DIY – How to Make Your Own Potting Soil

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DIY - How to Make Your Own Potting Soil

I whipped up a batch of homemade potting soil earlier today and decided to post my favorite recipe in case you didn’t see it the first time around I published it last year.

 Happy Gardening everyone!!

If you plan on growing anything in pots this year, potting soil is absolutely essential.  Garden soil is just too heavy when growing in pots.  The thing is, pre-made bagged potting soil is crazy expensive, and since this year, I plan on growing quite a few things in containers, I decided to make my own.

how to make potting soil recipe

Here are the ingredients you’ll Need:

  • Peat Moss
  • Vermiculite
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer {if you use it}
  • A Mask for your face {this is optional, but I don’t want to breath any of the mix in, especially since I will be using chicken poo as my fertilizer}
  • A wheelbarrow or large pot to mix your potting soil

watering can potting soil DIY

The basic recipe is easy peasy.  Mix one part each of the peat moss, vermiculite, and compost.  I’m not a big fan of store bought fertilizer, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the chickens’ job, so I’ll be collecting my compost from the floor of the chicken run.  This will eliminate the need to use fertilizer.

It’s easiest if you just grab a bucket and throw one bucket of each ingredient into your mixing container.  Add a little water and stir it around with gloved hands or a shovel.

Then, just grab your containers and filled them with potting soil.  If you are using a commercial fertilizer, fill your pots half way, add a scoop of fertilizer and mix it in.  Fill your container the rest of the way, repeat the fertilizer step, and voila, you’re done.

DIY Potting soil recipe

That’s it!  Now all I have to do is plant the veggies and wait for some homegrown goodness.

Let’s get this party started!

~Mavis

The New Self-Sufficient Gardener

Looking for a great gardening book? Check out The New Self-Sufficient Gardener By John Seymour. It’s loaded with all sorts of goodness.

 

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Comments

  1. Have you tried using coconut coir instead of the peat moss?

    • I’ve used coco coir instead of the peat moss and it worked. Down South it helped keep a little moisture in the soil, too. Well, in fairness, I’m sure the vermiculite helped, too.

      Good luck.

  2. This is our first year doing this and we don’t have compost; what else could we use?

    • Hi Melanie,

      If you don’t have compost you could try adding leaves from last fall. You’ll want to mulch them if possible or crunch them up by hand.

  3. Hi Mavis,

    I just love your blog! Thank you for all your hard work.

    What vegetables will you plant in containers?

    • Hi Nancy, I’m working on them right now and will be writing about it in the next day or two once I get them planted.

  4. For large batches of make your own potting soil. I dump the 3 ingredients on a large tarp and then pull up the corners one by one to mix it all together.

    If you donn’t have compost you can purchase a few bags at the nursery.

  5. Do you use your chicken compost straight from the coop clean out or do you let it sit and truly compost for a while before using? I think I have access to some chicken clean out and was just wondering. Thanks!

  6. Anybody know why she is not adding Perlite?
    I have heard rumors of abestos in Perlite,
    is this a true warning or hogwash?

    • Erin Kerbs says:

      There isn’t asbestos in perlite or vermiculite. One time, several years ago, some vermiculite from one mine had traces of asbestos in it. That mine was promptly closed and there hasn’t been a problem since. Vermiculite holds water better than perlite, as per the Sqare Foot Garden book by Mel Bartholomew. This mix of potting soil, minus the fertilizer, is Mel’s Mix from the book.

  7. I was wondering about the chicken manure too. We tried to use some from the coop last year and lost our whole bed of plants. I’ve heard it’s too acidic and needs to sit in compost for a year before using.

  8. I have the same tip as Sara. Use coir instead of peat. Here’s an excellent case for coir. http://www.sproutingoff.com/the-case-against-peat-moss/

  9. girl with dirty nails says:

    Hi, since there are pine shavings in the compost that haven’t broken down completely, you will need to add nitrogen to the mix or the plants won’t do well. The shavings will use up all of the nitrogen available in their composting process. I think you need to let your compost “cook” longer before using it. It should be uniformly dark and crumbly and have no bad smell.

  10. Where did you get your vermiculite? I went to home depot and they said they only carry the small bags.

  11. So excited about this post! Ordered my vermiculite and peat moss from wilco as they are out. Must have had a run on these since your post. =]

  12. Yes, we don’t have chickens, but use “horse goodness” which we age in the compost pile for 5 – 6 months before using. Don’t know if it really needs that long, that’s just how we roll. : )

  13. Thanks for the recipe. Do you have any idea how much cheaper this is than potting soil?

    My husband complains every year about the cost of the potting soil.

    Thanks

  14. can I use cow dung instead of chicken poop

  15. christy gerhardt says:

    i, too, have sworn off peat moss since it is non-sustainable. coir is a fabulous substitute…plus my seed store sells it in 15 pound blocks for a song. i mix in vermiculite and granulated pumice stone. i also raise red wiggler worms in indoor worm bins…and the final product of vermicompost is the best fertilizer since sliced bread (will not burn in the least). not so much for the n-p-k, which is low, but for the beneficial microbes it contains. i leave it out of my seed starting mix, then add a little to transplants. the worm compost tea, made with an aquarium pump bubbling oxygen in a five gallon bucket, is phenomenal.

    • Hi Christy,

      I’ve never heard of using coir. What is it and about how much does it cost? I’m not a really good singer, so I’ll probably will have to pay cash. Is this something I’ll have to search hard to find?

  16. richele in iowa says:

    Thanks for reposting the recipe today, I was planning on searching your blog for it later anyway! Question:::: Is that you in the Lactaid commercial that is running on T.V.? If it isn’t, she sure is your look-alike. BTW, I love seeing and hearing about Lucy! You really crack me up sometimes with your dealings with her, we can definitely tell you are a first time dog owner. My husband runs a Petco store here, so we are animal lovers. Keep up the good work!

  17. Yes, please do consider using coconut coir instead of peat moss, as peat moss is not a renewable resource. I, too, use vermicompost and find it very effective! Glad to read that the vermiculite is O.K. to use. But it is still good to wear a mask when mixing the ingredients, before adding water.

  18. Would this mix work for growing potatoes in my potato growing bags? I don’t know what else to use but potting soil but know potatoes grow most anywhere so potting soil seems like overkill…

  19. Charles Sifers says:

    You’re on to a decent potting mix, but you need to add lime to balance the acidity of the peat moss. Better to use coconut coir, since it is a neutral pH. You should also consider using some Epson’s salts in the mix, as the ingredients you listed are typically low in magnesium. If your plants turn yellow and have purple veins, it is likely that they are magnesium deficient.
    All manures (animal or green) should be fully composted before adding to potting mixes. This applies to uncomposted leaves or pine needles. Uncomposted animal manures will burn plants, and uncomposted green manures will use what ever nitrogen is available.
    A handy tool to have is a pH meter. Cheap meters are available for $15-20 at most hardware stores.
    Don’t guess about pH of potting mix. Nutrient availability id dependent upon pH, and will quickly stunt or kill plants. Correcting the pH after your plants show distress, means you’ll lose the time it takes for the plants to recover, and they may never fully grow out of the initial offense.

  20. This may be a silly question, but when you change the potting soil in the pots, what do you do with the old soil? Do you compost it?
    Thank you!

  21. I’m using coir instead of peat too, and liking it a lot – it re-wets much better than peat. In the long run coir is not sustainable ether, given the long distance transport for most of us, so I’m working on turning leaves into leaf mold (which is a slow process taking several years) to replace both peat and coir.

  22. Jeff Zinn says:

    Mavis, have you any response about coir versus peat moss?

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