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Making Potting Soil from Backyard Soil

Making potting soil from garden soil

I’ve lengthy been within the thought of creating my very own potting soil. I’ve an plentiful supply of soil in my again yard and it looks like there needs to be some solution to make it usable as potting soil indoors and out. This might enable me to chop again on the variety of plastic soil luggage I’ve to throw away yearly, remove using peat (which is absolutely problematic for the surroundings as I’ll clarify later) in addition to save me some cash. So I made a decision to attempt making potting soil from backyard soil.

What’s potting soil?

Most potting soils don’t comprise any pure soil. They’re usually a mix of peat moss (or coconut coir), perlite or vermiculite, sand, limestone, and fertilizers. They’re usually mild and drain properly, and are sterile in order that they don’t harbor any ailments. An excellent potting soil can have all the required vitamins and properties for potted vegetation.

The Issues with Potting Soil

Composting 101

One of many largest environmental points with potting soil is the peat moss. I’ll most likely do a deeper dive into the issues of peat moss sooner or later, however principally you simply want to know that it comes from peat bogs, and the method of harvesting the peat releases plenty of CO2 into the environment. The U.Okay. is banning the business sale of peat in 2024, and there’s a motion to cease the follow worldwide.

Many of the options to peat have their very own points and something that needs to be shipped from tons of or hundreds of miles away is all the time problematic. And most DIY potting soil recipes you will see on-line are actually simply mixing collectively the assorted substances present in a typical store-bought bag of potting soil. So that you’ll have the identical points with utilizing a lot of plastic luggage and incorporating dangerous peat or different amendments shipped lengthy distances.

Will this even work?

Earlier than I even start this course of, I do know that if there’s a gardener studying this, they’re most likely already yelling, “No No NO! You’ll be able to’t use backyard soil as potting soil!”

I do notice that backyard soil isn’t supreme to be used as potting soil and doubtless received’t develop vegetation as vigorously nearly as good potting soil will. However I’ve been bettering my soil for years through composting and different pure strategies, so even when it’s not the best potting medium, I need to see if I could make it workable in any respect after sterilizing it and mixing in a little bit of vermiculite to maintain it from being too heavy.

Backyard Soil to Potting Soil – My First Experiment

The very first thing I knew that I wanted to do was sterilize the soil to make sure that there aren’t any insect eggs, fungi or different potential ailments in it. There are a number of strategies you should utilize to sterilize soil, together with heating within the oven or utilizing hydrogen peroxide. I made a decision to make use of the boiling water methodology, as that appeared the best. Spoiler alert: I most likely wouldn’t use this methodology once more in future. I’ll clarify why on the finish.

Step 1: I dug out some good backyard soil, picked out any twigs, rocks or massive worms and left it sitting in a big sieve for a couple of day in order that any remaining critters may hopefully vamoose.

Sterilizing garden soil with boiling water

Step 2: I put the soil in an outdated massive metallic pot that we don’t use for cooking anymore after which poured sufficient boiling sizzling water over it to make a kind of “grime soup.” (I don’t advocate placing boiling water right into a plastic bucket, it would soften. Glass could crack until it’s actually heavy responsibility Pyrex or tempered glass.) I stirred it up a bit to verify all soil was absolutely soaked and submerged within the water. Left it to chill.

Compost sieve

Step 3: As soon as it had cooled, I wanted to pressure off the water. I occurred to have a compost sieve (above) so I set this on high of a plastic bucket to catch the water. I then took an outdated piece of fabric to line the sieve to create a strainer.

Straining water from sterilized soil

Step 4: I dumped the moist soil into the strainer and left it to empty. It was tremendous sluggish, so I left it in my storage in a single day so no animals would get into it. It took about 24 hours to utterly drain out. (I occurred to have some outdated flannel sheets, however I want that I had used a thinner cloth to pressure this, cheesecloth most likely would have been supreme.)

Soil drying in trays

Step 5: I dumped the strained soiled water again into my backyard and I dumped the soil into a pair planting trays to complete. It was nonetheless fairly moist at this level, so I put them on a shelf within the storage to dry out utterly. It took for much longer than I anticipated. This was most likely because of the truth that it was late October and never very heat out (our storage is indifferent and unheated), plus the truth that I’ve heavy clay soil which actually holds on to the water.

Step 6: After a couple of week, it was lastly dry. I did my finest to crumble up the big clumps to make the soil extra manageable. Fairly frankly, it was troublesome. I virtually wanted a hammer or one thing to actually break it aside totally. Once more, that is doubtless because of the excessive clay content material in my soil. Then I added some vermiculite to make the complete combination a bit lighter and hopefully enable for air circulation. Right here’s what the ultimate product appears like:

Finished soil mix


I’ll be trustworthy, I’m not thrilled with the end result. The colour of the soil doesn’t look good anymore. You’ll be able to see within the first picture the place I used to be pouring within the boiling water, the soil was good and darkish and wealthy. I notice now that utilizing boiling water most likely leaches out plenty of the vitamins. Plus which, with my clay soil it appeared to create a significant clumping impact and the soil clumps are a lot tougher than earlier than the sterilization. I’m nonetheless going to attempt rising with it and see what occurs. I’ll put up again right here with my outcomes.

Within the meantime, I’m not giving up on the concept of utilizing backyard soil to make potting soil, however the subsequent methodology I’m going to make use of for sterilization might be making a small out of doors photo voltaic cooker to warmth the soil that means. I feel that can enable me to retain extra of the vitamins and maintain the pure soil texture. I feel it is going to even be significantly simpler than the method above. However I should anticipate a lot hotter climate to proceed with that.

Anybody on the market tried to make use of backyard soil as potting soil? Any victories or suggestions? Please let me know!



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