Homemade potting soil

I have noticed that several people here talk about mixing their own potting soil. I am planting some sprouted peach seeds so I thought I would give it a try with what I had on hand. I would like to know if I am going the right direction. I mixed equal parts , garden soil, cow manure and some aged almost rotten grass clippings and mixed them in a tub. It seemed to be light when I got it mixed up. I put the pots in shallow trays and watered from the bottom. I thought it might help not compact the potting mix.

1 Like

Garden soil doesn’t really belong in pots. The particle size of soil is too small and leads to having a huge perched water table in the pot.

Most potting mixes have peat as their base material. Nursery mixes are often based on bark since it’s cheaper than peat, and has better long term stability. I like a mix of 5 parts bark, 2 parts peat, 1 part perlite, 1 part Turface MVP. It makes a nice light mixture with plenty of room for roots to roam. BTW I sift the bark so it’s bigger than 1/8", and less than 1/2"

I did put some elm bark in the bottom of the pot to allow for drainage. I guess I just feel like you need some dirt, probably a mistake, it just seems like there needs to be some kind of soil to hold stuff together. Maybe next time I should just leave it out. I made 15 gallons so, I guess j could just add more cow manure and grass clippings, I could also put some bark in it.

After some disastrous seasons using different nursery potting soil mixes, I pot up trees in mostly plain soil I dig out of the ground. Seems to hold nutrients much better and I get the best growth. The down side is your pots weigh a ton.

Thanks for the opinion. I have twenty opted so far and half are in my potting mix , 7 are in commercial potting mix, and three are in sand. I sure welcome suggestions, and I will try and post my results.

Might want to google up “gritty mix” and go from there.

I usually use something like what smatthew puts together.Next year I’m going to try what I learned at a propagating conference,that a nursery does.50% Coir-40% Peat moss-10% Rice hulls (I may substitute Perlite or Pumice,if the hulls are unavailable). Brady

Sounds like a good mix, I also use pine bark fines, peat, perlite, compost at a 5 1 1 1 ratio.

I prefer aged cow manure like you used in your mix to almost anything. We are really talking about price as well. I’m not a fan of wood chips in the soil because they steal nitrogen from the plant. Eveeyone uses woodchips but i dont. I keep my wood chips on top of the soil. The way I incorporate wood chips in soil is in the form of biochar for certain plants. To make biochar put the wood chips inside a metal can and burn material outside the can. When the contents of the can are burned in the abscense of oxygen you have biochar. We have tried growing plants in special medium and found it does make a difference but its on a per case basis. The argument for regular soil is founded because it does not dry out as fast. For starting plants such as cuttings I use sand or perlite/ vermiculite because its loose and cuttings develop roots faster that way.

Peaches seem to like ash in my experience if you have some add it to a pot or two. I’m curious how these things will grow for you. We started peaches in pure ash when I was a kid. My moms peaches would get 2-3 feet tall that first year. She was growing seedling peaches from an old wild strain lost to time now. I never saw a disease of any kind on her peaches and she did not spray them. She bought a store bought peach tree growing right beside them and it died of leaf curl and canker.

1 Like

I use rotted wood chips . I add slow release fertilizer and soil moist crystals . Got the chips free from the tree trimmers . After 3 years perfect potting soil .

1 Like

I grow my bonsai in, and my potted nursery trees (after germinating) into a mix of 1 part sifted pine bark mulch, and 1 part Grani-Grit.

You will water more frequently with this mix. But it admits more air.

I will top dress some of the pots with ash after the peaches come up and see if it seems to help.

1 Like

I grow a lot of containerized trees. I’ve found I get the best trees using a root pruning container system. I use Rootmaker but there are other root pruning container systems out there. One reason I do this is because it is easy to get circling or j-hooking roots in containers. Trees seem fine when young, but unless you prune these roots by hand before field planting, they can cause issues down the road and pruning by hand sets back the tree quite a bit and you get that year of sleep then creep and finally leap in the third year. The root pruning container system solves this.

This kind of system really needs a very well drained mix. I use Promix in small RM 18 propagation containers but mix it 50/50 by volume with mini pine bark nuggets from Lowes for my second and third stage containers. This makes for an even better drained medium. Not only is a chunky mix like this well drained, it also provides a lot of space for the branching root system to fill. The way a root pruning container system works is that the tap root is air pruned in the propagation container forcing a lot of upstream branching making secondary and tertiary roots. Transplanting to larger containers in stages continues to prune forming a dense root ball. There needs to be space in the container to accommodate this.

I plan to put them in the ground as soon as frost has ended this spring and then graft them the next year. I am not sure how big they will grow by then , I hope they won’t have filled the pot with roots and I can just set them out .

The black ash is better than the grey ash. My grandparents and parents through the pits in an old tractor tire and dumped the ash on top. I suspect the lye in the ash helped the pit to open. I’ve grown apple similarly. You’ve come across an old camp fire and you know where the greenest grass grows. They burn grass in the flint hills of Kansas every year for that reason.

I will sure give it a try, I have plenty of ash. I used it on the Atlantic giant pumpkin I grew a summer before last. I was working on an unrelated project this weekend and I had a tub of water with a couple buckets of ash in it. When I was done with it I dumped it out. All of the fine ash washed away in the water but there was a pile of course grey ash about the consistency of sand. Maybe that would make a nice potting soil additive and not be as strong as the fine ash.

1 Like