2017 Harvest

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Testing: HomeOGarden organic soil part 2 - results

Catch up on part one here

On June, 15th I decided to make a first comparison of medium quality soil and HomeOgarden organic soil. The difference was visible from the start. In most of my HomeOgarden soil pot there were no germinated seeds. Flowers and corn mostly germinated in medium quality soil with total of 2 empty corn pots, 2 empty hollyhock pots and 1 empty digitalis pot. HomeOgarden nothing. Not a single pot germinated.

Left pots mix of flowers and sunflowers in medium soil, Right HomeOgarden pots

Upper row normal soil, lower row HomeOgarden

The onion and soil containers filled up nicely in both cases.

HomeOgarden lettuce container
Rhubarb was holding good although I did notice 2 older leaf rotting from excess of water  even though I haven't been watering the containers in shady part of the garden due to the constant rain we were getting.

HomeOgarden rhubarb and part of HOG onions visible

Onions continued good and I've used them since then as young green onions.

On July,5th I had to make another comparison because the situation changed drastically and not for good. All my plants that were kept in shade started rotting. I couldn't understand why because I didn't water them at all, there was huge amount of rain but all my pots have holes on the bottom, even the foil I placed inside containers had huge holes for drainage. Excess of water should have drained out of the pots.

 Even my rhubarb was in bad shape. One was dead and the other was still alive but in bad shape. The rhubarb in my front garden was doing good and didn't seem affected.

There had to be something wrong with the soil, I soon figured out what was the problem. Coconut fibres retain water, and a lot of it. Probably the reason why those articles said it should be mixed with other soil.
I decided to test my theory, I watered a box of soil and left it in warm and dry place for a week without watering. After a week I took a handful of soil and squeezed it. Week later and the water was pouring from the soil. I've never seen such a huge amount of water.

I decided I'd give the soil another chance since I could say this was my mistake not knowing it would retain so much water. Although if we're honest that would happen to anyone who'd use the soil in the weather conditions we had.
I've planted 2 tomato seedlings I found between my peppers to test the soil again. This seedlings wouldn't give fruits since it was too late for them but they would serve to know how the soil reacts.
I've planted one tomato in a pot and one in normal poor garden soil, I didn't use any fertilisers on any of the plants, haven't sprayed them with anything and didn't water them, I left nature to take care of the water since we got rain every 4 days.

Yesterday I went to check my plants.

HomeOgarden tomato was growing, it even had a small flower that was getting ready to flower. I was pleased with the result. My only concern was visible sulphur deficiency on lower leaves, but still if we consider that plants definitely need to be fed with fertilisers if grown in coconut fibre I think this is a good result.
Lower leaves, on photo a bit difficult to diagnose but live clear symptoms of sulphur deficiency  

I had trouble finding my other tomato seedling, my balsamina plants hide it from the sight. But when I found it I liked the sight. Plant was dark green, with no sign of any deficiency. It didn't make flowers yet but it had nicer green colour with more leaves.

Conclusion: HomeOgarden organic soil isn't a good solution for growing flower seedling so it probably wouldn't be a good solution for germinating delicate seeds such as tomato and peppers either, but it works with lettuce and onions very nicely. It retains huge amounts of water so plants should be kept in sheltered area or mixed with soil that provides good drainage.
When it comes to growing big seedlings or young plants if provided with a optimal amount of fertilisers plants grow good and make flowers.

If I'd used more soil when growing my tomato plant would probably get enough minerals. But this rises a question of price. If we have to use whole 50 litres for one plant and add fertilisers to keep it healthy it means that having 5 to 10 tomatoes makes the hobby really expensive experience and there are many less expensive solutions with medium quality soils that are available.
But if someone has a few hobby plants and doesn't have time to water them on regular bases this could be a good solution.

As for me I will not be buying it again, I'll stick to substrates and soils for professional gardeners.
And as for my rhubarbs 2 of my plants have survived the rot crisis, but past month they haven't been growing much. So soon they will be transplanted in a mix of coconut fibres and professional soil maybe that will help. But we've learned that rhubarb here prefer sun over shade so that's something.

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