I would like to grow a few vegetables in containers. Can I use garden soil or should I purchase a commercial potting mi

Question: 

I would like to grow a few vegetables in containers. Can I use garden soil or should I purchase a commercial potting mix?

Answer: 

Plants grown in containers require a well-drained growing medium.  Garden soil alone is not a good growing medium.  Garden soil compacts when placed in a container, resulting in poor water drainage and aeration.  Soil also pulls away from the inside of the container when it dries, making it difficult to properly water plants.  A homemade potting mix can be prepared using equal amounts (volumes) of garden soil, sphagnum peat moss, and perlite. 

A commercial potting mix is often the best choice when gardening in containers.  The quality of commercial potting mixes varies considerably.  Poor quality potting mixes are often inexpensive, black, heavy, and don’t drain well.  High quality commercial potting mixes are lightweight, well-drained, free of plant disease organisms and weed seeds, retain moisture and nutrients well, and don’t readily compact.  Commercial potting mixes can be purchased at garden centers and many other retail businesses. 

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on . The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.