Recipe for a well-drained but rich container soil
I am new to the garden forum and have spent a few weeks reading old forum messages and other web pages, trying to come up with a well-drained but nutrient-rich potting soil.
I have read Al's 5-1-1 soil treatise and many of the threads commenting on it, and about his gritty mix. I think I have a good handle on the basic concepts of a healthy soil.
I am growing vegetables (tomatoes, hot/sweet peppers, zucchini, okra, collards) in moderate to large size containers using MiracleGro container soil. I planted these in the spring, before I began thinking about devising my own soil mix. The plants are doing well considering I only get sun from 11 to 4 and that they are in pots. I also have a few varieties of young fig trees that are also growing in pots (some in MG, some in a soil mix from the seller).
While I see the value of Al's 5-1-1, I am looking for a bark-based mix that is well-drained but doesn't require constant fertilizing.
Here is my potting soil mix:
2 parts pine bark (fine, not composted)
1 part sphagnum peat
1 part manure/humus
1 part lava rock (1/8" to 1/2")
1 part pea gravel (1/16" to 3/16") or perlite (fine)
1-2 tbsp lime (dolomite, prilled)
* I'm going to add slow release fertilizer to this mix in the future.
I have repotted some perennials: asters, gaillardias and shasta daisys (all in about 10" pots), with this mix as a test to see their reaction. If they respond well I will use it on my fig trees and future vegetables. I repotted the flowers only yesterday so there hasn't been much time to see the results. I does seem to drain relatively quickly and hold some water.
I hope I haven't droned on here. Does anyone have a comment or advice on this mixture? A way to improve it? Like I said, a mix that drains well but provides nutrients and air without constant fertilizing.