How To Make Your Own Inexpensive Potting Mix
Raised beds and container planting is growing in popularity fast. Mainly because this is a great way to grow a lot in a minimal space and without needing to dig up a big patch of yard. Typically a good sized garden is at least 12' x 12'. Not everyone has the room for this or can handle the physical labor it takes to cut it, till it, remove all the rocks, shape it into rows and then let's not forget the maintenance. On the other hand, container gardening can also get pretty expensive. You have to purchase all that dirt to fill those containers. Potting with dirt from your yard is not recommended because it is heavy and dense, it will compact in the pot and minimize the oxygen to the roots.
I have two large gardens, but also wanted to try the raised bed method as well as plant in some pots. So , knowing that buying all that potting mix was going to be expensive, I set out to find an alternative. I came across a "recipe" online, but when I priced everything it called for, I might as well have just purchased Miracle Grow mix. Instead, I made my own recipe and , well as you can see below... it works AMAZING.
Here is why it works:
- The mix is considered "soil free" , soil free actually contains no dirt. It stays more loose and let's your roots breath!
- The mix is light and allows water to reach the roots, using less water and making sure they get enough
- ⅓ of the mix is compost, that means it is super nutrient rich
- There is no rocks or debris hindering root growth
- Root vegetables THRIVE in this mix because it is free of rocks/debris
- Sphagnum Peat Moss - gives structure
- Vermiculite (Or Perlite) - lightens the mix, careful when opening this bag it is light, airy and kinda dusty
- Compost , this can be your own or purchased - gives nutrients
What to do :
- Figure out how many pots or beds you are doing and use this Calculator to help you , having more on hand is ok so there is no need to try to get it down to the exact.
- Get a container or tote large enough to fit the 3 ingredients so that you can mix them well
- Search for the best deal! I bought ALL my ingredients online on Amazon because the selection is amazing and it was a lot less expensive, even with shipping. I am an Amazon Prime member so I receive FREE 2 day Shipping on some items.
- Mix All the ingredients . The ratio is simple- Equal parts. So one cup of each for a small pot or 1 cubic ft bag of each for more
- Loosely fill your containers , plant according to seed packets or use transplants.
Note * This soil free mix is loose, you will not be able to transplant once in the container, so make sure you are using this for their permanent home.
You can plant ANYTHING in this mix, just make sure your container size is big enough for your plant type. For example : an Eggplant will need an 18" container, I did use a 12" and a one gallon for a few of mine. They are smaller plants producing less but have grown great.
Frugal Tip - Go to your local Dollar type store and purchase the round dorm sized laundry baskets for $1. Line with plastic trash bag, poke holes in the bottom. Instant plant container! I used 4 of these.
My total cost for enough soil free mix for 12 containers and a 4 x 4 x 6' deep raised bed was under $20.
I would have needed 8 bags of Miracle Grow at $ 8 ea. (minimum) = $64