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Jun 4, 2020 8:43 AM CST
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Does anyone have a good potting mix recipe? I have seen several versions on Youtube but none of them use real soil. They all use mostly peat moss, coir, compost and perlite, some fertilizer and lime. Is there a reason top soil and or garden soil not used in a mix? If you use garden or top soil in your mix, what percentage of it do you blend in?
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Jun 4, 2020 9:13 AM CST
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: Alabama
I think the main reasons most mixes avoid real soil is due to the drainage and disease and insect problems when they are placed in pots. I feel that a little garden soil is OK, I use some in my mixes and have so far had no problem, but it is a very small amount I use in the mix. When I dig some of my compost for the mix, I make an effort to always get some of the soil mixed in with it, often in an attempt to catch some of the worms. The soil added in my mix replaces the sand actually recommended. I don't think I would add garden soil if it was clay, but I have very little clay soil anywhere on my property. Fine pine bark is the main ingredient of my mix and I love it. I buy it by the pickup truck load. How much compost and soil I mix in just depends on exactly what I am doing with the mix, for just potting up daylilies it probably varies from 75 to 90 percent fine pine bark.
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Jun 4, 2020 12:20 PM CST
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
Potting mix... what are you going to use the potting mix for? Just want to be clear. If you are talking about for starting seeds, as Larry mentioned, I'd be careful about using soil from any source that hasn't been sterilized. I regularly lose brassicas due to damping off and not sterilizing the soil is one of the largest issues. If you sterilize the soil, I don't see why you couldn't use some top/garden soil in the mix.

If you are talking potting mix for planters, I make my own. If the container already has soil in it from previous season, I'll dump it into a wheel barrow and add compost from my pile, or compost that I've bought for the season, or typically a little of both. That's the mix I use. I don't really add any soil.

I'll mention this warning. I was trying to be more sustainable and use coconut coir as an ingredient in my seed starting/potting up mix. First year I lost a ton of plants and someone suggested the coir had too much salt in it. I tried to buy a meter but it came DOA. I rinsed the coir this last season four or five times then used it as an ingredient, and I still lost a lot of plants. I am going to swear off coir, though it was the same coir that I used the previous year. If someone has had good luck with coir, I'd like to hear about it and the brand that you used.
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
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Jun 6, 2020 5:31 PM CST
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Seedfork said:I think the main reasons most mixes avoid real soil is due to the drainage and disease and insect problems when they are placed in pots. I feel that a little garden soil is OK, I use some in my mixes and have so far had no problem, but it is a very small amount I use in the mix. When I dig some of my compost for the mix, I make an effort to always get some of the soil mixed in with it, often in an attempt to catch some of the worms. The soil added in my mix replaces the sand actually recommended. I don't think I would add garden soil if it was clay, but I have very little clay soil anywhere on my property. Fine pine bark is the main ingredient of my mix and I love it. I buy it by the pickup truck load. How much compost and soil I mix in just depends on exactly what I am doing with the mix, for just potting up daylilies it probably varies from 75 to 90 percent fine pine bark.


Thanks Larry! I did not realize that you use such a high percentage of fine pine bark for potted daylilies. Do they do well? It is difficult for me to grasp that plants grow well in a medium with such low soil content. I am trying to overcome this bias.
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Jun 6, 2020 5:37 PM CST
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
thommesM said:Potting mix... what are you going to use the potting mix for? Just want to be clear. If you are talking about for starting seeds, as Larry mentioned, I'd be careful about using soil from any source that hasn't been sterilized. I regularly lose brassicas due to damping off and not sterilizing the soil is one of the largest issues. If you sterilize the soil, I don't see why you couldn't use some top/garden soil in the mix.

If you are talking potting mix for planters, I make my own. If the container already has soil in it from previous season, I'll dump it into a wheel barrow and add compost from my pile, or compost that I've bought for the season, or typically a little of both. That's the mix I use. I don't really add any soil.

I'll mention this warning. I was trying to be more sustainable and use coconut coir as an ingredient in my seed starting/potting up mix. First year I lost a ton of plants and someone suggested the coir had too much salt in it. I tried to buy a meter but it came DOA. I rinsed the coir this last season four or five times then used it as an ingredient, and I still lost a lot of plants. I am going to swear off coir, though it was the same coir that I used the previous year. If someone has had good luck with coir, I'd like to hear about it and the brand that you used.


Thomas, thanks very much for the response! I am planning to use the potting mix to grow vegetables, fruit trees(figs and raspberries) and various types of plant transplants from divisions. I agree with you about coconut coir. THey are not good for seeds starting. I had terrible results with it too. I stop using coir because it is too expensive compared to peat moss.
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Jun 6, 2020 9:38 PM CST
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: Alabama
So far the potted plants have done well for me. Much better than when I used actual garden soil as a large percentage of the fill in the pot. I think with potted daylilies good drainage is very important, but just be careful not to let the pots dry out. That is why I have my pots double potted and buried in a trench, or have mulch mounded up around the pots.
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Jun 7, 2020 6:28 AM CST
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
I just added container gardening to my gardening efforts. Last year was year one, but THANKS to some groundhogs, I didn't have a garden last year. I pretty much used straight up compost, a mixture of leaf mulch that I bought and compost generated from my garden. This year I added more containers. I'm trying a zoo brew compost from a local supplier. Not to thrilled with it yet. The first order had a lot of wood chips in it. The second wasn't aged! The pile read 140 after the compost was dumped. Very worried about planting in it, but so far the plants seem to be ok with it.

I've grown raspberries since I bought the house. I brought in a 'topsoil' and planted the raspberries in a raised bed with that. I do top with compost at least every other year, and mulch. Other than that, raspberries are pretty happy.

I have been reading/watching videos about the importance of adding soil to pots/containers. I added some clayish soil to the mix that I used to fill all my felt bags this year to make sure that the minerals are available to the plants. As far as my raised beds for veggies, I stopped digging 10-15 years ago. I just top off the beds in the spring with whatever compost is available in the spring. Going to change that to the fall, though. When I dig to plant, the life that's in the soil just amazes me.
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Last edited by thommesM Jun 7, 2020 9:52 AM Icon for preview
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Jun 7, 2020 8:02 AM CST
Name: Sally
central Maryland (Zone 7b)
Let's all play ukulele
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I only add real soil when I am potting tree seedlings or perennials that gew in real soil, and that I am leaving outside, usually 'sunk' in the garden.
Plant it and they will come.
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