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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old December 13, 2014   #16
salix
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Thanks Kurt - just wanted all users to be aware if there were concerns re: safety. Glad to hear there is not.
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Old December 13, 2014   #17
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Hi Kurt,

Thanks for posting! I'd been "wondering" how you liked the product. Looks like they've updated their website descriptions and changed some of their product labeling a bit since I last checked it out (or else my memory is getting worse than I thought ). The description Lee Valley gave was way off base, as you said

Anyway,I'm glad you're liking it so far. It'll be interesting so see how your plants do over time. Post some photos if you start noticing any significant differences been the plants in the Pro-Mix vs the Wonder Soil.

I just love working with the stuff - it's so "clean" and "user friendly." It's been especially impressive for growing sprouts (wheatgrass and sunflower) as it retains the moisture so well and you can get a nice even base for good seed to soil contact.

I'm also using it with very good results for my container cucumbers. It's my first attempt at growing indoors in containers and I'm happy with the way things are going so far. I started the picolino cuke seeds on November 21 and transplanted the seedlings into the pure Wonder Soil in a 14 gallon tote on Dec 4. I'm attaching a photo of them taken on that date and then a couple of photos of the plants today - 9 days after transplant. The first of today's photos has a close-up of them under the lights and the second is an overview of the lower portion of my set-up.

I used a bit less than 2/3's (or $10 worth) of the 10 lb Wonder Soil cube I got from Home Depot to fill the bin.

I also have a bunch of various leafy greens seedlings transplanted into my patio "salad tables" filled with wonder soil. The one bed more or less in the open is doing very well, but the ones in the 2 shade house beds were, as one might expect, growing a bit slowly. I finally got the shade cloth removed and bird netting put up in its place, so things should start growing quite a bit faster - esp. after this most recent storm passes.

Anne
Attached Images
File Type: jpg picolino cukes 1 - 12-4-14.JPG (229.9 KB, 296 views)
File Type: jpg picolino cukes 1- 12-13-14.JPG (239.1 KB, 297 views)
File Type: jpg picolino cukes on cart 12-13-14.JPG (243.2 KB, 298 views)
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Old December 13, 2014   #18
JamesL
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Cool setup Anne! And nice pix too.
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Old December 15, 2014   #19
kurt
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Default FYI on Lee Valley position on Wonder Soil

Quote:
Originally Posted by salix View Post
Thanks Kurt - just wanted all users to be aware if there were concerns re: safety. Glad to hear there is not.

Got this as a inquiry to Lee Valley.


Thank you for your reply. We are aware the Wonder Soil® when used outside of Canada can be used with food plants. However, since Lee Valley is a Canadian company, we are following the restrictions placed on it by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency when making the statement that use with food plants should be avoided.



We have, nonetheless, forwarded your comments to our Product review committee for their information.



Regards,



Caroline Brisson

Internet Customer Service Representative
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Old December 15, 2014   #20
Redbaron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurt View Post
Got this as a inquiry to Lee Valley.


Thank you for your reply. We are aware the Wonder Soil® when used outside of Canada can be used with food plants. However, since Lee Valley is a Canadian company, we are following the restrictions placed on it by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency when making the statement that use with food plants should be avoided.



We have, nonetheless, forwarded your comments to our Product review committee for their information.



Regards,



Caroline Brisson

Internet Customer Service Representative
Oh those crazy Canadians! Not enough chemical ferts in it apparently!
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Old December 19, 2014   #21
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Hi,

Thought I'd post a quick update on my cukes in the Wonder Soil. I just took the photos today (the 19th) - 15 days after transplant. As you can see they're doing really well and starting to flower. They were rapidly outgrowing their growing space so I had to enlarge it some. I'll be trellising the cukes when they're tall enough and will probably have to add some more lights eventually.

I started some tomato seeds in the Wonder Soil on the 14th. I'm doing 3 different rootstocks and 3 different regular tomato varieties to get an idea of their differing growth rates so I'll have a better idea of when to start seeds for my spring garden tomato grafting. All 3 of the rootstock varieties (LA1777, Estamino, and RST-04-105-T) were up in 4 days. Of the regular varieties, Eva Purple Ball germinated in 3 days, Santa Clara Canner in 4, and Bush Early Girl (old seed) has yet to surface.

Of the photos:
First is of the new, expanded "cucumber habitat." second is an overall view of just the plants in their bin, and the last photo is a close-up showing some flowers coming along.

Anne
Attached Images
File Type: jpg cuke habitat open 2.jpg (267.7 KB, 254 views)
File Type: jpg cukes all 2 - 12-19-14.JPG (179.6 KB, 254 views)
File Type: jpg cuke flower 12-19-14.JPG (163.6 KB, 254 views)
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Old December 20, 2014   #22
drew51
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So do you hand pollinate? I'm wary of coir myself, having seen a few studies where peat out performed it. I know peat is a problem keeping wet, but I never found this to be a major problem. Misting before watering always solved it. Plus my mixes are mostly pine fines anyway, not peat.
http://cpl.usu.edu/files/publication...b__9468201.pdf
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Old December 20, 2014   #23
kurt
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Default Wish the study had some tomatoes in it.

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Originally Posted by drew51 View Post
So do you hand pollinate? I'm wary of coir myself, having seen a few studies where peat out performed it. I know peat is a problem keeping wet, but I never found this to be a major problem. Misting before watering always solved it. Plus my mixes are mostly pine fines anyway, not peat.
http://cpl.usu.edu/files/publication...b__9468201.pdf
Right now with the maters I have in the WS and Pro mix they are neck and neck the same.But for cuttings/clones/germinations the WS is far faster and more abundent in root developement(mass and thickness).Mind you mine is not a clinical controlled methods i.e.ferts, water,etc.Cost wise since I have 150 plus plants in containers,no SIP or EB'S(including odds and ends,herbs,hot peppers,flowers for wife,fruit trees)I will use the WS as a starting medium.I go through 10-12 bales of Pro mix a year.
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Old December 20, 2014   #24
drew51
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I guess the product is improved. Salt used to be a problem with it, as the coir is cleaned in saltwater. But is it the coir or the amendments? Which can be added to anything. Part of the problem when evaluating a full product, not just the base. In the studies it's peat vs coir, and all else is the same. Results are pretty clear. I add minerals, fungi, bacteria, organic ferts, compost, and worm castings to my soil mixes too. Even Promix to me is lacking. It could use minerals and compost.

As a base product with no additives maybe WS is better. But I myself mix my own soils. I just use too much to purchase ready mixes. So for me starting from scratch peat makes more sense. It clearly outperformed coir. I just wanted to add this to the discussion as many here also make their own soils. As a pre-made soil it looks to be decent. All the same If I did want a pre-made soil I myself would go with a Fafard or Happy Frog product. Lack of Pine concerns me in both of these mixes you guys have been using. Pine has been shown to suppress pathogens such as Phytophthora root rot. Fafard and Happy Frog contain pine fines. In general I avoid all mixes without pine.
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Old December 20, 2014   #25
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Hi Drew,

The variety of cucumber I'm using, Picolino, doesn't require pollinating:

http://www.highmowingseeds.com/organ...-cucumber.html

FWIW, my growing set-up is more or less based on this video I came across on youtube - only I'm not growing hydroponically and not using LED lights (except for one extra bulb I had around that is mainly decorative in my set-up ). Here's the link to the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoBde8tTxcw

It looks like their cukes at transplant were a good deal larger than mine were at transplant. They've got 8 plants in about 4' x 4' and I've got 5 plants in about a 1-1/2' x 2' bin with the grow space currently flaring out to 4-1/2' x 2-1/2' and a height from the soil line to "roof" of 4.' (BTW, belated thanks to James, for the compliments on my earlier set-up in a previous post ).

Drew, the article you linked to was interesting (just skimmed it) but it's not particularly relevant to Wonder Soil as the coir itself used in Wonder Soil is different from the coir in the study (which were different from each other). And, of course the amendments in the Wonder Soil make a difference. Although I don't have any comparision studies at the moment, it doesn't seem like the coir component of Wonder Soil is having any negative impact on the plants.

The photo of the wheat and sunflowers in the study caught my eye - for comparison sake, I'm attaching a couple of photos of my current batch of sunflower spouts started in Wonder Soil about 7 days ago (not sure exactly as I didn't record the date) and some red hard winter wheat seed I started for wheatgrass in Wonder Soil 9 days ago. (The colors are a bit washed out by the flash - esp. on the wheatgrass)

I think Wonder Soil is pretty much a complete mix (rather than a base like pro-mix, perhaps), so it supposedly doesn't require any additives - which might be something to take into account when you calculate the actual cost of the product. Although the Wonder Soil already contains minerals (Cascade Minerals as I recall)I did add a 1/2 oz scoop of azomite to one of my waterings as I've been led to believe that more rock dust is always a good thing - up to a point, of course but nothing else. I've saved and reused any drain water that collected in my little collection pitcher from prior waterings, so I'm not washing away a lot of stuff.

If you enjoy making up and using your own soil mixes and the price is right and you're happy with the results, there probably isn't any reason to use the Wonder Soil. I wasn't really thrilled with what I'd been using before and I don't know enough to feel comfortable in designing my own mixes, so the Wonder Soil works for me as a seed starting and container/potting mix.

BTW, has anyone found out exactly why Canada doesn't approve Wonder Soil for vegetables?

Anne
Attached Images
File Type: jpg sunflower sprouts 7weeks -12-20-14.JPG (124.3 KB, 234 views)
File Type: jpg wheatgrass 9 days - 12-20-14.JPG (159.9 KB, 234 views)
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Old December 20, 2014   #26
RayR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drew51 View Post
So do you hand pollinate? I'm wary of coir myself, having seen a few studies where peat out performed it. I know peat is a problem keeping wet, but I never found this to be a major problem. Misting before watering always solved it. Plus my mixes are mostly pine fines anyway, not peat.
http://cpl.usu.edu/files/publication...b__9468201.pdf
The only thing that study proves is that between a 50/50 mix of peat/perlite + dolomite and a 50/50 mix of coir/perlite + gypsum, all fertilized with the 20-10-20 chemical salt ferts is that the combination worked better for the peat mix.
For growing in coir, both Calcium and Magnesium are needed additions to offset lockout by the high K content of the coir. Possibly the Calcium Sulfate is not an optimal Ca source for that mix and fertilizer regimen. I've never seen gypsum recommended for use in a coir mix anyway.
It also appears they also did not leach the excess Na from the coir medium prior to producing the mix which I would guess would have some negative effect on plant growth. The Mexican coir they used had the highest EC, so had the most Na in it and worst plant growth. What the study proves to me is the wrong way to grow in a coir mix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drew51 View Post
I guess the product is improved. Salt used to be a problem with it, as the coir is cleaned in saltwater. But is it the coir or the amendments? Which can be added to anything. Part of the problem when evaluating a full product, not just the base. In the studies it's peat vs coir, and all else is the same. Results are pretty clear. I add minerals, fungi, bacteria, organic ferts, compost, and worm castings to my soil mixes too. Even Promix to me is lacking. It could use minerals and compost.

As a base product with no additives maybe WS is better. But I myself mix my own soils. I just use too much to purchase ready mixes. So for me starting from scratch peat makes more sense. It clearly outperformed coir. I just wanted to add this to the discussion as many here also make their own soils. As a pre-made soil it looks to be decent. All the same If I did want a pre-made soil I myself would go with a Fafard or Happy Frog product. Lack of Pine concerns me in both of these mixes you guys have been using. Pine has been shown to suppress pathogens such as Phytophthora root rot. Fafard and Happy Frog contain pine fines. In general I avoid all mixes without pine.
I think the folks that formulated Wonder Soil put some work into it to produce a good ready to use coir based mix. It's a biologically active mix with the addition of worm castings, mycorrhizae and organic ferts. It looks like they got it right from the results Anne got. A coir mix can do just as well as a peat mix as long as it's done right.
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Old December 23, 2014   #27
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That sounds like something I am going to get also.thanks for the info.
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Old December 29, 2014   #28
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Well, I've decided to give it a go for my grow bags next year. First four blocks are due to arrive at the end of the week.
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Old December 30, 2014   #29
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Hi Father'sDaughter,

Sounds good! Hope it works well for you. I had some problems with overwatering my cukes that is discussed in this thread;

http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=34301

Kurt posted some good observations on how the Wonder Soil drains in containers that you might want to read. Part of the difficulty I encountered was due to just having a side drain so that the container never fully drains. Now that I've adjusted my methods and the soil is drying out the plants are taking looking good again.

Anne
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Old January 17, 2015   #30
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Before I chisel some off of a block to start the onion seeds in this weekend, is everyone using Wonder Soil still happy with the results?

While I now start everything else off in DE, the onions are the exception since they won't get up-potted and it'll be at least three months before they go out.
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