Growing Media for Fledgling Herb Business

basilicocamJune 20, 2012

Hello, I am new to this forum and wanted some ideas for some of the materials I need for an organic herb business I am starting from my home. Please forgive the long post.

I wanted to know if anyone knew where I could purchase growing media locally (around Columbus, OH) in bulk for herbs. At the moment, I am just growing basil, to make pesto until the end of time. I have bought a few thousand plastic containers to supply nurseries and local garden centers. These I fortunately got in bulk at a reasonable price per unit, and I wanted to do the same with the growing media. I am looking at 150 cubic feet of growing media for my basil crop. I have already grown around 600 plants (about 18 different basil varieties - some were not too hardy) in custom mixes, Organic Choice (Miracle Gro), and Pro-Mix. Eventually, I want to plant my other 50 varieties. I started in late March and am still doing research with books from the public library and the help of Google and youtube while I get the hang of this.

Pro-mix has given me the healthiest-looking and fastest-growing plants, so I would like to keep using it, or a similar mix I can make on my own (my back just wants to spasm when I think about that). Also, Miracle Gro had too many large pieces of bark and sticks that were a nightmare for seeding, so I want to avoid it if possible. Local retailers, like Straders, charge about $17 for 2.5 cubic feet of Pro-Mix with Mycorrhizae or the less cost-effective $29 for a 3.8 ft^3 bale. I will try a few other distributors today, but it seems that most function exclusively as wholesalers. Their retailers also have a two to three week lead time, which shortens my growing season. Online I read about farmer's supply stores in other states, but who do I contact here?

Although I have plans to eventually bring a few hundred of my plants indoors (unused portions of the garage and basement - I can purchase the remaining grow lights and shelving units with relative ease) to endure the cold winter ahead and get a head start next year, I want to get as many started in the sun room and the backyard now while it is still warm.

I would appreciate any advice on who to contact in order to purchase the following:

CHOICE A

*150 cubic feet of Pro-Mix� HP Mycorrhizae� (this one has more perlite than the one I have used, but this may be more suitable for me as it has been raining frequently lately and currently I have set out most of the pots in the backyard)

CHOICE B (my poor imitation of CHOICE A)

*100 cubic feet of peat moss or coconut coir (or cocopeat?)

*50 cubic feet of perlite (horticultural grade or any other suitable

*Sufficient wetting agent (Yucca extract or biodegradable polymers) compatible with organic crops

*Sufficient Mycorrhizae inoculate (endomycorrhizal fungi, such as, Glomus intraradices)

*Sufficient dolomitic lime (or similar pH adjuster)

*Sufficient organic seaweed fertilizer (or similar product) for at least 4 applications (once per month)

My goal is to get each cubic foot of growing media, either custom-made or professional grade, costing me no more than $4 per cubic foot. This must include taxes and freight shipping (or me just driving back and forth to pick it up 100 miles away with my brother's help).

Again, I would appreciate any helpful suggestions, and I will keep searching online and asking local merchants if they can work out a large order deal (or free shipping).

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