How to make Organic Potting Mixture.

When you see a successfully grown vegetable garden, the first question you ask the owner is “What is your potting mix?” And some people share and some don’t. If you always wanted to make a best organic potting mix, look no further, this post is for you.

A good potting mix has the following characteristics.

  • Air porosity
  • Water/moisture retention.
  • Nutrition.
  • Support/Anchorage.
  • Fluffy and light weight.
  • Well draining.
  • Infection/pest free
  • Free from weed seeds

 

Common Ingredients in a good potting mix

Soil

Paying attention to the quality of the soil used for potting mixes will pay you in the long run. A good quality soil should be free from stones, lumps and should be rich in nutrients. Don’t take soil from construction sites.They will contain lots of rubbles and is never good for growing plants. For Indian context, nurseries will sell red soil/ good quality top soil. A good quality soil from your nearest garden centre should do.

Peat Moss:

Peat moss is the most common ingredient for soilless mixes because of its wide availability.However, In india the situation is quite opposite. It is not easily available and very expensive. Peat moss decomposes very slowly and holds large amounts of water; however, it has a high acidity. Lime is usually added to mixes to balance the pH.

Coco coir peat:

Coir, a by-product of the coconut fiber industry, looks like peat moss, but is granular and also has an optimum pH for growing plants. Coir typically is packaged as a compressed brick that will expand when mixed with water. It is important to note that coir may require less potassium and increased nitrogen supplementation. It retains the right amount of retention and air poro

Worm Castings/Vermicompost:

Vermicompost is the result of composting vegetable waste/food waste using earth worms, usually red wigglers, to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and worm cast. Vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. This process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting.

Bone meal:

Bone meal is a slaughter house waste. Bones are steamed pulverised and used as fertilizers for plants.They are rich in Calcium, phosphorus and trace elements. Some people are not comfortable using it because of the odour. In some places, blood, hoof and horn meal are also available. Each of them have a different nutrient profile.

Oil Cakes:

Oil cakes are the remains when the oil seeds are crushed/pressed to extract the oil from them. Because of the nutrient content they act as a good fertilizer.

Potting Mix Recipe

  • 1 part of good quality red soil/top soil
  • 1 part of cocopeat/peat moss
  • 1 part of compost (Vermicompost/manure)

 For every 15 litres of the above mix, add 200 grams of bone meal, and 200 grams of oil cake and 200 grams of wood ash. Thoroughly mix them. Once the mixture is uniformly mixed, put it in a sack or a big container , cover it and leave it for a good 3 weeks time. Ensure that the mix is little moist. It should not drip when you squeeze it in your palm. After 2-3 weeks, the potting mix is ready for use.

Modifications

  • For some plants, you might want a mix that is more draining.Add 1 part of perlite to it to increase the drainage.
  • You can also add coco husk chips to increase the air porosity in the mix. This is required for crops such as orchids, gerbera etc.
  • You may add additives like seaweed, humic acid and aminoacids, beneficial microbes, pressed mud etc to enrich the soil. 

 Another wonderful way of adding organic fertilizer to a plant is by watering them with compost tea. You might be wondering what is compost tea and how to make it. That’s for another post!

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18 Responses

  1. This is a great blog! I have been searching information to grow garden on my roof top(for Indian conditions) for weeks and got frustrated. Now I am getting answers for all my doubts regarding almost everything.Thank you ! Eagerly waiting for the ‘compost tea’ post.:)

  2. Hi GG,

    The soil that I bought is from a local nursery. That guy just mixed red soil and manure to it. But due to hot weather the soil is getting harder everyday. Would adding cocopeat help to keep the soil loose? Or is it better if I buy potting mix from stores? Please suggest.
    I am also trying to grow methi from seeds. So will this type of soil mix(the one that I am currently using) good for seed germination?

  3. Hello GG, I want to begin by saying that you are truely an inspiration for me and thank you for such amazing work! 🙂

    My question here is: but just a little background first. I am a newbie at gardening living in Boston. We have short growing season from approximately may to Oct. Also I am doing container gardening on my small patio. I wanted to just start with few containers and do a herb garden to begin with but then it went way beyond that and I am doing lot of vegetables too. I am doing variety to experience growing various vegetables then growing same one in bulk b/c of limited space I have. Since it was my first time gardening I got pre made soiless mixture from store. It’s wasn’t a issue until I got 1 cu feet bag for herb garden but with expansion to vegetables, I ended up with total of 12 cu. feet of soiless mix so far. At it added to the cost! So next yr I am definately using the recipe in this post to make my own soiless mix to cut down cost and to have better control on ingredients. But before I do that, can I reuse this yrs mix next yr keeping crop rotation in mind? If yes, any tips on how to do it?

    One particular problem I don’t know how to fix is this, today I harvested my first batch of methi leaves. After the harvest, the soil in the container had so many roots that even through I tried separating it, it was virtually impossible to clear out all roots. I have read, left over roots may cause diseases if we reuse the soil. Any good advice on how to tackle this?

    -Deepika

    • Hi Deepika,

      Thanks for writing from the other side. You can and should definitely re-use the potting soil. Soil does not have a expiry date. You might want to add some compost to it next year since all the nutrition might be used up by the plants. Dont bother about the root bound potting soil. I just leave them in the same pot for a good couple of weeks. you wont find them after that. they decompost and become compost. Isnt that amazing?

  4. I have a doubt on the kitchen compost being prepared at my house,some white worms are there, is it ok for me to go ahead with making further kitchen compost

  5. Thanq for the gardening guidance blog
    Iam a beginner in terrace gardening.
    Have problems with plant diseases. Yellowing n Browning of leaf tips n the leaves totally drying up.
    Can u pl help?

  6. Gardener’s guruji!
    I am humble beginner…with hope, intent and seeds in hand!
    Please tell me I can start seedlings in a potting mix – 1:1:1 vermi compost, soil and cocopeat..

  7. i am a beginner wants to grow vegetable garden at chennai, can you suggest where i can get potting materials and good seeds in chennai

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