Simple Homemade Potting Soil Recipes

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Photo of homemade potting soil Keeping it simple, coconut coir and perlite

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Making Homemade Potting Soil

There are many reasons for a gardener choosing to make their own potting mix. Be it price, convenience or a desire to control what goes into the potting medium seeds are grown in, you will find making your own potting mix is not difficult at all. They can be as simple or complex as you wish, most ingredients are readily available either online or in most garden centers.

There are hundreds of recipes for the making of homemade potting soil or mixes so there is plenty of scope for those who enjoy experimenting to develop a recipe that works best for the type and size of plants they are growing.

For those that are not interested in experimenting with different recipes then it is a simple matter of sticking to those that are tried and proven. This page deals mainly with the simple mixes that have been proven over the years and these are excellent for growing vegetable seeds and seedlings.

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Homemade Potting Soil Recipes

Simplicity is the secret to a good potting mix, keep it simple and ensure the potting mix is going to supply the 4 basic requirements, aeration, water, nutrients and support and young vegetable seedlings will thrive.

There are only two types of potting mix that we need to concern ourselves with when growing vegetable seedling.

  • Seed starting mix
  • Potting on mix [Note]

Seed Starting Mix

Every seed comes with a packed lunch that is used during the germination and early growth stage and will last until the seedling develops enough to start processing nutrients for itself.

While nutrients aren’t necessary in a seed starting or germination mix they are often included to simplify the task of seed raising. The traditional method of starting seeds in a tray to be “pricked out” later when they develop their first true leaves is not always the best method in all situations. If starting seeds in seed cells or other individual seed pot types it is often necessary to include nutrients from the very start.

The recipe below is for starting seeds, it is also the base for other homemade potting soil that can be used in raising vegetable seeds and seedlings.

A seed starting mixtures is very basic and only need to contain;

  • 1 part Sphagnum peat moss or coconut coir fiber
  • 1 part Perlite or vermiculite
  • Water to moisten

Photo of perlite and vermiculite for seed starting mix

Photo Right - Some gardeners like to add both perlite and vermiculite to their potting mix. While both do a similar job there is a slight difference in properties. My preference is to use only perlite for growing vegetable seedlings.
Mouse over image to enlarge.

Photo of potting mix half sphagnum peat and half coconut coir

Photo Left - The beauty of making your own potting mix is you can do whatever takes your fancy, this mix is half sphagnum peat and half coconut coir fiber. The coconut coir used was half fine pith and half coarse. Check out coconut coir fiber for more on this great potting mix base material.
Mouse over image to enlarge.

Potting On Mix

A potting on mix is different from a seed starting mix in that, after “pricking out” [Note] , or once the seedling has produced its first set of true leaves the young seedling will require nutrients. This mix, that includes plant nutrients, is also appropriate when starting seeds in pot types where the seeds will grow continuously in untill it is time for transplanting.

  • 1 part Sphagnum peat moss or coconut coir fiber
  • 1 part Perlite or vermiculite
  • 10 percent vermicompost (worm castings) [Note]
  • Water to moisten

Second Potting On Mix Recipe

If the seedlings are going to be re potted again before transplanting to the garden do so with a fresh batch of the same potting mix as above with a weekly addition of liquid fish fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the recommended dose for young plants. Or for an alternative recipe that adds a little more bulk to the mix use the recipe below.

  • 1 part Sphagnum peat moss or coconut coir fiber
  • 1 part Perlite or vermiculite
  • 10 percent vermicompost (worm castings)
  • 1/2 part fine sifted good quality aged compost [Note]
  • Water to moisten

Simplicity is the key; these homemade potting soil recipes are time tested and proven for growing strong, robust vegetable seedlings in minimum time and with little fuss.

For slideshow on making homemade potting mixes follow the links below.

Homemade seed starting soil using sphagnum peat moss

Homemade seed starting mix using coconut coir fiber

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More Information

The nutrients in worm castings are in a water soluble form, making them immediately available to plants. Vermicompost will not burn even the most delicate plant roots so it is safe to use in all garden and nursery situations.

Pricking out seedlings, or thinning out, is the term used for the first potting or transplanting of young seedling that are grown in seed trays, flats or any container that the seeds aren’t individually planted.

For more details follow this link to Pricking Out Seedlings

A potting on mix is used to re-pot seedlings when they are ready for pricking out.

Good compost is excellent for seedlings but poor compost can be fatal.

Ensure the compost has been properly made in a pile that has reached the correct temperature for destroying plant pathogens, unwanted weed seeds and pests.

If in doubt don’t use it, seedling confined to pots and seed cells are far more susceptible to these problems than older plants in other situations.

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