This morning we mixed potting soil.  Two of my sons live here on the farm and we worked together this morning to fill a container for the greenhouse.  I’m going to share the process and the recipe – it’s so much cheaper than buying it and you know everything that’s in it!

Here is our mixing area. In the background you see a corncrib that was here when I bought the farm over 20 years ago. We don’t raise corn for cattle (just for us) so we use it for storage of things we use around the farm that don’t fall into the garden, toolshed, chicken coop, fencing categories.

I bought a cement mixer at an auction – we have mixed our own feed, mixed cement for projects and use it to mix our potting soil in it ! It has an electric motor but you can also crank it by hand.  One of the best purchases I ever made – less than $100- 22 years ago!

We keep our recipe out here so we always have it on hand…there have been too many trips back to the house to retrieve that “recipe”! Please excuse the messy counter – farms aren’t neat and clean!  When you see a special on TV (i.e. Martha Stewart’s farm) just know that hundreds of people have worked hard for that photo shoot so you don’t see the nitty gritty.  For goodness sake…you don’t even see cow poop in the fields! How do they do that? Photoshop? Curious minds want to know!

We aren’t here to win an Instagram award – so we are keeping it real! Looks like I need to use that On Guard cleaner on that bench.  People..the struggle is real…if you have chickens you have chicken poop!  Our chickens free range so it really is a struggle! We do plan to close off this shed to reduce the constant “chicken poop” problem.  It’s on our project list….probably this fall or winter when we aren’t trying to get the garden going!

We start with peat moss….but we want to get the chunks out.  We dump it onto a screen over a trash can and just by moving my hands through it the finer pieces fall into the trash can below it.

It’s such an easy job that I can hire my 7 year old grandson to help!

We typically do a full bale of peat moss at one time and then store it in a trashcan.  See the larger chunks that are left?  We put those in a different trash can and save them to mulch the flower beds around our house!  We don’t want those in our potting mix because it becomes a real struggle for tender young shoots to try to grow past those large pieces of bark while trying to emerge from the soil.  We want potting mix that is fine and fluffy for seedlings while still giving them a punch of nutrients to start them on their way!

We put the peat moss in the mixer and begin adding the rest of the amendments.sometimes we use our own cow manure and sometimes (usually when we are in a hurry) we will purchase Black Kow to use.  If you don’t own cows or goats or chickens…Black Kow is a great option for mixing your own potting soil.  Just a note….this “recipe” can be made much smaller if you are growing a small garden. I have already used two trashcans of this mix in the greenhouse and I’m just getting started!

Once we get all of the amendments into the mixer – we begin to crank the wheel!

 

While Joshua is spinning the mixer, Elijah is using a tool that he made to help get anything stuck to the side back down into the center of the mixer.  We don’t want any pot to get a boat load of manure, or perlite or any one thing.

We are striving for a nice even mix of everything! You could do this in a large tube with a shovel – you DON’T need a cement mixer for this.  Just use what you have at home!  

Once we are done mixing – we dump that portion into the trash can that will head to the greenhouse! Joshua is wearing a mask not because of the virus – this poor kid is allergic to EVERYTHING that grows in TN.  Seasonal threats are high right now – our oak trees are dumping a boat load of pollen. On top of that, mixing all of these amendments also creates a lot of dust that bothers him.  Did you know that a blend of Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint essential oils will support you during seasonal threats?  Message me if you want more info on this!

We made 4 batches of this recipe today.  It filled the trashcan for the greenhouse and there is a little bit left in the mixer for when I need a “refill”!  A good plan because I go through this stuff like water!  I don’t buy plant starts….I like to start everything in my little greenhouse. From very early spring until we get ready for our fall garden the greenhouse is bustling with activity!

The guys even toted it down to the greenhouse for me!

Here  it is – I’ll be going through quite a bit of this in the morning or late this afternoon – I need to re-pot some plants so they don’t get leggy or stressed – that can cause them to produce poorly when they get into the garden! I used to sell my plants at the local farmer’s market.  I always did well because I took the time to re-pot everything.  I wanted people to buy plants that would be strong and healthy and produce an abundance in their gardens! When you are starting seeds, always remember to re-pot your plants as necessary so that they will give you an abundance of food all season long!

 

Ready for my recipe?  You should be able to get all of this at either a farm store or nursery!

This recipe is found in my Perpetual Garden Calendar. Oh!  I haven’t told you about that?  I’ll do a post on that soon but it will also be available when the shop opens for soap!  I created it because I was tired of carrying garden books to the garden – remember I knew NOTHING about gardening 22 years ago when I moved to this farm! I always said I would write a gardening book but I did better than that.  More details coming soon!

Happy planting!

Cheri