We are constantly dickering around with our potting mixes. Our bare root fruit trees will be here soon, and we needed to decide on our canning mix, and get it while the weather is still mild. I called Lee Ann, our very knowledgeable rep for advice, and she recommended using pine fines and a good compost. Neither of us like using sand. Pine fines is a very finely ground pine bark. It holds moisture without letting the soil get too soggy which can be a problem, especially with peat mixes or too much sand. Most bulk mixes available locally offer a combination of compost and/or decomposed wood chips, and/or pumice, and/or sand. Some growers add native soil. But I couldn't find pine fines.
After a few phone calls we decided to visit to Soilutions in ABQ where we get most of our large pot mixes. Soilutions is a great company, all their products are organic, and the owner, Jim Brooks is almost a neighbor living not too far from us in the East Mountains. He and his employees are always so nice. When we got there, his manager made a custom blend for us and still had us on our way in about 15 minutes! After some trial and error, we decided on 40% premium compost, 20% pumice, and 40% of their forest floor mulch which is better decomposed than the regular woody material.
So now we have the soil--thank goodness for Aly's little dump truck--though I wasn't very grateful when we were struggling with the snow chains. But we wouldn't have made it up or down our half mile of still icy, snow packed drive without them. A neighbor went into the bar ditch the other day. Is spring still four months away?!