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Homemade Potting Soil

May 18th, 2011

I grow a lot of things in containers each year and if I bought potting soil I’d spend a small fortune. So I make my own every spring. I also like knowing exactly what’s in it so I don’t have to worry about chemicals and other weirdness.

Mixing up your own potting soil is actually very quick and easy if you keep the ingredients on hand. I always have a stash of peat moss and vermiculite so I can mix up a batch whenever I need it.

I won’t write an entire post explaining how I make my own potting soil. I filmed a video explaining the process. Head on over to the Your Day Blog to watch the video on how to mix up your own potting soil.

Do you grow a lot of plants in containers?

20 Comments to “Homemade Potting Soil”
  1. Jaye Whitney on May 18, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Yes I do grow a lot of plants in containers! I didn’t realize how easy it was to make your own potting soil and I’m going to give it a try! Thanks for the tips and the video was perfect too :) I’m going to see if the fertilizer is available in this area too.

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  2. Amy @ Homestead Revival on May 18, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I’m using some soil blockers for the first time this year on part of my seedlings and I have been gathering ingredients to make my own potting soil for these blocks to stay together. Also, I’ve been reading “Gardening When It Counts” by Steve Solomon and he talks a lot about the right soil so all this “dirty” talk is very interesting to me right now. In the past, I’ve used Dr. Earth products as well and I’ve been pleased, but can’t wait to see how this other works.

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  3. Leanne on May 18, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I stopped using peat moss and now use a locally made compost. If you google peat moss you will find a wealth of info about how the harvesting of it from Canada’s northern boreal forest peat bogs is doing massive and irreparable damage to the environment. I believe as earth loving gardeners we need to find better alternatives than to have our yards looking gorgeous at the expense of somewhere else. Something to think about at least.

    Reply to Leanne's comment

    • Susy on May 18, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      I’ve read up on both sides of the peat moss issue and haven’t decided yet which to side with. I use peat moss sparingly.

      I find the GMO and big ag to be more of an environmental issue in my book at the moment and am doing all I can to avoid these problems and raise awareness of them. I guess we all have our soapboxes.

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  4. goatpod2 on May 18, 2011 at 10:20 am

    We grow some plants in containers.


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  5. Melanie G on May 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I definitely need to get organized like this so that I’m ready to mix up potting mix when I need it!

    I read recently that peat moss is a non-renewable resource, but I haven’t been able to find out much more about that. Is that true? What exactly is peat moss?

    Reply to Melanie G's comment

  6. Christina on May 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Melanie, peat moss is pre-petroleum – it’s the decaying, carbon-sequestering layer underneath the active moss. (It wouldn’t become petroleum for millions of years of subsidence and pressure though!) The peat “bricks” harvested for traditional fires in Ireland take thousands of years to develop. Coir – coconut husk – is considered a sustainable alternative, though obviously both come to the USA from foreign sources so sustainability is a relative measurement! And I’ve seen a redwood fiber product as well.

    We can get bulk potting soil from our local waste transfer station; I’ve seen it when I’ve gone for a truckload of our municipal compost. It’s got to be much cheaper than the individual bags, for someone who needs a lot to fill raised beds, etc.

    Reply to Christina's comment

    • Susy on May 18, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      Make sure you check in to what is in the municipal “compost” as many places use sewage sludge which has a lot of things in it you don’t want in your garden!

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Melanie G on May 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you, Christina and Susy! I appreciate your research :-)

      Reply to Melanie G's comment

  7. Daedre Craig on May 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I tend to avoid containers because they require a lot more attention in terms of watering. In addition, you usually want to use something light like potting soil in containers and I don’t like buying potting mix (and I had bad results the one time I tried making my own). I’d rather use garden soil, but it is too heavy in containers.

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

    • Susy on May 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      Very true, they do make more work, but sometimes it’s necessary if you want to grow specific plants. The longer I garden the fewer containers I use!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Dirt Gently on May 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I started gardening last year on my apartment’s balconies, so all of my growing is done in containers.

    I had some mixed results using store-bought potting mix: the small planters that hung off my balconies did very well, but the stuff growing in the much larger planters that sat on the ground (2-3 cubic feet) seemed to be a little unhappy.

    This winter, I read up a bit on why that was so, and it turns out that tending plants containers definitely isn’t at all like taking care of plants in the ground: the way water, nutrition, and air move through container soil and the way it evolves over time is completely different. Some say that commercial potting mixes don’t seem to acknowledge that. I’ll blog more about this soon.

    Reply to Dirt Gently's comment

  9. Sincerely, Emily on May 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I like the video. I do have some things in containers/pots. Basil – because when ever I put it in the ground the bugs eat it. Geraniums, bromeliads, spider/air plants are all in container/pots. And then there is the section off the deck I call the mini-nursery were I have several things I am starting from seeds or things that have already started that are getting transferring into larger pots before they go in the ground. Being able to make my own potting soil makes a huge difference. Emily

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  10. Estelle on May 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    My recipe is 50% Organic Mechanics dirt, 50% compost, and some Dr. Earth fertilizer. It’s awesome and I grow a lot of plants in it! I mix it all in wheelbarrow (a tip from the Container Vegetable Gardening Bible from Edward C. Smith, this makes the job super easy!

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  11. Marilyn on May 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I have 90 percent of my garden in containers. My neighbors tree roots have taken over my backyard; plus I have a huge cement slap in the backyard. Anyway, my sucess rate has been great as it has been a trial and error this last couple of years(started gardening in 2007). Right now I’m harvesting crook-neck squash and hopefully this week my first cumcumbers. I have couple of acorn squash and cantaloupe comng along really good.

    As for my potting mix I have find that composting, fert, and coir along with the dirt in backyard makes the best mix. The compost really is the basis and I really have to pay attention which plants I’m planting so that I can adjust the potting soil to the plant.

    Reply to Marilyn's comment

  12. Karen on July 26, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Um, I don’t have my own website, so I just put in Gmail… not, that I have anything to do with them, other than obsessively checking my email! ;-) Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for these tips. I have become interested in making a balcony garden recently, having become inspired by the community gardens in Berlin, where I live: I have always bought potting soil at the garden shop, which is fine, but I like the idea of making my own, as it were. Thanks again!

    Reply to Karen's comment

  13. joy on May 30, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Was interested in your video so i clicked the link on how to make potting soil but it brought me to a racing gear online store. Just thought u would like to know.

    Reply to joy's comment

    • Susy on June 4, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Yep the company was started by Mechanix and they have since quit producing the glove.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Amanda on March 23, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Do you have the video that we could still watch?

    Reply to Amanda'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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