A recent comment highlights one of my favorite themes:
That’s from this video:
Though gardening indoors isn’t my favorite, and neither is gardening in pots, we have had good success using non-conventional “potting mixes” when we’ve been forced to container garden.
As I stated in my reply, chunks of wood and sticks and non-synthetic clothing can be placed in the bottom of containers or even in raised beds to fill in space. Old clothing – and eventually rotting wood – will act as a reservoir for moisture.
There are quite a few unmatched socks in the bottom of the half-barrels where I potted my dwarf coconut palms. There are also chunks of rotten magnolia wood along with sticks and leaves.
If you’re buying potting soil, it gets quite expensive to fill larger containers. On a smaller scale, we often stuff fall leaves in the bottom of pots first, filling them about 1/3 full, then covering that with potting mix. Though you would think this might “rob nitrogen,” it doesn’t seem to be a problem.
If a plant starts to look a bit yellow, we foliar feed it by misting the leaves with a fertilizer solution, whether that be a commercially produced dilute liquid fertilizer, or compost tea, or Dave’s Fetid Swamp Water.
My current potting mix for the nursery consists of rotten pine shreds from a sawmill, decomposed peanut waste from a shelling facility, pine bark with a little soil mixed in, dried cow manure, compost if we have it, and a generous sprinkling of pulverized limestone. We’re always trying to figure out how we can source materials locally and avoid having to buy mixes. Besides, buying peat moss from Canada and perlite from who-knows-where and having them shipped to Lower Alabama just does make sense to me.
Other alternate materials we’ve added include biochar, leaf mold, grit from a steam bed, worm castings, rotten hardwood bark, rabbit manure, ashes, coffee grounds, crushed termite nests, and rotten wood from old trees found in the forest.
You can get quite creative when you learn to COMPOST EVERYTHING!
Think a little differently and a world of possibilities opens up.
And by “a little differently,” I mean cheap and local.