Best Soils to Grow Vegetables in Pot

Published Date: April 10, 2021

You may be sad after the death of your favorite plant. You leave no stone unturned in taking care of the plant. But it couldn’t make it.

So, now you may think where have you gone wrong? Well, have you ever noticed your plant’s soil? 

If not then please check the soil of your container plants. Without ensuring the best soil for your plant roots in containers you can’t expect your plant to grow. But how can you know that it is the best soil, right?

Well, that’s why I am here to tell you about the best soil to grow vegetable plants in the container. So, without any delay let’s dive in deep!

Best soil for vegetable garden
Table of Contents

What is the best soil to grow vegetables?

When you are about to choose the indoor potting soil for your garden, you can see there are many options for it.

There is garden soil, potting mix, potting soil. Then there are more variations of potting mixes. There is soil on the basis of its texture like dry soil or clay soil.

Now, which one will you choose? You must prefer good quality potting mix for vegetables. It is good for container gardening to grow beans, carrots, squash, lettuce, eggplants, tomatoes, spinach, herbs, spices, and many more when there is a lack of space!

But still, if you want to use soil instead of potting mixes then you need to use different types of soil according to your plant type. 

Don’t worry and just stay with me. I will fill you with more details about it. Some basic features you can take care of while choosing the soil for containers:

  • The medium you choose should be light and fluffy.
  • The drainage capacity is perfect so that it can also hold moisture.
  • It is more like spongy for better water and air circulation.
  • Make sure the weed seeds are absent.
  • It is not too soggy and the smell of the medium is pleasant.
  • There is no bug in the soil or medium.
  • Doesn’t shrink and also doesn’t leave the corner space of the container.

Best Type of Soils

So, now it’s time to know the best soil type. Soil is also an essential element like sunlight and watering for healthy plants. There are many types of soil that you can use for your potted vegetable plants.

Using any random soil for vegetables won’t give you the guarantee to have a successful garden.

Besides, sometimes it’s really hard to deal with the soils. That’s why I don’t recommend you to make a garden with soils.

However, let’s know about the types.

Clay Soil

Clay soil is really a tough thing to deal with. It is very dense in texture and has a reddish color. 

It is sticky in wet condition but hard and heavy when it dries. Even it can block the drainage holes sometimes. Really hard to dig!

You need to use organic material to fix the soil.

Best growing veggies in clay soil

Basically shallow roots vegetables are the best match for clay soil. You can grow broccoli, broad beans, French beans, cabbage, and cauliflower. You can also plant carrots or daikon that will help the clay to break up more.

Sandy Soil

It is easier to deal with sandy soil than clay soil. It is fast draining, fast-drying, and can’t stay stuck together.

For amending sandy soil, loosen up the dirt and mix some compost as well as organic matter with the soil. Use 2:1 ratio for soil and others. Make sure the matter is mixed about 3 inches deeper from the surface.

You can also add some grass clippings for water retention. Also, ensure proper watering and fertilizing for this soil type to provide nutrients.

Best growing veggies in clay soil

There are many types of vegetables that go well with sandy soil are root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and potatoes, leafy greens like lettuce, as well as others like peppers, squash, and zucchini.

Silty Soil

It is better than sandy soil as well as holds moisture better than sandy soil. It is soft and powdery but becomes slippery when wet. Its texture is between clay and sandy.

For amending the soil use lime along with other organic fertilizer. If it is not acidic, then don’t use lime. 

Besides, using some mulch or clippings before planting is really helpful for aeration and drainage.

Best growing veggies in silty soil

Shallow root veggies like beets, garlic, radish beets parsnip, onion, and various herbs grow really well in this type of soil.

Loamy Soil

This soil is consists of sand, silt, and clay. This is the ideal type of soil for gardening. It is well-drained and moisture retained.

There are all vital nutrients present in the soil as well as its nutrient retention is good. You don’t need to do too much for amending this soil. That’s why it’s good quality soil.

Just use some natural fertilizer to maintain it and you are lucky enough to get good veggies!

Don't choose garden soil for your container gardening

Most of the beginners use garden soil for container vegetable gardens. But don’t do it. 

Now, you may think I use the same soil in the garden for growing veggies. Then why not in the pots? Well, some get lucky with garden soil and suggest you do the same.  

But you may not be lucky enough here. I am forbidding you to do so then obviously there are some reasons.

You need a light and fluffy medium for your gardening pots as I said earlier. However, the garden soil is too heavy to make your pots heavier to move. 

So are you thinking now that this is such a tiny matter to solve? Then let me tell you that this is not the main problem.

Well, garden soil is a filthy thing for your pot. There are bugs or pests, disease organisms, fungal spores, and weed seeds in the garden soil. So, if you use this soil in containers that have a limited place, then certainly you are calling trouble for your indoor plants.

Since garden soil is so heavy, it can compact too quickly resulting in poor drainage and airflow. The top of the garden soil becomes dry too fast and creates waterlogged under the surface. As a result, the plants can’t get enough nutrients.

That’s why you should prefer potting soil or potting mixes for your potted plants.

But still, if you insist on using garden soil then make a homemade soil mix remembering the following tips

  • First, add some peat moss to improve soil-texture
  • Then use perlite or coarse sand for improving drainage
  • Finally, sterilize this mix in the oven to kill some pathogens and weed seeds. For this, cover the soil with foil properly and bake it for 30 minutes to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to keep the heat below 200 degrees otherwise, the soil may get toxic.

Let's talk about  the amazing indoor garden saver: potting mix

Many people confuse potting mix with potting soil. But the potting mix is a soil-less mix whereas the potting soil contains soil. Potting mix is also called potting compost or organic soil mix.

It was mainly designed for the plants in the containers. Potting mixes come with organic matters like compost, peat moss, and bark chips or pine bark. There is no chemical fertilizer used in it and that’s why it can provide the plants with a good amount of nutrients.

Besides this, it also balances the pH level of the soil by aeration. That means it can solve the problem you would have faced with garden soil. It also balances the moisture of the soil.

Don’t forget to check the potting mix before using it in the garden. Make sure it contains vermiculite or perlite. Otherwise, the moisture retention or aeration properties will be damaged.

Besides you can use your own customized potting mixes as per the requirements of the plant. 

What is used in the potting mix?

Potting soil mixtures are completely an organic matter mixture that doesn’t contain any kind of soil. It’s a blending mixture of the following mentioned items:

Sphagnum Peat Moss: It is the primary and stable ingredient of the mix. It needs a lot of time for breaking down. It is easily available and makes the potting mix properly.

It is cheap and doesn’t make the soil mix too heavy. It is well-drained and well-aerated. But It is acidic in nature and to balance the pH level of the soil you may have to use limestone.

Fertilizer: Mined minerals, plant materials, and animal by-products are used as fertilizer to reduce nutrient deficiencies and ensure the healthy growth of the plants. It is necessary as in most cases peat moss alone can’t provide all essential nutrients for the plant.

Perlite: This mined volcanic rock is used in the mix for proper drainage. It expands in heat and holds its weight in water about four times. Thus it improves drainage but also a lightweight ingredient for your pot.

Vermiculite: This particle also expands by heat and converts into a lighter one. It is used to add porosity. It also adds calcium, magnesium, and increases the capacity to hold water to moist soils.

Sand: Coarse sand is used for increasing the drainage capacity. It can add some weight to your pots. You can use a little amount of it but it is not that preferable.

Limestone: It is for the pH balance as we said earlier. If it is not used then you have to put it separately in your pot before planting. There is dolomitic limestone and pulverized calcitic limestone. You can choose any of them.

Compost: Another component that is good for water retention and nutrient-rich.

Wood Chips or Pine Bark: It is mainly used for increasing pores in the soil that ensure good airflow. However, they try to steal the nitrogen of the soil. That’s why some blood meal is added into the mix as well.

Types of potting mixes

Lighter and fine-textured: Used for seed starting and root cutting.

Coarse sand and Pine Bark: Used for potted trees

All-purpose: Used for container gardens, good for vegetables, and perennials.

Why choose a potting mix?

Let’s discuss the beneficiary sides of potting mix.

  • Light but a fluffy texture medium with a pleasant smell
  • Provides better aeration and moisture retention.
  • Porous structure for good airflow
  • Zero weed seeds
  • No bugs or pests
  • Organic matter so doesn’t harm the plant or environment.
  • Non-shrinkable and doesn’t leave any space from the side of the pot.

Best 6 Amazing Readymade Organic Potting Mix

The following gardening soil mix comes with essential plant food for vegetables. Let’s know more about them.

Black Gold 1302040 16-Quart All Organic Potting Soil

It is a rich mixture of organic fertilizers, pumice, and earthwork castings. The ingredients are an essential block builder. This is a loamy textured potting mix.

It is effective for growing fresh and succulent vegetables as well as aromatic herbs. 

Each bag of this mix is known to be home to fresh nutrients. This way it works on proper oxygen distribution and drainage. Moreover, it contains OMRI-listed natural fertilizer that proves as a good source of nutrients to the heavy feeder veggies.

It is a premium quality yield.

Fox Farm Ocean Forest Potting Soil

It is a sandy loam potting mixture that contains peat moss, natural fertilizers, and forest humus. The pH range of this mix ranges from 6.3 to 6.8 and so no need to add extra limestones.

It is easy to handle as well as offers good values. Thus it is perfect for beginners. 

However, it is not that good with water retention. Besides, sometimes there may be big chunks of organic material in the bags of mix.

Espoma AP2 Organic Potting Soil

With a beautiful earthy smell and a good amount of essential nutrients, it is good for both indoor and outdoor gardens. This mix can hold a large amount of water to moist the soil.

This mix is created with the Myco-Tone formula that helps in deciding the perfect amount of water needed for the plant. So no excess watering or less watering. Besides, this formula ensures faster growth of plants in any kind of environment.

In addition, the fertilizer ratio of this mix is 2% potassium, 7% nitrogen, and 2% phosphate at least. However, this mix is a little bit expensive!

Miracle-Gro Potting Mix

With a unique formula, perfect pH, perlite, and peat moss, it is a perfect mix for any type of plant. It is suitable for indoor gardening due to its light texture.

This multi-purpose potting mix is used for amending and improving soil quality for vegetable gardens. It is a mixture of 14% potash, 21% nitrogen, and 7% phosphate.

It gives plants a strong foundation, vital nutrients, and a healthy environment for the roots in container gardening at least for 6 months. It also grows plants two times bigger.

It is recommended for growing vegetables from vegetable seeds or root cuttings. This mix comes at an affordable price and eco-friendly too!

Burpee Organic Premium Potting Mix

It releases vital nutrients instantly as well as a steady food supply for veggies. It is consists of compost, perlite, and organic fertilizer.

Because of the coconut coir used in it, it can keep the soil moist. It has good water retention and good drainage capacity as well. 

It is another OMRI-listed potting mix that you can use for any type of pot. This potting mix is enough for 3 months. 

Proven Winners Premium All-Purpose Potting Soil

This is a flexible and mid-weight product that you can use for several plants. This is a professional-grade soil mix that consists of composted bark, premium peat moss, and horticultural grade perlite. It is good for air porosity and drainage.

It is cheaper and can be used for any potted plants. However, the amount of fertilizer is a little bit lower in this mix. So you have to use fertilizer separately before planting.

Homemade Potting Mix

If you think that buying a ready-made potting mix is a bit costly for you, then you can definitely make your own. Also, if you want your own customized mix then it’s a good idea to make it at home on your own.

Besides, the readymade mixtures can have water crystals, soil wetters, or chemical fertilizers that is a threat for usage. But when you make it on your own, you can avoid it.

You need to make a loose and porous mix for proper transport of fertilizer, water, and air as well as that will ensure proper drainage.

For making a basic potting mix, let’s look into the recipe:

  • Put 1 bucket of peat moss in a clean container.
  • Put the equal amount of perlite or vermiculite with peat moss that means 1 bucket of each of them.
  • Mix ½ bucket of compost or composted cow manure.
  • Now Mix 2 cups of fine sand.
  • Mix ½ cup limestone and 2 cups of slow-release fertilizer thoroughly and add them to the potting mixture. 
  • Adjust the pH of the potting mix by adding sulfur to lower the pH or lime to raise the pH.
  • Sift the potting mixture through a screen with half-inch hardware cloth to break any large clumps into fine pieces. If you are going to use the potting mix for germinating seeds, sift it through a ¼ inch hardware cloth for a finer texture.
  • Moisten the potting mix before planting.

Some last words for you

Here, I have tried to explain almost all types of mediums that you can use for planting vegetables.

Well, now you know – 

  • What an ideal type of soil should be like.
  • Why you should choose potting mix over the garden soil.
  • Some best potting soils. 
  • And lastly how easily you can make your own potting soil.

So, all the choices are right here in front of you. Just make your decision wisely and save your weak plants. So, don’t stop and keep going with gardening. Happy Gardening gardeners!