Soil Mix Round-Up

Not a Comprehensive List, but Still a Good Start.

Basic Recipe 1:
1  part peat moss
1  part composted bark

1  part compost

1  part sand

1  part perlite
If the mix clumps together and the compost you use is heavy, add more perlite to ensure good drainage. Use extra compost or bark when growing more mature plants, but don’t make it too rich for young plants—it could damage their delicate roots and stems.
—Rita Randolph, Randolph’s Greenhouses, Jackson, Tennessee

Basic Recipe 2:
1 part compost
1 part coarse sand
1 part sphagnum peat moss
1 part composted pine bark
2 T. lime for each shovel of peat moss

This has the added distinction of being from a University Extension Site, and it is part of a whole Container Growing Guide to which I will surely return:
(RECIPE:) An acceptable soil based mix can be made by using one part garden soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite or coarse builders sand. Don't use fine beach sand or play sand.....
(SOIL-BASED VS SOILLESS:) Soil-based medias are also a bit more forgiving when it comes to water and fertility. They tend not to dry out as fast, and they also tend to hold on to nutrients longer. Because soilless medias can be a bit more costly, you could mix 25 percent soil with the soilless media to stretch your soilless media for a few more pots...
(“TOP SOIL”) There are also bagged products labeled as top soil that tend to be largely sedge peat. While they are inexpensive and look very good, once put into a pot they are poorly drained and poorly aerated. They can be used in combination with soilless media products or amended much the same way as if you were using garden soil....
(FILLERS:) To reduce the cost and also the weight of the container consider adding "filler" to the bottom of the container to take up space. Many things can be used, but they should be something that is inert, able to take up space and not break down over the course of the growing season. While there are inserts made for this purpose, there are a lot of home products that can be recycled for this use.
Items such as crushed aluminum cans, plastic milk jugs, and non-biodegradable "packing peanuts" are usually readily available. Fill the bottom one-quarter to one-third of the container with your choice of material. Lay a piece of landscape fabric over the top of the material and fill the rest of the container with media. The filler takes up space the landscape fabric keeps the soil from infiltrating the filler while allowing water to pass through, and there is still ample space for roots to grow.

Quick Items I Gleaned from ASCFG Bulletin Boards:
SunGro's Metromix
I'd recommend Fafard #2. I recently purchased a few bags of MetroMix 360 to try and found it to have too many fines. I mixed it with Fafard 51L to add air space.

Recipe Taken from the Metromix Website itself (hence no ratios beyond the bark - though maybe if I can find an actual picture of the bag it'll be on there?):
60-70% Bark*
Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss
Horticultural grade Perlite
Starter Nutrient Charge
Dolomitic Limestone and a Wetting Agent

*Product will consist of Composted Pine Bark in the Eastern and Central regions. Product will consist of Composted Fir Bark in the Western region.

Perennials: Soil Mix Round-Up & Potting Up Plan

Rigorous Research! I love it.

This afternoon I was collecting perennial soil mix recipes in anticipation of the bare root perennials and plugs I'll be receiving in the next 3 weeks. I'm talking about astilbe, dicentra, alstroemeria, baptisia australis, anemone (japanese), sedum, buddleia, peonies, chasmanthium, and heuchera. It's not formatted to great or anything, but next post is a list of what I found, along with the source, in case this is of interest to you. Me, what I do is collect the recipes; assess what I think of the source, compare the recipes to what I happen to have on hand (right now it's a big bag of perlite and one small bale of coco peat, and soon it'll be a bunch of compost as well); do some research on local sources, quantities, and prices of the other ingredients; calculate the quantity of mix I think I'll need, and then price it all out and prepare my final orders.

I'm only a couple steps in at this point, but I plan to get it all done this week, so I can procure it by next week, so I can be ready for those babies!

Right now my plan is to build some bumps (flexible pvc ribs) out from the north side of the house on the porch. The plants will be potted up into 1 and 2 gallon pots (and maybe i'll experiment with a few extra big sized soil blocks just for fun) and clustered together, hopefully soaking up some of the heat the house releases during the day. I'll build a plastic wall on the west edge of the porch to protect from that strong wind we get.

I'll cover the pots with heavy row cover or frost blanket (I need to check on the light filtration of that), and I'll cover the ribs with HH plastic (I need to get some advice from Kido and Devin on plastic grades, and spec that out from Jeff & others). I'll sink the poles into soil in cinder blocks, and use cinder blocks to weigh down the edges on the cement below the porch. I'll also use heavy clips to keep the plastic on the ribs and around the edges.

The house will shade them a lot of the day in the early spring, but we get a lot of western light. I should probably measure the hours of daylight (which means a] keeping a notebook by the kitchen window to jot it down, and b] asking my husband the solar engineer about cheap sun-assessment tools). In any case, they're perennials, which have been "hibernating" before they've gotten to me. In their natural habitat in the ground they'd just stay asleep until conditions were right. So I'm hoping that as long as I can protect them from the absolute low temps they each specifically can't tolerate (I'm looking at you alstroemeria), the cold weather and small amount of light they'll get will keep them asleep or veerrrry slow growing until the weather warms up.

I may not get to plant them out in the 6-8 weeks normally prognosticated, BUT I'm not planning on having them be harvestable/salable this year anyway, so I'm not worried if they don't get in the ground in time to bloom this year! These are perennials baby, and I'm planning for the long game.