"great potting soil" --- poison free organic gardening Victoria BC
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Great Potting Soil

 a cascade of trailing begonias

Although it may be a bit late in the season to talk about potting soil, it's not too late for repotting, which can come up anytime. A good potting soil will make all the difference in the world, particularly for planters and hanging baskets. And while planters, pots and hanging baskets are a delight to the heart and joy to the soul, they can be a bit of a problem, especially hereabouts where things get rather dry in summer. Watering daily, to keep them fresh, healthy and exuberant, can become a bit of a chore.

But fear not, help is on its way. We can take care of this, and very beautifully. Since plants in planters, balcony pots and hanging baskets are exposed to the drying air on all sides, we need to optimize the soil they are growing in for these conditions. And this can be done quite easily.

Here then is my secret formula for dynamite potting soil which will keep your potted plants fresh, healthy and exuberant under these conditions with a minimum of work and trouble. The secret ingredient is "duff", it makes all the difference. Now, for those who do not know what "duff" is, it is the stuff you find on the forest floor - the surface layer of semi-decayed leaves and needles among the trees.

Start out with good quality potting soil, and add by volume, an equal amount of duff. Then add a handful of sand per gallon, a handful of dolomite lime to balance the pH and for its vital trace elements, and up to a quart of finished compost or composted manure. For good measure, work in a handful of finely shredded seaweed per gallon, and dust the whole thing with a tablespoon of 20-20-20 slow release fertiliser.

The roughness of the duff will allow plenty of air penetration, but will also hold water like a super-sponge. It's the equivalent of a super absorbent sponge with lots of small holes in it. And that is exactly what our potted plants need. A plentiful reservoir of moisture, along with well aerated soil. The handful of sand worked into a gallon of this soil is also necessary to provide ready drainage, particularly later in the season when it gets wet again. It prevents the soil from becoming water logged. And the high nitrogen, phosphorus and potash fertilizer provides plenty of nitrogen for growth and the ongoing decay of the duff, while the phosphorus is needed for the demands of profuse blossoms.

It is best to make this potting soil at least a week in advance, so all its ingredients can become well acquainted with each other. When using this soil in suspended planters and hanging baskets, make sure they are on sturdy supports. For when this soil is nicely saturated with water it weighs a ton. And this is exactly how it should be. Test for watering by lifting the pot or planter a bit. If it doesn't 'weigh a ton' it needs water. Plastic pots help a great deal by preventing evaporation through the sides of these totally exposed containers, and so does a clear plastic liner in wood and porous ceramic pots and planters.

Under normal circumstances, and with evaporation through the sides of the container minimized, you'll find that you need to water your pots only about once a week, and all of your flowers will just love it.



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