Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

March 12, 2008

potting prep

Well folks, If I'm going to get anything from the backyard for my 100 ft diet this year I need to get my sprouts going, and first things first, it's time to get the potting soil ready. I build a pretty basic potting soil, nothing fancy or gimmicky, just good water holding materials like peat and vermiculite, and some dark rich homemade compost. This is the compost that I finished in September last year, I placed it in a 30 gallon tote with holes on the sides for air and drainage, and covered it with a wide piece of plywood to protect it from getting snowed on over the winter. It over-wintered well, and now is dark and rich and truly lives up to the moniker "Black Gold." I want to try to slowly move away from peat whenever possible since learning more about it and how unsustainable it is. For now, however, the peat that I am using this spring is what was leftover from last year, as is the vermiculite. I hope to be able to eventually find a good source for coir fibre to use in it's place, but thus far have only managed to find it in small quantities.
I mix all three parts together, using equal parts of peat and compost. For the vermiculite, I am adding slightly more that an equal third. This is because I will be primarily using this mix for starting seeds and as such want to encourage moisture retention in the short term. Our seedlings have a tendency to dry out when they start to fill in a bit, both because of the small amount of grow medium they are in, as well as because of Utah's naturally dry weather.

Whatever mix is left after I start all my plants, will get added components to bring the mix to an equal 3rd's proportion and will be used for some of our potted plants. Last year our petunias did much much better in this mix than they did the previous two years in miracle grow potting soil. And it was much cheaper!Try making your own, your plants will love it, you'll save some $$, and learn a solid gardening skill. Good luck will everyones sprouting.



ruralaspirations said...

This is almost the exact formula given by Mel Bartholomew in his Square Foot Gardening technique (sqarefootgardening dot com). About the peat - say it isn't so! I'll be staying tuned to find out what can be substituted for it.

P~ said...

It looks so much like Mels Mix because it basically is. I read his book a couple of years ago when I was first getting a garden going. It was a very good beginning for me, but as I do with most things I took what I wanted from it, and tweaked the rest. I found the grid to be a bit ridgid for my liking. Good eye though.
As for the peat, sorry to say, but it is very unsustainable. The peat bogs of Canada and British Isles, to name a couple, are defoliated and then systematically stripped of their peat which, like oil, takes millions of years to form and retains huge amounts of carbon.
Since peat really contains very little nutritive value for the plants but rather is used as a soil conditioner and water retention medium, one good alternative is conconut coir. As I said, I haven't moved over to it yet because I haven't been able to find a large amount of it, but I also haven't needed it yet so I haven't looked very hard. Hope this helps. Sorry for the delay in replying.