Today is the third installment on creating a DIY Any Age Anywhere Garden. The Any Age Anywhere Garden is a container garden that lets anyone of any age grow some, most, or nearly all of their food. Today’s focus is on building great soil for container gardens, pots and hanging baskets – including the Any Age Anywhere Garden.
Create Super Soil! Whether its hanging baskets, planter boxes, raised beds, or an Any Age Anywhere Garden Box – the key to successful container growing starts with the soil mix.
Use good soil – and you’ll likely get good results. Put in poor soil – and you’ll probably end up with weak, low yielding plants. But if you create super soil – well….you get super plants!
Although you can purchase many types of ready-to-grow commercial soil mixes – they usually cost a fortune – not to mention contain a myriad of artificial fertilizers and additives. Why spend hard-earned money on manufactured dirt when you can make great, all-natural soil right at home!
Nearly all vegetables and flowers flourish in rich, fertile soil – and it’s easy to create for your containers and planters with 3 basic materials : garden dirt (topsoil), compost, and perlite (or peat moss). The secret is all in mixing them together in the right proportions.
How To Create Super Soil – The Ingredients And The “Recipe”
6 parts soil – If you are not utilizing your own and starting your mix with purchased soil – do yourself a huge favor and ask for it to be pulverized – it will speed up the mixing process!
4 parts compost– Why compost? – because compost is teaming with all types of life! It naturally has all of the nutrients needed to feed your plants all summer long. Pure compost hold many times its own weight in water – so it helps keep your plants protected on hot days – and cuts down on watering! If you don’t have a compost pile already – get one started now – your garden will thank you! (see : Composting 101)
1 part perlite (or peat moss) – Contrary to what some think – perlite is actually a naturally occurring substance. It’s volcanic glass that has the ability when heated to puff out like popcorn. The open pores of perlite help with water retention and drainage – and keep the soil lighter – perfect for containers and baskets! It also has a PH of 7 (neutral) – so it does not upset the balance of acidity in the finished mix. Peat moss can be used in place of the perlite – but perlite is our favorite choice.
The “recipe” we use can be made in any quantity by keeping the ratios correct. For someone wanting to fill a few hanging baskets or planters – just take 6 shovels of soil, a shovel of perlite, and 4 shovels of compost, mix thoroughly – and your ready to go! Need more for those big planter boxes? Make a big batch using 6 large buckets of soil, 1 bucket of perlite and 4 full of compost. Same great mix – just on a larger scale.
Correcting local soil issues: – adjusting ratios when the need arises:
We are fortunate that here in Ohio our soil is fairly fertile to begin with – but if your soil is less than perfect for one reason or another – you can simply make a few adjustments to the ratios to make the mix work for you.
Clay Soil – if your soil tends to be on the “clayish” side – add one part coarse sand and one additional part compost to the mix. Sand helps to loosen clay soil – and the additional compost helps give an extra boost.
Sandy Soil – For soils that are too light and sandy – replace the perlite portion of the mix with additional compost
Planting Day – Last but not least – make sure you have good drainage in place for your containers and baskets. A few stones or rocks in the bottom of pots and hanging baskets – or a shovelful or two of coarse gravel in large boxes will help keep your planters from becoming waterlogged.
With a great mix – your all ready for success!
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our free email newsletter. You will get our 3 articles each week – delivered straight to your inbox. You can do so in the upper right hand side bar of this page.
Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary