How to: Soil Mix Homemade - on a Serious Budget

lilce51286February 22, 2014


I've read a lot about Al's mixes, I'd like to make some of my own, but due to finances like many others had to be on a STRICT budget. I have about $60 for me to spend on making my own mix. I live in Baltimore MD

Petsmart has - Repti Bark
Homestead Gardens has - Bonsai Soil, perlite, vermiculite, soil, etc
Lowes/Home depot has - perlite, vermiculite, and I can get potting soil if needed but I doubt since the mix does not include it

Would anyone including Al if your available be able to help me w/what I may be able to use to make either gritty or 5:1:1? All for indoor plants which include: 2 avocados, mix of green potted arrangement w/peace Lilly, cactus, and giant rubber tree (will do this in March or April). Thank You all for the help :))

Since I got the plant arrangement couple days ago now there's little Gnats flying around and that arrangement is full of soil/miss on top. It's causing issues and I don't want my other plants to get infected. Since today & tomorrow will be in the 60's, I want to repot these plants in the garage, and get a head start.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You should be able to get:
1 - 4 cu ft bag of perlite for 1 - 4 cu ft bale of peat for 1 - 50 lb bag of lime for 4-5 - 2 cu ft bags of pine bark for about $23

The first 3 ingredients will set you up to make much more than you can make with the 4-5 bags of bark. The only other think you'll need is your fertilizer.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 2:19PM
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Oh ok will this eliminate the gnats though? Peat is like soil right? Thanks for replying I actually found left over perlite in my garage :))))

What would the lime be for?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 3:03PM
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Fertilizer on hand I have:
Dyna gro liquid plant food 7-9-5 and Pro Tekt
Neptune's Harvest: liquid fish & seaweed

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 3:06PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There is a triangle bounded by soil choice, watering habits, and nutrition that are inextricably linked to each other. If you get the soil part right, the rest becomes much easier, with a much wider margin for grower error. Peaty soils or soils based on primarily fine ingredients are much harder to grow in, and the margin for error increases in a fairly linear relationship with a soil's water retention. Your gnat issue is probably related to both soil choice and watering habits at a minimum - possible a fertilizer issue too, depending on what you've been using.

Lime in bark/peat soils serves 2 purposes. It brings pH up to a more favorable level, and it provides a source for Ca and Mg - two nutrients usually missing from soluble fertilizers (but present in most Dyna-Gro products.

I'll link you to a thread which provides information that clarifies how water behaves in soils. I think that gaining an understanding of what's in this thread is probably the largest step forward a container gardener can make at one time.


Here is a link that might be useful: See what you think .....

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 3:18PM
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Thank you and I'll read the link now :)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 4:11PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 14:19

You should be able to get:
1 - 4 cu ft bag of perlite for 1 - 4 cu ft bale of peat for 1 - 50 lb bag of lime for 4-5 - 2 cu ft bags of pine bark for about $23

A simple math show that 5-1-1 mix(based on above prices) will cost LESS THAN $3 per cubic foot ($0.38 per gal.). The most expensive ingredients in it is PERLITE that costs $5 per cubic foot. But it is 1/7th of the mix.

TRANSLATION: to pot a 5 gal. bucket, it will cost UNDER $2. That is probably less than one half of some bagged potting soils. (like MG, Promix)

So if you have a lot of container gardening to do, then 5-1-1 is worth looking into it.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 2:59AM
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