Well Shat, Part III

via email from the company:

“I did get the results back from the [edited] lab and the salts and pH were high as I reported last time. The salts were mostly coming from the high levels of Potassium and high Sulfur. These high levels are what caused nutrient issues with your plants. Since the results have been received and reviewed, I have sent additional samples along with new formulation samples of potting soil to the [edited] lab. There will be changes made to this formula in the future to improve this soil and correct the high salt issues…

…Thanks again for letting us know of your situation with our potting soil. I hope this testing brings about a more consistent product.”

…POD’s still hoping for a refund (and mourning the lost Tomandes).


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!]

Dirt Bags


Dirt’s here! Over 5 cubic feet of organic potting soil, 5 lbs. of worm casings, and one cubic foot of seaweed enriched mulch have made their way to South Philly. Although POD desperately wanted to try the local Organic Mechanic soil, nothing larger than a wee 14 lb. bag could be procured. So, the D. Landreth black cherry tomatoes will enjoy that while the rest of the deck will have to settle for the less expensive Coast of Maine potting soil.

And, for those of you keeping track: $100 for seeds, peat pots, and seaweed fertilizer and $65 for dirt, mulch, and worm poop. Here’s hoping for a fruitful harvest. (4/24 next year buy more like 8 or 9 cu feet).

All The Dirt

Organic Soil

Dirt’s important people. Especially for container gardening. Every year’s an experiment, too. Try things out and please let POD know what works for you.

One year I played around with moisture control soil. Mistake. In my defense, it made sense given the fact that Little Blue Deck becomes an oven during the miserable Philly August. Instead of keeping things nicely moist, though, it provided excellent conditions for all sorts of molds and fungi to invade. The year before I used plain ol’ potting mix but the NKP (Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus) mix wasn’t adequate for veggies and certainly wasn’t a one-size fits all ratio.

Last year I tried mixing my own organic soil. Clearly, all the people who swear by this process have way more room to play with than I do. And, for that matter, understand the whole NKP thing better. But if you’re lucky enough to have a decent gardening supply store in your neighborhood (POD has Lowe’s and the Depot) and you have room somewhere for a wheel barrow, you may have better success than me.  Good luck.

This year I was thrilled to discover Miracle-Gro Organic Choice at Lowes (I went to three independently owned greenhouses before caving in and buying it from the big chain). I mixed about 2/3 Potting Mix and 1/3 Garden Soil into each pot. (The Garden Soil came in larger bags and was cheaper.) Although it’s way too soon to render a verdict, I’m cautiously optimistic. All my seeds germinated in record time and the weeds are minimal.

The Little Blue Deck ate about 8 cubic feet of dirt.