You need quality potting soil if you want to grow healthy plants in hanging baskets and containers.
To save money, you can learn how to do this at home using a simple formula. Keep reading to find out how to create potting soil for your home garden. (h/t to OldWorldGardenFarms.com)
Getting started with potting soil
A plant’s root system will thrive below the surface if you use quality soil. And when roots thrive, so will your plant.
But what makes potting soil great?
Potting soil needs to be light, with loose, well-draining soil with lots of nutrients.
These will help plants grow strong and produce flowers or fruit. Simply put, the more energy in the soil, the healthier your plants.
While you can save time by purchasing commercial bagged mixes available available at garden centers everywhere, you can also save money and keep your garden organic by making your own potting soil mix.
Knowing how to make potting soil is important if you grow produce for your own consumption or if you sell it for extra income. Making your own potting soil means you know what is in the soil used to grow your fruits and vegetables.
5 Natural ingredients for homemade potting soil
To make potting soil at home, you need five simple ingredients.
According to Jim and Mary from Old World Garden Farms, their five-ingredient potting mix is the most effective out of all the different kinds of mixes that they have tried using at their farm over the last dozen years.
This peatless potting soil mix will help keep your hanging baskets and potted plants thriving all summer.
To create the soil, use a mix of pulverized topsoil, which you can buy in bags or bulk, compost, perlite, worm castings and spent coffee grounds.
The ratios of each ingredient are discussed in the next section, along with an exact description of each and how it works to nourish your plants.
You can create the mix in any quantity you need, so you can make enough for only one hanging basket or a lot of baskets. Just make sure you keep the ratio of each ingredient for the recipe the same.
If you are going to mix a lot of potting soil, use a large bowl or bucket, then add each ingredient one at a time into a wheelbarrow at the proper ratios.
This method is easier if you have back issues and can help prevent any pain or strain. A wheelbarrow’s height also makes it easy to mix the soil with your hands, a small trowel, or a shovel.
With a big wheelbarrow, it’s also easy to fill baskets or pots directly with your mix.
When selecting baskets and pots, remember a larger basket or pot will hold water better.
Typical hanging baskets are made of materials like coco fiber, plastic, or wire. They are available in diameters of eight to 24 inches.
Use materials like burlap, coco fiber, plastic, pressed paperboard, or sphagnum moss as liners for wire baskets.
When planting in a hanging basket, you shouldn’t overfill the basket. If it looks sparse during planting, it will eventually fill in as the plants grow bigger.
Usually, a 12″-14″ basket can accommodate three to six plants. A 16″-18″ basket can handle at least five to seven plants.
As you insert each plant into the basket, carefully press down the soil around its base to secure it.
Potting soil mix ratios and ingredients
Mixing potting soil isn’t as precise as baking so it’s fine if you are slightly off with a ratio of one or two ingredients. You just need to make sure that you stay as close as you can to the recipe to get a great mix.
Use the following ratios to make potting soil in the quantity you need:
- 4 Parts pulverized soil or topsoil
- 4 Parts compost
- 1 Part worm castings
- 1 Part perlite
- 1/2 Part spent coffee grounds
Pulverized Soil (4 parts)
A quality potting soil mix starts with pulverized topsoil.
You can buy pulverized topsoil in bulk or in bags and it is usually affordable. Make sure you get pulverized soil.
Pulverized topsoil is super-fine and crumbles easily when held.
Start with a fine soil mix and avoid garden soil, fill dirt, or other kinds of soil that are hard and will not break apart easily in your hand.
If you use soil that is too heavy, a plant’s root system will have a hard time expanding as it grows. Heavy soil also makes it hard for plant roots to absorb moisture or nutrients.
Compost (4 parts)
Compost is essential for great potting soil because it is full of life.
Good compost contains life-giving nutrients that plants can easily absorb through their root systems to grow strong. Compost also adds structure and holding power to the soil mix. (Related: Keep your garden soil healthy with crop rotation.)
In fact, compost holds as much as 10 times its own weight in water, so it can help keep your plants protected on hot days. Always use compost that is completely aged and not too coarse.
If you don’t make compost for your garden, you can also buy bagged compost.
Worm castings (1 quart)
Gardeners love worm castings because they are also important for potting soil added to hanging baskets and containers.
Worm castings are added to potting mix, and you can also use them as fertilizer for your container plants during the season.
Like compost and perlite, worm castings are lightweight and absorb water. Worm castings are great for potting mixes because they are a natural, slow-release fertilizer.
Even if you purchase a commercial bagged potting soil mix, adding worm castings will make a significant difference in the performance of your hanging plants.
Perlite (1 quart)
Perlite is a natural and organic substance and it helps make and keep the potting soil light and airy.
You need to add perlite to potting soil to help prevent the soil from compacting around plant roots.
Perlite is a pure volcanic glass that is then heated and popped like popcorn. This produces a substance that is very lightweight.
The open pores of perlite help potting soil with water retention and drainage.
Like compost, perlite can hold water several times its own weight. It keeps the finished mix much lighter than if you only use soil and compost.
Lastly, perlite has a pH of 7, which is perfectly neutral. This means it won’t affect your growing mix at all.
Coffee grounds (1/2 quart)
Spent coffee grounds are great for potting soil because they add nitrogen and other trace minerals to the mix.
Spent coffee grounds also help to hold moisture in, which helps stop the plants from drying out too quickly. As a bonus, used coffee grounds are free.
You need to use spent coffee grounds because fresh grounds are acidic. Fresh coffee grounds are more expensive if you use them in a potting soil mix, and using them will create more acidic soil.
Coffee grounds can also be added to the rest of your garden soil and flowerbeds.
Ensure a bountiful growing year by learning how to make your own potting soil mix for hanging baskets and containers.
Visit Homegardeningnews.com for more tips on how to keep plants in hanging baskets and containers healthy.
Watch the video below for helpful gardening tips for beginners.
This video is from the Deconstructing Conventional channel on Brighteon.com.
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