Garden nirvana is within reach when you make your potting soil. Your herbs will be growing in your very own mixture and be better off for it. You will save money and have more control over what goes into your mix if you make it yourself.
Sure, you can buy bags of potting soil, but when you are talking about turning your entire garden into container gardens, that cost per bag can add up. Here is how to make your potting soil and save money in the process.
Despite its name, there is no soil in potting soil! True potting soil, or potting mix, is light and won't compact the way that regular dirt will. Remember, if you are gardening in a container then there is only a small amount of are for the roots to find the nutrients and room to grow that they need. So, potting soil has to be top quality for a good reason.
Make Your Potting Soil
To make your general-purpose potting soil, you need to combine organic and inorganic materials. For the organics, use composted material. You can use a worm bin to make the perfect blend of nutritious composted material for your mix.
Also add Coco fiber, known as Coir. This light stringy mixture has to be dampened to be manageable. It's dusty and as hard as a rock when you first purchase it. But it swells up to great proportions and makes a wonderful addition to the mix.
You can then add sand. It is best to use the builder's sand found at your local hardware store. This is clean and won't contain bugs or bug eggs.
Then, vermiculite is next. This keeps the air pockets in the potting soil and helps ensure a fluffy final product. However, don't leave this out or you will end up with a heavy soilless mixture that defeats the purpose.
Mix your ingredients evenly, 25 percent of each (no need to be precise, just a scoop of each as you go), and break up any clumps so you have a nice even mix.
You can mix your herb garden in a big wheelbarrow. You might be able to get a discount on the single ingredients at the store in the fall. Once you have it all mixed and ready, fill a bunch of seed trays and 1-gallon pots for next spring. If you don't have the room to store these, try storing your potting mix in 5-gallon buckets with lids. It's easy to stack them, and they can be left outside for the winter with no harm done as long as they are sealed.
If you want to add your nutrients to the mix, there are plenty of good things available. Try adding about 1/2 cup of each of these per 8 gallons of mix. This is a good starting point and won't make your potting soil too rich.
Some nice additives include the following::
- Dolomitic limestone
- Blood meal
- Dried kelp powder
- Crushed eggshells
Making your potting soil just makes cents and sense. Mix up an endless supply and always have a container available when the growing itch starts.