The brown textured material in gardens is nothing but potting mixtures. Potting mix is used for its lightweight, weed-free properties and its ability to help plants thrive.
You must think to yourself, "Why not use the regular soil for your plants?". The answer is that there may be issues with the 'regular soil' that potting mix can fix. Allow us to explain.
What is potting mix?
It is a mixture of ingredients that promotes plant growth. There is no ideal formula for preparing the potting mix. Every gardener has their secret method of creating the potting mixture. However, certain features are common in all potting mixtures, such as; it should be lightweight and well-draining, it should allow for air circulation and contain enough organic matter to hold moisture through hot weather.
Can you make potting soil at home?
Next question; can we make our potting soil at home? The answer is ‘yes’! You don't have to purchase potting soil. Sure, you'll have to get your hands dirty. But it is more gratifying and worth the effort. A good potting mixture generally contains peat moss, compost and perlite. The other ingredients might include vermiculite, coconut coir and organic fertilizers. The mixture may vary according to its specific use. Every plant has unique requirements, some need more nutrition, others require more water and some may require fast-draining soil.
Let's look at the ingredients required to make your potting mixture at home:
Cocopeat is the coconut dust that comes off the husk of the coconut. It is available in the market and online in the form of a brick. If you are gardening at home, cocopeat can prove to be the lifeline for the plants. Cocopeat helps retain moisture for a long period and allows the roots to grow easily, which garden soil fails to do. Soak the coco peat in water before you add it to your mixture.
Perlite and vermiculite
These ingredients are used to improve the drainage of the potting mixture. Vermiculite is a better option for moisture-loving plants as it retains more moisture as compared to perlite.
Fertilizer is added to the mixture for improving the nutritional content required for plants to grow and produce vegetables, fruits or flowers. All plants require some level of nutrition to thrive. Adding compost every 40-50 days keeps your plants in a good shape.
Plants need more compost when they are at their growing stage. Here's a detailed guide on how to make organic compost at home.
Lastly, you require some regular topsoil soil for your potting mixture. You can find it in the gardens around you.
Not sure where to go get potting soil for your home garden? We have it all ready for you. Shop potting mixes and organic fertilizer now!
Mixing it up
Your potting mixture will depend on the type of plants/vegetables you are growing. However, the most common potting mixture ratio includes:
Garden Soil: 40%
Coco Peat: 30%
Organic Compost: 20%
Optional Ingredients (Perlite/Vermiculite) and Organic Pesticides like neem cake: 10%
The formula can change as per your experience and experimentation. Start preparing the mixture by keeping the garden soil in sun to allow the pests to die. This process is called the sterilization of soil. Once done, you can mix up the quantities of Garden Soil, Coco Peat and Compost as per their respective percentages stated above.
Mix the ingredients till it gets blended. Keep the mixture in a container for a few days to allow it to blend naturally. Ensure that the container has holes for aeration. However, keep it away from sunlight and rain.
Your end product should be lightweight, moisture-retaining, well-drained, fluffy, pesticide-free and nutritional.
How is potting soil different from garden soil?
To explain it in simple words, the perfect gardening soil is a planting medium that contains soil - the one found in the ground. Potting mix, on the other hand, is a mixture of ingredients that create a structure to support the growth of plants. Now think of a spectrum that is moving from plain dirt to rich nutrients, garden soil being on one end and potting mix on the other.
Why should you choose potting mix over garden soil?
- Great drainage: A good potting mix contains light ingredients that allow for proper drainage without making the roots waterlogged.
- Proper aeration: Peat moss in your potting mixture allows proper airflow and roots to spread across freely.
- Rich in nutrition: Potting mixture can provide proper nutrition to your plants by adding organic compost. You won't be left guessing, as with the garden soil.
- Customizable: Different plants have different needs, hence, your potting mixture can be customised. For instance, the potting mix may vary for succulents, roses, cacti, seed starting, growth stage, and beyond.
So as you stand in the centre of your gardens looking at your plants and wondering which soil to use, know this: whatever growing medium you choose, experimenting is the key. To keep your plants thriving, you will have to keep the supply of healthy potting mixture ongoing.