Have you noticed how expensive potting soil can be?
I mean, truthfully, when you think about it – you are buying dirt. Why is it so expensive?
Well, a lot of it has to do with the nutrients that you are purchasing so your plants will grow better. However, don’t you think there has to be a better way?
If so, then you’re in luck because I’m going to discuss how you can create your own potting soil and a few other facts that you might need to know along the way.
Here is how you create your own potting soil:
A Quick Warning:
When creating your own potting soil there are 2 things you need to understand.
First, there is no ‘one size fits all’ potting mix. Each plant has different requirements. So you may have to tweak any recipe for the potting mix to better suit exactly the plant that you want to grow.
Secondly, when creating potting soil there are dangers. Namely, you’ll want to be aware of a disease known as Legionnaire’s Disease. It is basically a severe form of pneumonia that can be contracted from bacteria that can live in potting soil mixes and compost.
You’ll need to use safety precautions such as wearing a face mask, wear protective clothes and gloves, try not to work with soil when the wind is blowing heavily, and spritz dusty ingredients of potting mixes with water to keep them from flying in the air.
Also, be sure to always wash your hands after working in the garden or anywhere else outdoors. If you feel ill and think it could be an onset of this disease, please seek out treatment. Especially if the warning signs are spotted in those with weakened immune systems, small children, or the elderly.
Now that all of our safety notices are out there, let’s move on so you can create your own potting soil.
Why Should You Create Your Own Potting Soil?
Before you take on a DIY project, you need to be sure you know why you are doing it.
Otherwise, you might get frustrated halfway through and quit. I’ve been there, and I totally understand. Sometimes when you are buying things to create something, you start adding up the costs.
Though the supplies you buy might make you a lot more than the store-bought stuff, it still hits your wallet all at once.
And you begin to ponder why in the world you are doing what you’re doing.
Well, that is why it is important to know why you are doing the task. So in this case, you are creating your own potting soil.
Benefits of Making Your Own Potting Soil
Here are a few of the reasons you might want to consider doing this yourself:
1. It Saves You Moola
When creating your own potting soil, you are actually saving yourself money. You may not feel like it at first, but how many times have you purchased potting soil and not used it all?
Then you put it in your garden shed, only to return to it later and it is unusable because it is all dried up. If you’ve ever done this, then you know how bad it feels to know that you wasted that money.
Well, if you mix up your own quality potting soil mix, you should save yourself money. You can store it better and easier than the store-bought stuff.
Or you could actually just mix up what you need at the time and forget about having to store it, period. Either way, you’ll save yourself some money in the process, usually.
2. Convenience Is a Sweet Thing
Convenience is pretty amazing. If it wasn’t then our society wouldn’t have shifted so easily to a newer more convenient way of living.
Let’s face it. We all love to have things when we want it and how we want it as well.
When you create your own potting soil, you have this convenience. You can actually order most of your ingredients and have them shipped right to your door.
Then, as long as you have everything on hand, you can quickly and easily mix up your potting soil whenever you are ready to use it.
3. You Know All About It
The next benefit of mixing your own potting soil is the fact that you know what is in it. Let’s face it. All potting soil is not created equal.
And we know that plants love certain things in the soil. It encourages them to grow and produce better, which is the ultimate goal.
Well, if you create your own potting soil, then you can adjust the ingredients as you see fit. You know everything that is in it, and you also can feel better knowing that all of your plants are getting what they need.
4. You Are More Self-Sufficient
So you want to plant your flowers, but it is at a time that maybe the store is closed. If you mix your own potting soil, you are practicing better self-reliance, and you don’t have to worry about when stores are open or closed.
Plus, now that you are learning how to make your own potting soil, you can also know that you are taking another step toward being more self-reliant.
The final reason why you might want to consider creating your own potting soil is that quality potting soil usually lasts longer.
If you buy potting soil from the store you might be surprised to realize how much of it is actually bark. This bark will then compost quickly and begin to decompose.
Then your potting soil struggles to retain as much moisture as your plant’s desire and money is wasted. However, with creating your own potting soil (where you include your own quality ingredients), you shouldn’t have to worry as much about it decomposing and not being able to retain water.
In fact, since there is no bark in this potting soil mix, your potting soil should last much longer than a lot of the potting soil you purchase from the stores.
What Do I Want from My Potting Soil?
When I wanted to learn how to make my own potting soil, I found that soil actually did much more than I ever gave it credit for.
Truthfully, I didn’t think about what I actually wanted my soil to do, besides surround my plants, give them a happy home, and then I wanted to see the plants produce.
However, now I know what I really want from my soil. Here are a few things to consider:
1. Light and Fluffy
I knew I always loved to run my hands through the dirt before planting my flowers and veggies in it, but I never really knew what I was looking for.
However, now I know that I want light and fluffy dirt. The reason is that the lighter and fluffier it is the easier it is for my plants to spread out and take root.
Also, you want the soil to be fluffy because that means it is aerated. This means that oxygen has an easier time accessing the plant.
I want a soil that is going to last. I knew there were a few times I had put bagged soil in the garden shack, come back to it, and the soil didn’t do as well.
Still, I never knew it was because of the bark content making the soil water-resistant. I want a potting soil that won’t break down easily and won’t compact. That way it will last for much longer, and I save money.
3. Retain Water
Naturally, you want your potting soil to hold water. This is great for the plants because they need water to be released to them as needed.
However, if your potting soil won’t hold water, then your plants will not get water as they need. That is something you should keep an eye on when choosing or creating your potting soil.
4. Add Nutrients to My Plants
Obviously, plants get nutrients from the soil. If you create your own potting soil, then you need to create one that will provide these necessary nutrients.
Even so, be sure whatever soil you create or purchase, will give the nutrients your plants desire.
What You’ll Need:
- Measuring cup
- Large Mixing Container
- Water (Jug or Water Hose)
- A Sieve
- A Container to Presoak Peat
- Potting Soil Ingredients
1. Coir Peat or Peat Moss
It is clearly a renewable resource. However, if you just prefer peat moss it will do the same thing.
Then you’ll need 1 part vermiculite. This is a natural volcanic mineral that has expanded because of heat. They do this because it increases its ability to contain water.
Also, vermiculite is great at providing necessary minerals for your plants. It can also hold minerals for your plants as well.
4. Worm Castings
Finally, you’ll need ½ cup to 1 cup of worm castings. If you worm farm, then these should be readily available.
If not, then you can purchase them. Also, you can use humus from the bottom of your compost pile.
Either way, you’ll want to include this part in your potting mix because it helps retain moisture in your potting soil. It is a great food source for plants and contains microbes that are beneficial to most plants.
Plus, it protects from toxic metals and toxic chemicals that can be found in some soil. It also helps create the desired texture for a potting soil as well.
1. Presoak the Peat
You will want to begin by placing the coir peat or peat moss in a larger container to soak. Be sure to soak it in warm water. You usually take the amount of peat you have and divide it in half to determine how much water you need to rehydrate.
However, once you have loosened the rehydrated peat with your trowel and are satisfied with the consistency of it, then you are ready to move on to the next step.
2. Mix the Peat and Vermiculite
Then you’ll need to mix equal parts peat with vermiculite. If you are not able to purchase vermiculite, coarse sand could be used in its place.
3. Add Compost to the Mix
Next, you’ll need to sieve your compost. Then you’ll need to sieve your worm castings. Once you’ve completed that, you’ll need to take these items and combine them with other nutrients that you might want to add to your potting soil.
Then you’ll add it to the peat and vermiculite to round out your potting soil mix.
4. Check the Acidity
Then you’ll need a pH meter and measure the acidity of the potting mix. You’ll want the acidity to be between 6.0 and 7.0.
If you are having issues with balancing your soil, this should help give you some ideas on how to deal with that.
5. Keep Moist and Store
Finally, you’ll want to ensure that your potting mix is moist. Then you’ll store it with a lid to ensure it stays moist.
Then you’ll want to recheck the soil’s pH within a few days. You are looking for a soil pH that is neutral (around 7.0) or a little acidic (around 6.5). When you are ready to use your potting soil just add any last-minute minerals you might want.
Plus, you’ll want to add some slow release fertilizers as well.
Finally, add water to moisten the mix and begin planting.