Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern Coasts
August, 2000
Regional Report

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Containers filled with home made potting soil.

A Potting Soil of my Own

I make my own potting soil - it's true and I admit it. There's never been a bag to suit me, so I concoct soil blends from this basic recipe: 2 parts peat-based potting soil to 1 part compost to 1 part ground bark (either a soil conditioner or mulch-size particle, depending on the plant). I make up a wheelbarrow full, then top it with an inch of sand and a sprinkling of garden lime plus a pint of a balanced granular fertilizer, usually a 5-10-10 formula. I use this mix for nearly everything I grow.

Special Considerations

Not all plants are treated equally. For succulents and cacti, I add more sand and use the coarser bark. For big pots of houseplants, I add more bark to keep it light enough to move the pots. If the pots will stay outdoors all year, I add an inch of manure to the wheelbarrow and a dusting of cottonseed meal for a fertilizer worms love.

Repotting and Planting

Mid August turns out to be a great time for me to repot and propagate my container garden plants. Fall tomatoes are planted, but it's still too hot to plant broccoli and divide perennials, so I've got time on my hands. The cereus collection and two citrus trees a friend grew from seed must be repotted - they're toppling over. While those plants need bigger pots, I can simply maintain other plants in their current pots by pruning their roots and tops and replacing their soil.

There's plenty of growing season yet for the Cuban oregano, hardy begonia, and spider plants. Several are overgrown by one half, so I cut back and repot the mother plants and stick the cuttings in small pots to create new plants. No added humidity is necessary this time of year. Just take a 4- to 6-inch cutting, remove the bottom leaves, and in no time it's a rooted plant.

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