Many cost conscious home gardeners and do-it-yourselfers are often looking for cheaper ways of growing plants for home and garden use. One way to achieve this may be by making homemade potting media rather than purchasing pre-made materials at garden centers and home supply stores. Although purchasing the base ingredients and developing your own mix may not result in a cheaper mix, it does offer the opportunity to be creative and to modify mixes for specific goals or plants that you feel would make a media better for your situation. The following information will provide you with a basic understanding of potting media ingredients and steps for making a homemade media from scratch.
Potting media, which has a coarser texture than garden soil, is commonly used in container gardens and in trays for sowing seeds. Ingredients recommended for potting media have changed over the years as research conducted by professional horticulturists has identified components that are beneficial for sowing seeds and plant growth. Before the mid-1900's, soil-based potting media was commonly used; however, in recent years, peat-based soilless mixes have become more popular. Many ingredients are now available to gardeners who choose to create a homemade potting media instead of buying one from a retailer.
In general, standard media recipes are created based on the types of plants being grown (ex. bedding plants, potted plants, or for seed germination). A standard recipe for a homemade soilless mix consists of half sphagnum peat moss and half perlite or vermiculite. To mix bushel basket or four gallons of media:
Now that you have a better knowledge of the basic components and a recipe for making homemade media, you can adjust and change your mix as you see fit for your needs and situations. Keep in mind that not all bulk materials are created equal. If you choose to use a locally available source of compost or other alternative materials in your mix, you should then be aware of their nutrient contents and cleanliness. Both factors will affect the success of your plants and experimenting may result in media you consider better than commercially available media, or it may result in poor plant health and death. As the mixer and designer, you are also the one responsible for the results. Good luck and good planting.
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