There is nothing quite like real dirt. Every time I’d start my sprouts I was rewarded with that fresh wet soil smell, which is actually pretty nice.
My old homestead was a small 1-acre property with a lot of unworked soil and a woodlot in the back. The plan was to practice there then move to my 64-acre property at some point and scale everything up. I spent a lot of time working on soil quality and trying to improve my various planting locations.
Garden From Scratch-Soil
Some people complain about starting a garden from scratch, but I really didn’t have any problems at all as I did a mixture of bucket planting on select locations.
Then when I got a plot ready I also experimented with raised bed gardening, small container gardening in general for my herbs, and even tested the no-dig method of gardening when I did potatoes where you layer in newspaper, cardboard, shredded paper, compost, and soil.
The backbone of all this activity was getting good potting soil so I could do plant starts and container plants when need be. One item of debate for the potting mix is if you should use peat moss or not.
My understanding is it isn’t a renewable resource, though people are still debating this. What I do know is it compacts down really easily and affects drainage factors and soil aeration. I prefer to keep my soil well-draining, light, and fluffy, and keep it in such a way where there won’t be root rot.
Potting Soil At Home
I never used exact measurements for my potting mix and went mostly by the look and touch.
You need roughly:
- 2 parts finished compost
- 1 part vermiculite
- 1 part coconut coir brick-pre-soaked
- 1-2 cups worm castings
Now it should be noted that the compost I used was homestead produced from various acceptable plant matter. The worm castings as well were produced from my worm farm. You don’t want to use too much of the coir CHIP bricks. The amounts don’t need to be exact and these amounts are more like rough guidelines.
Generally what I’d do is put the coconut coir bricks into a large bucket and soak them in water. It usually works better to gradually add the water until you reach the ideal saturation point. It reduces the pain of getting the brick to water ratio correct.
Once the coir was expanded I’d mix in the other ingredients according to rough estimates with either a one-gallon or 5-gallon bucket to measure out a “part”. I had a large mixing tub I used specifically for soil mixing though throwing it into a wheelbarrow works too.
It is really that simple.