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  • Top off your containers with compost?

    I'm curious to see who may top off their containers with compost in the fall? I thought of this as i've put general fertilizer on the top of the containers before and watered them in the spring (dont want to stimulate growth while dormant). My container mix is predominantly potting soil with some miracle grow garden soil and cow manure mixed in (probably around a 70%-15%-15% ratio). I figured that any volume loss could be compensated for during the fall/winter dormancy. Weould there be any downside? I figure critters may one day find it an attractive medium to chew in.
    RHODE ISLAND ZONE 6B

  • #2
    I strongly recommend against it. Compost has a very small particle size and will eventually break down, find all the air pockets in your potting mix, and fill them up. It won’t do a better job adding nutrients than fertilizer and the downside is possibly root rot, reduced vigor, or even losing the plant.
    Eric - Seattle / Sunset Zone 5 - W/L: Granato - Now offering fig-pops, my rooting mix, and gritty potting mix! https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Brows...er=pacnorwreck

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    • #3
      I top off with pine bark mulch. I found compost lets weeds grow far easier than mulch does.
      Genesis - Houston Zone 9a
      Wishlist: CLBC - CC - Breva de Galicia - Siblawi

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      • #4
        I topped off with compost recently & witnessed an explosion of growth! To recommend against compost is blasphemy. As a person studying to be a licensed soil scientist, the more decomposed organics the better. The humic & fulvic acids are great for the soil in addition to tons of other benefits like lower bulk density

        However adding in the Fall would be a bad idea. No fertilizers just before dormancy
        wnc Z7a Hominy Valley
        wish list: a world without Invasive Pests

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        • #5
          I just incorporate it directly into my potting mix. 40% compost normally. If I top off my containers, I just normally do it with the same mix. Then mulch on top.
          Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste

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          • #6
            jessup42 what would be the earliest you would apply? Late fall? Late winter? Etc...I would only apply the amount of loss in volume throughout the season as I already have some manure/decomposing material already in there from the Spring.
            RHODE ISLAND ZONE 6B

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            • ginamcd
              ginamcd commented
              Editing a comment
              Typically those of us up north stop fertilizing in the latter half of August. The last thing you want is to be encouraging new growth at the time you need wood to be lignifying in preparation for dormancy.

          • #7
            Originally posted by jessup42 View Post
            I topped off with compost recently & witnessed an explosion of growth! To recommend against compost is blasphemy. As a person studying to be a licensed soil scientist, the more decomposed organics the better. The humic & fulvic acids are great for the soil in addition to tons of other benefits like lower bulk density

            However adding in the Fall would be a bad idea. No fertilizers just before dormancy
            Agreed. I've been doing that for the past 2 years and it's been great, as far as I can tell. The first year I used Black Kow and I changed up a bit this year and I topped off with Scott's Humas and Manure in all my plants and I think it's been beneficial. I still used Osmocote Plus and MG granular fertilizer, along with some 20-20-20 every week or two and I like the results so far.
            Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania / Zone 6b

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            • #8
              Those of you putting such heavy (non-bark, non-peat, non-coir) organic matter content into pots, may I ask how often you typically repot your trees?
              Eric - Seattle / Sunset Zone 5 - W/L: Granato - Now offering fig-pops, my rooting mix, and gritty potting mix! https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Brows...er=pacnorwreck

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              • jessup42
                jessup42 commented
                Editing a comment
                There it is, my compost is mostly fluffy lite brewing grains. Not all the same. Paper & leafy material fluffs it up too. You are right about heavy organcis which is why yiu need brown/green compost mix

              • PacNorWreck
                PacNorWreck commented
                Editing a comment
                Oh gosh, sorry jessup42 - I didn’t mean to call your compost heavy, I meant heavy as in “a high amount of” - totally agree that good compost can be very light and fluffy and initially well aerated. My concern is more when it breaks down, which will typically happen faster than bark / coir / peat.

                I imagine if folks are repotting annually, or even every two years, then the compost might not break down enough to damage the roots. That’s why I asked.

              • jessup42
                jessup42 commented
                Editing a comment
                Don’t be silly I knew you were an insinuating anything. Its all good!!! 😁🍺

                Compost too heavy on greens & not fully done CAN be a soggy mess. Dont use that!

            • #9
              PacNorWreck 2-4 years depending on the situation but normally because of being root bound. Not from breakdown or poor drainage.

              Compost is like MSG. It makes everything better. If you sad in life, use compost. If you happy in life, use compost. Put compost in everything, it will turn it better. Your just get a baby, put compost on baby. It’ll be a better baby. Smarter.
              Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste

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              • PacNorWreck
                PacNorWreck commented
                Editing a comment
                ^^This post above may be comment / post of the year.

                I’ll be honest, everything the science says about growing plants in pots recommends AGAINST compost. It’s magical in the garden. If you planted a lemon tree in 25% compost and let it sit for 4 years I guarantee the plant would show reduced vigor.

                Maybe figs are just so good at sucking up moisture from pots that it doesn’t matter if drainage is good? Maybe it’s the cool climate here vs temperatures others experience that mean figs just need as much water as you can get them? 🤷🏻‍♂️ Those of you who do use compost have results that speak for themselves.

                For me, I’ll continue to stay away and won’t personally recommend it, but I’m really glad it’s working for you and others for your potted figs.

              • don_sanders
                don_sanders commented
                Editing a comment
                PacNorWreck I dunno. My lemons seem to do ok in 40% compost. I think my bigger problem is being wishy washy about how to train them and trying to keep them really small in a bush form. And the 40 gallon fig tree blowing over onto them busting them up this year.

                Blueberries didn't but I have issues with blueberries in general it seems. Pot or ground. Pine bark and peat would probably be a lot better for them.

            • #10
              I add compost and mulch routinely to my potted trees. Whenever I have extra and there is a little room in the container, I throw some on. There are a lot of surface roots for figs and I find that if I do not intermittently add mulch (my mulch is already partially composted anyway), then the plants start to suffer in the middle of the summer. In my environment (central to southeast Texas), the more partially composted mulch on top the better. Rather than a straight compost if you are already fertilizing, I would suggest going with a partially composted mulch instead. This would be safe to use in the fall as well.
              Zone 8b, College Station, TX
              Wish List: Maltese Beauty, CLBC.

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              • #11
                I use pine bark mulch mixed with worm castings
                Toronto, Canada USDA Zone 5. Wish List: Azores Dark, Malta Black, Sucrette, LSU Hollier and Violet Sepor. I'm always interested in trading cuttings if your in the Southern Ontario area. Thank You!

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                • jessup42
                  jessup42 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Where do you source yours? I visited a lumberyard today that has a bark pile but it has a lot of green wood material in there as well. The pine and oak bark is also very well shredded so not sure how well that’s going to fare. It was a Free resource so if that is always a bonus! Free firewood scraps too yay 😊

                • Bravo_Figaro
                  Bravo_Figaro commented
                  Editing a comment
                  If your in the Toronto area and go just north of the city this is where I make an annual trip to grab a few bags. I usually purchase a few different varieties but for the most part this is the stuff I use. I'll post a picture below of what I use. I love it ! It's a fantastic product.

                  Here's the website: https://www.gro-bark.com

              • #12
                I only top dressed one of my rooted cuttings early spring with "Black Gold" compost. Several weeks later I noticed a jump in growth and weirdly, the cutting had put on girth. At that point I put it on all my plants, and I'm noticing them getting girthier as well as more vegetation.
                Meys - Round Rock, TX. Zone 8b
                Wishlist: Cherry Cordial, Cosme Manyo, Texas Peach, Black Celeste, Little Ruby, any persistent caprifig.

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                • #13
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                  Toronto, Canada USDA Zone 5. Wish List: Azores Dark, Malta Black, Sucrette, LSU Hollier and Violet Sepor. I'm always interested in trading cuttings if your in the Southern Ontario area. Thank You!

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                  • Cguitar
                    Cguitar commented
                    Editing a comment
                    A few years ago TorontoJoe posted about a place up there that made bulk
                    mixes. If I remember correctly he was going to try them out. The name CPM & the description look familiar.

                • #14
                  I have a new guy in the Toronto area who does custom blend mixes by the yard. Very reasonable price. I have the name of the place in my car. Will post later.
                  Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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                  • shawnjames70
                    shawnjames70 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I have been getting 2 yards of 3 year aged bark fines with pumice 50/50 mix as my base then i add my hp promix. Kind of my own 6 1 blend instead of 511. Lol best fig year ever!! Just started last year.

                • #15
                  Bravo_Figaro - A local friend with a small nursery pointed me to this place where he get's his mix. Very reasonable. I've seen the quality. Excellent stuff.

                  https://purelifesoil.com/collections/totes

                  I'm not sure how compressed it comes but if you figure 4 cu ft of Promix HP is over $35, this yard is roughly 7 times that for $150.

                  They will do custom mixes.
                  Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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                  • #16
                    My soil makeup for potted trees is:

                    40% Sandy Loam + 40% Happy Frog Potting Mix + 20% Worm Castings.

                    I fill 5gal and 10gal pots 70% full. Then I add an inch or two of harvest supreme organic compost and finish the pots off with organic rice straw for 2-4 inches.

                    This mix has given 60-70% of my 6-month-old rooted cuttings fruit year one. Just my two cents.

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                    • #17
                      I use compost in everything and regularly top dress pots mid season. I use a ratio of compost in my potting mix also.
                      I particularly love composted rabbit manure for my potted plants and reserve it for them.
                      Worm castings are gold, especially for very young sensitive to fertilizer varieties but it has become very expensive...
                      I compost all I can here on the farm, it's a good way to complete the cycle and use your waste, but as you grow more, you need more.
                      You can never have enough especially if you want to avoid buying fertilizers.
                      I don't use fertilizers in my garden so need to keep soil enriched and from becoming depleted. It's sandy here so it also improves water retention.
                      I use only a combination of fish hydrolysate and kelp for my potted and starting plants, when needed.
                      Then there is compost tea...
                      Compost, yes please!
                      Almaguin Highlands, Canada. Zone 4a/3b. WL: Ronde de Bordeaux, Florea, Hollier, Dauphine, Gisotta nero, Verdolino, Malta Black, Violet Sepor .Any early finishers would help, just starting out, not picky. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication~Da Vinci

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