Potting Mix - Time To Switch - What's Good?


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I grow all of my vegetables - tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, etc. - in containers because the soil where I live is pretty bad. I've been doing container gardening for years and have always used Miracle Gro Potting Mix with good results. The past two years, though, I've been having issues with all of my plants and this year I want to try a different potting mix. Miracle Gro seems to be putting more junk in their potting mix, like nails, large sticks, and other stuff, so this year I'm going to go with something different. I grow a lot of plants, so I have to get a lot of potting mix. Last year I bought about 20 of the 2 cu. ft. bags of potting mix directly from Miracle Gro and had it shipped to me. If I can't find a good potting mix at a decent price, I may actually consider making my own.

Any suggestions for a potting mix alternative to Miracle Gro?

Thanks!!!
 
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Logan

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Hello and welcome to GF
I live in the UK and I have a multi purpose compost called Westlands it has John innes mixed in it to give it good drainage.
They're trying to get away from using peat as a base so that's why yours has got more big pieces in it, I think that anyway.
What do you do with the used compost ?
 
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Anything is better than MG and all the stuff they have in it. Try Natures Creation. Where I live there are places that sell soil, compost and different mixes. You can buy it by the bag, dump truck or any other amount and they deliver. Maybe there is something like that in your area
 
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Anything is better than MG and all the stuff they have in it. Try Natures Creation. Where I live there are places that sell soil, compost and different mixes. You can buy it by the bag, dump truck or any other amount and they deliver. Maybe there is something like that in your area
It looks like they only sell Nature's Creation in Texas. I'm in Pennsylvania so I can't get it here, but I do appreciate your suggestion! Thank you.
 
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Why replace the potting mix each year? It doesn't need replacement just a refresh. Full replacement annually is a really expensive unnecessary step.

Until last year I was running large containers for everything and I never did a full replace once I had them filled.

I'd say find a good compost or two and mix it in to the existing potting mix you have in the container. Maybe replace 1/4 of the container with a 50 / 50 mix of worm castings and mushroom compost but leave most of the peat base in there. Maybe not remove anything but just top off with the compost and mix it in.

Adding a granular or time release fertilizer may help.

Nails and sticks (or glass for that matter) is only a safety hazard for you when working in the soil - or for your dog when digging. The nails will be an iron source for the plant over time, the sticks are a carbon source and will be a water ballast as they break down.

Just good practice to keep you tetanus shot up to date when playing in the dirt.
 
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Why replace the potting mix each year? It doesn't need replacement just a refresh. Full replacement annually is a really expensive unnecessary step.
I have two very large containers where I didn't empty the potting mix and just refreshed it. In 2019 I had two extra tomato plants, so I refshed the soild and put one in each of those big containers. The plants were Gardener's Delight cherry tomatoes and the plants get huge. The cherry tomatoes are about the size of golf balls and some of the tomatoes fell off the plants and into the containers. At the end of the season I pulled the tomato plants out by the roots, but I didn't get all the tomatoes that had fallen into the container out of the soil. I hadn't planned on using those containers again for tomato plants anyway, so I didn't dig through the soil to get them al out.

In 2020, I refreshed the soil a bit and threw a bunch of wild flower seeds in the containers. Among the flowers that grew in those containers were Gardener's Delight cherry tomato plants, and they ended up with tomatoes on them. I was really surprised to see those plants growing in the containers. My guess is those plants came from the seeds of the tomatoes I had left in the soil from the year before.
 
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What does "pretty bad" mean wrt your soil?
I ask because fixing it may be the best option itlr.
The good news is that all that time you've been using Miracle Gro in pots, it hasn't had the chance to poison your garden.
 
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@ChrisH Those 2020 Gardener's Delight tomatoes are called either volunteers or weeds depending on how you look at them. This is very common when fruit fall to the ground are are not cleaned up.

I get volunteers all over the place as my composting method (worm bin vermicomposting) does not kill seeds. Tomatoes, peppers, pumpkin, squash, cucumbers, avocados, citrus trees - seeds go in, plants come out.
 
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What does "pretty bad" mean wrt your soil?
I ask because fixing it may be the best option itlr.
The good news is that all that time you've been using Miracle Gro in pots, it hasn't had the chance to poison your garden.
When I say the soil is pretty bad, it means I can't dig very deep without hitting huge rocks. The development I live in is basically on the side of a mountain and while my house is located almost at the top, every time it rains hard a lot of the top soil washes away. I have some really big rocks throughout the backyard. Grass and weeds grow okay, but there are a lot of trees surrounding the house. It's like living in a bowl of trees with only one area of the yard that gets enough sunlight to plant. Then there's the drainfield for the septic system that is an elevated sand mound and pretty much a big hill right in the middle of the yard. I don't plant anything there. I rent the house I live in and some day, I'd like to move to a house with a nice flat yard, only a few trees, and plenty of sunlight for gardens.

I will say this though, the area outside my fence in the backyard, and on the one side of my yard in the front, is constantly covered in dead leaves. I imagine the soil under all those leaves is pretty rich. I'm not hoping the fence to get to that soil, though, because I don't like snakes and there are lots of snakes out there. :)
 
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Raised beds will be cheaper and more natural, especially with all those leaves to tempt worms in.

Not snakes, worms.
 
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Raised beds will be cheaper and more natural, especially with all those leaves to tempt worms in.

Not snakes, worms.

I have a raised bet with strawberries in it. A few years ago I planted six strawberry plants in the bed and now it's full of plants.

My yard is like a worm farm and I have an endless supply of them. I could probably start a business selling them. :)
 
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" I have a raised bet with strawberries in it. A few years ago I planted six strawberry plants in the bed and now it's full of plants. "

That's normal, it's called, "matting," however, it's usually a good idea, before pests build up, to change the location of your strawberries if you can, every 7-10 years max; so you could build another raised bed, move your best plants there, & have the original for other veg.
 
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" I have a raised bet with strawberries in it. A few years ago I planted six strawberry plants in the bed and now it's full of plants. "

That's normal, it's called, "matting," however, it's usually a good idea, before pests build up, to change the location of your strawberries if you can, every 7-10 years max; so you could build another raised bed, move your best plants there, & have the original for other veg.
I'm actually thinking about moving the strawberries to elevated raised beds. With all the plants that are in the bed now, it's getting harder to keep weeds and grass out. Plus, the snakes like to hang out in the bed sometimes. I've only ever seen garter snakes in my yard, but the neighbors came across some copperheads when they were cleaning up leaves in their yard. I'm just not a fan of snakes.
 

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