Karen's Corner: The Dirt on Dirt!

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Welcome Aspiring & Experienced Gardeners!  First, let me hasten to say that I am not a gardening expert.  My story is that as Ataxia has progressed, I have continued to garden, I have learned by trial and error, and I read quite a bit and make adjustments in order to continue to safely garden. The internet is full of good information on general gardening, vegetable gardening, raised bed gardening, container gardening, and even Hay Bale gardening. I encourage you to read about the plants you have chosen, but if you watch videos, be sure to supplement that with reading articles. Especially with the advent of short/quick videos on various platforms, there is a lot of bad, even fake gardening advice, online. Good gardening requires education, experience and patience (time). There are no shortcuts! On to the dirt!

Raised Bed Soil, includes organic compounds, such as poultry meal, kelp meal and worm castings. These enrich the soil to promote growth of healthy, vigorous plants, whether flowers or  vegetables. Most importantly, raised bed soil, being somewhat loose, allows for good air circulation and much needed oxygen, as well as great drainage, which helps in the delivery of nutrients to root systems. NOTE:  Raised bed soil may also be used for container plants. Use ONLY raised bed specific soil in raised beds.  Do not use products labeled as “top soil, garden soil, or potting mix” in your raised bed garden.

Potting Mix Should not be confused with basic dirt. It is exactly as it is named:  a mixture of  organic materials designed to enhance drainage. Potting Mix may also contain slow release fertilizers, so read the package carefully, to avoid over-fertilizing plants.  Fertilizer can become “too much of a good thing” and actually burn your plants.  NOTE: Never use potting mix in a raised bed. Although it has some of the same properties as raised bed soil, they are not interchangeable.

Gardening Tip: DO THE MATH (before you buy)

Small bags of soil are always packaged and sold in quarts; while large bags are packaged and sold in cubic feet (CF)

Compare! Compare! Compare! (or why you may need Math when you grow up) It's a good idea to buy potting mix in large bags.  It's far more cost effective.  Larger bag contents are measured in cubic feet (CF), where as small bags are always measured in dry quarts. Example: 1 CF = 25.71 dry quarts. In checking Miracle-Gro potting mix at Walmart, a 1 CF (25.71 quarts) bag of Miracle-Gro potting mix is $8.97 or a little more than .34₵ per quart.  However, a 16 quart bag is $5.37 or about 67₵ per quart (see image below)

  • Large bags  1 cubic foot (25.71 quarts) = $8.97
  • Small bags sold in quarts.   (8 quarts) = $5.37

Buy the large bag, save any unused!

A screenshot of a bag of Miracle Gro Potting Soil along with the prices for different sizes.

Thanks for joining me for the dirt on dirt!

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