How To Make Your Own Garden Soil - Backyard Boss
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How To Make Your Own Garden Soil

When it comes to gardening there are a lot of factors that will affect your plants. It can be the sunlight on the spot you’ve chosen, the amount and type of water, and the fertilizer. But the one factor that is very often overlooked is the soil. Good soil is the primary thing to look at when starting your garden, be it an outdoor or an indoor one.

Unaltered soil in a backyard isn’t ideal because most garden soils don’t have enough organic matter or good enough texture for the effective growth of plants. So, can you make your own garden soil that will meet all the criteria of your plants? The simple answer is, yes! It will require you to purchase a few things and do a little bit of work, but in the end, it will be worth it!

So read on to find out how to make your own high-quality garden soil.

Understanding the Three Main Soil Types

Texture, Arid Soil Types Samples
Image credits: Rita Meraki via Shutterstock

Soil generally looks the same especially if it’s in a garden or in a pot. However, if you want to make the best garden soil, you will have to see the difference between the three main soil types:

1. Topsoil

This is the very top layer of soil, about eight inches deep, that you can see in your garden before you add organic matter. It can have a wide range of textures.

2. Garden Soil

This is soil that has had organic matter added to it; This type of soil is rich in nutrients from past plants. Garden soil is made up off decaying matter, beneficial creepy crawlers, and tiny stones for drainage.

3. Potting Soil

Potting soil is different from garden soil. It consists of many materials such as peat moss, perlite and organic compost to name a few. Remember not to use bad potting soil as that could further damage your soil.

What You Need To Make Garden Soil

Different types of soil on light background
Image credit: Pixel-Shot via Shutterstock

To follow this tutorial, you will not need a lot of things. Down below are the materials you will have to use:

  • ¼ compost
  • ¼ native soil
  • ¼ sphagnum peat moss
  • ¼ pumice stones/rice hulls/lava rocks (to provide aeration)
  • Neem/Karanja cake
  • Kelp meal
  • Crustacean meal
  • Basalt
  • Glacial Rock Dust
  • Gypsum
  • Oyster Shell Flour
  • Soil testing kit

Make Your Own Garden Soil Step-by-Step Tutorial

Making your own garden soil can be quite simple and we’ve put the steps to it down below:

Step 1: Test Your Soil

Soil meter that is currently being used in a loam that is suitable for cultivation.
Image credits: kram-9 via Shutterstock

Depending on what you want to grow, you may need to alter the pH of your soil. This is why one of the most crucial first steps you need to take testing your soil. You can use commercial soil testers, carry out DIY soil tests using household items, or you could hire a professional to test it for you. Remember, if you hire a professional, it could take a week or two to receive results. If this is not an option, further down you will find a short guide on what to do if you cannot or don’t want to test your soil.

Step 2: Create a Base

Mixing soil for cultivation by hand Ingredients have Black clay with Coconut Spathe Chopped and Rice hull ash
Image credits: PasSaKorn22 via Shutterstock

Once you have determined what your soil pH is, prepare the base. Add compost, native soil, sphagnum peat moss, and an aeration component (pumice stone, lava rock, rice hulls) at a 1:1:1:1 ratio. This means that for every cubic foot of soil, you will want to add 2.5 gallons of each component. You can use your compost pile to add to your garden soil mix.

Step 3: Add the Additional Nutrients

Female hand adding fertilizer in the flowerbed
Image credits: Sarycheva Olesia via Shutterstock

After your base is ready, it’s time to add the nutrients. You should add neem and Karanja cake for good aeration and nitrogen supplements. Kelp meal and crustacean (crab) meal for aeration and drainage, phosphorus, nitrogen, calcium, and chitin. Many gardeners consider crab meal as a superfood for soil – That said, you should only add half a cup per cubic foot of soil.

Step 4: Add Minerals

pouring vermiculite from a factory package into a pot of soil to prepare a mixed soil for seed germination in the spring, adding granules to improve potting soil for seedlings at home
Image credit: Skyliz via Shutterstock

After adding nutrients, it’s time to add some additional minerals. You should put in a cup of each mineral listed below for every cubic foot of soil:

  1. Basalt – rich in magnesium, calcium, and iron,
  2. Glacial Rock Dust – will help re-mineralize the soil,
  3. Gypsum – to help absorb moisture,
  4. Oyster Shell Flour – to add even more calcium and a lot of micronutrients to your mix.

Step 5: Mix It All Up

people mixing soil
Image Credit: USDAgov via Creative Commons

Mix all of the ingredients together well and add them to a container. Finally, water the soil and let it dry.

What To Do if I Don’t Want To or Cannot Test My Soil

gloved hand holding loam over a flower pot
Image credit: sanddebeautheil via Shutterstock

Although we recommend that you test your soil for accuracy, we get that sometimes it’s impossible. If you can’t order soil testers and don’t want to carry out DIY soil tests, here’s another way to prepare your garden soil:

  1. First of all, add compost to your soil and mix it together thoroughly.
  2. Next, add mulch, water the soil, and let it bake in the sun for a couple of weeks. This is a process of sterilizing the soil to kill any unwanted bacteria or diseases that may be present before using it in your garden.
  3. After a couple of weeks have passed and your soil has baked (never been rained on and not moist) it is ready for planting. However, with this method, keep a close eye on your plants for any indications of nutrient deficiency. You will have to address this as quickly as possible, otherwise, this may lead to the demise of your plants.

So, How’s Your Soil?

There are many factors that will make or break your garden, but the most important one,  is the soil mix that you are going to be using. Before you start making your own garden soil you should first check the soil pH and see if your plants will be able to thrive in it. After that, go ahead and make your mix, using the recipe we listed above.

Hopefully, our tutorial was helpful in your garden soil mixing endeavor. Let us know what you think or any questions you may have in the comment section down below and as always please share the article if you liked it!

Happy Gardening!

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