The fundamental element of gardening is soil. When it comes to growing healthy plants and herbs, choosing the right soil is always a good start. It's vital for root growth.
Not all soils are created equal, as they all have different components. Each gardener has their own method for ensuring their plants thrive. Fragile and unproductive plants demand more upkeep and are prone to all kinds of pest issues, hence it's vital to provide the best care for your plants.
Making your own potting mix guarantees that your plant gets the right nutrients it needs. Below are a few ideas on how to get started.
What is Potting Mix?
Before I present to you how to make potting mix, let's discuss what precisely it is. Potting mix doesn't comprise real soil; it's a mix of soilless ingredients used to grow plants. It can be used for many categories of plants, and can be used for rooting cuttings, or growing a patio container - potting mix is perfect for home-growing containerized plants.
If you're interested in learning the difference between potting mix and potting soil, we have an article on just that topic.
All high-quality potting mixes, including store-bought and homemade, have a few things in common:
- They provide excellent drainage compared to average soil.
- They are more lightweight than regular garden soil.
- They are super easy to manage and deliver consistent results.
Using commercial potting mix, you can create various DIY potting mix blends, each with different densities, textures, nutritional values and water-holding capacities to tick all the boxes when it comes to your plants' treatment.
Potting mix is usually sold by volume, and most pots are quantified by their diameter.
Basic Potting Mix Ingredients
So, what's the perfect mix? It depends on a few factors. Most gardeners agree that a pot should be lightweight and drain consistently, while still being able to retain moisture in dry and hot climates.
Lighter, loose mixtures make a container easy to move. You'll need the container to have a proper drainage system that allows the fertilizer, air and water to move quickly and efficiently, which is essential for container gardening.
Start by mixing with the basic ingredients and add soil sulfur to lower the pH level, or lime to increase the pH level to suit your plants. Mix a small amount in a plastic bin or bucket, a medium-sized batch in a wheelbarrow and a large load on a flat, solid surface. Use a shovel or your hands to do the mixing until you have a consistent texture. Keep your potting mix inside plastic bins or bags.
For a classic mix, you can try mixing 1 part of each: peat moss, vermiculite, perlite and compost. This mix works for most outdoor potted plants, plus perennials and annuals. You may also add a balanced and slow-release organic fertilizer to your potting mix.
If your objective is to save money - it's a great idea to do your own potting mix on a large scale. Selecting and carefully choosing the right ingredients for your potting mix will assist in the successful growth of your plants.