Fafard or ProMix potting soil - where?

kvenkat(5a Colo)July 31, 2011

I've tried Sta-Green which was a bit too heavy and slow-draining for my liking. Miracle Gro is okay but the quality is not consistent. I am looking for something new to try. I've heard good things about Fafard and Pro-mix but have not found either one although I looked at 3-4 places. Any one know where in the southern Denver metro I could find some?

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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Only three places in Colorado sell Pro-Mix according to their website. See link below. Unfortunately for me, they are all on the wrong side of the state.

There are three retailers for Fafard's in the Denver area as well.
http://www.fafard.com/FindaRetail.aspx

I'd only have to drive 50 miles to reach a place that sells Fafards ... after the luck I had with potting mixes this year, it might be worth the drive.

Here is a link that might be useful: Where to buy Pro-Mix in Colorado

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 3:32AM
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colokid(5)

If you are talking about potting mix not potting soil,
I liked what I got from ACE , their brand, A little better than miracle grow. I think it was made in Denver. 50 cents a bag cheaper too.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 8:28AM
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Dan Staley

I make my own soil, using a wheelbarrow and what is on sale, always using a pine bark fine product from Nick's called "Soil Pep". Never any product with perlite.

Dan

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 1:30PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

So, Dan, what is your "recipe"?

Most of the forumulas I have found use either perlite, or vermiculite. If you don't use those, it seems like you would end up with a concrete block.

I bought a bale of peat to try and make my own too, but I'm still trying to find the other ingredients to add to it. Supplies are very limited around here ...

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 1:50PM
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Dan Staley

I don't have leftover bags to get the name, but I get this potting soil stuff (Black gold?) from HD that is ~7.00/3 cf that has lots of large pieces and no peat, then I use the bark fines and some mushroom/steer compost, ~3 parts potting soil, 1 part fines, 1 part compost. Throw in some granulated 5-10-10 and fert with a liquid fert when needed. Started doing that in CA some years ago now.

Dan

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 2:42PM
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kvenkat(5a Colo)

Awesome information!

Looks like I don't have to go too far to get some new mix.

Just out of curiosity, has anyone try the EKO brand? I have not heard anything about it.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 9:21PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

What are you using if for, Kat? In pots, or as an outside soil amendment--or something else?!! For instance: The neighborhood stray cats--or "owned" cats that are left to roam--have decided that the tub of potting soil I keep on my deck is a litter box! Hopefully that's not what you have in mind! ;-)

But where/how you're using it makes all the difference in what you want to buy.

Skybird

P.S. How about some sludge---I mean, Hyponex! Remember the soup I showed you all at the swap!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 10:08PM
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kvenkat(5a Colo)

Oh, yes, I vividly remember the Hyponex. That wasn't soup, it was concrete!

Yes, I suppose I should mention what I want to use the potting mix for. (I had no idea the Fafard's for example, came in so many blends.) I would like to find something to use for wintersowing and for container gardening the rest of the year.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 12:00AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

That helps, Kat! :-)

The soil I was using for the demo at the swap was Sunshine Mix #1. Yeah, that's what the neighborhood cats are using as their own private porta-potty! (I'm putting the lid on the container over night now! When I'm potting things up, I don't like it when I grab a handful of soil--and it goes squish in my hand!)

I never heard of Fafard until you posted it, so I don't know anything about it!

When I worked at Center Greenhouse (retail location closed in '96) I think it was Premier Pro-Mix that we used for everything--which was mostly potting up and repotting house plants for the customers. I don't remember which mix it was (all the good ones have multiple mixes), but it would have been their most basic "all purpose" or "basic potting mix" one! Any good all purpose mix by Premier should work for you.

That said, I don't ever, anymore, use a mix with vermiculite in it! Any time I get within ten feet of vermiculite, I overwater everything--and it dies! So if you decide to get a mix with vermiculite in it, remember that vermiculite holds a LOT of water, and be careful with your watering until you're used to it!

I've posted this before, but I use Sunshine mix for everything--in pots! I use Sunshine #1. Number 1 and Number 2 are the same thing, but #1 has a "starter" shot of fertilizer in it--and it's the same price as #2! (at least at Paulino's!) Here's a page that shows you the ingredients for the different Sunshine Mixes. Paulino's carries a bunch of the different mixes, #1 and #2 are about $34 a bale--if I remember right! (I get the Little Olde Lady discount now, so I paid less than that!)

Wait! Alright, I'm thinking in bales! Maybe you're not!!! If you want to save some money, I seriously recommend you buy whatever you decide upon in bales! The biggest bale potting soils come in is 3.8 cubic feet--that's about the same size as a big bale of peat moss! The bales are compressed, and 3.8 cubic feet of compressed soil is MUCH more than 3.8 cubic feet of loose packaged soil in a bag! At least twice as much--and it seems to me even more, tho I've certainly never taken the time to measure it! But a bale just goes on and on and on! (I use about a bale a year--most years! Got kinda carried away at this year's Spring Swap!) It keeps forever, and what you don't use one year, you use the next! Mine is outside by the side of the house--you were walking past it coming and going at the swap! In winter you just need to be sure to bring some inside in time for it to thaw and warm up before you use it! But for price comparisons, compressed soil and loose soil is like apples and oranges! Bottom line is you're going to pay a lot more for whatever you buy if you get it in bags rather than bales!

You're closest to Tagawa, and they're a good company--they do a lot of their own growing--so I checked their site to see what I could see! They don't list specific products, but I found a picture of a bale of Sunshine Mix, so I assume they keep the stuff on hand! Having used both the Premier, and the Sunshine, for all practical purposes, they're the same thing--at least the one we used back in the 90's!

I couldn't find a link to the Premier Horticulture site, but from what I found on other sites selling Pro Mix, I'm finding "other stuff" in some of their mixes, for instance one of them has polymers in it--which, like vermiculite, would have ME overwatering everything! Be sure you check the ingredients of whatever you buy so you can decide if that's what you want--and so you know for sure what you're getting! (Can't do that with MiracleGro--they don't want you to know what's in the bag--cause they don't know themselves what's in it from week to week!) Sunshine #1 (& #2) is just Canadian sphagnum peat, perlite and some dolomitic lime to help neutralize the acidity of the peat--with some nutrients in #1! A very simple and basic mix! Any good mix should have at least those first two ingredients (and probably the lime), and then there are other things added to different brands and mixes. My brother in Illinois uses Ball Mix, don't know which mix, but, again, for all practical purposes it's the same as Sunshine #1! (I've never seen Ball Mix out here!)

So, Tagawa appears to carry Sunshine, Paulino's definitely carries Sunshine, and I was wondering what Kelly/Timberline carried, and he lists Black Gold on his site--which is also made by Sun Gro--who makes Sunshine Mix! The only thing I could find on his site was bags, but I can' imagine he doesn't carry a basic potting mix in bales too! The Black Gold mixes that I looked up did have other stuff in 'em--like earthworm castings! I'm sure the Black Gold mixes are good--was it Digit--or David--who was saying he liked them a lot? Go to Timberline's site if you want to check out the ingredients more! I didn't stop to look at who carries the Pro Mix, but I did see that there were a whole list of places, so if you decide on that, you should be able to easily find it. (Bonnie, I think you just didn't scroll down far enough on that site.)

You asked about EKO, and I believe they have good products, but if they make a potting soil, I'm not familiar with it! The product you find most often (all over the place) is EKO Compost, and it's used as a soil amendment outside. I know they also have some kind of an Outdoor Planter Mix, but I doubt that that would be appropriate for small pots or for starting things in, a/k/a winter sowing.

Ok! A whole bunch of stuff there--and I'm not real sure it's in any coherent order! I'm doing other things too as I type this! If I raised more questions than I answered, say so!

About the Hyponex! Yeah, it's like concrete when you're carrying it around--or like lead--but do you remember the samples where I had added water to the Sunshine mix and to the same amount of Hyponex the night before the swap, and the Sunshine mix was all nice and light and fluffy, and the Hyponex was just some "stuff" standing in water--and none of the water had soaked in 'cause there was nothing for it to soak into? That's the "soup" I'm referring to! I kept what was left in the bag for "future reference," but I dumped the soup and the other samples into my veggie garden. Sure hope I didn't wreck my Heavy Clay with it!!! ;-)

Gotta go! Let us know what you wind up getting--and how you like it.

Skybird

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 2:06AM
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david52 Zone 6

This might be a good spot to bring up the science of potting soils and plants, there is a wonderful fella over on the Container Gardening forum who knows quite a bit about it and explains things pretty clearly - makes up his own mixes and so on.

This forum is dedicated to those who grow all kinds of things in containers/pots, everything from bonsai to heirloom tomatoes, and so attracts some interesting souls from around the world - and some of the stuff, I just shake my head.

But its worth while to read, I've learned quite a bit. Linked is thread #umpty about soils and mixes and stuff. .......

I'll start a thread later on about my own experiences growing stuff in containers, this year its peppers and eggplant, and things are shaping up nicely.

Here is a link that might be useful: link to container forum thread

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 10:35AM
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kvenkat(5a Colo)

Thank you Skybird for your sharing your knowledge. You are one of my garden gurus!

I have poked in on the Container forum on occasion although its usually when some little catfight is going on over there, lol.

I have been to Tagawas. Since the mix did not up and smack me in the face, I assumed they did not have it. I'll go again and ask. Or I might trot up to a different garden center for some new scenery. I need some more mix soon so hopefully next week I can make the trip. Maybe I will get some each, the Fafards and Promix and compare them.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 7:49PM
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cnetter(z5 Co)

That link above was interesting. I didn't know Giambrocco's carries Promix for sale. I should have guessed since I know they use it for their plants. They're one of my favorite nurseries. I get Promix at Wrights by the large bale. It's sterile so I use it for all my cuttings and seed starting and have never had any trouble with it over the years.

One bale will totally fill a large plastic trashcan. I keep it the trashcan with the lid on to keep it clean for seed starting.

I think it's a bit light for pots so I mix it with some well rotted manure for the large pots on my back porch.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 4:20PM
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Dan Staley

Skybird reminds me of a TA I had in nursery ops in undergrad who used to wax poetic about mixes and amendments and bales. I'm still going to mix my own, even after that loving paean to the bagged soil!

Dan

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 6:59PM
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elkwc(6b)

Another good mix if you can't find the others is any of the Ball mixes. They are what I used mainly this year and have used several times in the past. Did use a Berger germination mix on a few trays and wasn't impressed. Used a Berger potting mix to pot up a few plants. The problem I had with it is after I planted to the garden if I didn't water each plant that had it every day they would suffer from the lack of water. The soil around it would be soaked but that mix doesn't absorb or hold water well. Most of my plants were in the Ball mix and they would be on either side and they were doing fine and those in the Berger mix would be suffering big time. I pulled one pepper and one tomato to see what the problem was and figured it out. Once the roots spread out of the mix they are fine.
Like Skybird said above most companies make several mixes so important to check what is in each. I used to use Pro-Mix when I could find it. Now there is no where within 120 miles of me carrying it. So I buy my mixes from one of 3 local greenhouse/nurseries. I'm friends with all and although 2 of them usually don't sell to individuals they let me buy some when I need it. I've used the Sunshine products and have had good luck with their potting mixes. Used a little of one germination mix I didn't have the best results with but that was more my fault and why I don't use germination mixes anymore. Like the one greenhouse grower told me. Many of the germination mixes don't have anything in them so you need to pot up within 5-7 days on most plants if not sooner. He doesn't use germination mixes for a lot of his plants because of that. I have my choice of what to use as each grower uses a different mix. One uses the Sunshine mixes, one Berger mixes and the other Ball mixes. The Ball mixes have been considerably cheaper the last few years so I've used them with very good results. Any of them should work great. Just check to see what is in the mix you buy. Jay

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 11:58PM
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kvenkat(5a Colo)

Ball Mix - I'll keep that one in mind too. I think I saw it once somewhere but don't remember which place had it.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 12:58AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

My brother in Illinois uses one of the Ball mixes--for commercial growing, but like I said above, I've never seen it out here.

I know you're not in quite the same part of "out here" as we are, Jay, but where do you find it? I didn't have any luck searching for a local supplier online. And do you know which mix it is that you're using?

Skybird

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 2:09AM
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elkwc(6b)

Skybird,
I buy mine from a greenhouse in Liberal,KS. Most that I know who use it are nurseries/greenhouses. The closest I know besides them that sell to the public are in Amarillo, TX and possibly Dodge City,KS.The mix they use mainly and the one I use for starting most seeds in and potting up till they are transplanted in the ground is the Growing On mix. I've had good results with it. I quit using it for a few years due to cost. But the price of it has stayed the same since and the others continue to inch up and most have passed it in cost now. Expecting another increase. I usually use 15-20 bags a year. Like I said I have continued to experiment with other mixes or when I've ran out of the Ball mix I have bought some Fertilome products and they have worked well also. Just high priced. I've even had good results with some of the Jiffy seed starting mixes. This year due to my work situation I wanted to avoid having to pot up so soon after germination so I just started most in the Growing on Mix in a little bigger cells and have around 96% germination and survival rate.

I'm going to look and see if I have any of the Berger germination mix left and ask you to look at the formulation on it. It even dried out worse while starting seeds. Especaially after the first germinated and I moved the trays under the grow lights. I know it has to be how it is mixed. I have never took the time to study mixes enough to know for sure what the problem is. Jay

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 12:08PM
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