The first step to having a great garden--good soil!
Soil is not just dirt. Healthy soil is a combination of minerals, organic matter, living microorganisms, water and air.
For indoor gardening
Using a sterilized soil is usually ideal to prevent unwanted bugs in your home. Soil listed as 'potting mix' typically is sterilized soil. This mix is lightweight, nutrient rich and holds moisture well
For outdoor container growing
You can also make your own outdoor potting mix. All ingredients listed below can easily be found at your local garden supply center.
HOME MADE POTTING MIX RECIPE:
1 part sphagnum peat moss or coir fiber
1 part vermiculite or perlite
1 part compost
1.5 TBSP lime per gallon of sphagnum peat moss. Skip this if using coir fiber. Peat moss is acidic and lime is needed to neutralize the acidity.
Add 1 TBSP organic granular fertilizer per gallon of potting mix (our Organic Starter & Transplanter Fertilizer is excellent for new potting mixes).
For raised beds
Organic potting mixes for raised beds can be purchased at your local garden supply center. One brand we've used and trust is G&B Organics Raised Bed & Potting Mix.
It's also easy to make your own potting mix for your raised beds. Here is the basic recipe: Equal parts Coarse Sand, Top Soil and Compost.
I'll break down each ingredient to understand the type and purpose for each.
Coarse Sand: Also called horiculture sand or builders sand. This sand is gritty and measures about .5mm-1mm in size. The purpose of sand is to improve drainage in your soil.
Top Soil: This refers to the top layer of soil (usually between 5-10 deep) and where the highest concentrations of organic matter and microorganism live. If you have nice, weed free top soil available to dig up, you can use that. If not, top soil can be purchased at your local garden center.
Compost: This is decomposing organic matter. There are a few types of compost to consider: Farmyard manure (aged animal manure), homemade compost, leaf compost, mushroom compost and vericompost (worm casting). Our typical blend is 80% homemade compost (made from decomposed plants, wood, and food scraps) and 20% Worm Casting and/or Farmyard Manure. If you aren't ready to start making your own compost, mushroom, leaf, farmyard and vericompost can all be purchased commercially.
To give your soil that extra boost for success, I recommend using Organic Starter & Transplanter Fertilizer which is rich with Mycorrhizal Fungi. “Myco” comes from the Latin word for fungus and “rhiza” is Greek for root. These “fungus roots” are greatly beneficial to most plants. The plants and fungi formed a symbiotic, or mutually beneficial, relationship where the plant give the fungi sugars and the fungi give the plants food and water. Plants then use less energy in search of water and food within the soil and can devote more of their energy to leaf and seed production.