I am slowly adding new plants to my small container garden . This time around instead going the old way I wanted to try out some new ways of doing things. Hence I decided to say bye bye to garden soil and went for Soilless medium instead.
Unlike foreign countries, getting a commercial potting mix here is not an easy task and so i decided to make my own potting mix.
The raw materials I use for my potting mix are given below.
1. Coco Coir
Coco Coir is the dust that binds the coconut fibre and is also called coco pith. This was once a waste product but now is exported to many countries. I was able to find a company that exports this as Discs. I ordered some 10 discs from them. Its a compressed disc and on soaking in water becomes loose and fluffy. This increases Water retention and aeration. This is used as an alternative to depleting Peat moss.
2 . Vermiculite:
This is another miracle substance that improves the water holding capacity of the soil and is responsible for storing nutrients and releasing them slowly to the plants. Vermiculite is manufactured by heating a mineral very similar to mica to a very high temperature and it pops up into flakes like corn, resulting in a golden flaky substance. Vermiculite has to be handled gently in order to not compress those flakes.
Finding this in Bangalore, India was very difficult and all you get when you ask for this in a garden shop/nursery is a cold stare. But after a week of searching I found a company in panruti, Tamilnadu, who were kind enough to give me a free sample of 5Kg.
Perlite is another light weight substance, made by heating a volcanic glass to a high temperature which pops up to a porous substance that is very good in aeration and improves drainage. This makes an excellent medium to grow plants. Getting this in bangalore, india was very very very difficult and I almost gave up searching for it until there was one shop who was selling it for Rs 60 a Kg. Couple of Kgs was ok for my needs.
To the above three substances, I add well composted manure and some vermi compost.
I have been able start seeds well with this mixture.However, a mixture of the above three doesn’t have really any nutrients in them since coir, vermiculite and perlite all of them are inert. The nutrients supply is mainly from the compost. So a regular feeding of nutrients is necessary to get the plants growing.