The Q&A Archives: Potting Soil Recipe

Question: I have just constructed a greenhouse for off-work pleasure. I am planning to start some plants from seed and others from cuttings and still others to buy and watch grow. I would appreciate any advice you may have in mixing my own potting soil, since I will be using it abundantly. Thank you in advance for your response. Shannon Tierney Dunn, NC

Answer: A soilless media is the best kind of media to use because it is sterile. Ingredients are generally peat moss, vermiculite and perlite with proportions depending on the type and/or size plant. Potting soil mixes will vary according to the job required. If germinating seeds, a fine-textured soil is required for good contact with the seed. For transplanting young seedlings, a coarser media with good drainage is preferrred. If growing succulents or plants that prefer a very well-drained soil, then a very coarse media with more roughage is required. Perlite or builders sand will improve drainage. Soils with a higher percentage of those materials would better drainage. Experiment with proportions until you find a media that works for you. Slow release fertilizers can be added if you wish to incorporate more nutrients. Some people wish to adjust the pH so they add lime since peat moss tends to be acidic. When working with peat moss, be sure to keep it slightly moist. It produces alot of dust and can be injurious to your health. Use a mask when working with dry peat moss until you have moistened it. Pour water right into the bag and work it with your hands until it holds its shape when squeezed together. It doesn't have to be soggy wet..just slightly moist.

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