The planters I recently made were quite large and required a lot of soil.
In order to buy less dirt, save money and improve water filtration in the container I implemented one of my grandmother’s old gardening tricks of using empty plastic milk cartons (gallon size) at the bottom of large gardening pots. I didn’t have milk cartons so instead substituted using layers of plastic water bottles.
Two layers of used empty plastic water bottles were laid directly on top of each other. The caps were left on the bottles so that they don’t fill up with dirt. The bottle layers allow water to filter through to the bottom drains that were previously drilled at the base of the planters.
Since dirt is heavy and can become compact at the bottom, the water bottles help keep things light and flowing.
A layer of potting soil was used to completely cover water bottles.
There are probably lots of arguments and opinions regarding the best type of potting soil and mixing components. I chose a simple method using premium potting soil, perlite and plant food. So far things are going great and the plants are thriving.
A mixture of approximately 80% potting soil and 20% perlite was used to fill the entire container leaving enough room to insert plants.
Perlite is a white and pictured below. It retains moisture longer yet at the same time provides good drainage. It is also lighter than soil and and won’t compact as the season goes on.
Then I mixed in plant food (Miracle Gro Shake n’ Feed pellets) to accommodate surface area according to directions.
The food was mixed in well with the soil and the final results of all three components looked like this:
Plants were then inserted and bases covered well with dirt.
The final step was to water the plants well.
Now I just need to wait for them to grow and also try to remember to check daily for water needs. :) Unlike plants grown in the ground, container plant roots can’t move down deeply in search of subsurface water so it’s important to make sure they are adequately watered.
If you want to read about how the planters with rollers pictured here were built, please check out tutorial.
Do you have any gardening secrets you can share with us?