Updated: Jul 28
Gardening is an enjoyable hobby with numerous benefits. It helps fight stress, reduces loneliness, works the muscles in the body, and many more. And of course, it's more fun when you have success! Having the right tools, soil, and plants and an understanding of how to make them work together can help you achieve greater success.
While it may not seem important, healthy garden soil is the foundation of a successful garden. This post looks at what makes healthy garden soil and how to get it there.
How to Build Up Your Garden's Soil
Ideally, the soil in your garden should be rich with all the nutrients essential to healthy, robust, thriving plants. There are basically two ways to create healthy garden soil.
Mix in compost with your Native soil.
Replace your existing soil with a premixed blend of ingredients.
There are hundreds of composts as well as premixed soil products on the market, many of which are not organic. Non-organic composts and bagged or bulk garden soils generally contain toxins, such as synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides that destroy the beneficial microbes in your soil which are essential to its overall health. They can also contain uncomposted weed seeds, and other unsuitable materials for your yard. So the first step is to avoid any products that are not 100% organic.
When Should I Mix Compost With Native Soil?
Any time you intend to plant directly in the ground, this is the best option. Trying to excavate a bed to the necessary depth and then back fill it with new soil is a lot of unnecessary work and expense. Texas Native Plants are already adapted to our Native Soil. They will perform well for you in existing soil mixed with fresh compost. The ideal ratio is 50% compost and 50% native soil.
If you have a newly built home, the builders most likely automatically removed the top soil, which is where all the nutrients are. Around North Texas the remaining lower layer of soil is usually either hard, compacted clay or overly-loose sandy soil, both of which are very poor in nutrients. In this case you will most likely need a larger amount of compost to start with in order to achieve the 50-50 ratio.
It's important to remember that all your garden beds need to be replenished periodically with fresh organic matter, so adding a light layer of compost (about 1/4 inch thick) at the beginning of each season will improve your overall results.
Why Can't I Plant Directly In Compost?
Experienced gardeners know that most composts are too rich to use alone as a planting mix. Planting directly in 100% compost can burn the roots of your plants and kill them before you get started. That's why compost should always be mixed with native soil.
We also recommend incorporating other soil amendments into new beds, such as Expanded Shale, Texas Green Sand, Lava Sand, and Mirimichi Green's CarbonizPN, which is a charcoal-based compost.
When Should I Use A Premixed Garden Soil?
Premixed organic garden soil is essentially a blend of ingredients such as those mentioned above. It has been aged and is less rich making it ready to use without the worry of burning your plants' roots. Premixed organic garden soil is perfect for raised bed vegetable gardens. However, it is not recommended for container plants. This is because garden soil blends are often more dense than potting mixes. This means that they have a high water retention capacity, which reduces the exchange of gasses and can kill the plant.
Why Use Garden Soil?
Many customers ask why they can't use topsoil for their garden bed. Although it is generally cheaper than either compost or premixed garden soil, topsoil is a very low quality product. Instead of nutrient-rich, healthy earth, topsoil includes unsuitable materials like clay, stone, silt, weed seeds and other fillers. Remember, your soil is the foundation of your garden. If you want plants in your flowerbeds and garden to thrive, it's better to spend a few dollars more for a better product.
Because soil types can vary from location to location, it’s important to work with a local garden center familiar with the soils and native plants in your area. Marshall Grain has more than 80 years of experience in helping suburban gardeners and local farmers build healthy, successful organic gardens.
Whether you've already growing a garden or you're just starting out, you can save yourself time and stress by getting all your plants, supplies, garden soil, and helpful tips and advice at Marshall Grain all at affordable prices.