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Grow | Self-reliance

How to Make Your Own DIY Potting Mix

Make your own easy-peasy DIY potting mix and save money with a more sustainable solution for growing your own seedlings.

We love the excitement of sprouting our own seedlings at home, but potting and seed raising mix don’t come cheap.

So we’ve come up with the perfect recipe for making your own DIY potting mix. This recipe offers options to use a range of different growing mediums, depending on what you have to hand.

For nutrients, finely sieved compost or worm castings, or even a mix will do the trick. For moisture retention you can use homemade leaf mold or rotted sawdust as a very low food miles alternative to sustainably harvested coconut coir peat (which is what most people use) and is readily available at gardening stores.

And for drainage, a good handful of sand (pilfered from the sand pit, a building site or wherever else you can get your hands on some!).

DIY Potting Mix Recipe

Make Your Own DIY Potting Mix


  • 1 part nutrient medium: finely sieved compost or worm castings, or a mix.
  • 1 part moisture retention medium: coconut coir peat, leaf mold or rotted sawdust.
  • And for drainage: a handful of sand.

Step one: Sieve your compost

We used some of our latest batch of hot compost (which means it will be mostly weed-seed free) and sieved it through our homemade compost sieve (made of fine chook mesh and an old window frame).

Our compost was teeming with worms, and if you find yours is too, then rescue them before they get mushed through the sieve!

Make Your Own DIY Potting Mix 1

Step Two: Mix up your growing mediums

We trialled two different batches of moisture retention medium to add to our potting mix: leaf mold and coconut coir peat.

If using coconut coir peat, follow the instructions on the pack to fluff it up with water. We’re looking forward to seeing if there’s much difference in germination and growing between the two batches.

Mix through a handful of sand. Now you’re ready to start sowing. Happy growing!

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  1. It looks very yummy (the compost) I feel that leaf would be a better deal than saw dust, never know what hidden in saw dust, leaves when it breaks down the smell is truly beautiful.
    And be sure not to dig when worms are working, (men at work) and try a No Dig bed. Keep piling mulch on mulch. Straw is also good.

  2. What are your thoughts/experience of having worms in potted plants? I have found they stop the media from draining freely and ultimately create a water-logged pot. I have tried to find info on this but my Google searches have very little discussion.

    1. Hi Cathy, Sorry for my delay in answering you. Mm, interesting query. My first thought is that worms don’t like waterlogged situations either, in fact it can kill them and generally they will head for the surface where it is drier. As for worms creating the waterlogging, I haven’t heard that but it’s possible. My guess is that either the pot could be bigger or perhaps the medium needs more organic matter or to enable better drainage, line the bottom of the pots with small stones. Is there a possibility that the pots are over-watered? Sometimes when plants sit in a saucer they are unable to drain enough in wet weather. It’s always a fine line with potted plants. Personally I’ve always struggled to keep enough food in pots to keep my worms happy.

    2. We totally find this too… their castings block the bottom of the pot and it goes all goopy! Love worms in the garden, hate them in our pots 😉

  3. I’m so happy to find this. I hate using the commercial potting mix, especially the seed raising mixture as it doesn’t seem to yield the best results. This mix will have a much nicer energy to work with too.

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