it turns out there's a place not too far from me (20 miles) that carries pro-mix. I've heard it's good for a pepper grow medium. any firsthand experience?
there appears to be multiple types. which kind do I want, and what do I want to mix it with?
What is Pro Mix is made of ?
I am planning on growing LOTS of peppers in pots this year. So I think I have done my homework on this.
After a lot of reading, discussions I am set on BARK - BASED potting mix. It has been widely used by the shrubs and tree grower and now finding its place in container gardening. A fellow GW member , Al (tapla) has introduced a mixture called 5-1-1; It consists of pine/fir bark/fines(5 parts) , peat moss ( 1 part) and perlite (1 part).
But you can modify it to suit your climate and application. I think I will do my own 4-2-1 mix( 4 parts pine fine/bark, 2 parts peat moss and 1 part MG potting mix(which is basically peat/coconut choir base with nutrients and perlite)
I used pro mix last year, I had good luck with it, it's a very soft fluffy mix, it's got a lot of peat in it. I just like Fafard better cos it's first ingredient is bark. But, honestly, I like them both. I know a lot of pepper people don't like mixes with a lot of peat, but last year I bought a few jalapeno plants (I wanted fresh seeds) and the mix they were in was almost all peat, they were absolutely gorgeous.
Get Pro-Mix BX if you can.
I've been using Pro-Mix BX exclusively for my potted pepper plants for years. I'm probably going to go through 6+ bails this coming season.
While it is mostly comprised of peat, the BX blend incorporates Mycorrhizae, a beneficial fungus that promotes a super healthy root system. See link below for more info.
If you're not into mixing your own potting medium I'd suggest you give it a try.
Here is a link that might be useful: Mycorrhizae
Same as Bill only I add1/3 perlite for improved drainage
If it's in a tray or a pot, it's in Pro-Mix BX.
been using pro mix for years and will keep doing so. it got really pricey in the last 4-5 years but it is a very good growing mix. If you like a lot of perlite get the hp mix. I personally think the hp has to much of it though. What I like most about it is it drains really well but holds moisture so you do not have 2 water continuously.
You know, I thought it was pricy when I bought it, almost $50. But, if you do some calculations Miracle Gro (not a fan, but it is one of the most common) vs Pro Mix vs Fafard 52 mix they are all very close to the same cost (at least in my area), in fact I think Pro Mix is a bit cheaper.
wow, lots of opinions. awesome.
they say the 3.8cu ft bale is compressed. how much does it fluff out? what I'm trying to figure out is roughly how many 5gal containers would it fill?
I've got a great memory but it's short. It depends on how much you fill your 5 gallon pots. I think I'm getting six to seven 5 gallon pots per 3.8 cu ft bale.
Wow! $50 per bale??? Last year I got it up north here in Canukistan for around $28 taxes in per bale. It's rare to find things cheaper here than in the US.
Wow! I am so jealous Bill. It was around $48 then add taxes. But, I figured, one compressed bale equals about 3 - 2.8 cu ft bags of Fafard, and they cost $20 each, so it's actually cheaper than Fafard. I'd LOVE $28.
Most of those fancy name brand potting mixes cost around $10 - $12 per cu-ft. Peat moss costs about $5 per cu-ft.
I buy pine fines/bark for about $2.50 /cu-ft. So when I make my 4-2-1 mix it costs about $4 /cu-ft.(~ $0.50 per dry gallon).
Take ONE cu-ft = 8 dry gallons. and figure out the cost per any pot size. That is why I am going to use smaller pots for my pepper since they will just annuals. Why pay twice as much for mostly peat moss ? ymmv
I buy pine fines/bark for about $2.50 /cu-ft. So when I make my 4-2-1 mix it costs about $4 /cu-ft.(~ $0.50 per dry gallon).
The compressed product does expand quite a bit compared to the loose, at least for peat moss based mix. That I why a volume comparison is not valid when evaluating relative costs. Better to compare on a weight basis (assuming approximately comparable moisture levels).
That is right Reginald. BUT pine bark is already naturally dense and you cannot compress it too much. Then again, with peat moss based podding mix, when it gets wet , its volume shrinks back to near its compressed state. So I am sure I am economizing by mixing my own. The only thing is that it takes time and labor and don't mind it.
so if I were to mix pro mix and pine bark fines... would that be best of both worlds? should I add lime?
and while we're at it any thoughts on cal-mag fertilizer instead of dealing with lime or bonemeal?
Here is a link that might be useful: cal-mag
I heard a lot of great things about pro-mix. But then I found out the ingredients are mostly peat moss. Kind of a rip off because peat moss is fairly cheap. You can buy your own materials and make your own mix. I am gonna be using materials like peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, bark fines, worm castings, lime, azomite, tiny bit of compost. Then I will feed with liquid fish fertilizer until I see flowers. Once that happens I got organic fertilizer spikes I will be using that have a good NPK ratio. Once I am out of peat moss I am gonna be using coconut coir instead.
Agree with above.
The principle behind the pine/conifer bark is to provide drainage, at the same time that it stores moisture. Perlite is similar except it does not absorb any moisture. It is sort of like gravel/sand but it is light weight. Vermiculite is a kind of fine clay, that will absorb lots of water and expand in volume. I would only use it in seed starting mix.
WHY PEAT MOSS?
Since pine barks come in all sort of size and forms ( big, medium, small, different amount of broken fines) then you adjust it with peat moss when it is mostly nuggets with a little fines.
FERTILIZE ? HOW?
Because the bark based mix (Pine bark, peat, perlite) have no food value for the plants, you will need to do it your self. The common practice is to add granular time release fertilizer, magnesium( epsom salt), Calcium (Gypsum, dolomitic lime).
Another thing : since there are no micro herd in the mixture, the use of organic fertilizer is not recommended. UNLESS you mix a portion of compost to it too.
That is How I have come to understand the concept of bark-based potting mix, aka 5-1-1
I used both Pro-Mix (couldn't find BX, and last year it went from $28 to $40/bale!) and Fafard 52. Both good, I'd use either again. I downloaded a good chart with different pot sizes from Fafard's website in 2012, now it's on Sun-gro website but not in as much detail.
Couple things more convenient about the mixes vs mixing your own
1. Wetting agent for peat-based mixes
2. Correct pH
Here is a link that might be useful: Conversion table
Seysonn, I think organic can work in pots. I've talked with people who have experimented with both organic and synthetic and the results for organic in pots is not that much less. Sure, you need organisms to break down the organic fertilizer. I have found studies that say microbes live for generally 7 weeks in typical conditions in a pot. All a person needs to do is reseed their pots with worm castings or Compost tea. You can also treat with molasses water to increase microbe activity. Aside from the bacteria you have all kinds of other critters that help with soil quality. I don't see this anymore work that having to use synthetic fertilizer all the time cause your potting mix has no fertility and is dependent on it. I've used less than ideal potting mixes in the past and some never changed them out for years and the plants were very productive.
The only problem is that with organic fertilizers you may not utilize all of it. But with the results they are not significantly worse to the point where I feel I need to switch to synthetics. There is some elitist here that act like their methods are the best but many people do very well not using their methods.
About the potting mix, there all all kinds of combinations to use. You can tweek "Al's famous mixes" and still get amazing results. There is people who use mixes where you'd think the aeration and drainage is poor, yet they get great results somehow.
About the potting mix, there all all kinds of combinations to use. You can tweek "Al's famous mixes" and still get amazing results
Sure thing. People have been using peat moss based potting mixes for decades with no major problems. But there is always the risk of overwatering them, either manually or by rain. But with the BARK BASED potting mix it is difficult to over water it even if you try. That is what I like about it and that is why shrubs trees growers have been using it for a long time.
As you said, you can modify the 5-1-1 mix to suit your applications, AS LONG AS PINE BARK REMAINS THE CORE INGREDIENT IN IT. but if you eliminate the barks that will become another beast.
Pro mix bx with bio fungicide and mycorrhizae. That is the way to go and I grow all my pepper and tomato plants in it. I have 6 pallets we 're using on right now.
If you are a chronic overwaterer, use the hp with bio and mycorrhizae. It drains a lot faster and you won't kill as many things.
You won't have damping off with the biofungicide unless you are using really dirty pots and flats and totally ignore sanitation.
sandy0225, six pallets, sounds like you have a business going.
The only other people I know who order Pro-Mix by the pallet are Market Farmer friends. I think I counted five pallets of what, 36 or 48 3.8 cu ft bales?, the other day when I was at the farm.
They started with Bx but are ordering Pro-Mix Flex now. Have you checked it out?I'm not sure what their custom blend is but I can check if you are interested.
Here is a link that might be useful: PRO-MIXÂ® FLEX
Can this be found at "big box" stores or ordered only? I would love to find some and try it.
Others may know better than me Bill about your area inzone 8 but up north here in my neck of the woods I can only find it a garden centers. Primarily the ones that deal with farmers and growers.
I have been making my own mixes although I don't know much about peppers? What PH do they like? I never used pro mix, but adding mycorrhizae is fairly easy to do. Besides compost to add bacteria,I usually add them myself too and continue to add them. I have only grown peppers a couple of times. I want to grow more this year. Thanks for this thread on soils.
I'm sorry I just jumped on this thread. I saw pro-mix at my local hydro store looked at it a little bit and then asked how much... way too much. What a joke!!! I'm really sorry and I hope I don't offend anyone but your all are being sold fools gold at genuine gold prices.
65-75% peat moss at $40. a bale, what the fuÃÂ¢k! Please I'm tired of this, people getting taken.
You can buy a bale of peat at home depot or Lowes for $9. Add a small bag of MYCORRHIZAE that cost $4. And if you really think you need perlite then add a bag of that too $5 more so whats the total equilivant? About 18 dollars. Hmm...
Just a guess pro-mix probably spends maximum $5 per bale and they resell it for $40. Some joker out there is getting filthy rich.
I'm really, really sorry and I hope I have have not offended anyone but as you can see I'm OUTRAGED!
For heavens sake I've grown beautiful plants out of a bale of hay, do we really need some jerk selling us hyped up peat moss?
I don't know anymore I'm so aggravated by this.
Well to each his own. I guess if you've got the money to burn its your choice, heaven knows I sure don't.
This post was edited by LeafEricson on Tue, Feb 4, 14 at 23:55
By the way I don't add perlite its really not needed. But I do add quicklime at about $6 a bag. That bag of lime lasts me all season. I first mix some in with the peat moss to balance out the acidity of peat. Later on in the season I mix the quicklime with vinegar to make calcium acetate. The pepper plants love it.
Eric, I also add perlite just to starer mix. I think seedlings grow better in a fluffy well drained medium. But once I transplant to bigger pots, no more perlite. The pine bark ( from crushed up to 3/8") should provide needed drainage.
As you said " To each his own"
No offense taken. I've been called worse than a sucker. Just this morning my GF called me an ... ;-))
For some it's not a "money to burn" situation, it's "time is money". For others it's they aren't as young as they used to be or physically able to easily mix the quantities they need.
I used to mix my own but I got to the volume that I was seriously considering renting a small on-site cement mixer to help make it easier. Then I gave my head a shake and started buying mixes. I would never even contemplate mixing 6 pallets of my own mix like sandy0225 would have to do!
I guess I'm pretty fortunate, Pro-Mix is relatively cheap up here compared to what folks in the US pay.
So, to sum things up, yes I'm a lazy old sucker who has no time and a little extra cash who luckily gets a break on the cost of the Pro-Mix BX.
Seriously, no offense taken, I understand your frustration with a price $40 - $50 a bale.
This post was edited by ottawapepper on Wed, Feb 5, 14 at 15:37
Well try Fafrad, it's expensive too, but not that bad! I love that stuff in a pinch! Also Happy Frog is an excellent mix. Happy frog has organic fertilzer whereas Fafard's mixes mostly have no fertilizer, one product does. I make my own in a wheel barrel. It depends what I'm growing as to what ratios and ammendments I use.
Mixing the parts should not be that difficult. Just dump the stuff in the proportion onto a tarp,on top of each other ; Mix it a bit ; fill your can/barrel; Use it as needed. But Bill has a point. If you are busy, tired ..trying to run around to buy this to buy that , process, ... can be time consuming. So then you pay some extra for the convenience. I have time,NOT much money , I like physical activity to burn some cholesterol (Grin), so I'll make my own.
Jiffy Pot Mix?
I have a friend who makes his own fishing lures. the lures he's making wouldn't cost that much money in the store, on the order of a buck each. and each one takes him 15 minutes to make. his answer is he doesn't have a lot of money, but he does have a lot of time (he's unemployed). so he has no problem investing his time to save money. if you have very little free time, your free time is more valuable. the way I see it, if you make 15 bucks an hour, and you work 8 hrs a day, your time is worth roughly 5 bucks an hour (your time relaxing and sleeping are necessary for your functionality at work, it's a logical conclusion). I suppose it's the same concept. one should not discount the value of their time when determining which option is more viable (I'm an industrial engineering student, this is the kind of stuff I spend my day thinking about).
that's why I asked about mixing promix and pine bark. some of the work is done for you, some you do yourself.
also I've found that the easiest way to mix a small quantity of soil is to use 2 5 gallon buckets, and just pour back and forth between them. by the 3rd go round, it's all mixed.
I've learned a lot from this thread so far. I thank all who have participated.
Like they say "time is money" I don't have very much of either.
Bill, I understand completely. It takes me days and days to mix all mine. I've also considered a mixer. This year I will mix it all on a big tarp instead of in a wheel barrel. Thanks Bill for a different perspective. I never considered age, I have a habit of pushing myself to the limits. I blame it on lack of time and lack of money also my own suborness.
I recommend you guys wear a back brace when gardening. I use it just to prevent backaches. All the bending and lifting can wreak havoc on your back.
I used to get it for $16 then it went to $22 due to fuel prices Last year I payed $24 with a 10% landscape discount If it went to $40 Ill have to rethink things, have not looked to buy any yet.I'm sure the farther you live from Canada the more it costs. $40? would be a big hit.I'm going to look into it today. I use a lot not only for peppers but I also do other veg. and perennials some I breed myself $40 would hurt
I used to get it for $16 then it went to $22 due to fuel prices Last year I payed $24 with a 10% landscape discount If it went to $40 Ill have to rethink things,
It is the old ECONOMICS supply and demand game. They control the supply and realize that there is a demand for it no matter how they price. Or they make more money by selling slightly less quantity but still making more money( higher mark up). I think they have got a big name recognition in the face of no competition. I would boycott them. spread the word around.
If it is true that ProMix is more expensive in the US, before boycotting or anything of that nature it might be good to check with the company itself and just ask why.
While it is certainly possible that they charge more in order to make more money, it is also possible that there are other factors playing into the higher cost.
Could there be higher import costs as far as taxes and tariffs? And we all know that transportation costs have skyrocketed due to oil prices.
Political action is fine, but action against a company for increased pricing doesn't seem fair if there are valid reasons for the price increase. Get the facts first.
I'm experimenting with a coir product (Beatspeat) this year as part of my garden mix. From what I've read it lasts for years and improves soil texture. The price is competitive with peat.
Fafard is great alternative, not like their is a monopoly on good potting soil. Many excellent brands exist. Happy Frog is another. Nobody makes money when prices go up. And as you point out Lucille, it drives customers to other alternatives. I myself made the most money when I have giant sales like on Black Friday and such. High prices cause customers to conserve and seek alternatives. Any businessman with any knowledge knows this is true. Volume sales is how you get rich, so low supplies hurts everybody including the seller. Economics 101!
There are people who are described as " Brand Loyal". They will pay any price for the brand they like. They are not going to help the competitive mechanism. So I guess there are those who are hooked to "pro mix" too. But , IMO, the educated consumer drive the market economy better. We learn a lot in places like this site and educate ourselves. In the long run this will benefit all of us. Be it Pepper Joe or Pro Mix.
Having said that I am the advocate of " MAKE YOUR OWN" potting mix. With $3/cu-ft of pine bark and $10/bale of peat moss I can afford to have 20, 30 .. potted pepper plants. But with $40 per bale of a potting mix I am out of the game.
This year I am going w/ FarFard Pro Potting Mix. Contains the key items:
Am adding the Vermiculite separately.
So based on that I feel pretty confident that I have all the bases covered.
Plus it is ~$8-10 per cubic yard bag
You meant to say $8 -10 per cubic foot bag, right?.
One cubic foot is roughly 8 dry gallons. It is not a steal but not a bad deal, considering it has perlite in it too.
Yes. Cubic foot. $10 for a cubic would Awesome.
speaking of expensive but interesting looking potting soils, this is also available near me.
I'm not one for shelling out that kind of cash for 2 buckets worth of soil, but deep down I kinda wanna get a bag, and either incorporate it into the mix for all the wonderful stuff it claims to contain, or maybe do a side by side. all I know is I have 40 seedlings that I might wanna get out of plastic cups and into bigger pots soon. so I need to come up with a plan quick. I kinda like the idea of mixing pro mix with pine fines. but if I'm gonna do that, I might as well save even more money and do the 511. the issue is I'm taking 15 credits of engineering classes, and working 30 hrs per week, and trying to fit judo back in there when my most recent injury clears up. time to mix 200 gallons worth of soil is hard to come by.
People grow peppers for all sorts of different reasons. Some grow to save costs over what the peppers might cost in grocery stores, some grow because they love peppers and there are many that simply are not available from grocery stores.
And everyone has a different budget. I would not pay the higher prices for Pro-mix and some of the other mixes mentioned here right now, but then I am retired and have time to mix my own seedling/garden mix.
If you really enjoy your peppers and have the funds to purchase premixes and don't have the time (or inclination) to mix up your own, consider buying premix this year and maybe make your own next year.
No matter how you cut it, handling 200 gallons of potting mix and potting 40 seedlings into 5 gal. containers is going to require some time and effort , EVEN if you use any ready-mix soil. Mixing your own 511 will be just a fraction of the total time.
I will probably pot about 20 seedlings( in April ). But in average I will use 2.5 gal. containers. So I will have to handle about 50 gal. of potting mix ( that is about 7 cu-ft). I know, what I am doing is mostly for sports and as hobby. IOW, by doing all this I am not trying to save money by not buying things from farmers market or stores. So I try to do it within a scale that I can afford, financially, physically and time wise.
This post was edited by seysonn on Sun, Feb 9, 14 at 14:22
Indeed, there are many ways to skin a cat.....
Different potting mixes will work for different applications and environments. I'm a fan of bark-based mixes due to the economy of the mix, the weight, and the ease of use.
If bark is the majority of the mix, you will want to add Dolomitic Lime to raise the pH. Lime is cheap, so there's no reason to leave it out.
Miracle Gro MC is, according to the label, 50% composted pine bark (at least the Georgia strain is).
After mixing 900 tons of 5:1:1 last year, I'm pretty much sticking to the easy way henceforth. It will still cost, though. TANSTAAFL.
Composted....way beyond a bark texture. Bark and peat basically have the same moisture retention, pound for pound, but bark has the advantage of structure and durability, provided that it isn't composted to such an extent. Miracle Grow should not be considered a *bark* based mix, unless the texture is actually that of bark.
I agree with Josh. The concept of BARK- BASED mix is to have bark pieces ranging from dust to 3/8". Crushed or fully composted pine bark is not much different from peat moss in texture. The idea behind bark based mix is to provide adequate drainage and aeration. Or that is to my understanding.
Having said that, MG MC is widely used and there has been no complaint about it. One of the reasons I don't like it is because it is pricy.
Coconut husk chips are probably better than bark, but then we are back to the cost. I saw a 50 gallon bale for $60.00.
6-12MM chip size.
No, I wasn't advancing MGMC as a bark-based dirt. Fluffy as it is, with all the rain and rain and rain last year it could have been a disaster had I not used 5:1:1. Yet if the same thing happens this year I'll put up umbrellas. A lot less work.