Potting/planter box soil advice?

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by mikeval, May 28, 2007.

  1. mikeval

    mikeval Member

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    As you can see on another thread, we have a relatively large concrete planter on our deck which requires new soil. To fill it with good soil would be prohibitively expensive, so what can we mix in with the old sand/soil mix to make it healthier? Also, should we put only good, new potting soil only for the top (x) inches? What ratio of sea soil to potting soil?
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    As the saying goes the best manure is cash. Maybe you can do it on the cheap by filling the bottom half with sand - unless to heavy - or even something like perlite. Myself, I would try to get potting mix or other suitable product in bulk from a soils dealer and fill the whole thing with that. If you are thinking you will have to fill it with expensive bagged soil, you don't - unless there is just no way to have load of bulk material delivered.

    The per yard price falls off markedly as the number of yards goes up, if you can use additional material elsewhere it would pay to have a big load brought.
     
  3. mikeval

    mikeval Member

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    Thanks for that advice, but unfortunately I'm on the third floor facing an alley, and have no way of transferring loose soil. I'd already contacted a soil firm in Richmond and they said it would actually be cheaper for me to buy the bagged soil, as theirs is delivered by truck and dumped at the site. I don't want to rent a crane or helicopter, nor do I want to haul bucket after bucket up the side of the bldg. But do you have advice about particular soils, or mixes of soil?
     
  4. petalpatch

    petalpatch Member

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    Were you happy with the texture of the previous mix, and were things growing well? You mentioned there was a lot of sand, which, if it is not coarse, suprisingly holds much moisture and can contribute to drowned plants. Coarse sand is a general component in most commercial potting mixes. Also, what plants/shrubs are you going to place once you get it ready? For annuals and such, I'd just put back 1/2 to 5/8 of what you had in there and leach it really well with lots of running water until drainage appears almost clear. Do this to remove any accumulated mineral salts (minerals inherant in your tap water and from previous fertilizer applications over time) that will hinder if not kill container plants in particular, since watering in frequent little sips does not carry these 'leftovers' out and roots cannot reach out to uncontaminated soil. Add to this enough new BARK-based potting soil (BARK- not chips from the woody part of the tree) so it comes to approx. 2 cm/1 inch above where you want your final soil level (it will settle). I realize your planter is 18" deep. Still, mix this in thoroughly with your previous, now wet fill as some plants send roots down deeply. Lastly, add to this a nice dose of time-release fertilizer such as Osmocote and mix this in the top 8 inches. Put in your plant selections. I think you and your plants will be happy.

    Ferns, cacti and such might require a bit more ammending to their particulars, ie: pH, very coarse drainage, etc.
     
  5. alabama

    alabama Active Member

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    peat moss, pine bark or any organic matter will help. Make sure your planter drains, if it does not the soil will sour because the water has no place to go.
     
  6. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    I think a bag of compost would help and that doesn't cost much at all, considering your predictament. $3.99 you can get a bag of good compost to add nourishment to your pot. Osmocote is a good idea too. I've learned that peat moss, eventually breaks down and doesn't have much nourishment. Perlite can be pretty cheap and is light weight which I love.
     
  7. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    BTW, that is one awesome planter! I was thinking more of a vase like large concrete planter. LOL

    I think the compost bag would be the best and perlite will help with oxygen.
     

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