I definitely just spent the last two days fighting potting media. The soil mix that seemed to be alright in the raised bed failed in the pots. This was expected, because half compost is just bad, and I’ve failed with that before. So I dropped it to 1/3 of the mix… no drainage Eliminated it entirely. No drainage! I tried using pine park. No drainage. I guess the perlite wasn’t rinsed and maybe the dust was binding with small particles from the base media and creating a muck? Nope. Nothing.
My first mistake was not pre-wetting the sphagnum moss. The garden bed was made with a bag of peat moss from the previous year that I had cut open and let sit out on the deck absorbing water for six months… so that explained that. Soaking the peat moss and premixed media and letting it sit overnight still did nothing!
I tried five or six different mixes in the end… mixes that worked perfectly before. Seemingly no difference, and yet utter failure!
In previous years, I had been buying a few gallons of peat moss at a time down at the hardware store. This year I used a huge compressed bail because it’s like 5x cheaper… and … not treated with a wetting agent.
After giving up, I decided to try one last time… I filled a pot with two quarts base 1:1:1 peat:perlite:vermiculite mixture, mixed a few drops of detergent into two gallons of water, and soaked it… and it drained normally! I soaked it with three more gallons of water and it clearned in about fifteen minutes. Success!
And now back to actually gardening instead of cursing the universe for deciding to hate me.