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Jun 5, 2017 1:57 PM CST
|Hello! I'm new here, and by way of introduction, my husband and I will be retiring to our small hobby farm (8 acres) in southern AL (zone 8A) in about a year and a half. I recently bought about 15 bare root fruit trees and berries (peaches, apples, an olive, an apricot, a pomegranate, a loquat, several varieties of grape, including muscadine, several rabbiteye blueberries, etc.) and I want to grow them on my FL patio (zone 9B) in containers until we move to AL and plant them in our new orchard. I bought small (1-3 ft in most cases) bare root trees for economy now, hoping they will grow and be a year or two from production once in the ground.
OK. I initially potted my bare root trees by soaking them and then potting in 5 gall containers with Miracle Grow Moisture Control potting soil mixed with about 1/4 part extra Perlite and 1/4 part of my own finished compost. After a week or two, I wasn't happy with that, because my moisture meter showed "WET" even 5 days after a watering (the potting soil not draining well).
So, I bought Vigoro All-Purpose Potting Mix plus Fertilizer (it looked more chunky -- easier draining?-- on the pallets where a broken bag lay at Home Depot), and repotted most of the new trees/berries again adding extra Perlite and this time mixing in a little sand, as well (again, hoping to increase drainage). I didn't add extra compost to this one because it looks like it has plenty of organic material in the mix already.
We are now in our every day rain weather pattern in central Florida, and I am concerned about the newly potted trees. I don't want the roots to rot because I chose the wrong potting soil and didn't amend with enough Perlite, or whatever. I did a little experiment to test drainage, and would like your advice.
I filled two plastic cups: on the left, Miracle Grow Moisture Control, and on the right, Vigoro plus Fertilizer.
I poured 1 cup of water into each cup of soil (it took a LONG time to add it to the Miracle Grow cup (the packaging says in includes a wetting agent, but this soil repels water in a big way). After ten minutes, here is what they look like:
Interestingly, my moisture meter stuck an inch into the left Miracle Grow reads almost dry (the water was not absorbed at all, but drained immediately to the bottom) while the Vigoro did absorb moisture and read moist.
OK. I let the cups sit for about 10 minutes, then punched a small (1/8") hole in the bottom of each cup, elevated it as shown, and waited an hour to see which cup drained the most water.
Overall, it looks like they drained an equal amount of water (about 3/4 of a cup). The Miracle Grow sample is still "dry" an inch under the surface (not much water absorbed), and the Vigoro soil is saturated (reads "moist" on the meter).
Finally, here is my question: If you were going to invest a year+ of your time caring for potted fruit trees, which of these soils would you choose for your pots? All comments appreciated!!! --Mary
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