Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Secret Recipe For Drought Tolerant Container Garden Soil Mix

This has been one rough season for container gardens in the Midwest. Hot. Dry. Sweltering. No rain. That has been the forecast day-in and day-out. I have done rain dances, prayed to the gods, and of course drank margaritas; all with very little success. One thing that has really helped my containers hold on this heavy drought season is my super-secret container formula and planting techniques which have kept the containers fresh even though I water them only about three times per week.
Above you see by one of my containers that my technique is a success. The container is a mix of Proven Winners annual plants - Supertunia Watermelon Charm, Superbells Grape Punch Calibrachoa, Superbells Yellow Chiffon Calibrachoa, and Illusion Midnight Lace Sweet Potato Vine.
When you shop at a nursery and buy a pre-planted container, chances are the containers will be planted with the soilless mix that the nurseries need for their specific growing conditions. In other words, they water very heavy every day and do not want the soil to hold the water in the container so the plant will not suffer root rot. Therefore, when I get a pre-potted plant, I always tear the planting apart and replant it in my own secret fantastical soil mix which holds water close to the roots longer and helps build a healthier plant.

  1. 1/2 Organic Potting Soil (I use Organic Mechanics)
  2. 1/2 Rotted Composted Manure
  3. Organic Fertilizer (I use Jobe’s Organic Granular All-Purpose Fertilizer)
  4. Actino-Iron Soil Additive
Here is why I add each item in the secret mix:
#1 is REAL SOIL, not a soilless mix, so potting soil is usually a healthy mix of ingredients that will hold water consistently.
#2 is compost with a nitrogen content and some amazing microbes mixed in. Composted manure is always a great water retentive product that is beneficial to both containers and ground plantings.
#3 is a fertilizer. Annuals such as petunias, geraniums, and calibrachoa can always use a little extra oomph to help them grow because they are heavy feeders.
#4 adds Iron and a fungicidal bacteria called Streptomyces lydicus that strengthens the roots. It enables the roots to uptake both water and nutrients better, by enhancing the root structure.

Above is a video of the television appearance I made in New Mexico last week demonstrating container planting techniques. If you want a planting demonstration, please watch the video.
Special Note – Because the FTC requires it, I am letting you know that Proven Winners, Organic Mechanics Soil, Jobes Organics, and Natural Industries supplied the plants, soil, and soil additives I used in this garden post. I donate a large portion of the vegetables I grow in my soil-improved garden to the local food pantry when harvested.

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