Your choices are almost limitless when it comes to potting mix and soil options, but where do you start with making your own – and is it worth the hassle?
Otherwise known as potting soil, potting mix is the term we use to describe a medium that is used to grow plants, herbs and vegetables in a pot or any other container. The first recorded use of the term is from an 1861 issue of the American Agriculturist.
The aim of the game is to provide plants with a man made soil substitute similar to the earth they would traditionally call home in their natural environments. Potting mix is designed to:
- Physically hold plants upright in their container or pot
- Provide an aerated medium for roots to grow through in order to anchor plants or herbs in a stable position
- Absorb and retain water or plant food that roots can then take up
- Allow any excess moisture to drain away freely
- Supply food for plants via fertiliser included in the mix
However, not all potting mixes were made equally. It’s important for green thumbs to not default to the cheapest products in retail outlets, as these often have no texture, no structure and only minimal nutritional value. On top of that, they can also be highly acidic with little aeration qualities, and can also contain uncomposted wood shavings, or sawdust.
If we are what we eat, the same applies to our plants. Therefore, learning how to make your own organic composting mix can not only provide a means to recycle existing materials you may have at home, but you also know exactly what’s going into the soil too.
How To Make Your Own Potting Mix
The DIY approach to making your own potting mix or soil is actually far easier than most gardeners initially might think. Bonus points? It can also be cheaper too.
While the internet is home to many homemade potting mix solutions, the key ingredients are surprisingly simple. To mimic the good stuff found in high quality pre-packaged potting mix, all you need is the following, split into three equal parts.
Growing Medium – Topsoil or high quality garden soil sourced from a home or garden centre, which should ideally be pre-sterilised to remove weeds or disease. Gardeners can also use Loam soil, which is composed of almost equal amounts of sand and silt with a little less clay.
Moisture Retention – Use mature compost or sphagnum peat moss. The latter is harvested from bogs that have been drained, so the moss has dried and turned a light brown colour. Gardeners may need to lightly moisten this medium before mixing the potting soil.
Drainage – To add a drainage medium, gardeners can use perlite, vermiculite, or sand. Perlite is made by heating bits of a glasslike mineral until they expand into puffy, lightweight particles. It holds no water, aside from the little that clings to the surface of each particle.
Generally speaking, there are five common types of soil microbes found in the earth: bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. Each of these microbe types has a different role to play when it comes to boosting overall soil and plant health, but may be conspicuously absent in store bought potting mixes.
While synthetic or chemical fertilisers and other forms of plant food may include these nutrients, if they are in a ‘ready to go’ format, they can leak straight out of the soil without proper absorption and introduce chemicals into nearby waterways. If microbes and other healthy bacteria are present in the soil, they help to break down organic plant food. Organic fertiliser and bacteria should work together symbiotically to achieve the best results for your garden – but where do you find such products?
Improving The Health Of Your Soil Using Microbes And Bacteria
Do your plants – and yourself – a favour, and give them a head start by optimising your soil prior to planting. By adding a natural plant food like Biotic Booster, this will help your garden to:
- Provide essential nutrients and microbes
- Act as a liquid fertiliser to unlock your soil’s potential
- Drought proof your plants and lower water consumption
- Increase and speed up the germination process
- Assist in protecting your plants from pests and diseases
- Provide an organic solution that’s safe to use with herbs, fruit and veggies
If you’re ready to take the leap into improving the health of your plants while minimising the use of chemical based fertilisers this Winter, then it may be time to try plant foods and probiotics. Our Ultimate Garden Health Pack includes our Biotic Booster, FP-60 Probiotic Spray, RE-250 Soil Energiser garden products. In each concentrated bottle, millions of natural bacteria are waiting to find a new home in your garden.
Here at Bioweed, we specialise in environmentally friendly gardening products, including herbicides, plant food, garden probiotics, and natural alternatives to traditional gardening solutions. Should you have any questions about how to improve the sustainability of your garden or even what to plant in Winter, get in touch with us today.