Planting Time Is Here

Eggplant transplant potted today

Purchased potting soil mix with sand added and mixed

The temperature reported on the weather assures me that we are clear of frost. This is a week earlier than many years. So it is time to start adding summer vegetables and cold tender annuals to our landscapes. Today, since my vegetable garden soil is so wet from the rain this week, I started planting my vegetable transplants into pots. I always grow my peppers and eggplants in containers and also a few tomatoes. If you are container gardening, good, well drained soil is so important. When you are buying soil at your local retailer there are so many types it is confusing, and chances are that you can buy the wrong soil without even knowing it. So here is what I do. First, cost and brand are not inicators of quality, but rather what is in the bag. Most packages labeled garden soil or potting soil is just that, soil bagged and sold. But that is not necessarily what you want. I always try to buy potting mix. This generally is a mixed product. It has some type of organic matter, some type of product to improve drainage, and sometimes soil. In this case reading what the bag contains is a good idea. Make sure it contains products you are familiar with like peat moss, pine bark, manure, pearlite, loam soil, etc. If you get home and find that the soil is so light that water runs right through it, or so heavy that it holds water and becomes mud, adding sand is something I do all the time. Sand helps improve soil composition, and for containers that is key to having a plant survive our long growing season.
So, go to it and have fun adding cold tender plants to you garden and planting your containers. Remember, if you are growing vegetables in containers, bigger containers are better. I use the pot shown above every year for growing eggplant (the soil is changed annually), but note it is big enough to grow only one plant. Even with only one plant, in the heat of the summer, it will need watering every day.


John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

2 thoughts on “Planting Time Is Here

  1. Hey John. As always thanks for this site. I know you help lots of gardeners. Several additives that I love are mushroom compost and cow manure, particularly for veggies grown in containers. As you well know I am a big fan of Pro-Mix BX but lots of people complain it dries out too quickly. To remedy that problem I recommend a mixture of thirds; i.e one third mushroom compost, one third cow manure, and one third potting soil. This will make even Baccto and other “garbage soils” sold in bags a decent growing medium.
    I have yet to plant any summer vegetables as soil temperature is not to my liking. Conservative to my bones (only when it comes to plants) I await the winds to die down and the night temperature to not drop below 60 degrees.
    As always, with highest regards

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