A good mix of soil will help your plants to be healthy and grow well. It is very important to use a good mix when you are growing vegetables in containers. A well prepared bed of soil is fine for growing plants in the garden. But when growing plants in pots, this kind of soil is not the best. As we have learned, you need a soil mix that has good drainage. But you also need a soil mix that will hold on to moisture when it is watered. The kind of soil in your garden is probably too dense to work well in pots. If you want to use soil taken from your garden, you will need to mix it with other materials. This will make sure it is loose enough that it will drain well. It will also make sure that there is enough aeration. Aeration means that air can move through the soil to get to the plants’ roots. If air cannot get to the roots, or if the soil does not drain well, your plants will grow poorly or even die.
There are different ways you can add to the soil to make it better for use in containers. A very simple mix adds peat moss and coarse builders’ sand. Peat moss is also called sphagnum. You can buy dried, broken down peat moss at garden centers. Coarse builders’ sand is better than beach sand or sandbox sand. It has larger particles than the other two kinds. Mix equal parts of garden soil, peat moss, and coarse builders’ sand.
If you have access to compost, this can be a very good addition to your potting soil. Compost is a process where organic matter is broken down to make soil. Organic compost will be a mix of kitchen scraps and garden waste. A combination of equal parts sandy soil, mulch, and finished compost will make a great potting mix.
You may also choose to buy potting soil from a garden center. This is a good way to make sure that you are getting quality soil for your pots. The soil will often already have peat moss or other organic matter mixed into it. There will be different kinds of potting soil mixes that are intended for different kinds of plants. You can also ask for advice at the garden center about which kind you should buy.
You will need to pick out a potting medium that meets a few of the plants’ needs. The mixture should be firm enough to support the plants as they grow. It will also need to be dense enough for the roots to be held snugly. It has to be heavy enough to prevent containers from tipping over. This is especially important if you live in a windy area. If you are worried that your mix is not heavy enough to keep the pot from tipping over, there is a simple fix to that problem.
You can always place a heavy rock in the bottom of your pot before you fill it with soil. The rock will not get in the way of the roots’ growth, and it should prevent the pot from blowing or tipping over. It will also fill up some of the space in the pot. This means you will not need to use as much potting mix to fill the pot. It is even better to use a few smaller rocks in your pot. This will provide the weight you need to keep it from blowing over. But it will also break up the soil at the bottom of the pot. This will help make sure the pot has good drainage.
The potting mix has to be able to retain moisture. You do not want it to be so loose that water runs right out of the pot. But it also has to be loose enough that roots can grow through it. It also has to be loose enough to allow air to reach the roots. A good mix will have just enough density to hold some moisture but not so much that it keeps the plant from being healthy.
If you have a good mix, water will move through it quickly and drain freely through the bottom of the pot. When the extra water has drained out, air will move into the large spaces. But enough water will be left behind in the small spaces. This will provide plenty of moisture for your plants. In a bad mix, the water will move slowly through it. The mix will become heavy and waterlogged. You can even have a crust of algae or salts form on the surface. If this happens, the roots will not get enough air. The plant’s growth will slow down and even stop. Foliage will become yellow. In the worst cases, the plant will suffer from root rot and die.
In order to provide nutrients to the plants in a slow-release fashion, as well as to keep weeds from becoming established in them, I recommend mulching. Mulches also retain moisture in the soil by preventing evaporation at the surface. In a container, this is of paramount importance.
Organic mulches can be purchased at gardening centers, or you can make your own. An organic mulch can be any mix of dead and decaying plant matter – called detritus – that you retrieve from your garden. Leaves, bark, grass clippings, plant stems: all of these make excellent mulches. Alternately, you can purchase mulch made of different kinds of tree bark, straw, or peat moss.
It is best to apply mulch after spring temperatures have risen, but before the soil has begun to lose its moisture quickly. You will have to gauge the best time for your area. In containers, potting mixes tend to lose their moisture quickly, so it is good to apply mulch almost as soon as you move your containers outdoors.
Compost For Container Gardening
Compost is of great benefit to any garden, and container gardens are no exception. If you do not have a compost pile, and only have a few containers, try to locate a community garden with a compost pile. Alternately, you can compost your kitchen scraps and lawn clippings in a small compost bin in your garden. For a small container garden, it is not necessary to have a large compost pile, and much of it will wind up not being used. Because of this I will not extensively cover how to set up a bin, although you can find this information in either the organic gardening guide or the vegetable gardening guide. However I will mention that adding a bit of compost to each of your potting mixes will go a long way to ensuring you grow healthy, robust plants.