DIY Potting Soil and Soil Blocking Mixes

Save money by making your own soil mixes at home.
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DIY Potting Soil and Soil Block Mix

DIY Potting Soil and Soil Block Mix

Photo by: Photo by Debbie Wolfe

Photo by Debbie Wolfe

You can make potting and soil block mixes easily with a handful of bulk ingredients.

When stores have made a lucrative business out of selling soil mixes for every specialty planting situation under the sun, why should you consider mixing your own? Mixing soil is inexpensive. It is easy. It doesn’t take much time. You can make small or large batches. Using the same ingredients in different ratios, you can radically change and customize the resulting blend as your projects require. By simply keeping a few bulk ingredients on hand, you will use them more efficiently and avoid having to keep track of many more bags of specialty soil mixes. In short, making you own gives you far greater flexibility and control.

The following recipes illustrate how the same ingredients may be used to make different mixes for different uses. The ingredients used here can be replaced with others if preferred, as long as the substitution fulfills the same role within the soil mix. For instance, peat moss is used for its fibrous texture: coir fiber or leaf mold would serve this purpose if preferred. Vermiculite is used to open the texture of the mix, but there is no reason that perlite or coarse sand wouldn’t work as well. Compost covers a wide range of options from composted manure, to mushroom compost, to your backyard homemade compost. Make these recipes your own.

Potting soil is a generic term, and this is a generic recipe. It is useful for indoor or outdoor potted plants that require average soil conditions. A “part” can be any size you wish. I have found gallon containers to be convenient, but if you go larger you may have to recalibrate the lime and fertilizer additions.

Potting Soil Recipe:

  • 1 part peat moss
  • 1 handful of powdered dolomitic lime
  • 1 part coarse vermiculite
  • 1 handful organic all purpose plant food
  • 2 parts compost

Soil blocking is a way to mold pot-less soil starter blocks out of high quality starter. It may seem reminiscent of compressed peat pellets, but this mix produces far superior results. If you are not interested in making the soil into blocks, the soil blocking mix works well in starter pots also.

Soil Block Mix Recipe:

  • 3 parts peat moss
  • 1 handful of powdered dolomitic lime
  • 2 parts coarse vermiculite
  • 3 cups of organic all purpose plant food
  • 1 part garden soil (right out of your garden, not the bought stuff)
  • 2 parts compost

A Note on Nutrients

Many organic gardeners swear by the benefits of compost and resist use of prepackaged fertilizers. When planting in the ground, copious amounts of compost, combined with cover cropping will turn out wonderful, high-quality results. In the restricted atmosphere of a long-term containerized planting, it is nearly impossible to obtain sufficient nutrient levels for plants to thrive using compost alone. Organic fertilizers can be incorporated in the soil mix or added to water for either soil or foliar application. Over the long term, a regular feeding schedule should be established to provide healthy conditions for containerized plants.

Cut your soil budget next season by mixing your own. Your plants will do well in your new homemade blend, and you will have another gardening success to notch in your trowel.

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