The foundation of a successful and crop-filled container gardening experience is a good potting mix. Every thriving plant needs good soil to live on, and using poorly mixed, low quality soil will not produce healthy plants. Expert gardeners and farmers all have their signature or preferred mix, but not every beginner knows the best kind of potting mix for container growing.
Before figuring out or mixing the right kinds of soil, it is important to have a good container. It should be wide and big enough to carry all organic matter and has a hole that can drain out water and excess material. It should be lightweight and should not conduct extra amounts of heat that can happen in thick clay pots.
A big mistake that beginner growers stumble upon is the use of ordinary garden soil. It is not recommended as a main ingredient in potting mixes because it can contain harmful ingredients such as seeds, weeds, pests and diseases. They could prevent the seeds from germinating or produce wilting crop.
It may seem daunting work for a newbie, but some beginners prefer mixing their own potting soil to get that rich and healthy living ground for their plants. Aside from the feeling of certainty, it is also good to know the exact contents of the soil in which the plants will grow on. Here's a classic soil-based mix that will work well by providing structure and drainage:
- 1 part peat moss or mature compost
- 1 part perlite or clean builder's sand
- 1 part garden soil or loam
For organic growers, here is a mix developed by Cornell University for commercial farming, and can also be used for home growing:
- C cubic yard perlite
- C cubic yard coconut coir or peat moss
- 10 pounds bone meal
- 5 pounds blood meal
- 5 pounds ground limestone
It is fine to use commercial potting mixes, but be sure to only use high-grade ones. Avoid cheap packs that sayly say "topsoil" or "compost" on the label. These unidentified low quality commercial mixes could include tired and over-used soil that could be very well exposed to chemicals, or even made from biosolids (or toxic waste). Look for the label "certified organic" and the specific ingredients. The mixes mentioned above are sure to give the right amount of health any plant will need. Knowing the best kind of potting mix is not enough; it also takes a huge amount of determination and attention from growers in order to yield beautifully.