my "Food Not Lawns" alternative container soil.
A few months ago I was planning a garden for this summer; I had never really gardened before, but my mother, aseedisapromise on this site, is very experienced. At first I thought I was going to do containers only, because I'm renting and didn't think my landlord would let me rip up the lawn in the back.
However, he did, considering that the drought of last summer killed most of it in the sunny corner, so I dug and planted it about 15ft by 15ft. I had gone to Home Depot and come back with Pine Bark Mulch with plans to make one of Al's container mixes that my mom told me about, but the mulch pieces were too large for container soils, so I put them on the garden instead.
But after ripping up the lawn, I had a bunch of weeds and grass turf blobs, pieces of roots and grass which I had beaten the dirt out of. I killed them by sealing them inside containers with no light or water for a month or two, and used them to seed my compost pile for kitchen compost.
After a while, my garden was getting overcrowded, I had a lot of volunteers from last year's compost that I applied to it, and I planted a lot as well. I still had the containers, so I thought, what the heck, I'll use them. I noticed that my compost pile seemed to have a lot of the desired properties for a container soil at this point- it was structurally sound, but not fine enough to trap water for a long time, porous to allow ventilation, etc.
So, I poured the big bag of Floor Dry that I had originally purchased onto the compost pile, and started scooping it into my 5gallon buckets.
Now, I'm no expert, but I think that this experiment has been successful enough that I would recommend it to other gardeners. With a caveat, of course. My mother warned me that the roots and weeds will probably break down within a year, causing the soil will probably perform poorly, retain water for too long, not allow air to reach the roots. At this point, she recommends spreading it on a garden like compost.
However, for new gardeners like me who don't have much money, are poorly equipped, and are trying to expand their growing capabilities, I think this method is excellent. If you expand your garden by tearing up more turf every year, you can also get a good container soil every year for free.
Below, you can see some of my container plants and their soils - Cabbage, Collard Greens, Pickling Cucumbers, and some other green I got from a friend.