Q: I enjoyed your recent TV program on making potting soil. I found it disheartening that the ingredients came from far away: peat from Canada, perlite from Greece, etc. Are there other ways to make potting soil with materials close at hand?
A: Good potting soil contains materials that hold water and nutrients but allows plenty of air space for roots to breathe. For decades, peat and perlite have been inexpensive and have performed well. Recently, though, transportation costs have raised the prices of raw materials. To combat that, excellent research is being done on using ground pine trees, not just pine bark, to grow shrubs and trees in pots. The results are VERY encouraging and I hope more locally produced materials can be used in the future.
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