Potting Mix - making 5-1-1 (video)

greenman28 NorCal 7b/8aJune 7, 2012

Hey, guys and gals!

I mixed up some 5-1-1 with the last of my Perlite this morning, and I made a quick vid.

Usually, I make a larger batch (which goes much faster), but this was for demonstration

purposes primarily. I hope I didn't forget anything! ;-)

Potting Mix - making 5-1-1

My version of Al's 5-1-1:

5 parts Fir bark

1 part Perlite

1 part potting mix

1 Tablespoon Dolomitic Garden Lime per gallon of mix

1 Tablespoon slow-release fertilizer (optional)


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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Great! Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 1:01AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yeah, I thought it might be helpful since we have so many folks interested in this mix.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 1:15AM
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Good job Josh!

That was very kind of you to take the time to do that video. I loved it. I even learned something new!:-)


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 8:44AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Good video, most of us gardener's skills are limited to growing plants. Very clear pictures AND sound. Al

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 10:02AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hey Josh,

You are awesome to make this video!!

This will help so many people understand how to make this great mix.!!!!

Thank you for showing us how easy it really is and hopefully others that may be a little apprehensive, will give it a try!

Hope you are enjoying your summer!!

Take care,


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 10:18AM
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Cool video, Josh. A very helpful illustration of how to make the 5:1:1. :0)

I know that your goal is to demonstrate how easy it can be to make this mix, but have a few questions which I hope will not complicate things unneccessarily.

For those who are less experienced making the mix, I assume you would recommend that we actually measure the components rather than just eyeing it. I would guess that 5:1:1 could easily become something like 3:1:2 if I didn't know how it was supposed to look and I was just eyeing it? Or is some degree of error in the relative proportions unconsequential?

Another question concerns the order of operations. In the video you mix everything together and then screen it all together. Looks like there was little impact since your bark is pretty good and most all was in the desired size range, with little screened out. Not all of us are so lucky I'm afraid, and if a good amount of the bark gets screened out then it will change the proportions of components when done in this fashion. In this case it might be better to screen the bark before combining the media, keeping the proportion of screened bark constant at 5.

I think your video was great and very helpful, and I'm not trying to pick hairs. In part I'm looking for your feedback on these ideas, whether they might be relevant or if I'm taking too fine a magnifying glass to something as simple as potting mix.

Thanks again Josh,

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 1:05PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Mike, Al, Laura, Alex, thanks very much.

Alex, I realize that some of this might be confusing, though I hoped it wouldn't be.

Yes, when I make a big batch, I screen my bark first, and then add the amendments to it.
With this demonstration, I was attempting to show that 70% of the mix will be bark, 15%
will be Perlite, and 15% will be Other (Peat, potting soil, aged compost, turface, et cetera).

My goal was to create a visual, showing just how much bark will be used as the primary filler.
I measured ahead of time, assembled my ingredients, then filmed the process in one take.
I started with some extra bark to allow for the percentage that would be over 1/2 inch.
When I do a batch of soil, I always make a little extra to top off containers.

I recommend that everyone measure ingredients, and if your bark is very fine and composted,
then add more Perlite and cut back on the other fine particulate. The mix is very simple
to put together, as long as you keep the Principles behind each ingredient in mind.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 1:57PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

So THAT's how you make that stuff!

Stellar job, Josh. It was really nice of you to take the time & go through the effort to show others how fast/easy it is to make your own mix at a much lower cost compared to buying a commercially prepared mix that is likely to be much less forgiving.

Did you consider linking to this thread when you posted to YouTube, or is that not allowed?


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 5:01PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, good morning, Al! Thanks!

I was hoping you'd be by to give it a glance (and hopefully a nod of approval) :-)
A couple of pepper growers had requested a video on how to throw together this easy, economical,
and lightweight mix, and I finally found time to do so. With a partner, and a little more planning,
it could have been better...but I think this'll work in a pinch.

I believe I can link to this Thread on YouTube! I'll include a link in the description, and I'll see
about embedding a link in the video itself.

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:02PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I linked to it in a thread on 'Houseplants'. You're an asset to GW and the gardening community, sir!


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 2:18PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hey Josh!!!

This deserves a friendly Bunp!!! : )

Needs to be close to the top so others can see!

Take care,


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 2:44AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good morning, Al and Laura!

Thanks for the kind words, Al!
Laura, thank you so much for the bump...! Yesterday I made another 45 gallons of this mix,
and now all my peppers (and a Castor Bean) are potted into their final homes for the Summer.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 12:19PM
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Thank you, I too find visual very helpful.
Used it to mix my first 'bigger' batch...Rina

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 7:12AM
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How does this compare to "gritty mix" and which would be recommended for citrus?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2014 at 11:24AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Well, it's a different mix completely.

Both work nicely for Citrus. I prefer the 5-1-1 because it is easy to make, economical, lighter in weight, plenty durable, and retains more moisture during the hot Summer months (that said, both this recipe and the Gritty Mix can be adjusted to offer more or less moisture retention). Using uncomposted fir bark, as I do, will also allow this mix to last much longer.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2014 at 11:37AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Do I feel a Gritty mix video might be in the making? Hmmm? Lol! ;-)

Thanks for all you do Josh!!!

I hope you have a Merry Christmas!!!


    Bookmark   December 21, 2014 at 11:41PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thank you, Laura, and a Merry Christmas to you, too! :-)
Not sure when I'll get around to a Gritty Video....but I should!


    Bookmark   December 22, 2014 at 12:08PM
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sharbear50(6a Bella Vista)

Thanks a bunch for making that video. I am trying to overwinter my parsley and purple basil indoors. I think I may have to switch to that mix, keep by the south window and continue to run the humidifier? Is this a waste of time trying to keep them alive?

    Bookmark   December 31, 2014 at 1:41PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, you're welcome!
Parsley *usually* makes it through most of the Winter here (outdoors), then those final hard freezes take it out. With judicious pinching, light, water, and nutrients, the basil could be an interesting indoor plant for the Winter. Tough to do, though.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2014 at 2:23PM
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