Here's what you need:
- Peat Moss (natural & organic soil conditioner that regulates moisture and air around plant roots)
- Vermiculite (Improves water and nutrient holding, prevents soil compaction, neutral pH)
- Compost (High in organic matter and therefore supports friendly microoganisms)
- Perlite (Improves drainage & aeration)
- 5-gallon bucket
- Wheelbarrow to mix in
- Manure & humus (Loaded in nutrients and helps soil retain water)
- Mushroom compost (Improves clay & sandy soil)
- Sand (Lightens soil and improves texture)
- Wood Ash or lime (Helps improve soil structure & root development, high in calcium. Raises soil pH)
- Rotted leaves or rotted sawdust (untreated wood only) if you have any on hand
- Blood meal (for nitrogen)
- Bone meal (for phosphorus)
- Kelp Meal (Chock-full of nutrients)
- Topsoil (why not throw in an extra bag if you have it already lying around?)
While it's feasible to use a large pot, I'm going to mix my soil in a wheelbarrow. Not only is it bigger to mix in, but then I can just wheel it around to where I want to spread my dirt.
- Mix one part peat moss, vermiculite and compost. The easiest way is just to grab a bucket and throw one bucket of each part into your mixing container.
- Next, I added a half bucket of perlite.
- Add a little water and give it a good stir with a shovel
- Now it's time to add a scoop of your fertilizer. Obviously chicken poop would be great right now but I don't have any so I'll have to settle for some store bought fertilizer.
- And because I'm not a perfectionist, I went ahead and added a scoop of wood ash, blood meal and sand. Then I added 1/2 cup of lime.
- Last, I threw in my manure/humus mixture, the best leaf mold I could scrap up from the garden and some compost, both bagged and natural. I even threw in a handful of sawdust, though not rotted, will break down in the pot. I stumbled across a bag of mushroom compost which I threw in a bucket of as well.
All these products are relatively cheap in small bags, and since you are adding so many ingredients, you don't need the larger bags unless you plan on making a ton of soil! And keep in mind, all the ingredients have several uses so what I don't use now will get repurposed down the road. Take the sand for example, what I don't use goes right into the kids turtle sand box. The bag of lime I bought will be useful for the next couple of years, a little goes a long way. So the total price here doesn't exactly reflect what it cost to fill my boxes, in reality, it costs a lot less.
Humus & Manure
3 cubit feet
8 dry quarts
1 cubit foot
.5 cubit foot
.75 cubit feet
The bottom line? I had to triple my own recipe to fill my box. But I prefer making soil in smaller batches. After thoroughly mixing my dirt and shifting through it, I was so pleased I decided to make my own. Both the quantity and quality exceeded my expectations, much better and cheaper than the store bought version.
How about you? Ever made your own soil? If not, are you ready to try?