How to Find the Best Potting Soil for Vegetables


Growing vegetables in containers makes it possible to garden in areas where space is limited or the soil is unsuitable for planting. Although it may be tempting to fill the container with ordinary garden loam, this is not recommended. According to the University of Cornell Extension Office, commercial potting soil or garden loam is too dense for container gardens and may inhibit drainage and prevent proper aeration. The best potting soil for container gardens should be lightweight and porous to promote drainage and prevent disease from soggy soil. Making your own potting medium provides vegetables with the right soil for growing.

Step 1

Pour equal amounts of all-purpose potting soil, moist peat moss and perlite in a large bin or barrel. Mix thoroughly. Peat moss retains moisture while perlite promotes drainage and provides aeration for growing roots.

Step 2

Add 4 tsp. of lime to each bushel of potting mixture. Peat moss is acidic and lowers the pH of soil. Adding lime raises the pH.

Step 3

Mix in 2 tbsp. of super phosphate fertilizer (0-20-0) and one cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer to each bushel of the mixture. Mix well to distribute all ingredients evenly.

Step 4

Fill containers with the soil mixture and plant as usual. Water thoroughly until water runs free of the bottom of the pot. Place in the desired location.

Things You'll Need

  • Large bin or barrel
  • Measuring spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • All-purpose potting soil
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Lime
  • Super phosphate fertilizer
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer


  • Cornell Cooperative Extension: Growing Vegetables, Herbs and Annual Flowers in Containers
  • Penn State Department of Horticulture: Homemade Potting Media

Who Can Help

  • AgriLife Extension: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
Keywords: soil for containers, make potting medium, mix potting medium

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.