Basic Potting Soil Information
Potting soil is great when you want to make an indoor garden, but what exactly is it? You could say that is basically a combination of soil, minerals and organic material. Normal soil is quite different from the potting one. The normal type is very heavy while the potting one is lighter and mostly consists of organic and inorganic materials.
You must understand that outdoor gardening is quite different than the indoor one. In the outdoor type you usually have more space and the drainage is less of a problem. Indoor garden require you to pay a lot of attention to details like the type of soil you are using, the size of the container and the drainage.
The typical potting soil mix (or simply called potting mix) is made of peat moss, perlite and sand. Other commercial mixes available may contain vermiculite, limestone (for pH control) and fertilizer. Sadly not all soil mixes work well for every type of plant. Certain plants have different requirements to grow well. A cactus for example requires a lot of drainage meaning that its soil must contain a big amount of sand. Other plants that need a higher degree of moisture might benefit from a soil rich in peat moss. In general you want to achieve a balance in the potting mix: not too dry or too moist.
There are alternatives to the commercial soil. The best way is to make your own. You cannot only save money but in the long run will be probably better for your plants.
The first thing to keep in mind is that the ingredients of your customized soil are going to be drastically different from the ones sold at the store.
Organic Potting Soil Recipe Ideas
Instead of the typical mix of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite; you can use a combination of the soil in your garden with some compost, leaf mold, small pieces of untreated wood and other organic material.
The preparation of the soil depends upon several steps.
1- First if you use soil from your garden is important to sterilize it. That way you can eliminate any bacteria or microbes that may interfere with the growing process of your plant. The sterilization is done by first removing the impurities of the soil through a ¼ inch mesh.
2- Then you proceed to preheat an oven at 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82°C).
3- Next the soil can be placed in a metal sheet like the ones used for baking cookies.
4- Finally cover the sheet with aluminum foil, place the plate in the center area of the oven and wait 30 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93°C) for it to be ready.
5- Once is ready it can be used as component of a soil mix.
6- You can combine 1 part of leaf mold, 1 part of coarse sand with 2 parts of your sterilized soil to have a pretty nice potting mix.