Gymgirl where are you?

Crestview, FL

Gymgirl: I have a question about potting mix, you make your own, and I bought two pyramid 3 tiered gardens, they each take 1 cubic yard of rich top soil to fill, but, I like potting mixes. Here is my challenge, I want to use potting mix in the upper parts of the gardens. It will take 21-27 two cubic bags to do this; so, instead, I thought perhaps I'd make my own and save some money, as we have a nursery who will sell me some things in bulk. So here is the challenge: I need to make equivalent to 27 cubic feet bags of potting mix, what do I need and what do I do?
joy

Crestview, FL

Since Gymgirl did not answer my question, I did some research and came up with some recipes for making your own seed starting mix and your own potting mix so here goes. These are basic recipes:

Seed Starting Mix:
1 part sphagnum peat moss
1 part perlite
1 part vermiculite
Combine all in tub and water down mix. It must be moist, not soggy. Sphagnum peat moss can be difficult to re-wet if it's been left to dry out in a pot.

Basic Potting Mix:
6 parts Sphagnum peat moss
1 part perlite
1 part vermiculite

Enriched Potting Mix:
4 parts sphagnum peat moss
2 parts compost
1 part perlite
1 part vermiculite
You can take it even further, by amending your potting mix with bone meal, blood meal, lime and a host of other supplements, depending on the nutritional needs of your plants.

joy

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Go get a 1/2 yard of pine bark fines (PBF) - it may also be known as double grind pine bark (DGPF). The bark should have anywhere from dust particles (looks like potting mix) to silver dollar size-slices of pine BARK (the outter portion of the tree, which is actual bark. It should NOT HAVE HUGE LARGE PORTION OF THICK, CHUNKY, MULCH-LOOKING PIECES OR WHAT LOOKS LIKE SHREDDED PORT PIECES!!!) Some is ok, but as small a percentage as you can find of the chunky, shreddy stuff.

Once you locate an acceptable pine bark that meets the above requirements, here's Tapla's 5:1:1 container mix. It is FAST draining, but hold adequate moisture and allows for excellent aeration of the mix:

TAPLA'S 5:1:1 Container Mix http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/p.php?pid=7522442

5 parts Pine Bark Fines
1 part peat (sphaghnum) You can use Miracle Grow potting mix and your peat component...)
1 part perlite

For containers, the pine bark fines the size used should be from the dust particles to about dime or nickel size slices. I used a 1/2 wire mesh screen to roughly sift out the larger chunks (Note: Al recommends sifting through a 3/8" screen, but I couldn't find any in a hurry). It's not an exact science, but long as you get a good portion of dust to nickel size pieces, you'll be ok.

I ordered 1/2 yard PBFs which ended up filling 22 five-gallon buckets plus two 18-gallon Rubbermaid tubs. After I finished sifting through all that, (and yeah, I sifted for weeks after work....), I ended up sifting out about 7 buckets (roughly 1/3) of chunky stuff which I can use later in the raised beds recipe, so I will be able to use all of the PBF, eventually.

In total, I have used 1.5 large bags of MG potting mix (2.0 cu. ft.) plus approximately 5 cu. ft. of perlite to mix with the PBF. To date, I have filled containers with roughly 129 gallons of mix.

the 1/2 yard of PBF was $18.00
The MG potting mix was $15.00
The perlite was $25.00

Total on the mix to fill 18 containers = $58.00 not including the Dolomite lime and the 13-13-13 fertilizer I add to each batch...

Hope this helps with your situation and budget. It certainly helped my $$$$$!

P.S. After it's all combined, the mixed is very similar to the MG potting mix, only it is lighter, fluffier, and holds moisture while draining and aerating. It doesn't have that "sponginess" that straight MG potting mix has because of the PBF dust and chunks. If you squeeze a ball of it in your hand, it will form a ball -- but tap it and it will collapse in a nanosecond!

Here's a picture of my PBFs after I sifted it for the recipe.

Hope this helps!

P.S. Post any subsequent soil & composting questions over on that forum on Al's thread. You'll get a quicker response! ^^_^^

Linda

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Here's another picture to help in your search. It is more on the dry side, a good ratio of dust & nickel size thin, slivered particles to larger chunks that can go in your raised beds. Not a lot of stick, not a lot of shreddy, pulpy pieces. Lots of Pine Bark slices thin enough to snap in your hand.

Once you identify the "right" stuff, you can easily tell the difference from the "wrong" stuff.

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Here's a picture of the WRONG stuff...it's too pulpy, shreddy, with too many sticks, too many thick chunky pieces, not enough dust and small thin slices...

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Crestview, FL

I won't be using it for my containers; but for my above ground beds, I have two 3 tiered strawberry beds, which the bottom tier is 6 ft across, the directions say use 1 cubic yard of top soil, top soil is like concrete, so that is out of the question and potting mix would be too expensive if I bought it myself, as it takes 21-27 two cubic ft bags to fill each strawberry bed, Gurney's had them on sale at half price, and dumby here, had to buy 2, not just 1 right??? They will hold 50 strawberries each bed when done. I do have Espoma Holly Fertilizer already, a 50 lb bag of it, so figure by the time Fall gets here, if I start now accumulating what I need a little at the time I might have them done.

I called the local nursery and they carry pine fines in bulk, so that will be great.
joy

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Joy,
If you go to the link, you'll see ALL of Al's different soil recipes. He has a raised bed recipe, too.

Crestview, FL

Thank you, have done that, and have called the FL extension group, I'm trying to work with what I have and what I can get reasonable as those strawberry pyramids do take a lot of medium. 27 two cubic ft bags of potting mix or garden soil is out of the question as that is too costly, and it will take that much for each one, so, double that and you will see what I'm talking about. $7 x 27 is way too high. The local nursery does carry pine bark fines, that is what they use in their potting mixes, and they also carry sphagnum peat moss for $12 a 3.8 compressed cubic bag. I have some of Boca Bob's coconut coir left in the layflat bags, the coir is not as soft as the coir in his 5 gallon bags; but, I do have 20 of the lay flat bags. I have about 3 cubic ft of perlite left and also some vermiculite. I know the nursery also sells sand. So; am working on a reasonable solution. Let's not forget, the dumby here, also; bought four 4x4 cedar beds, couldn't resist, the first two I got for $30 each, the second two were $20 each. I'm bound and determined though, that those strawberry beds will be filled in September for October-November strawberries.
joy

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.
BACK TO TOP