Organic Compost

Growing organic compost in containers

What organic mix can you use in containers?
What would be the fertilizer routine?

It has been raining for days and I really need to get my plants started so they will be ready for the first sale in February. I can’t make cuttings because there is too much wind and my cuttings and seeds are started outside and not indoors or even in a sheltered area. Cuttings are kept under the bench and watered once a day. Seeds are in compost on the bench in the sun. I may use another tray to cover seeds just to keep the birds from eating the seeds.

People now are more interested in organic, although from talking with them. I know they have no real clue what organic is. They seem to think like people who buy conventional veggies do. 1. Plants will take care of themselves. 1a they forget to water 1b. Do not have or choose a good location for the pots 1c. they think that seedlings can grow to maturity in a 4-inch pot. 1d. They think if they get a few fruits and the annual lettuce or cucumber dies, then it wasn’t worth it. They think a plant should produce forever with no care. 2. People think plants in pots only need water. Fertilizer and light are not even considerations. People have little understanding that organic is actually more “work” than conventional growing.

This is in terms of things like weeding, pest control, and frequency of fertilizing. Not to mention that organic fertilizer requires more pounds or tons per acre than synthetics for the same NPK. It seems that to ordinary people who are eating organic but not gardeners, organic means no pesticides but they don’t understand that organics is about supporting healthy soil and what goes into it. 3. People don’t understand that vegetable and herb starters are meant to be planted out into the garden or appropriately sized containers.

I would like to offer more organically grown plants in containers. I do not intend to call anything “organic” and I could not qualify, I can separate my plants by using different benches and I don’t use pesticides on any of my seedlings conventional or not except for the NOP approved snail bait. And I cannot meet the separation standards and 3-year requirements anyway. It would not be worth it for me to do so. For myself, I prefer to use conventional fertilizer for my own garden since I don’t want to lug around a lot of pounds of fertilizer or have to fertilize often for a smaller yield. I do add organic compost to my garden for almost every crop cycle.

Generally, I do not use any pesticides and I do use slug bait which is NOP approved. I have used Sunshine #4 which is a commercial potting mix that is OMRI approved. It contains primarily peat and perlite. Perlite is allowed by NOP standards even though it is manufactured and not organic. Peat moss in Sunshine #4 does not contain wetting agents. It makes it harder to wet and it dries out faster than regular peat poss with wetting agents. All peat moss that is available to me has some lime in it that is added by the manufacturer to raise the pH to about 6.0.

Whenever I have tried to grow organically in pots with organic fertilizer and organic mixes, the results have been mediocre at best. The organic mix usually contains more forest products or more organic compost than peat moss and either is very hard to keep from drying out or stay way too wet.

Plants grown in organic potting mixes in pots have always been small and less robust than the usual peat lite and synthetic fertilizer. Even when I added synthetic fertilizer to try to boost the growth rate on the plants in the organic mix. The results were often too little too late. The plants had been set back to early and really had a hard time recovering from it.

I know that one of my mistakes is that the organic mixes don’t have enough fertilizer and 4-inch pots do not have sustainable populations of soil organisms. I don’t feed the organic mixes with organic fertilizer every week. And I do not feed the conventionally grown pots either, but they do get a starter fertilizer in the mix. I would only supplement potted plants that would have to be in the pots for more than a couple of months. The organic mix does claim to have organic compost fertilizer in it.

I will need to supplement the seedlings in organic mixes if I am to get better results.

If you are growing seedlings in pots organically, what would your fertilizing routine be and what are you using?

My goal is to offer more organically grown seedlings, but not to be certified organic.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *