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Soil for container planting

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:21 am
by Tinybu88les8
My garden is very small (9x12) and I want to start container planting to expand my garden. Can I fill the entire pot up with ammend compost? Or does it have to be a mixture of potting soil? Also...What is best to plant in pots? This pots are quite large (not sure the gallon size) but they are more than enough room for deep set roots.I have 3 bell pepper plants I want to remove from my garden. Im worried about doing this but when I planted them this spring I thought they perished at the end of the season. Come to find out thats not how it works! I would love to keep the ones I have in my garden now because I guess produce is better on the 2nd or 3rd year? I dunno....I have plenty of broccoli and brussels sprouts seedlings I need to plant as well as broccoli raab seeds....I was also considering using one of the pots to plant potatoes and carrots...sandy soil produce. *sigh* I just don't know what is best. I need some advice from people who know what they are talking about! I have 3 large pots. Teach me something! :D

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:09 pm
by rainbowgardener
I have seen the question about soil for containers posted before (you might try doing a search) and it has gotten mixed responses -- different gardeners have different answers, which is frequently the case :) !

I can only tell you my take from my personal experience, which is that garden soil and even (my) compost are too heavy and dense and hold too much moisture for use in containers. It works much better to use actual potting soil. You can add some compost to the potting soil, but for me (my unturned compost has a consistency about like chocolate brownies... if you turn your compost pile frequently you might have lighter, fluffier compost), I wouldn't use more than 1/4 compost to 3/4 potting soil.

If you search, there are recipes posted here for homemade potting soil, from topsoil, peat moss, vermiculite, etc. I've tried doing that and it's too much hassle for me (if your container is going to come inside, then the soil and/or compost has to be sterilized which is slow and stinky), but it works for some...

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 5:12 am
by tedln

Asking for a recommendation for the best container soil is kind of like asking what part of the country has the best bar-b-que. Everyone has an opinion, and no two are the same.

This site has a container gardening forum and the first paragraph of the first sticky note on the forum gives a preferred recipe for container soil. The only problem is the fact that it includes mushroom manure. I'm not sure everyone has access to mushroom manure. You can do a search on the container forum for soils and see how many opinions you get.

I grew for many years in containers and my recipe changed every year. The only thing consistent was the fact that I always used some natural soil and some potting soil to keep the natural soil loose and retain moisture. I sometimes used some peat moss, or pine bark fines, or vermiculite or perlite. Some folks mix in compost, some don't. After you figure out the best soil mix for your containers, climate, plants; you then must decide if you want fertilizer mixed with the soil or if you want to fertilize by hand on a schedule based on the plants your are growing.

When I grew in containers, I grew mostly tomatoes and cucumbers and herbs. I have seen everything from root crops like potatoes and carrots to leaf crops like lettuce and spinach grown in containers.

I really don't think a simple answer exists. Good luck!


Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:17 am
by SP8
Yep, a case for trial and error and error if there ever was one.
Best of luck and keep us updated :D

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 10:06 pm
by Tinybu88les8
OKay well thanks a lot guys. The only last thing I would like to know is my bell peppers...I would most def. prefer to grow them in pots. Can i dig them up and plant them in the pots or am I better off buying new bells and planting them? Id obviously like to keep my more mature plants (that are still producing btw). The reason I ask is because I want to free up some of the garden space I have. If I start over with new peppers that means tearing the old ones (mature) out...which kills me to even think about! I love my plants! I don't even like thinning...I feel guilty. Lol its pretty ridiculous actually.

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 10:24 pm
by Duh_Vinci
To the bell peppers - I don't think it's a good idea to transplanting yours from the ground into containers, I believe it would be too much of a shock to the plan's roots.

I think you would be much better off just buying new seedlings/plants or grow your own from seed.


Posted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:09 pm
by rainbowgardener
Duh_vinci is probably right about the shock, but what do you have to lose by trying the experiment? If the alternative is just throwing the producing plants away. If they die from the transplant shock you are only where you would have been anyway and you can replace them at that point.

I'm with you, I just hate throwing out plants that are still going. Had this discussion elsewhere re pulling the summer flowers like impatiens and replanting with pansies, etc for fall. I don't do that either! :)