We currently amend the potting mix that we have instead of buying new. I’m probably saving some money by amending it though I’m not keeping track.
What does it mean to amend the “soil”, or in my case, potting mix? You’re basically “fixing” the structure of the “soil” by adding ingredients, which helps to provide air circulation and allow for water to drain. Most discussions about amending soil revolve around land gardening. Not everybody has soil. Some gardeners have clay or too much sand. There are lots of advice on amending these types of soil conditions. There’s not as much discussion on amending potting mix for container gardeners like me but the concepts still applies.
The potting mix I’m using are from various sources but predominantly from XXXXX. I did try a couple of bags of inexpensive potting mix and they turned out to be not so good. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the name but I would be able to recognize it. Luckily, these poor potting mixes were used in isolated situations. Eventually they will get mixed up with the rest over time from use.
Apparently, amending is not the same as or is necessarily includes conditioning the “soil”. Conditioning is where you add or improve the nutrients in the “soil” for the plants to absorb. Some soil conditions may have an imbalance of in Ph. And certain plants like soils that are more acidic or less acidic or heavier in one chemical versus another.
We amend our potting mix at the start of each growing season. We always get a bag of compost and new potting mix. When it’s available, I’ll add crushed eggshells and/or ground coffee to plants that like a little bit of extra something. When we water, we try to alternate once a week with liquid fertilizer and another week Epsom salt. We have been using liquid fertilizer made with seaweed and fish. It doesn’t smell pleasant but the plants love it. If I have left over liquid fertilizer water, I’ll dump the rest in old potting mix.
I learned about using coconut fibers from my experience with starting seeds. The pellets that I used to start the seeds are made with coconut fibers. I was really impressed with the success rate of the seeds sprouting into seedlings so quickly. After reading up about coconut chips and fibers as a growing medium, and the benefits, I decided to give it a try.
This year, the old potting mix was amended with coconut chips and fibers, potting mix from PRO-MIX, and compost. The coco chips/fibers are lightweight. It helps with aeration, and water drainage. It’s renewable and biodegrade over time. So far, I have no complaints.
What do you do to amend and improve your potting mix?