The biggest cost of gardening is often the purchase of soil. However, the good news is that homemade potting soil is not only cheaper than commercial ones, but also extremely easy to prepare! No matter what type of plant you want to grow, indoors or outdoors, this article will introduce you to all the ingredients you will need if you want to mix your own potting soil.
Table of Contents
- Mixing potting soil yourself – What are the advantages?
- Ingredients for homemade potting soil
- Peat moss is a popular ingredient
- Coconut fiber is a more sustainable alternative to peat moss
- Mix your own potting soil – compost adds important nutrients
- Perlite improves drainage
- Mix your own potting soil – Carbon hard sand for better drainage
- Vermiculite retains moisture in the soil
- Mix your own potting soil – garden gypsum provides calcium
- Blood meal promotes the growth of green foliage
- Garden lime neutralizes acidic soils
Mixing potting soil yourself – What are the advantages?
Although bags of potting soil are available in supermarkets everywhere, there is no reason to buy these bulk products. Mixing your own potting soil has several advantages.
- Cheaper than buying ready-made mixes – Commercially produced mixes are expensive to buy, so you can save money by making your own. The ingredients you need are inexpensive and can be used in many different recipes for homemade potting soil.
- Purchased soil often contains peat. It is more environmentally friendly to mix the potting soil yourself.
- You have control over the ingredients – When you make your own potting soil, you can use high-quality, organic ingredients. Since you can decide what goes into the ingredients, you can avoid the chemicals and additives found in many commercial brands.
- Mix only as much as you need – Homemade potting soil has the advantage of allowing you to prepare just as much as you need. If you buy commercial potting soil, you should buy a standard amount.
- Fully Customizable – When you make your own mixes, you can fully customize the recipe. With just a few basic ingredients, you can make soil for a wide variety of plant needs.
Ingredients for homemade potting soil
You should have no problem finding these organic ingredients at any garden center.
Peat moss is a popular ingredient
Every potting soil recipe starts with a basic ingredient, and peat moss is a popular ingredient. It provides aeration and water retention. It’s important to know that peat moss is acidic. So, unless you are growing acid-loving plants, you will need to add 1 tablespoon of garden lime per 4 gallons of peat to bring the pH to the neutral level of 7. Also, peat is usually packaged dry (because it’s so much lighter), so you’ll want to moisten it before using it as a potting soil.
Coconut fiber is a more sustainable alternative to peat moss
Another popular main ingredient is coconut fiber. It’s a more sustainable alternative to peat moss because it’s an organic product from processing coconuts. It is also neutral, so you don’t have to worry about its acidity, and there is no need to add lime to it. Coconut fiber usually comes in compressed blocks, so you will need to crush and moisten them before using them. Once they are moistened, they will also expand a bit. So be sure to add water before measuring them out for your recipe.
Mix potting soil yourself – compost adds important nutrients
A natural way to add essential nutrients to DIY potting soil is to add compost. You can use homemade compost , mushroom compost, decomposed manure or worm droppings. However, if you want to use your own compost, make sure it has been properly heated. Otherwise, it could contain bugs and weed seeds that you don’t want in your mix.
Perlite improves drainage
If you’ve ever wondered what that white stuff in potting soil is, the answer is perlite. It’s often added to potting mixes to improve drainage and prevent soil compaction. Perlite also reduces the density of the mix, making it lighter and easier to handle. If you can’t buy it anywhere, you can also use pumice.
Mix potting soil yourself – Coal-hard sand for better drainage.
Many types of plants require a quick-drying soil mix, and that’s where sand comes in. Not only does it provide better drainage, but it also keeps the mix workable. Just make sure you buy coarse sand, not very fine sand. If it is too fine, it can compact the soil and absorb too much water. Excellent alternatives to sand are peat or bird sand.
Vermiculite retains soil moisture.
The biggest benefit of adding vermiculite to DIY potting mixes is that it retains moisture in the soil, but also reduces soil compaction. It should be included in most soil mixes, especially if you tend to forget to water your plants. Exceptions are mixtures for succulents or cacti.
Mix your own potting soil – garden gypsum provides calcium.
This natural soil additive keeps the mix porous and workable, and is especially good for loosening hard or heavy soils. Garden gypsum also provides calcium, an important nutrient needed by many fruiting and flowering plants, such as vegetables.
Blood meal promotes green foliage growth.
Another natural additive found in many commercial mixes is blood meal. It is an organic nitrogen source that promotes the growth of healthy and lush green foliage. It is an excellent soil additive for annuals and perennials and is also great for growing fertile leafy vegetables.
Garden lime neutralizes acidic soils
Garden lime is also known as crushed limestone and is a natural additive that raises pH levels and neutralizes acidic soils. You should add it to any homemade potting soil recipe that uses peat moss. Unless they are plants that like acidic soil!