Nutrient-rich soil is one of the most basic needs of every plant. This is especially true for potted plants, because they cannot draw nutrients from surrounding areas, but are restricted only to what is in the pot. That is why potted plants require potting soil rather than topsoil. Potting soil contains extra organic matter and much-needed nutrients. Although potting soil is readily available at many stores, you can make your own using topsoil as one of the ingredients.
Things You'll Need
- Disposable baking pan
- Aluminum foil
- Meat thermometer
- Pot holders
- 5-gallon bucket
- Peat moss
- Garden spade
- Plant pots
- Slow-release fertilizer granules
Preparing the Topsoil
Locate an area of the yard that has rich, fertile topsoil. Topsoil generally extends 8 inches from the ground's surface. When looking for soil, avoid sandy areas, and instead, look in shady areas where organic matter decomposes faster. The soil should be dark and moist and not have weeds or grass growing in it.
Insert a shovel into the ground and dig up enough topsoil to fill a shallow disposable baking pan. You can use any size pan but a good option is one that is approximately 18 inches long by 12 inches wide by 1 1/4 inches deep. Leave approximately 1/2 inch to 1 inch of space at the top of the pan to prevent the topsoil from spilling out.
Preheat an oven to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and insert it into the oven. Cooking the topsoil sterilizes it by killing mold spores and bacteria that can infect the potted plant.
Allow the topsoil to cook for 10 minutes, and remove the foil. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the topsoil to ensure that the temperature has reached 180 degrees. If necessary, replace the foil and allow the topsoil to cook for an additional five to 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven using potholders and allow to cool.
Mixing the Potting Soil
Place equal parts of sterilized topsoil and peat moss into a 5-gallon bucket. Mix the material thoroughly with a garden spade to combine.
Add three parts of sand to the mixture and mix it in with the garden spade. Use sharp sand that is pre-sterilized and purchased at a garden center. Do not use builder's sand, as this is not sterilized.
Place the mixture into plant pots and insert plants.
Tips & Warnings
- Instead of digging up topsoil from the yard, you can purchase bags of topsoil from garden centers and nurseries.
- If desired, add slow-release fertilizer granules to the potting soil mixture in the amounts recommended on the fertilizer packaging.
- Photo Credit potted plant image by Gina Smith from Fotolia.com
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