Choosing the right kind of soil can be tricky when it comes to vegetable container gardening. What works well in a conventional garden won’t necessarily be a recipe for success in your container garden. This is usually because traditional soil is too heavy for the small containers. Container soil needs to be more lightweight to allow water to drain through and enough air in the soil so that plants can breathe properly. Too heavy a soil can cause your plants to drown or suffocate – or both! Yikes.
So how do you know what kind of soil to choose? Most container gardeners agree that a “synthetic” or “soil-less” potting mixtures are a good option to go with, especially if you are just starting out. They are lightweight and allow for air circulation and drainage. They also often have fertilizer in them too, which will help kick start a beginners’ garden. That way you don’t have to worry about trying to figure out how often to fertilize – at least for the first few weeks! These soil-less mixtures can be purchased at a local nursery or garden center.
Another option for those who are more experienced gardeners or thrifty frugal gardeners is to make your own mix. You can achieve a nice container garden soil by mixing equal parts sand, loamy garden soil and peat moss. Compost would be another great mixing agent – a half compost half soil mix would also work well for most purposes. Sand can also be added to the soil/compost mixture, but make sure to check the seed packet before adding.