Choosing the right soil and making your own soil

Soil is probably the most important aspect of gardening. Having the right growing medium for your plants gives them a much higher success rate and can make your garden that much better. Over the past several years companies have started packaging soil mixes for many different types of situations. These bags give us a convenient way to amend our gardens without having to have a delivery of 2 or 3 yards of compost. A larger property might be able to use a large amount of soil amendments, but smaller gardens don’t need that volume.

Check out the video below for more on which soil amendment is best in your situation.


I think one the best things you can add to your garden is dehydrated cow manure. This product is advantageous because it instantly brings valuable nutrients to your soil. While adding manure is great, you can add too much. If you have too much of a good thing the soil can become waterlogged and also have too much nitrogen, phosphate potassium and this can lead to various issues with growing many plants.

Another very valuable soil amendment is sand. You might intuitively think sand doesn’t make sense in a garden, and why would it, there isn’t much growing on your local beach. However, sand adds drainage and can break up heavier soils. Too much sand won’t be able to hold enough moisture, but 10% or so of sand into a soil mix can be a great additive. You can buy coarse sand (not play sand) at most hardware stores.

Other amendments like peat can loosen soil and hold moisture. Many of the soil mixtures you can buy have a heavy amount of peat. I tend to add a bit of sand those bags.

I can’t tell you exactly what to add to your own earth because I don’t know what type of soil you are starting with. However, if you have a sandy soil and want to make it better here’s a recipe.


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-5 Gallons Of Your Sandy Dirt
-5 Gallons Compost/ Manure
-1 cup of 10-10-10 Fertilizer
If you have a clay soil, perhaps the worst starting point, you can make it better this way.

-5 Gallons Your Clay Dirt
-5 Gallons Sand (coarse)
-10 Gallons Compost/ Manure
-2 cups of 10-10-10 Fertilizer

Here are some other mixes for potting plants or starting seeds. Notice there is
1. Seedling Soil Mix
5 parts finely screened compost
4 parts garden soil
1-2 parts coarse sand
1-2 parts sphagnum peat moss
2 T. lime for each shovel of peat moss

2. Soil-less Container Mix
1/2 cubic yard sphagnum peat moss
1/2 cubic yard vermiculite
10 pounds bone meal
5 pounds limestone
5 pounds blood meal

3. Soil-based Container Mix
1 part screened compost
1 part garden soil
1 part coarse sand or a mix of vermiculite and perlite

4. Peat-Soil Combination Mix
2 parts vermiculite
3 parts sphagnum peat moss
2 parts perlite
2 parts dehydrated manure
3 parts garden soil
1/2 part bone meal

5. Potted Perennial and Shrub Mix
1 part compost
1 part coarse sand
1 part sphagnum peat moss
1 part composted pine bark
2 T. lime for each shovel of peat moss

6. General Potting Soil Mix
6 gallons sphagnum peat moss
1/4 cup limestone
4¼ gallons vermiculite or perlite
4¼ gallons compost
Then mix together 2 cups rock phosphate, 2 cups greensand, 1/2 cup bone meal and 1/4 cup kelp meal, and add 1½ cups of this fertilizer blend to the finished mix.


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