DIY potting soil mix is so simple to make and so much easier on the budget. I start so many seeds, plant so many containers and create more plants from cuttings that buying ready made potting soil in bags is just way too expensive. So I make my own and I show you how easy potting soil is to make.
DIY potting soil mix is the only way to go if you start seeds, propagate with cuttings or have a ton of containers to fill with potting soil. The mix I have found that does the best is the easiest.
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Why homemade DIY Potting Soil Mix
I go through a lot of potting mix and buying in bags gets expensive. This DIY potting soil mix is just more budget friendly and eliminating all those plastic bags has got to be better for the environment. Plus it is more convenient having the components readily at hand for many garden jobs not just potting soil.
I get bulk composted material from either a local organic turkey farm or a local family that has horses and piles of well aged (3 yrs) horse manure that is pure black compost. We get about a cubic yard each year, which is comparable to about half of a full size pick up bed full.
I wish I could say I make enough compost myself each year to not have to go get some but the reality is I do not. I need about 10 times the amount I am able to create for myself. And I compost everything I can.
Basic Ingredients of Soilless Potting Mix
My basic ingredients are:
Peat Moss (if you have concerns over the ecological effects of using peat moss see this article)
Perlite (I buy perlite in large bulk bag, you will see it in the video)
Optional: Worm Castings
Vermiculite (see note at the end of this post)
Ratio of DIY Potting Soil Ingredients
I don’t measure exactly but I try to have approximately equal amount of all three components as you see in the photo below. So if I have one cup of compost, I mix in one cup of peat moss and then one cup of perlite.
You can add the worm castings too, half as much as the rest of the ingredients, ie: 1 cup compost, 1 cup peat moss, 1 cup perlite, 1/2 cup worm castings. Worm castings are a very good way to add nutrients to your mix. They are gentle and safe enough for seedlings.
Be careful with measuring and pouring the perlite, it can create a dust that is not healthy to breathe but if you are very deliberate and slow it will keep the dust down.
Many like to use sharp sand in place of perlite but the downside of that is it create a lot more weight and that makes larger containers heavy and hard to move around.
Gently stir your mix together in your container. If doing a large batch for a raised bed many like to use a wheel barrow and shovel.
If you feel the mix is too loose then adjust the amount of perlite. Too heavy, adjust the amount of compost.
The perlite keeps the soil loose and free draining. The peat moss brings a moisture retentive quality. And the compost brings some nutrients and structure.
Here I am just using my trowel as I am mixing up a batch for my seedlings I am potting up. The mix is loose enough to scoop up what I need in the little pots.
Your plants will love the mix. It is moisture retentive, loose draining and will let them grow on to be big beautiful plants.
If you want to add a specific organic slow release fertilizer when using in containers you can add it as you plant those containers.
That way you can use a fertilizer suited for the plants you are potting into the containers. For example plants you would incorporate feed for acid loving plants, vegetables like tomatoes, and flowers.
You can even use this mix in raised beds.
DIY Potting Soil for Houseplants
Many houseplants have different needs as far as soil. Adjust as necessary. My Christmas Cactus get so top heavy they need either a heavy pot or a heavier weight mix.
Why not Vermiculite instead of Perlite
Vermiculite is many times used instead of perlite but the downside of vermiculite is it can easily compact which reduces it capacity to hold water and air.
I will try vermiculite again for the moisture retentive nature instead of peat moss and see what happens. I have been having a hard time finding peat moss that isn’t supplemented with synthetic fertilizer lately.
You can experiment for yourself but this mix will give you a baseline to work from. I am always experimenting too and I may find another mix I like better. But I will always update to keep you apprised.