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ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #1 
Generally I'm happy with my current soil mix but it's on the expensive side. I'd like some opinions on a mix I've been thinking about. I understand that many people use some kind of pine bark based soil but that is not available in bulk in my area. I've been thinking about using well decomposed tripple shredded root mulch. It's basically just whole trees run through the shredder 3x and then decomposed for a few years. It's pretty dark. (I'm not worried about nitrogen issues.) So I'm thinking of using 2 parts tripple shredded root mulch, 2 parts well decomposed leaf compost, and 1 part Pro Mix HP-CC.

The Mulch and Compost should hold water and the Coir in the HP-CC should provide good aeration.

This mix will be used when I shift up my 3-10 gallons to 15 gallons.

Do you think this will work?


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livetaswim06

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Reply with quote  #2 
Whole trees ground up would be a problem. Given that you are in NJ, perhaps you could just buy Fafard 52/Nursery mix. Some places sell it for around $5 a cubic foot. I am not sure if that would be cheaper or not for you, I only have 5-6 pots. 
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ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #3 
I have about 200 15 gallon. @ $10 per pot for Fafard 52. (or similar). Generally I would agree that wood chip is not a good idea, but if it's shredded fine and decomposed, why not?
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Reply with quote  #4 
Haha well dropping 2k on a repot is rather crazy. I'm sure other high volume growers have much better suggestions. 
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ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #5 
Every grower by me uses a peanut shell/ pine bark/ peat blend. (Which they bring in about 75 yards at a time). I can buy it from them for about $100/yd. (corrected pricing) I've been buying that and mixing it with other stuff to drop the cost down to $5 (price is still accurate) per pot. I'm looking to go lower than that.
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livetaswim06

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Reply with quote  #6 
You should be able to buy 60 cubic foot totes of metro mix 852 for 180 or so per tote. Check with your local crop production services.
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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hey Aaron - I have easy access to pine bark quite cheap so that remains the main component of my 5-2-1-1. Pine bark, perlite, peat moss, manure/castings

Might I ask:

I know you recently got in to bunny poop. Will you be including that into your mix? I've always had one part of my mix as manure but will be slowly switching over to worm castings if they perform well. 

What is your current mix?

I know many use sand as a draining component. I've used granite based sand in the past. It seems to work well and it's cheap but a bit heavy.

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Reply with quote  #8 
Joe, I don't think sand would be good at improving drainage at all. Something like perlite would be much better.
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Reply with quote  #9 
I do use perlite now as my two parts....

The sand did seem to drain very well. It did seem to matter what kind of sand I was using... For instance a lot of limestone seems to cake up good. 

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ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #10 
Here is my link to last years mix. I had the $200 number in my head and I was remembering that as the nursery potting soil price alone. That price by itself must have been $100. Not $200 as I wrote above. That does change things a little, but mulch is $14 so still much cheaper.

I understand that most people would not use it. The question is why?

Bunny poop, worm castings, or any other fert does not figure into the volume of potting soil. (Yes I'll be using all of that too)

Very gritty sand or pea gravel seems to be ok, but the finer parts of the sand tend to settle to the bottom and clog up all the air pockets making a dead zone in the bottom of the pot. I don't use it because 15 gallons is enough weight for me and I will need to root prune at some point and don't want to deal with gravel. I've been thinking that a sawzall will be my weapon of choice.

I'm going to correct my math above.

http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/busy-day-yesterday-8254263?pid=1293505717

I've not found a bulk supplier in my area for the faffard, or similar product larger than a 2.8cf bail. (About $33 each) which gives me 4 15 gal pots.

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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #11 
I used the sawzall to root prune a few times. Works great. Just don't use a blade you plan to use for anything else again....

Thanks for the mix link



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Reply with quote  #12 
Have you tried reaching out to CPS? There is a location in north and south NJ.
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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #13 
Hey Aaron - Just occurred to me. One of my neighbors has a big property and goes through tons (literally) of mulch every year. He found a local tree service that couldn't get rid of their chipper waste fast enough. A couple of times a year they dump a truck load of bark mulch on his driveway. I think he tips the driver a case of beer for his trouble. You certainly want to be choosy about what's ground up in there and maybe need to plan ahead to compost a bit but if you have someone like this in the area that you can look up it might be a good source for you. Assuming the content is appropriate.

I'm also looking into a city program here. The city has a program giving away free leaf compost from public yard waste collection. Maybe something similar exists in your area or near by.

Just ideas...Not sure if they fit for you but hope it can help.

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cjccmc

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Reply with quote  #14 
If looking to reduce costs, I'd question what value the high priced Pro-Mix adds at only 1 part of 5. It's about 75% peat which I would think is there to retain water but you already have 2/5 leaf compost to do that.
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figherder

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Reply with quote  #15 
I'm kinda in the same boat. Looking at a 3k up pot in a few weeks..
A few years ago when they were trimming trees around here I had them dump about 5 truckloads of material on the property. I added horse and cow manure and mixed it every season so its now ready to use... I'll be using that, peat that I will buy from Lowes and then worm castings and rice hulls. The rice hulls are in place of the perlite.

Best price I found on the worm castings and rice hulls was here  http://www.7springsfarm.com/black-castings-40lb/
You can do a search for the rice hulls there as well.

Then I will probably add some of this fertilizer just to be sure..http://www.seedranch.com/Dynamite-All-Purpose-Select-Indoor-Outdoor-Plant-F-p/dynamite-organic-7.htm

I'm not sure on my exact mix yet but will have all ingredients on hand to mix whatever I decide I like best.. I was doing the pine bark that I got from wal mart for 2 or 3 bucks a bag.. Seems like that mix is to light and dries out very quickly. I hand water and really dont want to water every day.

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Brooklynmatty

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by livetaswim06
Have you tried reaching out to CPS? There is a location in north and south NJ.


CPS??? I would love to find out if places did bulk mixes. I just spent 3 hrs up potting today and made 60gallons of mix, boy it's tiring.

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooklynmatty
CPS??? I would love to find out if places did bulk mixes. I just spent 3 hrs up potting today and made 60gallons of mix, boy it's tiring.


CPS is Crop Production Services. They are an agricultural supplier. The smallest order they quoted me was 120 cubic feet of mix though. That is roughly 4.5 yards, I think. They seem to have good stuff, but I don't think they sell in small quantities. Perhaps you could get just 60 cubic feet, but even so that is a lot more than 60 gallons. 

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Brooklynmatty

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by livetaswim06


CPS is Crop Production Services. They are an agricultural supplier. The smallest order they quoted me was 120 cubic feet of mix though. That is roughly 4.5 yards, I think. They seem to have good stuff, but I don't think they sell in small quantities. Perhaps you could get just 60 cubic feet, but even so that is a lot more than 60 gallons. 


60 gallons was just today, I still have to mix another few hundred gallons, just had a small break today and ran out of bark. The only thing I really need to spend money on now is bark. I'll look into that though as an option though. Thanks

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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by figherder
I'm kinda in the same boat. Looking at a 3k up pot in a few weeks..
A few years ago when they were trimming trees around here I had them dump about 5 truckloads of material on the property. I added horse and cow manure and mixed it every season so its now ready to use... I'll be using that, peat that I will buy from Lowes and then worm castings and rice hulls. The rice hulls are in place of the perlite.

Best price I found on the worm castings and rice hulls was here  http://www.7springsfarm.com/black-castings-40lb/
You can do a search for the rice hulls there as well.

Then I will probably add some of this fertilizer just to be sure..http://www.seedranch.com/Dynamite-All-Purpose-Select-Indoor-Outdoor-Plant-F-p/dynamite-organic-7.htm

I'm not sure on my exact mix yet but will have all ingredients on hand to mix whatever I decide I like best.. I was doing the pine bark that I got from wal mart for 2 or 3 bucks a bag.. Seems like that mix is to light and dries out very quickly. I hand water and really dont want to water every day.



Geez! I really lucked out with the worm castings. I'm getting 50 lb bags for $4 (Canadian) I know I keep preaching this... Find yourselves a local bait worm farm. That's where I'm getting mine. No middle man. Straight from the worms butt - to your garden....

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ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #20 
I use about 175 yards of wood chips a year to mulch between my garden rows. The tree companies know where I live. That stuff will not be going in my pots.

The compost I buy I can also pick up for free, but if I want it loaded into my truck I have to pay. Not much. It's mostly leaves but will have grass clippings, small sticks, etc. it's well decomposed. At least 3-4 years old.

The ProMix I was thinking of using is the CC. It has chunks of Coir in it. I've never used it before, but I thought it would be good for drainage and aeration. It does not break down very quickly.

How many 1 gallon pots can you get out of a 2.8 cf bail of pro mix, fafard, sun mix, or whatever. Not sure I'd make a custom mix if all I needed was 2-300 gallons. I saw the sun mix today. It looked exactly like what I've been looking for. However I'm talking about 3,000 gallons. That's just the shifting up of existing pots. Then I have the 400 3 gallon pots I'll need for the cuttings I'm rooting now. Many of those will find their way into 15 gallon pots by fall so figure an easy 7,500 gallons by the end of 2017. What is that in yards? I have no idea. I was going to start with 4 yards because that's what my truck will hold and go from there. 8 yards maybe?

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livetaswim06

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Reply with quote  #21 
I have ProMix HPCC and I can say that it is excellent so far. I have it mixed 45% ProMix with 55% AllGreen Microbark. Chunks are very evenly sized, about the size of a standard dice cube. 
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Reply with quote  #22 
Hmmm....Sorry the ideas weren't more helpful. 

I wonder what the big nurseries are doing? I can't imagine they're forking out that kind of cash for their mix... 

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Brooklynmatty

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ADelmanto
I use about 175 yards of wood chips a year to mulch between my garden rows. The tree companies know where I live. That stuff will not be going in my pots.

The compost I buy I can also pick up for free, but if I want it loaded into my truck I have to pay. Not much. It's mostly leaves but will have grass clippings, small sticks, etc. it's well decomposed. At least 3-4 years old.

The ProMix I was thinking of using is the CC. It has chunks of Coir in it. I've never used it before, but I thought it would be good for drainage and aeration. It does not break down very quickly.

60 gallons of mix is about 1 bail (2.8 cubic ft) of pro mix, fafard, sun mix, whatever. $33 ish. Not sure I'd make a custom mix if that's all I needed.


2cu ft is 15 gallons, so it would be 8 cu ft needed. I know the compressed bails are 3.8ft , but I would never go straight promix. I probably am going to be mixing about 400 gallons this year.

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ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #24 
No TJ the nurseries are not. They buy it by the tractor trailor so it's much cheaper. I can buy what they use for around $100 per yard, so what do they pay? $50-$75? The problem is that although it has most of what I want, it also contains peanut shells. I've heard that peanut shells are not good for figs.
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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #25 
I didn't know that about the peanuts...Thankfully we don't get them here.... There must be a better way... I'm not up to your scale but enough that it's going to sting come repot soon. I'm going to keep thinking on this. If anything comes to me I'll let you know....

Since I'm not in business, this is all an expense to support my addiction... At some point I may need to start selling some trees locally just so I can afford to grow them...



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figherder

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Reply with quote  #26 
There's 173 gallons in a yard . 37 yards is 7473 gallons.
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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #27 
For what it's worth.... "Pine Tree Substrate"

I have to do some more reading but what caught my eye in the article.

They write, "After adding the costs of grinding and extra fertilizer, one could conceivably produce a substrate for well under $15 per cubic yard compared to more than $40 for traditional peat substrates and $20 or more for aged pine bark"

http://www.hort.vt.edu/wright/woodgro/American%20Nurseryman%20PTS%20Article.pdf

Maybe something here.... I don't even know where it can be found as yet....

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figherder

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Reply with quote  #28 
Quote:
Geez! I really lucked out with the worm castings. I'm getting 50 lb bags for $4 (Canadian) I know I keep preaching this... Find yourselves a local bait worm farm. That's where I'm getting mine. No middle man. Straight from the worms butt - to your garden....


Thank you. I'll look into that.

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ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #29 
Quote:
Originally Posted by figherder
There's 173 gallons in a yard . 37 yards is 7473 gallons.


I'm going to have to recheck my math. It's going to be at least 5000 gallons. I may have to get that truck in from the Carolinas after all.

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ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #30 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TorontoJoe
For what it's worth.... "Pine Tree Substrate"

I have to do some more reading but what caught my eye in the article.

They write, "After adding the costs of grinding and extra fertilizer, one could conceivably produce a substrate for well under $15 per cubic yard compared to more than $40 for traditional peat substrates and $20 or more for aged pine bark"

http://www.hort.vt.edu/wright/woodgro/American%20Nurseryman%20PTS%20Article.pdf

Maybe something here.... I don't even know where it can be found as yet....


Interesting...

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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #31 
I'm kind of relentless when posed with a problem... It's a curse... 
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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #32 
More exciting reading here. Good info...but man it's dry......

https://projects.ncsu.edu/project/woodsubstrates/documents/refereed/methods-constr-pine-tree-substrate.pdf

https://projects.ncsu.edu/project/woodsubstrates/documents/research/pine-tree-substrate-alternative.pdf

Still no idea where to get it...


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Reply with quote  #33 
Just find a source for farad #52 and buy as much as you can.
I have been using farad #52 for years and selling it to the folks who buy trees from me.
It is excellent.
I buy it by the pallet load so I can offer it to my customers at my price and there has never been a single complaint.
THEN find some bunny poop, azomite clay, lime and anything else that will supply you with miconutrients (worm castings, etc.)
It may be a tad more expensive to buy bags of soil mix but it is worth it -- in my opinion obviously.
I see people waste so much time re-inventing the wheel. I, too used to mix my own soil and try and find the perfect mix.
I think I have that in farad #52
Promix also seems to be right there as well.




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Reply with quote  #34 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgginva
Just find a source for farad #52 and buy as much as you can.
I have been using farad #52 for years and selling it to the folks who buy trees from me.
It is excellent.
I buy it by the pallet load so I can offer it to my customers at my price and there has never been a single complaint.
THEN find some bunny poop, azomite clay, lime and anything else that will supply you with miconutrients (worm castings, etc.)
It may be a tad more expensive to buy bags of soil mix but it is worth it -- in my opinion obviously.
I see people waste so much time re-inventing the wheel. I, too used to mix my own soil and try and find the perfect mix.
I think I have that in farad #52
Promix also seems to be right there as well.


I agree Fafard 52 is amazing and so is ProMix BRK which is mostly the same thing. The problem for those of us currently on the west coast is that Fafard 52 is not available, nor is ProMix BRK. I used ProMix HPCC, which can be found in Hydro stores and fir bark mixed together. The results are speaking for themselves up till now.

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Reply with quote  #35 
That's a problem.
I'd call the company offices and see if they can help.
I did and my bags of #52 come all the way from Richmond Va at a very good price point.
Had I not been helped by the corporate offices I doubt I'd had such great access.

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Reply with quote  #36 
I use pro mix bx and bark nuggets. 50/50. I also like to water everyday and no Fafard around here.
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Reply with quote  #37 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgginva
That's a problem.
I'd call the company offices and see if they can help.
I did and my bags of #52 come all the way from Richmond Va at a very good price point.
Had I not been helped by the corporate offices I doubt I'd had such great access.


Even on Fafards website they say that 52 is offered only East Coast. I was able to get it in Arkansas so people through the midwest might have some luck. West coast is as per above, ProMix and bark.

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Reply with quote  #38 
The PITA for me this year is apparently the pine bark. I found amazing sources for peat moss, perlite and worm castings.... But I want to the store today where I used to get pine bark nuggets for $6 per 2 cubic ft. Today they said it would be $11. What the heck? Is there some sort of pine war going on? That just toasted all my savings on the other components... I'm more likely to go out and strip some trees than pay that...

There is one place that has the same size pine bark on special for $5 per bag but it's the really big chunks....up to 4". I'm not sure how good that would be for my potting mix....

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Reply with quote  #39 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TorontoJoe
The PITA for me this year is apparently the pine bark. I found amazing sources for peat moss, perlite and worm castings.... But I want to the store today where I used to get pine bark nuggets for $6 per 2 cubic ft. Today they said it would be $11. What the heck? Is there some sort of pine war going on? That just toasted all my savings on the other components... I'm more likely to go out and strip some trees than pay that...

There is one place that has the same size pine bark on special for $5 per bag but it's the really big chunks....up to 4". I'm not sure how good that would be for my potting mix....


I would not use the large chunks. I made that mistake last year with my potted meyer lemon. It used to be a nice mix of stuff, but now the large chunks just floated to the top and the peat and everything else settled down. I am repotting in the winter months, but I suspect the top is permanently dry and the bottom is wet. All that being said the lemon looks amazing this year, but I think that's because for the first time in 3 years it has more than 2 hours of light per day, every day.

The microbark I get here, is $10 per 2 cubic ft. 

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Reply with quote  #40 
So about $14 CAD :-) Ouch!

for a mill by product....

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Reply with quote  #41 
Hey joe try calling the Bradford co op I get most of my stuff from them and the prices are very good. They supply to all the nurserys and farms up here. I got a bail of Berger #6 mix which is pretty close to promix for about 16 bucks. Plus perlite in bulk for pennies compared to what hydroponic stores or nurseries are asking, for small bags.
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Reply with quote  #42 
In So.Ca. you can still get fir bark from Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) retail @$5.00 per 2 cu.ft.

http://www.osh.com/Osh-Categories/Outdoor/Lawn-%26-Garden/Landscape-Supplies/Barks-%26-Mulches/Earthgro-2-Cubic-Foot-Bark-Nuggets/p/1857721

If you watch the sales and load up,3 bags for $10.00.

My local HD discontinued that product and now only sells the "color enhanced" garbage.

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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #43 
Thanks Paolo. I didn't think of the co ops...  $16....Isn't that about 500 lbs?

I've been working with a 5-2-1-1, Pine bark, perlite, peat moss, worm casting mix....    What are you using in your pots? Just the Berger #6? I've never used Berger mixes

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paolo

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Reply with quote  #44 
No it's 3.8 cu feet. My mix isn't anything special just 1 part Berger #6 1 part compost I get from my parents compost bin, 1 part composted sheep manure, if I have xtra perlite I toss that in too. Composted Sheep manure at the Tsc store in town is $10 for 3 bags. I also toss a few handfuls of worm casting on top and work in. This year I got a bag of actisol 5-3-2 fertilizer going to give that a try, it's a pelletized hen manure.
TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #45 
Interesting that it drains well enough.... clearly it does...

I visited the bait worm farm yesterday and loaded up on those cheap 50 lb bags of castings. I met the worms face to face, as they were in the middle of changing over their containers. No bits from the bags... Very good and very cheap... Going back for a truck load when it's time to start the garden.

Thanks for the tips

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ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #46 
I have not specifically looked for #52 but I have access to other similar mixes. However I need a lot more than a bag or even a pallet of mix. I have one supplier of mix that can deliver 2 cubic yard super sacks at $100 per yard but I need a fork lift to unload (which I don't have). A local wholesale grower gets his potting mix from North Carolina. Sometimes it has peanut shells, this time he assures me that it does not. I'll verify that and will start with 10 yards @ $100/yd. (delivered)
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TorontoJoe

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Reply with quote  #47 
If that comes without the peanuts.... Yeah!
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leon_edmond

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Reply with quote  #48 
Found the small pine bark fines at local Kmart called Earth-Gro.
A 2 yard bag was $4.59.
This is the perfect size for pot mixes.
I still sometimes use the old Ray Givan recipe of 2 parts pine bark fines, 1 part composted cow manure, and 1 part perlite.
livetaswim06

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Reply with quote  #49 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leon_edmond
Found the small pine bark fines at local Kmart called Earth-Gro. A 2 yard bag was $4.59. This is the perfect size for pot mixes. I still sometimes use the old Ray Givan recipe of 2 parts pine bark fines, 1 part composted cow manure, and 1 part perlite.


I looked at Earthgro's picture as I have never seen it in person. To me the mix looks very uneven with larger and smaller pieces. Is that the case in real life? Only reason I pay $10 per 2 cubic ft is that the mix is perfectly sized with even 1/2 inch bark chunks, no sticks or anything.

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Growing: Panache Tiger, VdB, Burbank & Vineland, Falls Gold, Strawberry Verte, Atreano, Fico Preto, El Molino, Very Unk. Mission
ADelmanto

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Reply with quote  #50 
Has anyone tried Berger BM#7
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