How to Make Potting Soil | Spring Garden Tasks
This February I’m sharing my secret recipe for garden success. I’m going to teach you how to make potting soil for your spring garden task. It’s easy and affordable. It’s one of those DIY projects where you immediately see the benefits of your time and effort. My favorite kind!
What is potting soil, anyway?
Glad you asked!
Potting mix is actually a soilless growth media used to start seeds, care for seedlings and houseplants. If it were actually ‘soil’ it would be contaminated with weed seed and other materials not useful to seedlings. I also use this mix to amend my raised garden beds. Potting mix is a combination of compost, coconut coir, perlite or vermiculite, and nutrient fertilizers. Let me explain the how to make potting soil and the function of each ingredient in the recipe.
- Compost is rich in organic matter and micronutrients derived from degraded organic material like kitchen and garden waste. It feeds your plants and seedlings essential nutrients. It is very important to purchase certified organic compost. Otherwise, you will not know what is in your compost, including herbicide residues that can kill off your plants.
- Coconut coir is added to potting mixes because it holds moisture while allowing for easy drainage. In the past, people used peat moss in their soil mixes, but it is not a renewable resource and much harm has come to peat bogs from over-harvesting. Coconut coir is easily renewable and functions well for its purpose.
- Perlite and Vermiculite are interchangeable ingredients in my potting mix recipe. They also help with moisture retention and drainage. These potting mix ingredients help with aeration to keep the mix from compacting in containers.
- Organic fertilizers are used in measured amounts to provide the perfect nutrition to your plants. In this recipe, I will give you measures for each separate fertilizer and an alternative measure for organic fertilizer mixes.
Here are my recommended choices for ingredients:
Spring Garden Task List
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First, get your workspace together by gathering up the tools and equipment you will need to make potting soil as your spring garden task. If its a nice day, work outside. If it’s not welcoming outdoors, you can easily do the DIY in your basement or garage. Pull together these items:
- A small tarp
- A 5-gallon work bucket
- Measuring cups marked ‘not for kitchen use’
- A garden sieve
- Garden gloves
- A hand trowel
Here are some suggestions for tools and equipment
Now to make the potting soil for your February garden task
First, you will need to soak the coconut coir in your 5-gallon work bucket. It won’t take long. Simply follow the directions on the packet. Do this before setting up your workstation. Then, when you are all set it will be hydrated and ready to mix.
Open the tarp on the floor/ground and pour into the center your compost, coir, vermiculite/perlite, and fertilizer in the following measure:
- 5 gallons compost
- 5 gallons coconut coir
- 2 gallons vermiculite/perlite (it is ok to estimate in the bucket)
- 2 cups of your fertilizer mix
Grabbing the corners of the tarp slowly pull up the sides to move the ingredients around until well mixed. Add a gallon of water slowly over the ingredients as you are mixing to hydrate your potting mix. Place your garden sieve over a large box or galvanized wash tub (old trash can, anything really) and work your mixture through to eliminate clumping. This is important because your seedlings won’t do well next to a big old clump of compost or coconut coir blocking its access to water.
The mix is now ready to use. You can store by folding it into the tarp and using as needed or shoveling into a large plastic container. If you are starting a lot of seed, go for the former option.
Large Batch Recipe
When we are growing for our farm share program, we go through LOTS of potting soil. And, as mentioned earlier, I actually amend my raised beds with this mix. Here is my large batch recipe that calls for measuring out specific fertilizers. It’s followed by recommendations for those fertilizer sources.
- 12 gallons coconut coir
- 12 gallons compost
- 5 gallons perlite/vermiculite
- 1.5 cups phosphorous
- 1 cup greensand
- 1.5 cups lime
- 2 cups nitrogen (blood meal)
These are the fertilizers I use
There are affiliate links in this post. I receive a small portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. If you purchase from these links, thanks! It helps buy the chicken feed! ?
Seed Starting PDF in the FREE Resource Library
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After writing this post, I decided to create a printable with my Farmer’s Guide to Supplies Needed to Start Seeds Like a Pro. You need this to get a headstart on your kitchen garden this February.
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