All Things Gardening forum: Use this soil mix for all planting?.....

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2
Views: 724, Replies: 26 » Jump to the end
Name: chuck k
S.W. PA. (Zone 6b)
Plants are as good as Dr's therapy!
Image
kingconeflower
Sep 3, 2014 8:34 AM CST
Posted this at another site, but anxious to hear comments here....Years ago, a nursery which also did excellent landscaping, had a huge pile of soil stacked at their place....They had a guy there who had his Masters Degree from WVU in plants, soils etc....Don't know the degree name, but you get the idea....He told me the large soil pile was a mixture of good top soil, mushroom compost,coco shells, double shredded hardwood and some sand.....He said in that way, he was "covering all bases!".....Used it to plant everything!!!!.....He have me a garbage can full for 5 bucks and it worked for everything I planted....So, what do you think?.....Have a nice day to all!!!!
Chuck
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
Image
greene
Sep 3, 2014 8:58 AM CST
From my limited experience and limited budget, that works for me. I add some lime and usually add some slow-release fertilizer for certain plantings.

People who grow the more 'fussy' plants might not agree.

I start with the basic mix and tweak it for certain plantings.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Sep 3, 2014 9:12 AM CST
I also like that mix, at least for landscape plants. The mushroom compost is similar to Black Kow, which is naturally 1-1-1. The coconut shells (I am assuming they are chips or fiber plus the hardwood and sand give drainage (I use coarse perlite). The top soil retains moisture and would have micro-nutrients and perhaps organic (low-rate) fertilizer. Like Greene, for every 4 cf. of mixture I make, I add 1-2 cups of osmacote. If the plants grow best in neutral or slightly alkaline soil, lime would be added as well.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
Image
greene
Sep 3, 2014 10:32 AM CST
Oops, should have clarified. Not Osmacote. I use Dynamite Organic All Purpose or whatever Dynamite formulation is more suitable for the plants.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Sep 3, 2014 2:53 PM CST
kingconeflower said:... a mixture of good top soil, mushroom compost,coco shells, double shredded hardwood and some sand.....He said in that way, he was "covering all bases!".....


- Starting out with "good top soil" is like starting on Third Base.
- Adding compost is always a good idea.
- Further improving the drainage and aeration might be a life-saver if the "good" top soil was heavy or prone to compaction. It's almost always desirable, since the soil will be in effect "tilled" during mixing and transport into your beds. That kind of thorough "tilling" is likely to reduce some of the soil "structure" or "loft" that was providing good aeration.

It just occurred to me: heavy tilling tends to reduce structure and open pore space in soils that were already well-aerated and drained. However, in very heavy, blo cky soils with little or no void spaces, heavy tilling can break it up into clods that then DO have some drainage and air volume.

I would substitute shredded bark for hardwood chips and dust. Bark breaks down slower than wood of similar size, so bark's contribution to drainage and aeration would last longer.

Also, since it breaks down slower, it would cause less "nitrogen deficit" as microbes fed on the wood but then scavenged all available nitrogen, stealing it away from plant roots.

Presumably the wood was not a major % of the mix, or was coarse or pre-composted for a while. Or the mix had SO much available nitrogen that more N was provided than the wood consumed.

But I'm biased: I really like pine, fir or hemlock bark. Also, the one time I tried to use a mostly-wood "soil conditioner" mixed into in a bed, almost nothing grew there for one season, and I dug up an ugly mass of powdery fungus. Really nasty! The next year, the bed was OK again.

P.S. Wood CHIPS are great on TOP of the soil as mulch. Since they aren't mixed through the soil, and dry out, microbes can't steal available N from the soil and use it to digest wood. Instead the wood just decomposes very gradually on top of the soil, and plant roots have the free soil N to themselves.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Sep 3, 2014 3:36 PM CST
We don't get fir or hemlock down here. Though I order 10-12 cf. of Douglas fir bark each year (and it now costs a fortune when you include shipping) I have never even heard of or seen hemlock. Sticking tongue out We get plenty of pine (don't have any use for it), hardwood, and cypress (my favorite) mulch here at out Co-op. I guess we each have our favorite when it comes to mulch. I buy about 8 cubic yards each year and use it not only in all my landscape but also as sub-flooring in my two greenhouses.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Sep 3, 2014 4:31 PM CST
Ken, your experience is MUCH greater than mine. I fill my trunk with a few 2-cu-ft bags a few times each year.

... that's the trunk of my car! I'm not an elephant.
Name: chuck k
S.W. PA. (Zone 6b)
Plants are as good as Dr's therapy!
Image
kingconeflower
Sep 3, 2014 7:36 PM CST
Thanks guys.....It's quite interesting and more to hear the thoughts and experience of others....Good luck and happy gardening!!
Chuck
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Sep 3, 2014 7:39 PM CST
Was going to add my 2 cents here that the first ingredient "good top soil" can vary a LOT depending where you get it.

It could make or break the mix, jmho. The rest of the ingredients in the recipe are not quite as variable.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Sep 3, 2014 7:50 PM CST
Correct, Elaine, but unless someone is a soil scientist, or has a PhD in soil management (I'm sure their is a proper name for this), one would not know the "quality" of the topsoil. Looking at the soil and even feeling the texture is subjective.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Sep 4, 2014 11:14 AM CST
I agree completely with the last two posts.

I bought 2 cubic yards from a local "dirt yard". In their yard, the pile of topsoil seemed pretty light and open, some sand or grit and good tiny clod structure.

After the truck showed up and dumped it, it looked like typical heavy clay soil. Quick to compact and clods were more pliable than crumbly. Maybe the "good stuff" was just drier, maybe the good stuff was on the front of the heap and the trucks took worse soil from the back of the heap. Maybe it just lost its seeming structure during the short drive and dump.

At least it was clay soil (probably less than 40% clay) and not clay (40-100% clay).

Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Sep 4, 2014 12:31 PM CST
Nothing is worse than pure, unadulterated clay! Grumbling
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: chuck k
S.W. PA. (Zone 6b)
Plants are as good as Dr's therapy!
Image
kingconeflower
Sep 4, 2014 12:35 PM CST
Rick and others.....What you just wrote about actually happened to me a few years back.....NO MORE!.....When the guy dumped it out, I said---"What the hell?"....And I had gone to see it before just like you....For the last 3 years, I've had good luck with another source, a friend I hadn't seen for years........But, as you all state, you never actually do know....However, it certainly is better than the hard as hell clay that I actually need an iron bar to dig through that I have all around my place....Good luck guys and thanks again!
Chuck
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Sep 4, 2014 1:51 PM CST
drdawg said:Nothing is worse than pure, unadulterated clay! Grumbling


It is like the old joke about how to cook a loon. Step five of a protracted process was "then simmer it in a pot for 3 days, with a brick". The last step was to throw the loon away and eat the brick. Thumbs down

Maybe an ideal recipe would use pure clay as 15% of a mix:

1 part clay (25% of the mineral fraction, 15% overall)
1 part silt
2 parts sand
3 parts compost

Almost complete replacement.

At least I know some ways to manage clay. I wouldn't know where to start with pure sand.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Sep 4, 2014 2:10 PM CST
Believe me, it is 1000X easier to mix ANYTHING with sand than with pure clay (thick, heavy molasses when its wet, brick-hard when its dry). Sticking tongue out

When I first decided to dig up some of the backyard to put a raised garden in, my thought was to dig down a couple of feet, knowing that the clay would never drain and the plantings would drown. Shovel in hand, I started the project. This was in the spring and the clay was so heavy, that each shovel-full weighed in around 25 lb.! Bad back made worse - tender hands full of blisters. OK, that idea was shot down. Then I rented a commercial, extra-heavy duty tiller, a real monster of a thing. That baby beat me up so badly that my arms were bruised and my already-blistered hands re-blistered, It would only till 2-3" deep at most. After an hour of abuse (mine!) that idea collapsed as well. Finally I hired a landscape contractor who came in with a large back-hoe, lots of men with wheelbarrows, and a dump truck to haul the clay away. Success!!!!!!!!!! Hurray! The following year I decided to landscape my entire backyard lot-line, about 200' feet wide and 10' deep. That landscape contractor did the work, brought in a double-size dump truck (and filled it twice), and it was money well-spent.

Just ask me what I think of gumbo/concrete clay..... Whistling
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Sep 4, 2014 5:26 PM CST
drdawg said:Believe me, it is 1000X easier to mix ANYTHING with sand than with pure clay (thick, heavy molasses when its wet, brick-hard when its dry). Sticking tongue out

... the clay was so heavy, that each shovel-full weighed in around 25 lb.!
... a commercial, extra-heavy duty tiller, a real monster of a thing.
... It would only till 2-3" deep at most.
... large back-hoe, ... a double-size dump truck (and filled it twice), and it was money well-spent.


Yeah, I know wh'acha mean.

There might be one tiny, narrow window of moisture where the clay is soft enough that it doesn't need a pick, each shovel only weighs 10 pounds, and it isn't QUITE as sticky as it is at all other times.

it is hard to move yards of wet clay: the density must be greater than stone.

The only way I could mix the clay was to dry it a little more than ideal shoveling wetness, then sift it through 1/4" screening along with compost, sand, bark and "topsoil".

I crushed it through the hardware cloth with the back of a shovel, and pushed it around with the back of a steel rake and my hands. Some mixing occurred during screening and more occurred in the heap.

This way, I also removed a lot of pebbles and stones, big clay-clods, and some very hardy weed roots. VERY hardy!

A lot of it, I re-screened after the first pass, with more compost.

I let the screenings build up to a cone so the worst "clay balls" rolled down and settled at the bottom-edge of the pile . Those, I shoveled up and threw away into a "some day" pile along with small pebbles.

I collected screened, amended clay in piles and aged them there while adding small amounts more compost. Eventually I got it to a state like "heavy clay loam", but probably with more compost than silt or sand.

It really likes to revert to clay pudding in the raised beds, but adding more compost than I want to buy helps. I think the main structure comes from roots pushing into it before it digests its compost and reverts to pudding.

(I was able to do this because my legs are much weaker than my upper body. I found ways to sit for around 30% of the time while shoveling, raking, screening and wheelbarrowing.

Here's the heck of it: now I have several square yards of raised beds with half-decent heavy clay "loam". Now the weeds have somewhere they can grow! I didn't mind cultivating the soil until I fell down, but I HATE weeding!
Name: chuck k
S.W. PA. (Zone 6b)
Plants are as good as Dr's therapy!
Image
kingconeflower
Sep 4, 2014 6:11 PM CST
Wow Rick!!!!.....Now that's a crapload of work......I thought I was nutso....lol....And Dirtdawg, THAT was one hell of job to get done, BUT got it done right.....About 8 years ago, when I lived in a home on about just over an acre, and being OCD in everything that I do, I decided to do the entire yard over..It looked terrible, and was in an affluent neighborhood......Surface beneath the grass was, oh yeah, CLAY.....Wife got peed off and left me for an entire week.....I had huge truckloads, one after another, of topsoil hauled in....Hired 3 guys to help me, and an agricultural agent from the county came at my plea, to advise me on the correct mixture of seeds....So, we used wheel barrels, large rakes etc. to move the soil until we had 4-5 inches everywhere....It's called buttbusting!....The agent had the soil checked, he recommended just an amendment or so, and finally we got to planting it....Of course, this was in the middle of September, the best time to plant grass....We hit it lucky with light rain for 4-5 days straight and temps dropped too....The result was a luscious, green, thick lawn that got better and better each year with the right maintenance....Would I do it again????....Nope!.....The so called damned "golden years" were right around the corner, and I think that job pushed me over the edge physically and mentally.....The only thing golden became the urine!...I live in a condo now, and the Association does the cutting.....But I still maintain 4 gardens in spite of 2 failed lower back surgeries....Hell of a topic to get so much discussion--SOIL!....Lol!.....Good luck guys!
Chuck
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Sep 4, 2014 6:26 PM CST
>> .I thought I was nutso
>> and being OCD in everything that I do,

Join the club! In the garden, I call it "O. Seed D."

>> Hell of a topic to get so much discussion--SOIL!....Lol!.....Good luck guys!

Oh, NO! Soil is the most interesting part of gardening (to me)!

I love the fact that soil biology is so complicated that something like 90% of all soil microorganisms are so inter-dependent that they can't even be GROWN in a laboratory! Take that, over-proud scientists! It gives a new meaning to "dumber than dirt". Rocket scientists have it easy compared to soil biologists.

And yet, in Nature, if you drop a layer of duff and leaf litter, or make a compost pile out of kitchen garbage and scrap paper, then walk away, Abra-ca-Dabra, organisms we don't even have names for get together, cooperate productively and make a balanced, self-regulating system that produces fertile soil every time.

Congress should be as smart as those bacteria, fungi and protists ... but it isn't.

And drainage! I obsess on drainage. The void spaces (air and water channels - micro-pores and macro-pores) should be 50% of ideal soil, yet how do you add "nothing" to soil and make it stick?
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
Weedwhacker
Sep 4, 2014 8:02 PM CST
Chuck, your first post asked what we think about the mixture...

I think I would love to get "a garbage can full for 5 bucks" (it seems that dirt just isn't dirt cheap anymore!)

Oh, and I have CDO -- it's a lot like OCD, but the letters are in the right order...

Hilarious!
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: chuck k
S.W. PA. (Zone 6b)
Plants are as good as Dr's therapy!
Image
kingconeflower
Sep 5, 2014 8:39 AM CST
Ok guys.....Here's the response I got from another site on my question about the soil....Your thoughts??.....Thinly chipped pine bark......Compost.......Peat......Perlite......Topsoil......Interesting!!.....So let this OCD guy who used to wash and simonize his gutters yearly, while neighbors videoed, on my home, your thoughts please.....Muchas Gracias!.....Chuck
Chuck

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« All Things Gardening forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by Paul2032 and is called "Chrysanthemum"