How To Prepare Soil For Container Gardening?

Soil is just about the most important thing to consider when you are looking to start your container garden. So, how to prepare soil for container gardening? Luckily, there are lots of different ways you can do this, depending on what you want to plant and the results you are after.

How To Prepare Soil For Container Gardening?

soil for container gardening

When growing in containers, as opposed to growing in the ground, you have to make sure that your plants have enough nutrients, and that the soil drains well.

If you make your own container garden compost, you can be certain that you’ve got the balance right – plus you will even more proud when your plants thrive!

  1. Start by working out how much soil you are likely to need. It’s no good buying one small bag and discovering that it barely covers the bottom of your pots.
  2. Check the nutritional needs of the plants you are growing. For example, tomatoes need a lot of nitrogen, so their soil requirements will be different to most flowers.
  3. If you are planting something that is to stay in the container a long time, buy a loam soil and combine it with compost for the nutrients.
  4. Adding coarse material such as Perlite or coconut coir is a great option for increasing the drainage capabilities of your soil.
  5. You can reuse your container soil after the first season – just tip it all out onto a tarp and pick out any weeds and leftover roots.
  6. If your plants aren’t growing too well one year, adjust the quantities and types of nutrient so that they perform better the following year.
  7. Always go for chemical free additions to your soil, whether this is the compost or fertilisers that you add.
  8. Some people heat the soil to remove pathogens – this requires having trays of soil in your oven though, so many people aren’t up for it!

What Is A Good Soil Mixture For Container Gardening?

You can, of course, use any old soil for your container garden. After all, soil is soil, right? Surely it’s definitely better than no soil at all!

Well, yes and no. Ordinary soil is alright for planting up your containers, but it should definitely be modified to improve it and get the best results.

If you are using garden soil, you should mix it with the following things, one part of soil to one part each of:

  • Peat Moss. This is an essential ingredient for potting soil, as it contains nutrients and will also make the soil slightly more acidic.
  • These little white grains look a bit like polystyrene, but it is actually made from superheated volcanic glass. It is excellent for moisture retention as well as drainage.
  • Coarse builder’s sand. This is a great addition to your soil to help with drainage – no plant likes to get waterlogged, and they may well rot if they get too wet.
  • This alkali substance can be used if you want your soil to be less on the acidic side, for plants that like a more balanced pH.
  • Kelp powder. This seaweed based substance is a powerhouse of nutrients. It will give your plants a real boost when they start their growing season.

Buying in shop bought compost is all very well, but if you have a lot of large containers to fill it can get very expensive, very quickly!

Have a go at making your own container soil mix, and you will enjoy the results that can be specially tailored to suit your individual plants.

This video will give you some good tips on making your own container soil:


How Do You Prepare Soil For A Vegetable Container?

When you are planting vegetables, they are often deeper growing than other plants, so you will need to make sure that you have enough space for them.

Every vegetable has different growing requirements; some like more nitrogen, others grow best in poor soil; some like the soil to be really warm before they will start.

The best thing to do is decide which vegetables you are going to grow, then research which type of soil they like the best.

As a quick, rough guide to a few of the most common veggies:

  • Tomatoes like a lot of nitrogen.
  • Carrots grow best in soil that doesn’t contain a lot of nutrients – too much fertiliser and they will grow forked.
  • Sweet potatoes will only grow well when the soil is very warm.
  • Beans and other climbers will need good support, so invest in some bamboo poles.
  • Potatoes will grow in just about anything.

Most vegetables aren’t that fussy, and will grow happily in your common or garden (excuse the pun!) multi purpose soil.

The most important thing to remember is that all plants need drainage, so if your container doesn’t have holes in the bottom then you will need to add some.

What Is The Best Compost For Containers?

Compost is a great choice for planting up your containers; it is nutrient rich and a great texture to allow for good growth.

Depending on what you want to grow in your containers, you may wish to try different types of compost.

Check the requirements of your individual plants before you just chuck any old compost in; some may have different nutrient requirements.

In general, multi purpose compost is a great choice for container planting – it is nutrient rich, and can really help your plants grow well.

The only time when multi purpose compost is not the best choice is when you are planting seeds.

Multi purpose compost can contain large particles which may be hard for the seeds to struggle through.

Potting compost is the best for when you are planting seeds or seedlings in your containers, as it is a finer texture.

Final Words

When you are preparing your container garden, you really need to spend a bit of time researching and planning what sort of soil you will use.

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