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Re: Potting soils

It depends on a lot of things, mostly how big the plants are - how many leaves are sucking up the water, the temps,  and how much sun they're in.  We grow some gallons in full sun to increase their size for next year and we have to water them every day when it's hot.  We grow quarts under shade and we water them every two or three days if its hot, less if it's cloudy.  No real answer except you will obviously water a lot more if you use less peat, since the purpose of the peat is to hold more water.  If you grow a substantial number of plants I wouldn't use a mix that's mostly bark if watering is a problem.

The other question is, if you're having good results now, why would you think about changing?  Might be best to leave well enough alone.


Mortko, Robert A. (Rob) wrote:
Hi Chick,

I started off using ProMix BX (80% peat, no bark) with disastrous results
relative to overwintering rot. Am currently using ProMix BRK (45% peat, 40%
bark) with good results. I checked with Fafard and their Mix #52 is 24% peat
and 60% pine. (The balance in each case is perlite and vermiculite.)

There seems to be a delicate balance between water holding capacity (i.e.
the peat) and good drainage (i.e. the bark). Here's my question. How much
more frequently do you have to water with such a high bark content mix?

As a reference point I water my one gallon container stock about twice a
week in the dead of the summer using the ProMix BRK.

Rob in KC

-----Original Message-----
From: Chick [SMTP:chick@bridgewoodgardens.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2002 12:54 PM
To: hosta-open@hort.net
Subject: Re: Potting soils

Fafard makes a number of different mixes. We use Fafard #52 and I think
it's excellent for hostas. They also have a mix called "nursery mix" or
something like that, and it has even more bark. We would use it but it's
much heavier and hard for the ladies to handle the bags. Hard for old men
too, but it's more manly to blame it on the ladies.

We use Fafard #3B for annuals and pot plants. It's a good mix but much
too light for hostas. I've used it for hostas in the past but got way too
much rot.

I've tried mixing very fine pine bark with the Fafard to make it drain
even faster and save a little money. I was just experimenting so I just
built a big bin and did it with a shovel. It's far more work than you
would think and very difficult to get a uniform mix. One real advantage
to the bagged mix is the wetting agent that's incorporated. Especially if
you have any peat in your mix, it makes life a lot easier.

There are some local companies around here that will mix to order by the
dump truck load, and their prices are very reasonable, but I've heard some
horror stories and I wouldn't take the chance. I don't see anything wrong
with using all bark as long as you can supply enough water. I suspect
it's going to dry out very quickly.

As to Marie's question about long term use in pots, I would think that
something besides peat would be even more important over several years. I
three years the peat is going to rot and be much too heavy.


Dan & Lu Nelson wrote:

Thanks Chick and thanks to everyone else who offered us help
deciding what potting mix to use. We had about 10 responses including some
very good private ones.

We bought some bagged Fafard mix that is peat, perlite and pine
bark. It's a light mix. The 70 yards of aged ground pine bark comes in
next Tuesday. We plan on using some of the bark and comparing the bark and
the Fafard . One local hosta grower uses 100 ground pine bark and seems to
do really well. The rest of the pine bark we're going to cover with a tarp
to keep weed seeds out and let it age some more. It looks like if we took
Chick's advice we could just mix a little pine bark in with the Fafard and
it would make the Fafard go a little further.

We talked to the people at Fafard about buying in bulk......it cost
$3,250 for a 90 cubic yard load...which is both more money and more soil
that we need at the moment. By the bag cost more but we can get just how
much we want...... and not ten years worth.

Dan & Lu

----- Original Message -----
From: Chick <mailto:chick@bridgewoodgardens.com>
To: hosta-open@hort.net <mailto:hosta-open@hort.net>
Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2002 10:17 PM
Subject: Re: Potting soils

I know this topic goes back a while, but a salesman just brought us
some new potting mix to try and since the fact sheet just happened to have
the ingredients listed, here goes:

65% aged pine bark
21% peat moss
7% perlite

It seems like a fairly decent mix, though I wouldn't mind an even
higher percentage of bark. I'm not sure what good the perlite and
vermiculite do in a mix that would normally only be used for a year or so.
Frankly, I think if I was doing it, I'd probably go 75-80% bark and the
rest peat. If you're going to do 70 yards, I sure hope you've got a
mixing machine of some sort, cause doing it by hand is going to be a bear.
Don't forget a good wetting agent.

I still think you'd be better off buying it bagged.


Dan & Lu Nelson wrote:

Lu and I are going to start selling hostas next spring and
we are going to start digging and potting up soon.

We would love some feedback on potting soils. I can get 70
cubic yards of ground pine bark for $850 delivered. It is available fine
ground and 1/2 inch ground. Which to use? Add compost and sand? or not?

I'm looking to the professions growers on this list for some
feedback. We will be potting into one and two gallon pots.

Any tips on pH testing of potting soils, lime, gypsum and pH
of irrigation water would be greatly appre ciated.

We promise we won't run anyone out of business!


Dan & Lu Nelson
Pixie Forrest
Auburn GA

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