When it comes to mixing your own potting soil there are many different ways to combine the various raw materials to achieve the right type of potting soil for your plants. The best mixtures of potting soil usually involve combining organic mediums for good drainage, water retention, and plant nutrition. The compost materials that you choose should be capable of producing a light and fluffy potting soil.
Peat moss is a commonly used material included in most commercial potting soils. Its ability to retain water while still allowing proper air circulation to the plant roots makes peat moss a highly used material for most potting soils. There are a multitude of substitutes for peat moss, though. Cow manure, once dried, resembles peat moss and its attributes. This makes it another widely used organic base for potting soil. Decomposed tree bark and wood chips, sawdust-from untreated wood, and leaf mold are also great Eco-friendly ingredients to achieve the same desired results for a good soil medium.
There are different additives that are beneficial to the health of your plants. Perlite, an amorphous volcanic glass, is used for the adequate drainage of water necessary for the prevention of rot in plant roots. Sand is also used for drainage, and for plants that require a dryer soil. Vermiculite is a mineral that will aid in water retention, but an organic vermicompost is also a good replacement. Vermicompost, also known as humus, is a nutrient-rich fertilizer made from organic matter decomposed by earthworms. Limestone, and slow-release nutrients, such as Osmocote, are sometimes added into potting soil to balance out the soils PH.
When making your potting soil, sterilizing the soil will aid in the prevention of weed growth, unwanted fungi, and diseases. Heating the soil to 180 degrees for 15 minutes is sufficient enough to guarantee that your soil will be clear of these troublesome issues. When mixing your potting soil the amount of each material you choose to use should be done with care. A good balance of material is needed to nurture your plants to their fullest, and to make sure that they thrive. Decipher if they need a more acidic, dry, or moist soil and adjust your ingredients accordingly.
A good combination for mixing your potting soil would be to mix 8 quarts of your soil medium or peat moss, 1 quart of vermiculite, and 1 quart of perlite. This will produce a basic all purpose soil mix for many plant varieties. For plants that require a dryer soil mix, such as cactus plants, the materials should be adjusted by mixing 2 parts of your garden loam medium, 1 part of coarse sand, and 1 part cow manure.
Making your own potting soil is a cost effective way to insure your plants receive the nutrients that they need.