One of the best ways to save money and grow the best potted plants around is to make your own potting soil at home – and contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to include peat moss in the mix. In fact, as you will see with today’s potting soil recipe, you can make a far better potting soil without it!
There are hundreds of brands and varieties of potting soil available. Many include all types of added fertilizers, fungicides, and other additives that are far from organic. A lot of potting soil mixes also include peat moss, which as you will see below, isn’t exactly the most earth-friendly choice either.
But today’s article and corresponding podcast are all about bypassing those store-bought choices and peat moss – and instead making your own incredible organic and nutrient-filled potting mix at home – with just five basic ingredients!
As with all of our podcast and corresponding articles, you can listen in below to Jim & Mary’s take on making great potting soil at home, or read on for the entire article full length article. As always, all of our podcast, affiliate product links and resource links are provided at the end of each article.
Creating A Great Potting Soil Without Peat Moss
Peat moss has become quite the controversial garden topic in recent years. The light and spongy organic material has long been a mainstay in commercial and homemade potting soil mixes – and as a planting amendment for perennials, herbs, vegetable plants and more.
But although peat moss can help hold water, lighten heavy soils and add organic matter, the harvesting of it releases a tremendous amount of greenhouse gasses into the air. And when you add in that peat moss took millions of years to form in bogs, it’s not exactly easily renewable either.
So is it really possible to make a good potting soil mix without it? You bet it is! In fact, we’ve been using the peat-free mix featured today for many years on the farm, and actually prefer it over any commercial or peat-filled potting soil mix we’ve ever tried.
Not only is it easy to make and 100% natural, it can save big dollars on your gardening budget when you compare it to purchasing expensive commercial brands. But perhaps even more than that, you have the satisfaction of knowing what’s in your soil. And more importantly, knowing what’s not!
Avoiding “Special Ingredients” – How To Make The Best Potting Soil Mix Around!
Let’s face it, opening a bag of potting soil can sometimes make you wonder if there is any real “soil” in the mix at all. Some have moisture pellets that help retain water. Others boast that their special fertilizers can feed plants at twice the rate of regular potting soil.
But the simple fact is, there is simply no need for those non-organic ingredients. Especially when you can create incredibly powerful homemade potting soil from just a few basic all natural ingredients! We will get to the simple 5 ingredient recipe in a moment, but first, it’s important to know what a potting soil needs to contain to grow great plants.
What Should Be In A Great Potting Soil Mix
Great potting soil needs to have a few basic qualities and ingredients to be able to grow strong, healthy plants. For starters, it needs to be lightweight. This is extremely important when you are planting in containers and baskets, where heavy soil can easily cause baskets to fall or break apart the container.
Potting soil also needs to be able to retain moisture, but still be loose enough to drain away excess water. If it dries out too quick, you will be watering all the time. And if it doesn’t dry out enough, the plants can rot away quite easily.
Finally, great potting soil needs to have plenty of built-in nutrients to help feed plants for the long haul. Not only do they need to feed plants for months, they also have to be able to do it slowly. Too much power all at once, and plants will simply grow big and fizzle out long before summer has even hit full swing.
The Perfect Homemade Potting Soil Recipe
We have been tweaking with our potting soil recipe for years to come up with the “perfect” blend. We finally settled on this specific recipe a few years back, and has it ever consistently grown amazing plants!
It has been incredible for powering our flowers in pots, hanging baskets and containers. It also works equally well for the vegetables we grow in containers. The mix is lightweight, has great structure, and is filled with a host of natural, slow-release fertilizers.
Best of all, at the end of each growing season, we can add it right back into our compost pile. With a 100% organic make-up, there is no worry of saving the soil and recharging it as compost to use again. Just one more benefit of making your own potting soil right at home!
Along with our recipe below, we have included a short description of each ingredient and why it is included. The recipe can be scaled up or down to make as much or little potting soil as needed as long as you keep the ratios the same.
Old World Garden Homemade Potting Soil Recipe
- Compost – 6 cups
- Pulverized Top Soil – 6 cups
- Worm Castings – 2 cups
- Spent Coffee Grounds – 2 cups
- Perlite – 2 cups
Compost – (6 cups)
Compost is a must in creating great potting soil. Not only is it lightweight, it’s filled with an incredible balance of nutrients as well. Nutrients that are released slowly to the roots of plants over time.
Compost will also absorb and retain water in massive amounts. In fact, it can absorb 10 to 15 times its own weight in water! That absorbing power helps to create potting soil that doesn’t dry out too quickly.
Pulverized Soil (6 cups)
Pulverized top soil is simply loose dirt / soil. You can often find it bagged, or in bulk at mulch & soil stores. Whether you use bagged or bulk, it is important to make sure it is light and loose. Heavy, clumped soil will not make good potting soil.
Worm Castings (2 cups)
Quite simply, worm castings are one of the most crucial parts of this mix. They provide an incredible balance of slow-release nutrients to plants. All while keeping the soil lightweight and allowing it to absorb water more easily.
We use worm castings everywhere on our farm to power our plants. As a tea for liquid fertilizing. And, in their dry, natural state as a top dressing for potted plants and hanging baskets for natural fertilizing.
Coffee Grounds (2 cups)
Coffee grounds are one of the most powerful, humus-building organic ingredients around. And so readily and easily available!
Much like worm castings, they help to add all-important structure to potting soil. And they also contain a fair amount of trace nitrogen, which is extremely important for its fertilizing capabilities. It is important to use spent coffee grounds, not fresh coffee. Spent grounds have been washed of their acidity.
Perlite – (2 cups)
It its natural state, perlite is 100% all-natural volcanic glass. But when heated, it pops open almost like popcorn. But it has near magical powers when used as an ingredient in potting soil. Perlite not only helps to improve drainage, but keeps the soil mix light. And that popcorn-like substance also absorbs moisture, and a lot of it!
Like compost, perlite can keep moisture around the roots of potted plants, releasing it back out as the soil dries out. Perlite, with a neutral PH of 7, won’t affect the make-up of the potting soil. Just another reason it is the perfect soil-lightening additive!
Resource & Affiliate Product Links – How To Make The Best Potting Soil Mix Around!
4 Secrets To Make Great Compost!
4 Simple Secrets To Keep Your Hanging Baskets Flowering All Summer Long!
Fertilizing Potted Plants – How To Keep Container Plants Blooming Big All Summer!
Podcast Affiliate Product Links
Pure Worm Castings – 100% Castings
Bagged Compost – R&M Organics Premium Organic Compost
Simple Garden Life is a website dedicated to keeping gardening fun, simple and enjoyable! We publish two new articles each week along with a new garden podcast episode every two weeks. This article may contain affiliate links.