walmart (yikes), a local nursery, Rural King, and a couple other places before finding the pro-mix at Menard's. MG/Scotts practically has a monopoly on this it seems. It's so hard to find potting mix without fertilizer, it is pretty ridiculous. Some Ace Hardware stores carry the Pro Mix from what I found online, did you try one of those? I think the cost is relatively comparable to MG as long as you can find a decent quantity for sale, like the 3.8 cu ft. bales. It sounds like you're set with the soil you mixed though, I hope you get good results with it.
The Pro Mix is a REALLY good store bought mix. Dont forget, you can also make your own. I have tried all 3 this year (MG, Sta Green, and my own mix), at the mix does the best. And since I have a little of the MG and the Sta Green left, I mix them in with the rest. lol. Works great. My Naga's are already flowering well 2 1/2 weeks after transplanting.
For sprouting seeds, I adore Ferti-lome. It also works great for seedlings (I transplant into nursery containers). Last fall, I mixed some left over mix that had been used to grow seedlings that didn't sell, with compost and a very silty topsoil. It has been great for my GH toms. Even after nine months and temps from the low 50s to 125, it has not compacted!

Never heard of Sta-Green, but I have used Miracle-Gro's vegetable garden soil and moisture retaining potting mix. There's probably something better, but I don't know what it is or where to look. All I know is that it SUCKS for starting seedlings (then again, it's not really meant for that). There were several small rocks and pieces of wood I tossed out, which I wasn't exactly happy with. Is there a potting mix as easy to find as MG (ie., at Lowe's and/or Wal-Mart) good for growing peppers, without all the wood and rocks? I haven't had any major problems with the MG garden soil though. And I'll keep Ferti-lome in mind next year, hopefully then I'll have better luck with seedlings than the MG potting mix and peat pots...
Go ahead Hot Pooper, rub it in. I have yet to get any flowers on any of my seedlings. But they are only an inch or two tall. It seems like they are stuck at a certain size. I have a couple of Bhuts that are about 2" tall. I also have a habanero, tabasco and jalapeno that all have some buds, but i've been picking them off as the plants are only about 8-9" tall. These were bought as plants.. Not sure if it is the soil that is stunting the growth or just how peppers are. MG/Scotts does appear to have a monopoly and they should make their products better. I can't see how it would cost much to run the pieces through a grinder or something to eliminate the sticks and chunks of crap.

I do have an Ace close by so I may have to check them out. Anyway, guess I will have to make do with what's available. I guess pepper plants are kinda like women, never satisfied. LOL.
I never tried Sta-Green but I'll tell you whats probably worse.... Expert Gardener Brand from Wally World, that crap had a 10" piece of wood with a nail in it and a piece of broken glass some unidentifiable clay like goo, and it turned the plants I put in it yellowand burned out looking in less then 4 days, good thing I only used it on some cheap on sale wally world $.95 jalapeno and banana pepper plants.
I used sta green for some plants last year and it worked great, but bought a bag this year and it was mostly sticks.
Chilihead...that's why I tried a few different types of soils to see which works best, since this is my first year growing anything other than the basic stuff. (For ME at least.) I have some growing in MG. (NOT good for seedlings! They burnt every single seedling I had.) I also have some in the Sta Green mix. Its "ok" at best. Then, someone on here told me how to mix my own soil, so I went to the store, got the stuff, and mixed my own. I have 3 plants that are in that soil, a Naga, Red Sav., and a Scotch Bonnet. The Naga is going absolutely NUTS over this stuff. Its already got 6 flowers, and more little babies on the way. The Scotch and the Savina are doing better than their counterparts in the other soils. I just know that for MY situation, I will be using the "mixture" from now on. Not bad for my first year, huh?


p.s. I have a Black Pearl in Sta Green, and it LOVES it. I havent counted the pods, but I am guessing I have a solid 20-30 pods, with almost as many flowers coming in.
best thing to do imo if your gonna use MG, mix it up with a bag of top soil and add some additional peat and it will be awesome its good stuff but ya gotta thin it out because over the years Ive found that most MG and other brands of mix vary from bag to bag , I had bought two bags of the same mix one year and the plants that had soil from one bag were great the others got burned out and they were in pots next to each other, so best results have been thinning it out with top soil and peat. but I have since gone to pro-mix + compost.
The Sta Green I have is not too bad. It does have sticks and some lumpy crap. I usually go through it before planting. As for as seeds, I've been using the jiffy mix and it seems to be working good. I do have a choc hab & a naga bhut that was planted on 5/10 and has yet to sprout. I guess those are not going to sprout.
I had a batch of bhuts I started in a 75% MG Organic/ 25% MG seed starter mix and got a very good result. (yes I know everyone hates MG stuff). Drainage could be better and it does get heavy and clumpy when watered. Next time I tinkered with the mix and made it 60/40 with a little better results. I didnt want to use a pure seed starter since I wanted to wait a bit longer before transplanting.

Wasnt going to use it on a long term basis, so when I transplanted to pots, I "splurged" and got a bag of Fox Farms Ocean Forest (about 19 bucks for a 1.5 c/f bag) and it looks great. Got hit with a famous "Miami surprise" thunderstorm and had a 20 minute downpour right down on them. Virtually no settling and drained like a champ. I had heard nothing but good things about FF and so far I'm a believer.
I had some broken glass in my Sta-green dirt as well. Other than that and some large chunks of wood it has been ok for me after I mixed it with my own existing dirt and added some compost. It's not the best, but it could be worse.
The worst was a condom I found in a bag of Kellog top spoil mix, the big 3 cu ft square bags from lowes. Now that stuff sucks.
J762 said:
... Kellog top spoil mix, the big 3 cu ft square bags from lowes. Now that stuff sucks.

Agreed. I used it (not knowing better as a first-timer) for my raised-beds. It looks like pine needles and half-burned pallets are in the mix.

The wife's tomatoes, onions, and cukes do okay in it, since I added steer manure (for the toms) to her raised-bed. My peppers needed me to feed them a bunch early (Alaska sprayable), add calcium (oyster shell powder) and Mg (Epsom), plus a mist of Epsom to the foliage.

They're doing better now, but next season I'll work on the soil more. My container toms (Druzba, Bellestar, and TGS' Hungarian-Italian paste) have a more-classic steer/loam/vermiculite mix - I pretty much swore off Kellogg stuff.
I wanted to resurrect this thread to add my name to the list of people recommending you stay away from this potting soil for pepper plants.
I bought a bag of this at Lowe's last January.  They didn't have a large selection of potting mixes at that point.

I've had fits with pepper plants damping off using this potting soil, even when I bottom water.  It handles rain extremely poorly, which makes it problematic in my part of the country.
But I think I've also been served up a bigger problem.
Although nothing stands out in the large-print analysis on the back of the bag.,..

I skipped a closer look at the fine print of ingredients.

Maybe people in other parts of the country get a different set of ingredients, but this one has LIME!
Some plants like a slightly alkaline soil, but peppers suffer nutrient lock-out in alkaline soil.  And most of my plants have been showing symptoms.
Growth has been very slow, and many leaves have been turning slightly yellow.
I don't have a good excuse for overlooking the lime.  That's an un-forced error on my part.
But at least I can share my mistake with other people here on THP.