Mixing your own blend of potting soil means that you can make a soil mixture that is specifically suited to your needs here in the UAE.A good potting soil must be easy to use, well-draining and contain sufficient organic matter and minerals to provide your plants with the physical support and nutrients they need. And most importantly, with sufficient air and water.
You will need to source quality ingredients and as locally produced as possible.As we don’t have access to normal garden soil – only sand – we can’t use normal soil to bulk our potting soil mix.But we can use SAND. The sweet red sand from Al Ain, Ras Al Khaimah etc. The redder the better!
So now we have our SAND! (NOTE: If you want to spend a bit more money, you can purchase course sand (builder’s sand) which gives your soil mix even better drainage. Some of the garden centers sell it. Just be sure to wash it through a few times.
Next you will need a good COMPOST. You can find a very good imported ORGANIC COMPOST at Warsan. Ask around. It’s a bit pricey but very good.
You can also use the animal manure you can buy at Warsan, but please make sure that it is aged and very dry before you use it.
Now we get to COCO PEAT (COIR FIBRE) or PEAT MOSS. We prefer to use coco peat as it’s a more sustainable resource, but it’s not always available. Most garden shops sell either or both. Coco peat takes a long time to break down and is widely available and inexpensive. It bulks up mixes without adding a lot of weight and, once wet, holds water fairly well. Coco peat also holds more nutrients than peat moss.
A product that is produced right here in the UAE, is PERLITE. A volcanic rock, perlite is heated and expanded to become a lightweight, sterile addition to potting soil mixes. It holds three to four times its weight in water, increases pore space and improves drainage. With a neutral pH, perlite can be used in place of sand when a lighter mix is required.
You can add additional natural fertilisers which are mainly derived from mined minerals, animal byproducts, plant materials or manures. Visit the garden centers and plant shops for items such as: alfalfa meal, blood meal, bone meal, cottonseed meal, crab meal, feather meal, fish meal, greensand, kelp meal, dehydrated manures and rock phosphate.
The mix ratio we recommend to start with is (use the same measuring vessel for each ingredient e.g. a bucket or container or by the hand full, depending on how much you want to mix)