When it comes to building soil for your garden, you may be wondering where to start, if the soil in your backyard will suffice, or if you can simply amend a plot in your backyard. Whatever you may be wondering about building your own gardening soil, we’re here to help!
With this simple recipe, you will be well on your way to building nutrient-rich soil that your plants will love.
Making a Gardening Soil Mix
- ¼ Compost
- ¼ Native Soil
- ¼ Sphagnum Peat Moss
- ¼ Aeration (such as pumice stone, rice hulls, lava rock)
The above ingredients will make up your base. Feel free to purchase compost from an organic gardening store or use your homemade compost to create the base.
A good way to look at this is for every 2 cubic foot of soil you intend to make, you will want to add the following to form your soil base:
- 5 gallons of sphagnum peat moss
- 5 gallons of aeration
- 5 gallons of compost
- 5 gallons of native soil
Now that you have the soil base ready to go, it’s time to add some additional nutrients for your plants. For each cubic foot of soil you make, you will want to add a ½ cup of each of the below inputs to the soil.
After the inputs are added in, you will want to add a few additional minerals to the soil mix as well. For each cubic foot of soil you make, you will use one cup of each mineral listed below.
Learn more about these additional inputs and minerals here.
What if I want to sow seeds directly in the soil already on my plot?
Of course, if you aren’t looking to prepare containers, raised beds or other areas, but would prefer to amend a plot in your backyard, you can!
Testing Your Soil
To start, it is highly recommended that you have your soil tested. By doing so, you will easily be able to determine what is missing from your soil.
For instance, we had a soil test done on a plot we intend to plant directly into. The results showed that there was not much organic matter and high nitrogen. Due to this, we mixed compost into the plot, covered the area with mulch, and planted nitrogen-fixing trees around the area.
Once your test results come back, you too will be able to deduce what will benefit your existing plot the most.
An added benefit to having your soil tested is discovered nutrients that are locked within the soil. By discovering these hidden treasures, you will be able to add other nutrients that aid in unlocking the other from the soil, so that plants can uptake it during their growing cycle.
But, I don’t want to get my soil tested, what can I do?
So, you want to skip the soil test and just get to planting, huh? We get it, we like to grow things too and sometimes paying for a soil test just isn’t in the deck of cards or maybe you’re a week behind already and just need to get the plants into the ground. Whatever the case may be, it’s okay!
If you’d prefer not to have your soil tested prior to re-amending it, you have a few options to prepare your garden beds for the upcoming planting season.
To start, add some fresh compost where your garden plot will be. You can mix this into the soil if you’d like, but it is not totally necessary. Once the compost is added, we recommend adding mulch, watering and letting the area “bake” for a week or two. After this, your garden plot should be ready for planting!
Throughout the growing season, just beware of any deficiencies that begin to show themselves. This will be a clear indicator of other nutrients missing in the soil. If you notice any deficiencies during the growing season, be sure to address them as soon as possible, otherwise, you may be disappointed come harvest time.