Many of you have started seeds indoors for your spring garden. As those seedlings grow, they will need to be transplanted into larger containers so they can grow strong and healthy in preparation for planting them outdoors in your garden as the weather warms up.
What is one key ingredient that you need to transplant your seedlings? SOIL! Good soil that is packed full of organic nutrients makes all the difference in the success of your transplants. I have learned over the years that this is one area you do NOT want to skimp on.
A high quality, bagged organic potting soil is well worth the money and convenience when you don’t have a lot of time. However, If you are transplanting a lot seedlings, or growing in containers, the expense of bagged soil can add up quickly. Why not make your own?
What are the benefits of DIY potting mix?
- inexpensive compared to buying bagged mixes
- quick to make
- convenience – make just the amount you need – in bulk or small batches
- control over ingredients – include organic, nutrients that suit your garden needs
- fun family project!
A basic potting mix will be light and airy (allows for easy germination of seeds and won’t become compacted), should hold water well (so you don’t have to water as often), and contain powerful nutrients (so you don’t have to fertilize as often).
There are many recipes for DIY potting mix. I like to keep my recipe basic and simple with just 5 ingredients:
- 1 part coco coir -more sustainable than peat moss, a by product from coconut processing industry, made from coconut husks.
- 1 part vermiculite – silvery colored particles that are made from volcanic material that helps with water retention.
- 2 parts compost – use your own or purchase a bagged organic mix.
- 1/2 cup worm castings – use your own or purchase bagged. I like Vermisterra worm castings, they are organic, aged castings, extremely high quality and nutrient dense. The microbial activity in worm castings are especially helpful to get your seedlings established. See “How to Use Worm Castings” blog post for specific benefits and receive a 10% discount when purchased through the above link.
- 1/2 cup organic fertilizer – my favorite is Trifecta +. It has both slow release nutrients (feeds your plants immediately), and slow release nutrients (feeds your plants over the growing season). See “My Favorite Organic Fertilizer” blog post for specific benefits, and receive a 10% discount when purchased through the above link.
To save time, I like to have all the supplies on hand stored together in a central location so I can whip up some potting mix on the spur of the moment. I also like to have a few large tubs or buckets to hydrate and mix my materials.
5 Steps to DIY Potting Mix
Step 1: hydrate the coco coir (it comes in a compressed block)
- Place it in a tub, cover it with the recommended amount of water.
- Watch it expand – fun with kids!
- Loosen and fluff with a hand cultivator or trowel.
- Add more water as needed until it is nice and loose.
- Take care not to add too much water, the coco coir shouldn’t be wet, just loosened.
- Mix well.
- Make a large amount or a small amount depending on your needs.
Step 3: Add compost
- Add 2 parts compost for every 1 part coco coir and vermiculite that you are using.
- A “part” can be anything you use to measure, i.e. a coffee can, a recycled plastic container, etc.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Add water a little bit at a time and mix as you go.
- Mixture should be the consistency of crumbly brownie mix.
- Amount may vary according to package directions. This is the amount I use with Vermisterra worm castings, and Trifecta +.
- Mix well.
Step 5: Add more water, if necessary
- Your potting mix should be completely pre-moistened at this point and be the consistency of crumbly brownie mix.
- A few drops of water should come out when you squeeze it in your hand.
- Too dry? Add more water.
- Too wet? Add more coco coir.
Quick, simple, inexpensive
Your DIY potting mix is now ready to use to transplant your seedlings, or fill your containers. You’ve just saved yourself a ton of money, and are providing your plants organic nutrients that will help them get off to a great start and will help them be healthy and productive.
Click to watch the video on my YouTube Channel: Planting Carrots in a Container with DIY Potting Mix, so you can see exactly what to do!
Comment below if you like to make your own potting mix. I’d love to hear what ingredients you like to include and hear all about your results.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – I make a small commission when you order through these links and its helps me keep the garden content coming!