Somebody asked me what potting soil that can be found in Seattle Area that can be considered one of the best?
I am making my own potting soil, so i am not familiar with brands.
Any information on this?
I'd look for any of the Kellogg soil products - Gardner & Bloome or Master Nursery are the labels they are usually sold under. Very durable and barky products that provide excellent drainage and aeration.
So that's what happens to all that unsold, stale cereal!
I've recently been pleased with both Whitney Farms Premium Potting Soil and Cedar Grove Potting Soil. The WF was a bit chunkier and already moist in the bag as it was stored outside. The CG was light & fluffy, so I used that on top of the other for starting seeds. It seems the WF is a bit more moisture retentive than the CG.
I didn't like these soils in past years:
MG moisture control as sold at Costco
for starting seeds - green algae grew easily, puddling at top of soil in rain
nor for transplants - could have been conditions last spring, but too much damping off -- trailing fuchsia starts & zonal geraniums weren't happy until transplanted out of the MG, even impatiens didn't do as well
rosemary in large clay pots had darkened foliage & took them out by 2nd week
success with hosta divisions in spring & corydalis lutea and Serbian bellflower divisions in midsummer
EarthGro - 2 cu ft bag of cheapest brand at Home Depot
wet, heavy, very little perlite, contained small rocks, irregular sizes wood chunks hard when my fingernail poked into it (unlike decomposing bark)
Off brand at Walmart (sold in 1 cu ft bags, but I forgot brand & returned unopened bag after that class time.)
sour, small rocks, no seed sprouted for a preschool project
thank you, gardergal and corrine.
I used WF soil by myself but it was several years ago. It compressed in my containers. Maybe now it's better.
I'm trying Whitney Farms this year because a college friend who went on to own and operate his own garden center recommended it. I haven't opened the bags and used it yet. Sour and decomposed state of any potting product can be due to bags having sat around in the sun for months before being purchased, the airless conditions inside a plastic bag can't be the best for the little soil community inside each. I always shop with a view to avoiding this, including actually asking if I am choosing from a recent delivery or can otherwise be assured that I am not buying muck.
If you really want the best, follow the money trail to what the illegal growers use, and pay handsomely for. Most use the super-premium potting mixes where peat is the main ingredient, followed by perlite, pumice, coir, charcoal, etc. You can find several good ones at local hydroponics stores. ProMix is a common brand. Peat mixes can be tuned (with drainage material like perlite, pumice, charcoal, etc.) to be as porous as you need it to be; but for the same level of porosity, or oxygen-holding power, peat mixes will have a much superior water-holding capacity.
I forgot about ProMix because I have been looking at retail outlets*, thanks for bringing that up. I have enough potting I could use bale(s). It would be worth going to a commercial supplier and getting some of that.
*And I'm over 50
*and I'm over 60 and that's WHY we know............
Dr. Earth Home Grown POT-ting soil is amazing! It is in the black and white bag. Way more expensive, but I save it for any of my special plants,--the Cardiocrinums, Arisaemas, Dactylorhizas, or organic vegetables, etc.
For general use, I typically use Black Gold, purchased on sale, but I doctor it up with coarse sand, pumice, and/or turkey grit, or even small bark nuggets, etc. depending on what I'm potting.
Do bales of Pro Mix have a chunky texture? How much does it make up in cu. ft. once it is not compressed?
For me, the fine textured soils do not seem to be good for plants that will stay in pots longer than one to two seasons max.
Here is a link that might be useful: Dr. Earth
If you really want the best, follow the money trail to what the illegal growers use, and pay handsomely for
And one of those is Fox Farm's Ocean Forest Potting Soil, which is described by the manufacturer as the "ultimate potting soil", a "powerhouse" blend of everything your plants need" :-) At $24.99 retail for a 1.5cf bag, that had better be some serious potting soil!!
We do sell a lot of it......not exactly sure who might be purchasing but Googling the product does turn up a lot of interest in it and discussion on the grow-your-own boards :-)
I mix my own. I save tons of money and my plants have never been happier.
Yes, when you require enough volume it is cheaper to buy it in bulk. All you really need is bark, sand and fertilizer.
And a place to have it dumped, a way to mix it.
Bark, sand and fert, but that would no doubt be as good as a lot of the commercial potting soil though I have my own preferences for ingredients. There is great info in the Container Gardening forum on this site.
I mix it in my wheelbarrow and store it in a plastic garbage can with a lid, so the space needs are small. I try to minimize the bags of stuff sitting around, so sometimes I buy some cheap potting soil with, for example a lot of peat or bark in it and doctor it with perlite, worm castings (from my worm bin), compost and other ingredients that I like. Then I don't need to buy a huge bag of peat or bark and have to store the leftovers someplace. A lot of time I am refreshing previously used potting soil, which only needs compost, worm castings, and some organic fertilizer.
Gardengal, I reallly like Ocean Forest. It's a little rich/wet, so I add perlite/pumice for most plants.
Bboy I saw that the Lowes in Monroe had a pallet of the Promix big bales last month. Don't know the price, but probably cheap there. Haven't seen at any other Lowes. Stubers has it too.
Karchita, my favorite part about mixing my own (I use a wheelbarrow & trashcans like you) is that I have the leftover ingredients still to fine tune the mix for every different plant. So it may be rich & wet for annuals or rich & dry for Amaryllis, or lean wet for some Brugmansia, etc.
What do folks think about the "cult of Al" recipes on the container gardening forum? Here is a recent post:
"The 5:1:1 mix:
5 parts pine bark fines (partially composted fines are best)
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime (or gypsum in some cases)
controlled release fertilizer (if preferred)
I have seen advice that some highly organic (practically speaking - almost all container soils are highly organic) container soils are productive for up to 5 years or more. I disagree and will explain why if there is interest. Even if you were to substitute fir bark for pine bark in this recipe (and this recipe will long outlast any peat based soil) you should only expect a maximum of two to three years life before a repot is in order. Usually perennials, including trees (they're perennials too) should be repotted more frequently to insure they can grow at as close to their genetic potential within the limits of other cultural factors as possible. If a soil is desired that will retain structure for long periods, we need to look more to inorganic components. Some examples are crushed granite, fine stone, VERY coarse sand (see above - usually no smaller than BB size in containers, please), Haydite, lava rock (pumice), Turface, calcined DE, and others.
For long term (especially woody) plantings and houseplants, I use a superb soil that is extremely durable and structurally sound. The basic mix is equal parts of pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite.
The gritty mix:
1 part uncomposted screened pine or fir bark (1/8-1/4")
1 part screened Turface
1 part crushed Gran-I-Grit (grower size) or #2 cherrystone
1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil (eliminate if your fertilizer has Ca)
CRF (if desired)
I use 1/8 -1/4 tsp Epsom salts (MgSO4) per gallon of fertilizer solution when I fertilize if the fertilizer does not contain Mg (check your fertilizer - if it is soluble, it is probable it does not contain Ca or Mg. If I am using my currently favored fertilizer (I use it on everything), Dyna-Gro's Foliage-Pro in the 9-3-6 formulation, and I don't use gypsum or Epsom salts in the fertilizer solution."
Here is a link that might be useful: Much Discussed Recipes
Why make it complicated?
I use decayed woodchips only. One third really old chips, mixed with not so old woodchips, and one third kinda fresh chips. I don't expect it to last over two years and usually one year is enough before repotting is needed anyway.
I'm growing the plants to be big enough to be put out in the landscape and that's all. I'm not trying to get the maximum growth as if I were growing a commercial crop. Too fast growth promotes aphids in my world.
Cornus kousa seedlings in the above picture.
I'm up for trades.
This has probably been asked before, but does anyone know of a source of pumice in large bags or in bulk? Locations NE of Seattle are most convenient. I use pumice in my potting mixes, especially when intended for rock garden plants. Thanks.
Dave in Olympia, the 5:1:1 mixes are great, within certain conditions. As Bboy & Mike pointed out, plants can be grown in almost anything, that's been proven. Rarely, a mix will give you faster growth, like Ocean Forest vs. woodchips-only, no matter how much fertilizer & water you add; but usually it is not about difference in potential growth. Instead, custom mixes can give you a much bigger margin of error in over-watering, under-watering, and fertilizing. If you are a commercial grower with automatic watering and fertilizing on regular schedules from hired help, then the mix doesn't matter much; but for most of us forgetful & busy schlubs, it really does matter.
For instance Al has admitted that his 5:1:1 needs every-day watering in many conditions, but if you are a busy guy who would like a bigger margin of error without risking a lack of oxygen in a soggy mix, then mixing your own may be for you.
M, I get my pumice in larger bags at the Indoor Sun Shoppe on North Canal Street.