Recently I started 24 zucchini plants inside to later transfer outside in my earth boxes. The plants had reached their growth limit inside so I planted them in the earth boxes and put them in the basement where it is warm and dry and put a grow light on them 24/7, so they would get enough light to keep growing. They did well for about three weeks getting bigger and bigger and looking very healthy.
I had gone into town for potting mix (specified by manufacturer) at a local garden spot. I was told that this organic mix is far superior to the Miracle Grow that I usually purchase at Walmart. I was told it was potting soil and that the salesperson uses it instead of the mix in their garden boxes because the stuff at Walmart had mites and insect larvae in it which could ruin plants. If I would have stopped and thought a minute I'd realized that what I buy at Walmart has worked very well over the years. Walmart had not received their shipment yet so I went elsewhere to shop and ended up buying three bags at the new place but I should have waited for their shipment to come in.
The earth boxes have a water reserve in the bottom and I had noted that when I would go into the basement that I was getting bites that looked like mosquito bites. After numerous bites over several days I saw a mosquito on the wall. With a foot and a half of snow on the ground, freezing temperatures and never having had a mosquito in the basement previously it took a little while to figure out they were in the potting soil and breeding in the water storage area of the earth boxes.
I didn't know where this potting soil came from so I didn't know if it could have West Nile virus or not and didn't want to take the chance. I took the earth boxes outside where the plants promptly froze and died. See above photo. I emptied the water from the earth boxes onto the ground where it also froze. It was several days later before I could drive back into town where I promptly bought two bags of Miracle Grow potting mix and then put the high priced potting soil into the planter in front of the house where any remaining larvae could no longer breed.
I was impatient and bought what I should have known was wrong and ended up with a costly mistake. I now have three bags of very expensive organic potting soil in the planter out front. Two 4 cf bags of Miracle Grow was equal in price to one of the 'organic' bags that ended up in the outside planter. It doesn't pay to try to force early growth when it comes to gardening and it also doesn't pay to go against what has been proven over the years. When the maker of the garden boxes says planting mix they sure know best because potting soil doesn't wick up water like the mix does. For the cost of one bag of potting soil those insect larvae must have been designer bugs due to the high price of the stuff. Lesson learned!!!