Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer—hooray! I am planting my garden TODAY… and happy to share my “recipe” for Homemade Potting Soil.
The main ingredient in my mix is compost; I’ve been a casual composter for years! We keep a tub for kitchen waste under the sink and also compost fall leaves and an occasional bagger of grass clippings. Even without tending and turning, I can count on an annual “harvest” of a few large buckets of compost!
Yes, composting means never having to feel guilty about tossing the fennel.
In addition to being good for the planet, making compost is good for your wallet. Especially if you turn it into homemade potting soil!
Besides the economics of potting soil, have you ever wondered what is really in those bags from your garden center? With some companies adding water retention agents and chemical fertilizers, I sure do. (I once bought bags of wood mulch that contained chopped up painted wood and pieces of metal—aack!). My other concern is getting one of those “heavy” mixes of potting soil that has made my plants do poorly…
Here is my recipe.
Homemade Potting Soil
- 2 parts compost
- 1 part peat moss or coir
- 1 part clean (like playground or horticultural) sand
- Eyeball the amount of each ingredient—no need to measure.
- Mix (in the planting container if you’d like)
Yes, I am the original lazy gardener.
Now I would be remiss if I didn’t cover the controversy around using peat moss versus coir in homemade potting soil. Peat is a product of old bogs and is sometimes not harvested unsustainably. Coir is a highly renewable coconut byproduct that many people are substituting for the traditional peat. For more discussion, see the Planet Natural Research Center
Because I bought a giant bag of peat moss years ago, I have been using that. It’s working great, but when it’s gone, I’m going to give coir a try. From my reading, I am optimistic that it will substitute well (If you try it, let me know).
Incidentally, the sand I’ve been using came from my kids’ old swing and slide playset area. Per Fine Gardening, “Playground sand ensures a loose mix. The same bag of sand used in kids’ sandboxes can improve the drainage in your containers, helping your plants thrive.” After a lot of safety research, we had put their set on sand, digging out a big area of soil, and bringing in a truckload of playground sand. When my kids became teens, we gave the playset away–and I rescued a lot of sand (stored in cleaned kitty litter buckets) for future gardening. Yes, cheap again.
As you see, homemade potting soil can be easy and economical. Right now five ingredient recipes are all the rage in cooking–does this count for gardening too ? Happy gardening!
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