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Homemade Potting Soil

May 19th, 2009

I had a productive day in the garden yesterday. I moved one of my compost bin and harvested and sifted a bunch of compost to use in my homemade potting mix. I have so many potted plants that I would spend a fortune if I bought potting mix for all of my pots. I also like that I can mix up my own organic mix with no chemicals, unlike much of what you buy.

So what recipe do I use for my own homemade potting mix?
1 part peat moss (or coconut coir if you don’t like using peat)
1 part compost
1 part soil
1 part vermiculite or perlite (I prefer vermiculite)
I’m usually making a big batch so I measure with wheelbarrow loads, but you may find it easier to measure in 2 gallons because you can mix a batch in the wheel barrow.

I usually add some of my homemade rock/mineral fertilizer to give it some goodness for the plants. If you don’t have your own mixed up you can use an organic fertilizer in each pot depending on what you’re planting in each pot and the size of the pot (I like Dr Earth Fertilizers). If you use the 2 gallon method for measuring to each batch you can add: 1/2 cup of each: lime, greensand, rock phosphate, kelp meal, soybean meal (I usually use blood meal & bone meal in place of soybean & kelp meal).

What kind of potting soil do you use? store bought or do you mix your own?

13 Comments to “Homemade Potting Soil”
  1. Helen at Toronto Gardens on May 19, 2009 at 7:38 am

    I admire your dedication — sifting the compost alone is a job and a half. I purchased a compost sifter many years ago and think I used it once. Instead, any uncomposted material that’s small enough to fall between the tines of a garden fork goes right onto the garden. Anything larger goes back into the compost for next time.

    Potting soil might need to be finer for cosmetic reasons, but I’m afraid I cheat for my few pots and purchase commercial soil mix (ProMix if I can get it). However, I do tend to reuse the soil in my pots from year to year, and top it up with compost. See above.

    Reply to Helen at Toronto Gardens's comment

  2. Chicago Mike on May 19, 2009 at 8:30 am

    I am not sure what I am using. This coming weekend I have to fill the pots and get my herbs in. I don’t have that many pots though. I am tempted to use bagged potting soil (organic) but I do seem to always run short and scam some from the garden for the easier to grow stuff.

    Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

  3. David in Kansas on May 19, 2009 at 10:28 am

    This post makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    Up to this season, I have bought all of my garden soil and you are right, it has cost me a small fortune. I began making compost (or is it I am allowing compost to happen?)

    I have promised myself that next year I am not buying any garden soil and instead I am making my own. I made the soil for the square-foot-gardening beds according to Mel’s formula and that’s what I will again –minus the peat (will use coir instead)

    Reply to David in Kansas's comment

    • Susy on May 19, 2009 at 1:56 pm

      You’ll be impressed with how great it is! My homemade potting mix is much better than the store bought kind. I have to say, I save a bundle making my own. And I love knowing exactly what’s in it!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. warren on May 19, 2009 at 10:55 am

    We have always bought it but we started a compost pile last year and may try to use it some in combination with other stuff that we buy…I don’t know for sure…

    Reply to warren's comment

  5. Dan on May 19, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    I regrettably buy potting soil all the time. I really do plan on mixing my own but it never seems to happen. I always buy 4 cubic feet at a time though so it doesn’t cost a ransom. One of these days I’d like to find a large storage container so I can start mixing my own.

    Dan’s last blog post.. Solanum Post

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  6. Mangochild on May 20, 2009 at 5:25 am

    Thanks for the recipe! I used regular potting soil this year, but I want to try mixing my own combo for the fall plantings. Like Dan though, storage space is a bit of an issue, so I’d have to figure out a way around that. Ideas? But the cost of the potting soil, yipes. Its enough to make me ready to *find* a way.

    Mangochild’s last blog post.. Tuesdays Independence Days – starting anew

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    • Susy on May 20, 2009 at 8:41 am

      You can mix in small batches and store in a large rubbermaid containers. You can use 2 gallons of each (I use a gallon vinegar jug that I cut the bottom off) and then mix in the ammendments. It’s easy to mix in a wheel barrow or on a piece of cement with a shovel, although I’m sure mixing it in a big plastic container wouldn’t be difficult.

      You can store it outside in containers, along with everything else. The vermiculite you’ll need to store in a plastic container if you store it outside.

      I would suggest finding a local farm supply store and calling them about vermiculite. I get a great deal on mine from my local store, I pay $11 for 4 cu. ft.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Wanda on February 6, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I just found your site after looking at Renee’sgardenseeds. It looks so interesting and helpful. I have neglected gardening and am planning to get back to it this spring after a couple really busy years. I’ll look forward to following your blog.
    .-= Wanda´s last blog ..Snow, Snow: Creamy Rice Pudding =-.

    Reply to Wanda's comment

  8. […] save money in any way I can, so I use material I can find in my local area (like all those rocks), mix my own potting mix, make compost, collect leaves, and pretty much anything that will help save me money when it comes […]

    Reply to Propagating Perennials with Stem Cuttings | Chiot’s Run's comment

  9. Growing Ginger as a Houseplant | Chiot's Run on July 26, 2010 at 4:47 am

    […] likely won’t start. Soak the ginger overnight in water. Fill a large pot, at least 12″, with good potting soil and place the rhizomes on top of the soil with the buds facing down. Press the rhizomes gently into […]

    Reply to Growing Ginger as a Houseplant | Chiot’s Run's comment

  10. Ohio Earth Food | Chiot's Run on March 13, 2011 at 6:41 am

    […] potting soil to try. I used their potting soil for a planter of lettuce I started last week. I like my home mix better, so I’ll keep making it. I may have a few more things to buy so I’ll probably be heading back […]

    Reply to Ohio Earth Food | Chiot’s Run's comment

  11. Homemade Potting Soil « The Healthy Beehive on December 9, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    […] got the potting soil “recipe” here.  Just like I can control what goes into my body by choosing the ingredients in the food I eat, I […]

    Reply to Homemade Potting Soil « The Healthy Beehive's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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