Having Trouble Finding Good Soil Products

Q.  since the goal is to use inexpensive materials, and also the right mix of ingredients, I am now at a stopping point.  Other than very pricy small bags of peat I cannot find organic media as recommended in the Gardening Library.  What should I do?

I can get topsoil in bulk, but which is preferred?  Mushroom Mix or some other type?

I estimate I will need 10-15 cubic yards. I will be container gardening in 100 – 5 gallon buckets.  No way to build grow boxes because I live in a rental that has low maintenance rock garden and desert shrubs.

A.  If you just need enough for 100 – 5-gallon containers, you should only need 2 1/2 cubic yards of material.  One cubic foot = 7.5 gallons, so 500 gallons = 67 cubic feet,  and 67 cubic feet (67/27) = 2.48 cubic yards.

I recommend you stay away from topsoil, or any other type of dirt, for that matter.  In buckets, or other containers, dirt will set up and become very hard.  It’s also very heavy, and disagreeable to work with. 

I take it there are no lumber mills nearby.  What about forests or stands of pine trees?  Pine needles would be excellent.  Are there any stands of cedar trees in your hills?  the “copi soil” beneath those, which consists of previous years’ dropped needles, would be good also.

The lighter the material the better, so long as it is clean and weed-free.
In Utah, mushroom mix has no dirt in it, but is organic material made from shavings, sawdust, turkey droppings, etc., and therefore it could be very good.

Growing in 5-gallon containers in the heat of the Southern Nevada desert will be a real challenge.  I hope they are at least white, to reflect a little sun.  Your biggest challenge will be to keep them moist and cool.  Anything you can do to keep the sun off the containers will be helpful, and watering multiple times each day will likely be necessary.

If that is all you need, perhaps you can find some help with peat moss,
perlite, etc. and not end up with dirt in your containers, which will be
unsatisfactory. 

Additional information on container gardening can be found in Gardening by the Foot and the Mittleider Gardening Course, available at www.growfood.com.

The Mittleider Gardening books and Manuals teach all you need to know about this subject, and can be purchased in the Store section, or as digital downloads. 

A digital copy costs 30-40% less, and is available instantly!  I HIGHLY recommend you look here https://www.hightechhomestead.com/Products.htm for the best gardening books available anywhere!  Get one NOW and be gardening TODAY!!

Growing in Pots – How Much Fertilizer to Use

Some of you who grow in containers may want to grow in pots of different sizes, and will need to know how much Pre-Plant and Weekly Feed natural mineral nutrients to use. 
 
Starting from the basics:  Dr. Mittleider tells us to mix 1 1/2 ounce (3 tablespoons, or 9 teaspoons) of Pre-Plant into the soil of an 18″ X 18″ X 2 3/4″ square flat, and 1/2 that amount of Weekly Feed.  All of this before planting seed or seedlings.  Let’s do the math and see how much soil we have, then we can translate it into other size containers.  18 X 18 X 2.75 = 891 cubic inches.  With 1728 cubic inches in 1 cubic foot, we have .5156 cubic feet of material in an 18″ square flat.  We will round to 1/2 cubic foot.
 
Suppose you have a 6″ round pot that’s 6″ deep, and want to know how much to use.  Multiply pi X radius squared X height, or 3.14156 X 9 X 6 = 169.64.  Divide by 1728, and you have .098, or 1/10th of a cubic foot.
 
Since you will apply 9 teaspoons of Pre-Plant to 1/2 cubic foot of material, you would apply 2 scant teaspoons to the soil in your 6″ pot.  Plus, you apply 1 scant teaspoon of Weekly Feed.
 
For on-going feeding of the plants in your pot, you either water with the Constant Feed solution of 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) in 3 gallons of water, or you can sprinkle 1 scant teaspoon of WF on the surface and water it in.
 
Now suppose your pot is 6″ square, instead of round.  Multiply 6 X 6 X 6 = 216 cu in.  Divide by 1728 = .125, or 1/8th of a cubic foot.  Nine is to .5 as X (the unknown) is to .125 = 2.25.  So you apply 2 1/4 teaspoons of Pre-Plant and 1 1/8 teaspoons of Weekly Feed to a 6″ square pot of soil mix.  Did everyone follow that?  Probably not, but if you will follow those simple formulas you can know how much PP and WF fertilizers to apply to any size container you might be using.
 
Isn’t it nice to know what you’re doing, and be able to eliminate some of the unknowns in the gardening equation?  For an excellent book on growing in containers get Gardening By The Foot (NOT Square Foot Gardening) by Jacob Mittleider, available at www.growfood.com.
 

P.S. The Mittleider Gardening books and Manuals teach all you need to know about this subject, and can be purchased in the Store section, or as digital downloads. 

A digital copy costs 30-40% less, and is available instantly!  I HIGHLY recommend you look here https://https://www.howtoorganicgarden.com/products_pdfs.htm for the best gardening books available anywhere!  Get one NOW and be gardening TODAY