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Composting directly in patio pots?

Composting directly in patio pots?
Posted by Laura from Seville (Spain) on 2002-05-02 14:28:32

Hi to everyone!

I am a novice gardener (and apartment-dweller) & currently have several tomatoes, peppers and eggplants planted in containers on my balcony, where they get full direct sunshine all day long. They seem to be doing fine so far, but I'm worried about the nutrient levels in the soil, just a basic potting mix...don't have space for making compost, and don't want to use a non-organic liquid fertilizer since, among other things, I've heard they weaken flavor. Also, in my area (southern Spain) it's not easy to find organic fertilizers. So...what can I do? Is it possible to enrich the soil in these pots by composting in them directly --for example, by burying bits of vegetable peels etc.? I already add coffee grinds now and then, but would like to do a bit more. Any suggestions?

Thanks a lot!
Laura in Spain
  • Composting
    Posted by Newt from Maryland zone 7 on 2002-05-03 00:18:07

    Quoting Laura: ------------
    -Hi to everyone!

    -I am a novice gardener (and apartment-dweller) & currently have several tomatoes, peppers and eggplants planted in containers on my balcony, where they get full direct sunshine all day long. They seem to be doing fine so far, but I'm worried about the nutrient levels in the soil, just a basic potting mix...don't have space for making compost, and don't want to use a non-organic liquid fertilizer since, among other things, I've heard they weaken flavor. Also, in my area (southern Spain) it's not easy to find organic fertilizers. So...what can I do? Is it possible to enrich the soil in these pots by composting in them directly --for example, by burying bits of vegetable peels etc.? I already add coffee grinds now and then, but would like to do a bit more. Any suggestions?

    -Thanks a lot!
    -Laura in Spain

    Would it be possible for you to order over the internet? There is an organic fertilizer called Fish Emulsion that would be excellent. You are correct to feel that the potting soil has no nutrients.

    As far as composting in the potting soil, I don't see why not. If you could get a bag of compost, you could also topdress the soil in the pot with an inch or two of compost. It won't hurt the tomato plants to put this much on.

    There is something else that I do with my potted plants that works well. When I steam vegetables, I save the cooking water and add that to the water I use for my plants. Great in vitamin and mineral content. I also use my empty milk containter or bottle. When you've used all the milk, just add water (don't rinse) and water your plants. A great source of calcium for the plants. Works well on house plants and boosts flower production. It's like adding bone meal for the calcium.

    Newt
    • composting- reply to newt
      Posted by Laura from Seville (Spain) on 2002-05-03 11:03:01

      Thanks for your reply, Newt! I'll definitely try your suggestions (we eat a lot of vegetables and drink a lot of milk around here). Yes, I can order via internet, as long as the item isn't too bulky. Do you know where I might find this organic fish mixture?

      I read recently about an organic gardening trick which involves planting certain crops, such as mustard and alfalfa, in unfertilized soil & then uprooting and burying the mature plants in the soil for the nutrient value. Have you ever tried this? My sense was that one would need to wait several months before actually using the soil once it had been "enhanced". ??

      Anyway, thanks- I appreciate your advice.

      Laura in Seville
      • composting & fish emulsion
        Posted by Newt from Maryland zone 7 on 2002-05-05 17:06:49

        Quoting Laura: ------------
        -Thanks for your reply, Newt! I'll definitely try your suggestions (we eat a lot of vegetables and drink a lot of milk around here). Yes, I can order via internet, as long as the item isn't too bulky. Do you know where I might find this organic fish mixture?

        -I read recently about an organic gardening trick which involves planting certain crops, such as mustard and alfalfa, in unfertilized soil & then uprooting and burying the mature plants in the soil for the nutrient value. Have you ever tried this? My sense was that one would need to wait several months before actually using the soil once it had been "enhanced". ??

        -Anyway, thanks- I appreciate your advice.

        -Laura in Seville

        I don't know where you can get it locally unless you try a shop that sells house plants or even a nursery that sells fertilizers. Most in the US sell it. You would only need a small bottle. I don't know how to convert to your measurements, but I have an 8 ounce bottle and I also have a 2 1/2 pound one. You only need a teaspoon to a quart of water. Here are a couple that carry it over the internet here in the US. By the way, it is also good used as a foliar spray for aphids and things.

        I did a search at www.google.com and used quotes in the search box - "fish emulsion" and got over 4000 hits. After going through 170 of them, I couldn't find one in Europe. I did find some in Australia, but most were wholsalers. You may have to do some hunting, but I would think that a local floral shop that sells houseplants would have it.

        http://homeharvest.com/alaskafishfertilizer.htm


        As for planting alfalfa or another grain such as rye, that is called a 'green manure'. You plant the crop in the fall and let it grow over the winter. In the spring you turn it over or till it into the soil. After one month you can plant.

        Hope this all helped. If you need more info, feel free to send me an e-mail.

        Newt


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