Many years ago, when Mr. C and I were going to have a garden wedding, which made it essential that soil and gardens were created in our yard:-(. I didn’t read any gardening books because soil seemed so obvious. Turn over your soil, get rid of the weeds/grass and plant your seeds and plants in the soil. And that, of course, was why I failed because I didn’t know success is in the soil!
The robin’s song at daybreak
Is a clarion call to me.Get up and get out in the garden,
For the morning hours flee.
I cannot resist the summons,
What earnest gardener could?
For the golden hours of morning
Get into the gardener’s blood.
The magic spell is upon me,
I’m glad that I did not wait;
For life’s at its best in the morning,
As you pass through the garden gate.
– Howard Dolft
It really was DIRT underneath the grass – subsoil, nearly devoid of nutrition. It wasn’t soil of any kind, and it was so compacted that it would have taken a very determined plant to actually spread roots and prosper there. (Actually, a few did. Not many.)
As my gardening knowledge and skills grew I realized it is essential to have your soil loose and friable, weather it’s in a container or in your garden.
The soil that is typically found around homes (not in farm country) is top soil, which is the 6-10″ layer of soil or the dept in which soil is cultivated. It’s soil that grass will grow good in but not so good for plants. I hear ya, there’s many out there that will respond “I’ve been using it and my plants do just fine”! Sure, there are plants that will “thrive” anywhere, but if you want to have a beautiful garden, and make your plants happy, you must amend you soil.
To get our containers/beds from compaction o this state we need to add organic matter, and once you do, your flowers will thank you and flourish.
Amending top soil is really easy!
Tip #1: you can tell “top soil” from “amended soil” by its weight. A bag of top soil is VERY heavy.
Starting with top soil,
I picked up a few bags of Aldi’s Organic top soil (4 qts) for $1.99.
This is how top soil looks straight out of the bag…
See how heavy and dense it looks. It looks like WET soil, but it isn’t, it’s just straight top soil. It is so hard for plants to thrive in this soil. It’s hard for their roots to spread, it’s hard for them to breath, not to mention when it rains how much WATER is held in this soil can cause plants to drown/die and/or rot.
Amending soil is really very easy…you’ll just be adding “organic matter” to amend the top soil.
What Is Organic Matter?
Organic matter is dead plant or animal material. Decaying organic matter, or humus, will help give your soil tilth (tilled earth), helps sandy soil by retaining water that would otherwise wash away and it corrects clay soil by making it looser, so that air, water and roots can penetrate. In all soils, it encourages beneficial microbial activity and it provides some nutritional benefits.
For my garden containers I amend the top soil with any of these, Perlite, Sphagnum Peat Moss, Verminculie, hummus, gypsom and mushroom compost. I’ll also use last years leaves “mulched” very fine (just keep mowing over the leaves).
I found these bags at the thrift store so this is what I am using..
It’s also cheaper to amend you own soil, buying amended soil can be expensive. Top soil can be found for 99¢ and then amend with the ones you like. You also “double” the amount of soil by adding amendments…so it goes farther.
Gardening is not wafting through the flowerbeds in floaty dresses clipping perfect rosebuds to add to our dainty baskets. It has a real connection to the earth – and the more we respect that earth and feed it, the more it will give back to us.