This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record, Part II

It’s Just a Habit: part two in a series of notes for POD 2011

We may be grasping for a leg of hope here, but nutrient deficiencies were a rather large bane of the little blue deck’s 2010 existence. Which seems a bit ironic, really, because this was the year POD went all-organic. Like Dylan in reverse.

Fancy soils were purchased, bags of worm poop were made into teas, stinky seaweed and fish emulsion fertilizers were religiously applied, and  wee bags of frighteningly expensive organic fertilizer (also stinky) were sprinkled.  And what happened? Tomatoes died, beans fell down dead, and peppers rotted.

So what’s a container gardener to do? Experiment! How, you ask?
1) Buy a pH tester and test the darn soil.

  • Tomatoes: slightly acidic 6.2-6.8
  • Greens and Beans: ditto, 6.0-6.5
  • Peppers: 5.5-6.0
  • Cucumbers, Melons, Parsnips, Carrots: 6.0-6.8

2) Be like Noah and plant two of everything. One in lovely organic soils, treated with organic remedies, and fertilized with smelly organic stuff. And the other in old-fashioned time-release fertilized soil, bathed in bright pink MiracleGro, and treated with chemical bug killers.

So what do you think? Tell me honestly.

[10/14/10 Note to Self: Head up to Fairmount Organic Recycling Center next year for free compost. Thanks, Domestic Efforts!]

6 responses to “This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record, Part II

  1. I’m going to go with Al’s mix and suggestions. He’s convinced me that container gardening is more like hydoponics than it is like in-ground gardening. But I like your idea of planting double and seeing which system works best.
    Ironically, I’m going to try growing potatoes in cardboard boxes with compost on the bottom and filling the boxes up as the potatoes grow with leaf mulch. That should be fairly orgainic, I think. So I guess I’ll so how they go.

    I just hope we both have fabulous luck!

  2. Fairmount RC is great. I too was initially worried about the compost’s composition, but they test it regularly and post the results. They also have free manure and wood mulch. Score!

  3. I’m kind of agreeing with Jenni–If this were an OS crash, I would say you ought to go back to the last known good configuration. You just had a lot of variables and ingredients going on. I think you should go back to the last setup that worked!

    • Yeah, I’m totally hitting up Fairmount Recycling next year for free compost. Like you, though, I remain intrigued by the rebooting option. That’s why I’m going to give organic another go, but I’ll also plant a few pots that will be gently treated with modest amounts of Miracle Gro and will use my old brand of soil. Horrors, I know, but I’m giving it a shot.

  4. I’m curious – do you think it would be ok to use just compost (rather than purchased potting mix) in containers? I don’t know if drainage and compacted soil would be an issue. Since Fairmount Recycling Center offers free compost, it could be worth a shot.

    • Sorry for the delayed response! I just checked out the Fairmount site — wow. It looks like a gold mine. I’m embarrassed I never really considered it before. I just assumed I’d have to worry about sludge or sewage material, but evidently that’s not the case. I also always worried that the soil would compact too much — but after this year (struggling with soil mixes that had the opposite problem) I’m not going to worry about that. I know there’s no fear of fertilizer burn with compost, so I think 2011 POD will give it a shot. Thanks so much!!

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