The most BASIC potting soil you can make. Two ingredients, very inexpensive and great for filling large containers or areas.

I want a pair of summer Gucci moccasins.  I really want a pair of summer Gucci moccasins.  I check on Ebay and Etsy and high end consignment shops for Gucci moccasins.  Sometimes I find them. And then I don’t buy them because you don’t just go around buying yourself Gucci moccasins for no reason.

I have to remind myself every so often that it’s O.K. to spend the odd bit of frivolous money on myself.  In fact, it’s kind of a good thing to do.  If you can get past that seasick feeling buying yourself nice things can feel great. 

So when I bought my mother an INSANELY GREAT  but HUGE raised vegetable planter I nearly passed out when I realized how much it was going to cost to fill it with soil.




At 15 cubic feet I was looking at close to $100 to fill my my mother’s raised planter with soil.  $70 if I used the cheap stuff.  BOTH of the potting mixes I was looking at were 85%  peat moss by the way.

This is an issue for 2 reasons …. 85 % peat moss??? Peat Moss is dirt cheap.  LOLOLOL.  Sorry. A little soil humour there.  Peat moss is around $10 for a huge bag, so how come a bag of 85% peat moss was going for $30?  Basically I was paying $100 for 3 big bags of air.  Plus, if you didn’t know …

Peat moss is a non renewable resource that’s been overharvested.

That means Peat moss, which naturally occurs in bogs has been harvested way, WAY more than it can reproduce.  So we’re down to the last dregs of Peat Moss in Canadian bogs. There’s an argument to be made for Canadians continuing to use peat moss because it’s their own resource that requires only a small amount of travel impact, as opposed to the Coco Coir that has to be harvested and shipped from Sri Lanka.

I’ll leave it to use to decide which to use. I use both Coco Coir and Peat Moss in my potting mixes.

Coco Coir (pronounced coy-err) is coconut husk fibres usually harvested in Sri Lanka.  It is a renewable resource that does the exact same thing as peat moss.  It absorbs and holds water.

In my experience it doesn’t hold as much water as peat though and definitely dries out faster.

Coco Coir sells for about $10 for a little block that expands to 10x its size.


It’s sold in bricks like this because  it’s so much easier to ship from Sri Lanka.  It’s just packed and mashed into a compressed form and to puff it up, you just soak it in  water.

I got coconut coir for my mother’s planter from a local dirt place that sells everything in bulk.  They had reconstituted coconut coir for $20 for half of a yard!  I just had to bag it up myself.  Which I did with everything I could find in my trunk.


It was just luck that I found a place that sold Coco Coir in bulk like this, it isn’t easy to find this way, so don’t go hunting for it.  Just get the stuff that’s sold in a brick.  Amazon is the easiest place to find it, but in Canada they will also special order it for you at Home Hardware at a really good price.

They did not have any Gucci moccasins at the dirt place by the way.  I asked.  Repeatedly.




2 parts COCO COIR : 1 part COMPOST


Some people also add in pearlite or vermiculite to their mix, but I di.  Plus I was too cheap to buy a $30 bag of Pearlite.  (Pearlite is the stuff that looks like balls of styrofoam and Vermiculte is the shaley, shiny stuff).  Those two things help to keep the soil from being compacted so the roots have a nice easy path trough the growing medium, but Coco Coir is so airy that I didn’t think it was necessary.

The ratio of Coco Coir (or peat moss if you must) to compost doesn’t really matter all that much.  I have REALLY strong compost because I gather and make it from my chicken droppings and straw so I don’t need a ton of compost in relation to the Coco Coir to make a good nutrient rich soil.

And as I reminded myself this spring when I was potting up my seedlings (while not wearing Gucci loafers) there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”  I added too much compost to my potting mix at a ratio of 1:1 and sent my plants into fits. They had yellow leaves with dark green veins.  Basically I overdosed them.

Because I had my own compost and didn’t have to buy any I had a total cost savings of around $77.

Just a few more savings like that and it’ll be good-bye cardboard shoes,  hello Gucci. Unless I get “the sweats” as I hover my finger over the add to cart button.  In which case, I’ll pop an anti-nauseant and push the button anyway.


  1. Shannon says:

    Great post! Wish I had it one weekend sooner…although I used peat moss I didnt always commit to a 2:1 ratio. I’m really curious what you did to “fix” the over rich soil you had for your seedlings. Were they doomed? I hope not, because I believe I just did this with my favorite clematis. (Yes, I know I’m not supposed to repot clematis this time of year but I was forced to when its planter broke). My leaves are looking exactly as you described…yellowing with darkgreen veins.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shannon! Because I knew I was putting them in the ground very soon I didn’t end up doing anything, but you could try what my other reader said and amend your soil with some epsom salts. :) ~ karen!

  2. Benjamin says:

    just add some of the homestyle silk screen tee shirts and tea towels that your readers can buy and you’ll be well on your way to Gucci-ville. I’d love a tee with your logo meat cleaver on it please.

    • Karen says:

      I know. I keep meaning to do it but it’s SO hard. I have no time! Just finding tee shirts that I don’t think are awful has been a struggle, lol. They need to be soft and nice and not too long and not too short (sleeves and length) and on and on and on. ~ karen!

  3. karen j cosme says:

    i’m the same way – trying to save whenever i can. i only buy my big ticket tools when i can get at least 10% off as a veteran. but i have to tell you, karen, that i am so not buying that trug…i’m building it (http://myoutdoorplans.com/planter/raised-planter-box-plans/ or http://myoutdoorplans.com/planter/waist-high-raised-garden-bed-plans/). them. for my mom. she lives in a senior complex and thinks she has a green thumb. this is why i’m trying to get the yard done. you know, before we lose her to the great beyond. i live in massachusetts and get my coir from the marijuana growers’ store. seems coir is the preferred medium. and i feel you on the guccis. i do. i am so torn over buying birkenstocks. i download the german brochure every year…like a christmas wish book…then pay $1 for shoes at the salvation army thrift store on any given saturday. i think this will be my gift for completing a challenge or three – a trip to boston or providence for birkenstocks. yay!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Just buy the Birkenstocks. They really will last forever! I thought about building the trug but I”m just plain old out of time. Also, the price of wood (it’s cedar too) just wasn’t going to make it worth it for me. ~ karen!

  4. Amanda says:

    I had a great plan to buy a pair of Givenchy slip on sandals for summer, and by the time I went to do it they were sold out. Sometime’s you’d really rather just spend the extra to have some luxury in your life…not to mention, in my experience, higher quality things outlast the cheaper ones.

  5. Erika says:

    Peat moss has always driven me nuts because it’s so hard to take it from bone dry to evenly moist. On a recent Shark Tank some folks presented a peat moss substitute called PittMoss. I copied and pasted a couple paragraphs from their website below. It handles water better. Haven’t used it yet, but plan to!

    PittMoss® is a revolutionary product designed to be used as a plant growing substrate. It is made of recycled newspaper and helps plants develop stronger root systems and uniform growth. PittMoss® is the product of decades of experimentation to find the ideal growing medium to encourage healthy plant development while practicing a more responsible use of our natural resources.
    Healthy, Beautiful Plants
    PittMoss® helps plants grow better due to its unique properties:
    Superior water retention for extended shelf life, improved wilt point, and reduced water requirements
    Excellent porosity for superior delivery of water and nutrients to roots
    Pathogen free for reduction of chemical application

  6. Kelli says:

    I’m not a loafer girl, per se, but as fun as these are http://tinyurl.com/z6w7je3 I think I’d just go for it and get these: http://tinyurl.com/zxfhp6z


    • Karen says:

      omg I LOVE those! I hadn’t seen them. As it turns out the pair of driving moccasins I saw and loved are actually mens, lol. They’re white with the gucci stripe down the front. So, I may be hitting the metallic pink loafer! ~ karen!

  7. christine says:

    London Brothers in Millgrove is pretty reasonable,$32 a yard for black loam.I have a pick up truck and would consider delivering for you since you entertain me so much.In case you need the big bunch!

    • Karen says:

      Ha! Thanks Christine. :) I wish I had a pickup! I really, really wish I had a pickup. Thank you very much for the offer. I know who to email if I have a truck emergency. ~ karen!

  8. AnnW says:

    Get them. They will last you for about 10 years. You wear your garden boots most of the time, so maybe they will last even longer. They will make you wildly happy.

    • Karen says:

      I like the cut of your jib AnnW. ~ karen!

      • AnnW says:

        I decided that 2015 would be the Year of the Shoe for me. After thinking about it for 6 months, I bought a pair of black patent Jimmy Choo high heeled sandals. I figured every woman should have at least one pair before she turned 70 and I had only two years to go. We went to Italy to tango camp, so I visited the “mother ship” Ferragamo. I bought a pair of black loafers with the gold bit thing that they had just re-issued from a 1980 design. Heaven. I can wear them for the rest of my life. What size are you? Any chance you have narrow feet? I also hit a warehouse sale at Mark Fisher and cleaned up nicely.

        • Karen says:

          LOL. Narrow feet. LOLOLOL. No. I’m afraid not. I have a 6 – 6.5 foot. And they’re kind of shaped like a block. :/ LOL. I love having the odd really, REALLY nice thing. And I don’t feel guilty about it one bit. I’m just cautious about it. I don’t go crazy. When the fella left I swore I’d buy myself one really good thing a year. It makes me feel good. :) As your Ferragamo’s have proven to you I’m sure. ~ karen!

  9. Mary W says:

    Lucky Mum – birthday? Happy Birthday to Betty! if not, then happy just because to Betty. I really didn’t know that about the coconut stuff – thought the producers were just getting cheap. I did get some planter shells and put them in a wired column that came in sections. I left them in sections and they made the perfect holder for the floppy shells. Filled with potty soil for succulents, I planted 12 feet of a huge variety of the beautiful plants in the shells just this side of my chain length fence (deer) and set them on upturned cement building blocks – needed 5 blocks. Now it rains to water them, they dry quickly and the babies can grow freely underneath as these spread faster than rabbits. Actually we can move them to the porch when having a party to dress the pool up. That is as far as I got in Karenifying my yard. The deer ate my new expensive and wonderfully leafed out peach tree leaving one (count them – 1) peach for us. Then the horned worms ate the tomatoes to the ground overnight, the knarly black bugs swarmed my grape tomatoes and they and their THOUSANDS of babies cover the red ones (not the green ones). I never got my heirloom party colored gem corn planted so I’m sure some mold or bug will get that. I think this is the end of my gardening years. It’s sad but at least I can read the latest news on your blog and be happy for you. I do miss my dill pickles and the dill on just one of the plants I put in – did grow fine but not the cucumbers. So sad. I’m going back to crafting and getting fatter as I sit some more.

  10. Cred says:

    That’s great that you can get coco coir reconstituted in bulk. I haven’t had need to fill a garden box for awhile but if I do, I’m doing some research to find if there a bulk supplier near me. I don’t like the process of rehydrating it- just a little impatient. I use to buy it at home hardware without ordering it.
    But the coco coir is worth the effort, everyone. As a Canadian, and spokesperson for the peat bogs (no, not really), I urge all gardeners to switch from peat to coir.

  11. Karin says:

    Had no clue about peat moss being non renewable! Thanks for the post. Plus the memory of the cloche hat gave me a good giggle. Best way to start the day!

  12. Jane S says:

    The kangaroo fur leaves me cold but I love a pair of the driving loafers.

  13. Maureen Locke says:

    Karen.. the link doesn’t work for Betty’s raised bed. I want to do some raised bed gardening when I retire… you are my go to person for all things gardening…or building.. or eating.. or crafting…. yeast infections… lol….oh hell… you’re my go to person… period.

  14. KimS says:

    Karen, have you heard of Ebth.com? It’s (Everything But The House)….online auction. I just did a search on Gucci…there’s a bunch of it over there. They ship…I guess to Canada!

  15. Thera says:

    Actually you can make your own, with a kit, from Tandys

  16. Nicole says:

    Could you please post a link to what yhese shoes look like? Have never felt a yearning for gucci summer loafers — but maybe I just don’t know what delights I’m missing?

    • Ann Brookens says:

      I agree! We need a link to the shoes you are contemplating. Then if some of your readers are overcome with lust and order some, you could perhaps work out a deal with Gucci and get yours for cheap! (Cheap-er…)

  17. Melissa says:

    SO happy that I managed to find your blog, I’ve been stalking, er, reading past blogs to catch up to your insanely rich wit and humor on life, chickens, gardening and cannot stop laughing, which I obviously SO need to do more. So, thank you for the lessons on laughter, life and all the goings-on in your world. I’m a soon-to-be farmer, so I’ll be using a lot of your expertise in the near future! Downside to reading this post? Now I must go to Amazon and look up these Gucci moccasins of which you speak…must go look now…hopefully my finger that hovers over the add to cart button is on its best behaviour (spelled the Canadian way, just for you, cuz here in Texas, we don’t usually talk or spell that fancy).

  18. Kathleen says:

    Potting soil is really dirt cheap (you’re supposed to laugh at your own joke here!) in South Africa so I’m going to file this for later.
    Very informative post though. Thank you.

  19. Becky says:

    Hhmm. I’m thinking about tilling the coir right into my garden beds.

  20. Karin says:

    Haven’t read the post yet. But it’s Sunday night and I’m still up, cause Memorial day. And I’m thrilled as punch bout that.
    And I’m one of the first TAODS to comment. Sweet :0B

  21. Stephbo says:

    Great. Now I have to look up Gucci moccasins to see what I’m missing. I have a pair of Coach sneakers that always make me feel like a pretentious poseur when I wear them, but they look great and fit really well.

  22. Lynn says:

    We are in the process of using our old compost, adding it to beds around the yard . As we have just built a double DIY spinning compost yeah no more digging just a quick turn an away we go . That means we have one more job in the yard then we can relax …

  23. robert says:

    Just kill a couple of squirrels or a cat and line a pair of crocs or Birkenstocks with the fur and your done, with Alessandro’s new look for gucci you’ll fit right in, paper cloche included. Also, why didn’t you bought the coco coir in blocks and save yourself the getting dirty for a little later?

    • whitequeen96 says:

      OMG, I looked at the Gucci site and you weren’t kidding! They’re actually trimmed in kangaroo fur, which, as everyone knows, is incredibly soft! (j/k) They’re not even lined, but just have the fur around the outside. Definitely not my style, but to each his/her own!

      • robert says:

        Why would i be kidding? I do believe the ones from his first collection done in just 5 days because Frida was forced to leave even when her collection was as good as finished had indeed all the insole done in kangaroo fur

    • Karen says:

      Hey! Those moccasins in particular aren’t the ones I’m enamoured with, lol. ~ karen!

  24. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Cool….I want to see Betty’s planter!

  25. Paula says:

    I made potting soil today to use in my wicking beds. I used Peat, my compost, pine mulch (fine) and organic shrimp meal and dry chicken pellets. It is nice and fluffy and lose but it still has the ability to wick :)

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