Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Homemade Potting Soil Mix

It's nearly time to start sowing seeds for your spring gardens. Of course you can buy commercial potting soil mixes, but read the label carefully. Do you want chemically enhanced soil? Watch for Miracle Grow and other "helpful" additives.

Mixing potting soil at home is easy and economical. It takes a few basic ingredients and a dish pan to mix it in. I usually start with compost from my bins, but alas, it's frozen solid. Instead, I purchased a 40 lb bag of ordinary potting soil without any additives. This should cost about $5.

For my seed starting mix, I use equal parts of soil, peat moss and horticultural vermiculite. This mix is light enough for seeds to germinate. If I need to transplant healthy seedlings into larger containers, my transplant mix contains equal parts of soil, peat moss and Turface for drainage.

If you can afford it, choose coir rather than peat moss because coir is far more sustainable than raiding the peat bogs. Horticultural vermiculite is available at garden centers. I buy it in super large bags, but it's also available in smaller amounts.

Turface is tiny bits of clay used for drainage on golf courses and athletic fields. It's sold at landscape suppliers for about $12 per 40 lb bag. (I learned about Turface from the bonsai community.)  If you can't find Turface, you can substitute chicken grit for drainage, which is easily available at farm stores. The baby grit is quite fine and can get dusty; granny grit is slightly larger. Caution: even a small bag of grit is very heavy.

Now go play in the dirt!

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