Lime in Bottom of Container

Q.  After we spread the lime over the bottom of our container garden or Grow-Box do we avoid it when mixing all the other soil and fertilizer mixes?  And what does the lime do at the bottom anyway?

A.  You do not avoid or worry about moving the lime as you place the custom soil in your container or Grow-Box.  Lime is used to provide essential calcium, which Dr. Mittleider reminds us is the foundation of a good feeding program for your crops.

However, what you really need to spread is the Pre-PLant Mix (the primary ingredient of which is lime – or gypsum, depending on your soil pH).  Pre-packaged Pre-Plant Mix is available in the Intermountain West region from farm-supply chains including Steve Regan Company and Intermountain Farmers Assoc.  You can also buy it from Steve Regan by looking on the website at and going to the Store/Materials.

If you live too far to get pre-packaged materials, just mix your own.  A very simple and basic Pre-Plant formula consists of 80 parts lime or gypsum (if you receive more than 20″ of rainfall per year you use lime – if you get less than 20″ you should use gypsum), 4 parts magnesium sulfate, or Epsom Salts, and 1 part boron, usually available as 20 Mule Team Borax.

Some Veggies in my Grow-Boxes look pale

Q.  Some veggies in my Grow-Boxes look pale. These were transplanted on 4/15/ and fertilized with 21-0-0 three days later. Other than that I have been doing the weekly fertilizing. Can you let me know how to help them. One of the cucumbers died already, the rest look pale and wilted.

A.  Cucumbers and other melons and squash should not be planted until the weather is warmer – after May 15, in Salt Lake City. They do not do well in early spring.  Nitrogen should be applied immediately at the time of transplanting, and three days later Weekly Feed should be applied.  21-0-0 is not nearly as good as 34-0-0, especially in cool weather, because of the composition (NH4 vs NH3). NO3 is immediately available to the plants, while NH4 must be changed to NO3 in the soil before the plant can use it.  Did you put the proper Pre-Plant fertilizers in the soil before planting?  Fertilizing should begin after the plants come through the soil, however you must be careful not to get the fertilizer on the plant stems or leaves.  Fertilizers are salts, and will burn any plant if applied directly.  Apply four inches from the stems and then water in thoroughly.