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Proper soil makeup

I want to mix up some soil for planters and I remember back from my FFA days that you can put some soil in a jar, add water, mix it up and once it settles, it will be in layered (sand, loam, clay, etc.). Does anyone know what the proper ratio for these layers is? Thanks!!
 
You do not want to use garden soil in containers, you do want to use potting soil. Commercial potting soils will be made of peat moss, coir, finely shredded bark or a combination of those. I have for a number of years now used the compost I make for potting soil, although some here tell me that that does not work and I must not be doing it.
A web search for potting soil recipes will give you considerable information about that and most probably will suggest buying bails of peat moss, some perlite or vermicultite, and possibly some kind of synthetic fertilizer and mix them. You may well find it less expensive and much easier to simply buy however much potting soil you need.
This is the soil test you are refering to,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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Thanks Kimm. Next question. I will be using this mix in 5 gallon buckets for upside down tomatoes. What can/should I do at the end of the season with the soil in the buckets? Will I be able to continue using it year after year? Should I dump it into the garden and start fresh next year? Can I pile it on a tarp, add more compost to it the next year and use it again? Thanks.
 
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As I logged in today I saw that the OG homepage has an article on soil health which is worth reading.
 

 Zone 7b  Southeastern PA

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As long as the plants you grow in your potting medium have no plant diseases you could use it again next growing season by mixing in some fresh compost to replace any nutrients used. However, many people dump this seasons potting soil into their compost piles just as a precaution against any plant disease pathogen being there.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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ChuckMN,
I've used garden soil with amendments. The containers I've used are huge by most standards, around 2 ft. by 3 ft. Roots need LOTS of room to function properly.
So, I may use straight garden soil in the bottom 1/4 and then mix compost and peat moss or coir for the rest. I go by feel so it's hard for me to describe. I strongly suggest "recycling" the top half with new soil plus compost. And every other year, total replacement. Otherwise you'll eventually end up with soil deficient in nutrients.
I've never had a soil borne disease in any of my containers (lack of calcium, more than once). Unless your compost consistently obtains high temperatures (120) and you are turning the compost to ensure that all of it "cooks", I wouldn't trust it to kill diseases. Prevention is the key - crop rotation, clean up and choosing resistant plants help much more.
 
Eastern WA - zone 6
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