Homemade soil-less potting mix is an effective and cheaper alternative to the regular garden soil you’d buy at the store. In fact, it’s actually better than those other kinds of soil because it isn’t as heavy. When soil is too weighty, it ends up compacting and preventing air from circulating around the roots. This often causes plants to develop potentially fatal issues like stem rot. Besides that, garden soil tends to form a hard crust that seedlings are unable to pierce through. Generic soil also typically contains weed seeds, which is a nuisance within itself. Soil-less potting mix is an easy solution to counter these problems. Start with a few simple ingredients, and then alter the recipe to suit your needs.
– 2 gallons peat moss
– Bark chips (see step 1)
– Bucket or garbage can
– Vermiculite or perlite
– 4 tbs. ground limestone
– General purpose fertilizer
– Sifter with ½-inch wire mesh
1. Measure two gallons of peat moss into a large container such as a bucket or garbage can. Make sure that you thoroughly wash out whatever container you choose to use. Peat moss is inexpensive and available at most garden supply centers. If you’re growing blooming plants, we recommend that you substitute bark chips for half of the peat moss.
2. Mix in an equal amount of vermiculite or perlite. Either of these will work, since they’re both natural, lightweight substances that improve soil drainage. However, we find that vermiculite tends to become dense when handled roughly, so we prefer perlite. If you don’t like those options, you can also use sand. As long as it’s clean and coarse, it will also drain soil. Sand is the best potting medium for tall, top heavy plants as well as succulents.
3. Put four tablespoons of ground limestone into a separate bowl. While you don’t necessarily need limestone to concoct a soil-less potting mix, it is helpful for growing plants that stay in the same pot for long periods of time.
4. Add a small amount of general purpose fertilizer to the limestone at the rate suggested on the container. Then, mix them together well and blend the combined product into the potting mixture.
5. Sift the potting mixture through a screen with a ½-inch wire mesh. Once that’s done, moisten the mix before planting and you’re ready to go.