Our Gardens: The Dirt on Dirt
Healthy plants start with healthy soil! But with everything from bison manure to sea soil on our shelves, knowing what to grab, what to mix, and what does what can be a bit of a head scratcher. So in the interests of this whole issue becoming a lot clearer than mud, let’s get you the dirt on all the different kinds of dirt.
The dirt: Red River Basin Clay
What it does: Honestly… not a whole lot!
We love our hometown as much as anyone, but the soil around Winnipeg is notoriously tough on gardeners, due to the very high clay content. It is difficult to dig into, and low in nutrients.
How to use it: Break up the clay and add organic material
To see success in your garden, you’ll need to give your natural soil a little helping hand by both breaking up the clay and adding nutrients. In other words – read on!
The dirt: Claybuster
What it does: Loosens tight clay, to let air and water penetrate the soil
How to use it: Turn over clumps of soil in the fall, for great results come spring
While it can be used at any time, our preference is to apply claybuster in the fall. Spread generously, then work into your garden using a spade to lift large clumps of soil. Come spring, those clumps will melt like butter! Repeat yearly.
The dirt: Peat Moss
What it does: Loosens clay soil and improves texture; retains moisture and improves drainage
Peat moss has always been many a gardener’s favorite soil amendment, and will greatly improve our high clay content soil.
How to use it: Using liberal amounts, mix thoroughly with your existing soil
The dirt: Coir
What it does: Decomposes slowly while conditioning soil, improving moisture flow, and retaining water
Harvested from coconut husks, coir is naturally disease and weed free and 100% natural and renewable, making it an eco-friendly way to improve your soil. Coir will help your plants develop stronger root systems and improve soil’s nutrient and moisture retention – it holds up to 10 times its volume in water!
How to use it: Mix with any soil (it’s especially great for sandy soil), or use it to line hanging baskets
The dirt: Compost
What it does: Improves soil texture, and adds a TON of nutrients
Compost trumps most other soil amendments due to the sheer amount of nutrients it contains. Compost can include everything from decomposed egg shells and banana peels to leaves and grass clippings – anything organic that has sufficiently broken down to look like rich, dark soil.
How to use it: Mix generous amounts of compost into soil
The dirt: Manure
What it does: Improves soil structure, and increases organic nutrient value
Similar to compost, manure will give your plants the food they need to grow and thrive. There is little difference between sheep, steer, and mushroom manure.
How to use it: Mix with soil in a ratio of up to 50/50
Bagged manure is odour-free and highly concentrated – a win-win!
The dirt: Bone Meal
What it does: Builds soil fertility over time, with a slow and steady release
Bone meal contains lots of phosphorous for bigger, bolder blooms and stronger roots. It releases slowly and steadily, keeping your plants healthy and strong over time.
How to use it: Mix with any soils, but especially for use with roses, bulbs, and blooming plants
The dirt: Blood Meal
What it does: Gives anemic plants an organic boost; repels mice and other rodents
High in nitrogen and fast-acting, blood meal is a perfect compliment to bone meal, which is why they are often mixed together in the same package.
How to use it: Use together with bone meal
The dirt: Worm Castings
What it does: Cycles nutrients, consumes pathogens, and stabilizes soil
This stuff is 100% organic black gold! It’s also worm poop, which has an amazing diversity of plant-beneficial biology. Along with cycling nutrients, worm castings will actually destroy pathogens, and even create stable soil aggregates – the perfect triple-threat for the healthiest of plants.
How to use it: Work into your garden for healthy, stable soil
The dirt: Wood or bark mulch
What it does: Breaks down over time to add organic matter; retains moisture, insulates, and keeps weeds at bay
Good gardeners know that mulch is the ticket to healthy soil and strong plant growth. Like the forest floor, organic mulches break down over time, contributing to soil health. Over the shorter-term, it retains moisture and reduces temperature fluctuations during the growing season, and insulates soil to minimize injury over the winter.
How to use it: Top up once a year to refresh appearance, maintaining a depth of 2 to 3 inches
Once your soil is up to snuff, you can be confident that the time and energy you put into planting and tending to your garden will be well worth it. If you’ve got a large project on your hands this year, remember that we deliver bulk loads of topsoil, compost, peat moss, sand, and other commodities to help make the process a little easier. Just a quick phone call to 204-895-7203 is all it takes, and we’ll deliver your order to your property in 2 days.
While you’ve got growing on the brain, check out our top 5 tips for growing herbs in containers!