msmalls wrote:Hi everyone! So sorry it took so long for me to respond and thanks for all of the advice and encouragement. I'm using miracle grow potting mix in my containers and I also have the miracle grow tomato plant food. How often should I feed? I'm finding that once you starting planting, it's hard to stop! I started out with two pots that I told myself I would experiment with. I'm now up to 10 pots...two of which I added just today. That's it...no more! I really hope this experiment is a success. I will definitely put all of the helpful hints to work.
Miracle Grow....some love it....others, not so much. I'd have to say that I'm in the "not so much" category. Now, I don't mean to single out MG, but all chemical fertilizers in general. The chemical/natural debate in one that will probably continue for a long time, but here is my input on the subject.
When you use chemical fertilizers, you are doing harm to your soil and your microbes (we'll get to these in a second). You soil, over time, will loose its tilth (structure and ability to hold the right amount of water).
In addition to your soil's structure, chemical fertilizers also harm your soil's microbes. These, as their name implies, are microscopic organisms, such as fungi, bacteria, and protozoa, that live in your soil and do tremendous things for it and your plants. You see, the roots of the plants exude certain compounds that attract certain kinds of microorganisms. These organisms do all kinds of things.
For one, as they eat each other, they emit nutrients that are in a form that the plant can use. You see, not all of the nutrients in your soil are in a form that is usable by your plants. Some fungi actually attach themselves to the plant's roots and act as little extension-cords, helping the plants roots to receive nutrients from deeper down in the soil than they normally would.
Now, I know that not all of these things apply to container growing (maybe you have some insights, HG, on how they benefit container plants), but you get my point: they're good to have.
So, the two main things you can do to make sure your soil has and abundant supply of microbes is to add compost and [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17097]ACT[/url]. ACT is short for Aerated Compost Tea, and man is it good stuff. The thread on it is quite long, but read the whole thing..it only gets better and there is some really educational stuff on soil microbes near the end.
As for the compos, we have an entire sub-forum here dedicated to just that. Good luck with your plants.