Monday, March 21, 2016

Potting Soil Trials

Every day at work I get asked "What kind of potting soil should I use?"  We started carrying a lot of new potting soils at work, so I thought I would evaluate them myself so I can recommend them (or not) from experience.  This is a record of that trial.

I bought some of all the "old" potting soils, some of the garden soils (since some customers keep wanting to use them as potting soils since they're cheaper, despite my warnings), and Rhiannon, the lovely Fox Farm rep, gave me one each of theirs.  I found ten large pots to put them in, planted two Roma tomatoes in each, and watered them all in with regular (not the "iron added") Maxicrop liquid seaweed.

My plan is to let them all go for one month without any inputs except water.  After one month, I plan to feed the non-pre-fertilized soils to have an even playing field.  After two months, the amount of time the pre-fertilized soils say their fertilizer runs out, I'll use the same Fox Farms products on all the pots.  I'll post photos throughout.

The soils are:
Ladybug Brand Hill Country Garden Soil
Ladybug Brand Rose Magic
Organics by Gosh 5-in-1 Potting Soil
Organics by Gosh Flower & Garden Soil
Ladybug Brand Vortex Potting Soil
Black Gold Potting Soil
Fox Farm's Happy Frog Potting Soil
Fox Farm's Ocean Forest Potting Soil
Fox Farm's Happy Frog Soil Conditioner
Fox Farm's Coco Loco Coir Fiber Potting Soil

One month out:

Left to right: Hill Country, Rose Magic, 5-in-1, Flower & Garden Soil, Vortex, Black Gold, Happy Frog Potting Soil, Ocean Forest, Happy Frog Soil Conditioner, Coco Loco.
In future photos, I'll likely rearrange the pots to group like soils together - "garden" soils next to each other, potting soils next to each other, etc.  For now, they're loosely grouped by brand.

I'll start fertilizing them tomorrow.

May Update

Fox Farms' products are still kicking butt!  I'm impressed.  All the pots were fed the same and watered the same.  I think I see some early blight setting in, dammit.  It's most prevalent on the plants not in Fox Farms' soils.

To see the difference better, 
you can embiggen this one by clicking on it.

September update

Well, it was early blight and it got them all, but not before I was able to get some tomatoes.  There were more tomatoes on each of the individual Fox Farms plants than there were on all the other non-Fox Farms post combined!  I think I got eight or so from the non-FF, and one of the FF plants had thirteen.  Amazing.

The blight took them down so fast I didn't get any photos.  I think I'm going to keep the soil in the pots as-is and wait 'til this fall when I'll add some compost to them, probably FF Soil Conditioner, and try some romanesco in them.


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