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Making my own potting soil.

 
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https://gab.com/HaleMart7/posts/108589754810138437

I have been working to create my own potting soil,  that day happened when I went to get some potting soil and it was $25.00  a bag.      I cooked my root stinging nematode soil in my rocket stove at 450 degree for about 30 min, then  I planted greens, and beans and alfalfa  the beans did the best, but the greens did not come up with a very poor germination rate.            


I am also testing perlite, and vermiculte,    may try a few other combinations.      I have to get my seed starting in order as I do believe food shortages are at hand.
 
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Mart, do you make charcoal?
I've been hopping to replace the peat I use in my containers with charcoal.
 
William Kellogg
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Ingredients: Perlite, Coco Fiber, Peat Moss, Composted Forest Material, Pumice, Worm Castings, Bat Guano, Soybean Meal, Alfalfa Meal, Fishbone Meal, Kelp Meal, and Greensand.
Also contains beneficial mycorrhizal fungi: Funneliformis mosseae, Rhizophagus intraradices, Septoglomus desertícola to enhance uptake of plant nutrients, increase root biomass.
 
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Also cooking the soil kills the beneficial microbes, so I would try to avoid this. Composting temperature is much lower, say 140 deg F
 
Mart Hale
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William Bronson wrote: Mart, do you make charcoal?
I've been hopping to replace the peat I use in my containers with charcoal.



Yes I do, I use the cone, or pit method,  I have found it to be very effective,   I also have a new TLUD stove that is awesome for making charcoal.

I normally put the charcoal in the worm bin before I use it.
 
Mart Hale
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William Kellogg wrote:
I supplement my soil with this. Its not only cheaper but when you use it at a 50% or 75% reduction, its more affordable. It also has a high perlite content, so that's covered too...

https://www.amazon.com/Organics-Original-Potting-Organic-Mycorrhizae-75/dp/B010NQR5WQ/ref=mp_s_a_1_1_sspa?crid=EXWNLQY5XMNC&keywords=roots+organics+soil&qid=1656956565&sprefix=roots+organics%2Caps%2C137&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyWUoyRlYzRDNVVFA3JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMDQ3MDc5MkRFQTdWUVVFWEpWNyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwODM4NTU0M0VZQlRWMUM1NklUJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfcGhvbmVfc2VhcmNoX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=



Thank you for bringing this to my attention.



It looks like this product has great reviews.....      I was thinking I would either buy proven worm castings as my next step.      The next test inline I had was to use the composted wood chips I have without treating them,       I HATE bringing anything outside inside as it can bring in nasty bugs that cause havoc on my indoor plants,   but may gamble a bit to see if it saves me money.

 
Mart Hale
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I also found this thread ->  https://permies.com/t/121479/Potting-Soil-Recipes


May be of interest to those interested in this topic.
 
William Kellogg
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Also you can filter incoming air with a HEPA filter to prevent microscopic bugs, spores, and pollen.
 
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Mart, do you have any mushroom farms in your area?

They usually give away their mushroom compost for free as it is a byproduct of their operations.

Mushroom compost might be a really good addition to your mix.
 
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Mushroom compost is usually infected with fungus gnats and other fly larva, which could destroy his indoor garden.

"  I HATE bringing anything outside inside as it can bring in nasty bugs that cause havoc on my indoor plants "
 
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I make my own seed starter soil by using soil from my own yard. Around February, I gather up all the dirt I want, water it, and stick it in my warm and dark furnace room. After about three weeks, all the weeds have been tricked into germinating and the end result in weed free soil that works great for seed starting.
 
Mart Hale
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Anne Miller wrote:Mart, do you have any mushroom farms in your area?

They usually give away their mushroom compost for free as it is a byproduct of their operations.

Mushroom compost might be a really good addition to your mix.



Not nearby...    I have grown mushrooms myself that may be a better option grow mushrooms and get compost.
 
William Bronson
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If bugs and seeds are an issue, maybe pour boiling water over the soil component and then cover it tightly?
Add worm castings and/or compost tea to repopulate with with beneficial microbiology.
 
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How is just straight leaf mould for seed starting?

I'm also trying to make my own potting soil... but I'm going about it in a more haphazard way.

I'm doing a leaf collection cage for leaf mould and a limited compost based on purely local garden waste without any seeds.

Where I haven't had enough material I just included some garden soil to fill it out and pre-germinated the weed seeds and pre-weeded them before sowing my vegetables. It has worked reasonably well.
 
Mart Hale
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L. Johnson wrote:How is just straight leaf mould for seed starting?

I'm also trying to make my own potting soil... but I'm going about it in a more haphazard way.

I'm doing a leaf collection cage for leaf mould and a limited compost based on purely local garden waste without any seeds.

Where I haven't had enough material I just included some garden soil to fill it out and pre-germinated the weed seeds and pre-weeded them before sowing my vegetables. It has worked reasonably well.



I have had success with combining Kratky growing with leaf mould...     I have not tried it with starting seeds as of yet.          I put a net about 1 inch above the water fill with leaves about 3 inches, then put rich compost on top of that, then add worms,   then add food waste and worms.     Worms that I have here adore this, as it is always wet and has lots of leaves.       I combine Korean Natural farming with this as I take the compost I get from digesting grass clippings and I put it on top to keep the process  cooking and forming more compost.

I also just experimented with just putting seeds out in the ground outside,   seedlings from okra don't live long something eats them till nothing is there, but it does start plants that was in pure Florida sand,     Next may try my broken down wood chips outside.          I have been trying to find the lowest cost method for starting seeds,    the good thing is experimenting with bean seeds does not cost me anything, it is when I move to my $3.50 seed packets I want to get results.........

So far the sprouting method for seeds of soaking with water  2x a day is giving about the best results.

Such a challenge to kill all the fungus gnats, and stray mold that could be good or bad.....
 
Anne Miller
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Mart Hale wrote:[Not nearby...    I have grown mushrooms myself that may be a better option grow mushrooms and get compost.



Great idea! Grow mushrooms!
 
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I tried making potting mix myself several times using purchased garden soil, compost, peat and other ingredients based on a recipe from a large seed grower. When we first moved into this house and I started gardening on a much larger scale, the thought of paying lots of money for the variety of soils I needed pained me. My efforts failed miserably, however, despite the fact that I did bake the soil in a low oven for an extended period of time. My germination rate was not hardly as good as it is with purchased soil, and a variety of ills befell my starts, like fungas gnats, mold and fungus on the tops of my pots, a bacterial infection on all my basil, and once the cotyledons got eaten off of all of my pepper starts! After that last incident happened, I gave up. I then tried a number of products from a number of places, and I have settled on a soilless mix for starting seeds and a good potting mix for uppotting my starts. My starts almost always do very well now, and they have no more wierd diseases. I guess that if I were to try it again, I would use only purchased, verified sterile ingredients, but I am pretty happy with the products I am using now.
 
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William Bronson wrote: Mart, do you make charcoal?
I've been hopping to replace the peat I use in my containers with charcoal.



Please elaborate on this… How do you make charcoal? I save the ash from bonfires and campfires - is that what you mean?
 
Mart Hale
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Being in Florida I have tons of sand.     I am growing mostly soiless with aquaponics now.


After I have cooked my sand, I have started to notice that when I pour water on the sand the sand clumps together.        

That being the case, I am now testing wetting the soil, then mounding the soil  then putting the seeds in the mounds.

I do believe I need to buy just a bit of kat litter ( clay pellets )   to help the soil out.      

Beans seem to have zero issues with the sand alone,  other greens it is hit or miss.

I have found out that if you ad mosquito bits to the soil it takes care of the fungus gnats.

I may be testing some leaf mold,  and I have biochar mixed with worm castings that has aged.  

I love experiments,  I have a system now that works with beans, so I will keep refining this till I hit........ pay dirt ;-)
 
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Mart - Clay and sand together can create cement. I have the opposite problem with my garden soil, as it's mostly clay. Adding organic material is recommended for improving drainage in clay, instead of sand, for that reason. For seedlings, I would use something sterile as an additive to the sand, like maybe coconut coir or a good sterile compost.
 
Mart Hale
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Jen Swanson wrote:Mart - Clay and sand together can create cement. I have the opposite problem with my garden soil, as it's mostly clay. Adding organic material is recommended for improving drainage in clay, instead of sand, for that reason. For seedlings, I would use something sterile as an additive to the sand, like maybe coconut coir or a good sterile compost.



Thanks for that info...

I believe the key is the ratio.      I was told that Disney mixes a bit of clay in with the sand here.

I also believe that the the size of the granuals of sand make a difference as well, coarse sand seems to be the ticket for what is recommended.    perhaps if I get some window screen and get the coarse sand that does not go thru I might have something...

 
Mart Hale
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Susan Brill wrote:

William Bronson wrote: Mart, do you make charcoal?
I've been hopping to replace the peat I use in my containers with charcoal.



Please elaborate on this… How do you make charcoal? I save the ash from bonfires and campfires - is that what you mean?




Ways I make Charcoal:

1)   Pit / cone method of charcoal.



This is very useful for large brushpiles.    Can take huge amount of trash wood and convert to very useful charcoal which can be biochar. ( useful in the garden)

2)   TLUD  





 
                    
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   We raise meat rabbits. So we have composed rabbit manure. I've been working on how to best use it. I let it compost for 2 years. Then grind it in a leaf mulcher.  I add in mulched leaves too.
     I start by using the hay that drops through the pens to absorb the urine. The manure is cleaned regularly and added to the compost. I let it compost 2 years to deal with any hay seed that may germinate. I also run leaves through the mulcher and let them compost a bit. I will mulch them together. It finishes out looking like fine topsoil with small bits of hay that I believe helps keep the soil aerated.
     We do not feed our rabbits any steroid or hormones. And trying to produce a potting soil or dressing soil that is clean and creates the best environment for root growth. Maximize the tilth of the soil. Rabbit manure is recommended by many gardeners because of its make up 2-2-1.
   The bottom line is we have big gardens and enjoy them. We also prefer to raise our our food and have rabbits,  manure. My goal is to achieve the best soil I can with what I have. And I believe it is the best I can do for our plants that we enjoy and turn a waste product into a productive product. With that,  I'd enjoy hearing any input. And hope I'm not jacking the thread
 
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One of the benefits of rabbit manure is that it doesn't require composting, but I still like the idea of grinding it into your mulch!

 
Mart Hale
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Alak Cabin wrote:    We raise meat rabbits. So we have composed rabbit manure. I've been working on how to best use it. I let it compost for 2 years. Then grind it in a leaf mulcher.  I add in mulched leaves too.
     I start by using the hay that drops through the pens to absorb the urine. The manure is cleaned regularly and added to the compost. I let it compost 2 years to deal with any hay seed that may germinate. I also run leaves through the mulcher and let them compost a bit. I will mulch them together. It finishes out looking like fine topsoil with small bits of hay that I believe helps keep the soil aerated.
     We do not feed our rabbits any steroid or hormones. And trying to produce a potting soil or dressing soil that is clean and creates the best environment for root growth. Maximize the tilth of the soil. Rabbit manure is recommended by many gardeners because of its make up 2-2-1.
   The bottom line is we have big gardens and enjoy them. We also prefer to raise our our food and have rabbits,  manure. My goal is to achieve the best soil I can with what I have. And I believe it is the best I can do for our plants that we enjoy and turn a waste product into a productive product. With that,  I'd enjoy hearing any input. And hope I'm not jacking the thread



I bought some red wiggler worms from a lady that raised rabbits.        She would put  the worms right under the rabbit cages, and on her garden.     I have been trying to build a system that is 100% organic, at present I use fish in aquaponics,  but I also have worms bins which i am raising southern wiggler and black solider flies.


This morning I just made up some test containers for testing  biochar + compost from my worm bin, and I am also testing tree mulch  that has decomposed.          Next I think I will be trying some tree leaves that have decomposed.      I intend to keep testing till I find mixtures that work for me.

I do recommend worm bins under the rabbit cages,   that can be a winner for growing plants.
 
Mart Hale
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William Kellogg wrote:
Also cooking the soil kills the beneficial microbes, so I would try to avoid this. Composting temperature is much lower, say 140 deg F



Yes, I am aware, but as long as I kill off the stinging nematodes,  I can add benefical microbes.      I can make up worm tea and jump start the bacteria or add korean natural farming JMS solution to give the bacteria a jump start.

The humidity is so high here that there are always fungus spores, as soon as I planted in the soil the mycellium took off runing with the seed.    My guess is there was no competition for the spores so they charged ahead.
 
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If your seed is inoculated with beneficial fungi than that's excellent!
 
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I wasn't aware of the sting nematode and it must be a real challenge in your climate... Thanks
 
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Have you tried Mel's Mix:

Mel's square foot mix (1/3 peat/coir, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 compost/organic)



https://permies.com/t/33590/Container-soil#269262

Or This thread:

https://permies.com/t/153926/DIY-Potting-Soil-Scratch
 
                    
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  The soil here is too cold for red wigglers. I gather the manure regularly to keep things clean. Ive found it needs to dry a bit n decompose to go through the mulcher without plugging. And I only have so much time. So it gets piled n cover on top for rain.  Then I grind for a few days. Dry on a tarp in the sun. This way it could get baged up n stored without getting mold in it. And it feels better in the hands. Like nice dirt. And I believe that it helps cut down on weeds that could be in it, cook them naturally.
     And yes to organic n we also provide good care and treated respectfully. With grandkids they get extra good care. They get trace minerals from birch,  willow n other natural foraging. We use timothy timothy hay that is also clean,  clean pellets.
 
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The problem with too much vermiculite is that it floats and works its way out of the soil, blows and washes away. A small amount is okay though.
 
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I liked this video,   side by side testing.
 
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Anne Miller wrote:Have you tried Mel's Mix:

Mel's square foot mix (1/3 peat/coir, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 compost/organic)



https://permies.com/t/33590/Container-soil#269262

Or This thread:

https://permies.com/t/153926/DIY-Potting-Soil-Scratch



RE: Mel's mix.

Yes,   I did a full bed of squarefoot gardening when I first came to Florida.       I got an education doing that,  I also used it in rain gutter grow system by Larry Hall.       The system works,  recommend lime to be added to the mix, but  for growing plants I have found it very expensive.        


That is why I am now on a path to test making my own from different  materials I can source off my property.         It may be better to stick to Mel's mix, but I won't know till I experiment more with options I have.


I guess my goal is to get 95 % of my resources to grow off my property.      Korean natural farming pretty well does that.
 
Anne Miller
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William Bronson said, "Add worm castings and/or compost tea to repopulate with with beneficial microbiology.



Great idea.

Matt I hope once you get the potting soil mix figured out then you can start working on building your soil in general.

Our forum has some members who have had great success with adding amendments to build their soil.

We have a member who was doing a market garden where her soil was just sand so she added anything she could find such as food scraps, compost, etc. By doing this simple task she had had a very successful market garden.
 
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Experiments in making my own potting soil.

After testing sterile soil, I then moved on to testing biochar mixed with worm castings, and composted wood chips with a splash of grass clipping fermented fertilizer poured on. What a difference, the wood chip soil Is miles ahead of the worm casting mix ( very high in biochar ).
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Mart Hale
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Anne Miller wrote:Have you tried Mel's Mix:

Mel's square foot mix (1/3 peat/coir, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 compost/organic)



https://permies.com/t/33590/Container-soil#269262

Or This thread:

https://permies.com/t/153926/DIY-Potting-Soil-Scratch




Wow this thread was amazing.

https://permies.com/t/153926/DIY-Potting-Soil-Scratch


I am getting the same results with composted wood chips as she is, I will have to try her other methods.     Very useful info!!    Thank you!!!
 
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I make my own potting soil just from stuff available in my yard and garden. I don't have an exact recipe that I follow religiously but basic ingredients include:

*Compost - my compost isn't "proper" compost, it's just the more rotted stuff off the bottom of whatever weeds and such were thrown in a pile.
*Plain garden soil
Those two make the bulk of it mixed about half and half

*Next a big helping of dry black locust and mimosa leaves along with crass clippings raked up after fall mowing.
*The stuff that falls out from under the bark of well-seasoned firewood including whatever bugs might be in it

I just mix that all up and sift it and put it in big tubs. I do that in the fall. I guess it composts a bit and generates some heat because most weed seeds either sprout or rot before I need it the next spring. It is however, far from completely sterile. I like it that way because I save my own seeds and if something can't get along some organisms in my soil I would rather it croak as a seedling than later on.

I started doing it this way years ago and at first, I did have a lot of issues with seedlings damping off, especially tomatoes and peppers. I almost never see that now unless I am planting some newly acquired seeds. Any seed that doesn't like whatever else lives in my soil can just drop dead as far as I'm concerned, and some do.
 
William Bronson
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I'm tempted to try my own sifted compost mixed with alfalfa pellets.
I've been mulching some of my containers with alfalfa pellets to seemingly good effect.
The link Anne posted and Mart extolled describes  50% straw or hay to 50% compost as being airy and incompresible.
I'm tempted to try my own sifted compost mixed with alfalfa pellets.
It's not entirely sustainable but it is better than peat.
In addition, alfalfa isn't a grass, so it can't be sprayed with some of the toxic ick that might be used on hay or straw.
 
Mart Hale
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William Bronson wrote:I'm tempted to try my own sifted compost mixed with alfalfa pellets.
I've been mulching some of my containers with alfalfa pellets to seemingly good effect.
The link Anne posted and Mart extolled describes  50% straw or hay to 50% compost as being airy and incompresible.
I'm tempted to try my own sifted compost mixed with alfalfa pellets.
It's not entirely sustainable but it is better than peat.
In addition, alfalfa isn't a grass, so it can't be sprayed with some of the toxic ick that might be used on hay or straw.



I have been sprouting alfalfa for much of the same goals.        I have had it growing here  before,     looking forward to getting it growing again.

I did find out that you can grow alfalfa from cuttings,     I really want to multiply that several times over.
 
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