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  • Writer's pictureDigger and Gina McLean

Dirt Poor? How to Choose a Good Potting Soil

A good quality potting soil will grow beautiful plants.

Okay, it's January and below freezing every day, but gardeners are thinking about the idyllic days of spring. We dream of that first hint of green and the first visit to the garden center. Heaven!

One of the biggest questions we get is about potting soil. I think the reason for this is that there are so many choices out there and it's just hard to know what to buy. We see all of the gardening ads on TV and think if we just buy that, our flowers will never die and our yard can look like we have a full-time gardener too. Sometimes we spend our whole budget on plants and then try to cheap out on the potting soil. It really should be the other way around because soil is the key to good plant results. Your plants will spend their whole life in whatever soil you give them. Sorry soil can make your million dollar plants look like the discount plant rack at the garden center. Yikes! It's just sad. I know. I buy them too. I always think I can save them. It usually doesn't happen.

Plants are an investment and with a little research and a little more money spent, you can insure your investment brings lasting enjoyment.

So here are some helpful hints on choosing a good potting soil:

1. Choose the Right Soil for What You're Planting

The potting soil you use depends on what you are planting and where you are

planting it. Some plants require special soils, like succulents. If you're planting a

raised bed garden, there are specific soils for that. By doing a little

research, you can greatly increase your chances of plant success.

2. Look For a Complete Soil

If you're planting flowers in containers, check out a complete soil that will give your

plants everything they are going to need to thrive. When you buy a complete potting

soil, you don't need to mix it with anything or fertilize for the whole season.

3. Tune Out the Hype

Just because a soil is heavily advertised doesn't necessarily make it good. There are

many excellent soils that are not even advertised, so be open to trying

something new. Look at it this way: money that's not spent on advertising can go

into making a quality product.

3. Ask For Recommendations

If you want to try a new soil but don't know what to get, a local garden center is a

good place to start. Ask them what they would recommend for the plants you're

buying and try it. You'll probably get a really good value and your plants will thank


4. Decide if All Organic Is Important to You

Expect to pay in the $10 per bag range for a complete quality potting soil with a slow

release fertilizer added. If you want an all organic potting soil expect to pay twice

that. If you use an all organic potting soil realize that it's harder to get all of the

nutrients plants are going to need by using organic ingredients. If you read the bag,

you'll notice that the nutrient numbers are much lower on organic products, which

means you're going to have to add fertilizer regularly to get good plants results.

Digger and I hope these tips will help you choose a soil that will give you gardening

success and enhance your love of gardening.

Dig it? It's Grow Time!

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