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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 8:17 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 8:12 pm
Posts: 1
I live in an apartment and this year started gardening in containers on my balcony, starting with organic potting soil. I want to do everything organically. I don't know what I should be doing to maintain the soil as plants grow. I have been adding an organic liquid kelp food. I also don't know what to do with the soil once the growing season is over. Should I obtain organic compost and mix it in? What should the ratio of soil to compost? Should I be adding other (organic) nutrients? I read once that you should reuse soil from year to year in containers because bacteria can become a problem, but an organic farmer (who doesn't garden in containers) suggested that if i just spread the soil out and left it in the sun for some time (I'm not sure how long), that would be fine. As organic soil is expensive, I'd rather not keep buying it annually!

I started out by growing pole beans (good results- even in fairly small containers!), snow peas (ok - got powder mildew but will try the one part milk-9 parts water spray next time), dill (ok), basil (ok), tomatoes (not sure-still in progress; lots of foliage, not much fruit), cilantro (very poor results), spearmint (never germinated after 2 tries), thyme (very slow growing). I live in San Diego so there's plenty of sun and can garden year round. All my seeds were organic/heirloom varieties from a place in Port Townsend, Washington.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 8:13 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 9:18 pm
Posts: 1093
Location: McKinney,TEXAS
I think you need to go look in the mirror and say, "good job."
Container gardening is not as forgiving as gardening in the ground because the plants are so much more dependent on you. Plus you have sun hitting the container everyday stressing the plants out, inviting bugs and disease. Since you are growing annuals, I would change the soil out every year to ensure you don't have a build up of something. For example, if the water had a high salt content there is no place for it to flush through. There are several brands of organic compost here but I don't know about CA. I don't container garden so I am putting forth an opinion. Stick with the liquid fertilizers used as a drench and in a foliar feed. You can fight off a lot of disease and insect pressure this way while feeding the plants.
Tony M

PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 9:19 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 12:35 pm
Posts: 3
Location: ,
I do both container & non-container gardening. I do not discard any soil from my containers. In organic gardening, the soil remains alive and active, pretty much taking care of itself. Chemicals in treated water can create some imbalances; but that is correctible. I would suggest rotating the plants each year (don't plant the same plant in the same pot/soil over and over again).

I am not familiar with the nuances of your climate; but I think you may be trying to grow cool-weather crops (snow peas & cilantro) where the weather is not cool enough to keep them happy. Also, spearmint is VERY difficult to grow from seed....easy to grow from cuttings. About the thyme, I haven't a clue. Try a different variety. You may have a variety that is not well suited to your growing conditions.

Gardening is a lifetime learning process. I move plants all the time because they let me know they just aren't going to do their best where they are planted right now (and I have been gardening over 60 years).

Don't get discouraged. When something doesn't grow like you had hoped, try to learn why and make adjustments.


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