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Choosing The Right Soil For Your Garden

Deciding what type of soil to choose for your garden can be a little confusing.  With so many blends to choose from this process may get technical, but with the proper knowledge, it can also be fun and exciting After all, your soil choice will determine the quality and yield of your harvest. To help pick out the soil for your plants, ask yourself a few questions:

1.    How often do I want to water my garden?
2.    How often do I want to fertilize my garden?
3.    What type of plants are we growing?

The answers to these questions will make it much easier for you to choose the right soil blend for your crop. Sure, you can spend years trying “this and that” on your own, but if you want professional results now, read about what we’ve learned already.

If you want to keep it simple, try a complete soil blend that already has all of the macro and micronutrients your garden needs. For example, Sanctuary Soil and Feed recently introduced their Empire Builder brand of potting soil. The Empire Builder Producer’s Blend from Sanctuary is a great all in one mix that contains premium ingredients derived from sustainable sources.  Since this soil blend does run “hot” (contains a high concentration of nutrients), avoid planting seedling and young plants in this mix. We recommend watering with little to no additional nutrients in the early stages of growth. The inclusion of greensand in the Producer’s Blend gives this soil great water retention, making it a good choice for outdoor use.  Though it’s not indicated on the bag, the Producer’s Blend is an organic soil.

For those of you that like to take a more hands on approach in regards to feeding schedules, choose a soil that does not contain such a high amount of nutrients. Roots Organics Original Potting Soil is an excellent choice as a foundation for any nutrient feeding program. Unlike typical potting soils, Roots Organics adds coco coir to their peat base and contains higher amounts of perlite, allowing for better drainage. This soil is safe to directly transplant your veggies at any age. We recommend using fresh water and mild compost teas for a couple weeks. After that, you can proceed using the plant food of your choice carefully following the feeding schedule.

Many gardeners are now making the switch from soil to coconut coir as a base medium.  Using an inert (free of added nutrients) medium like coco coir allows you to use a more advanced feeding program like House & Garden’s Cocos A+B. Coco is not soil, but you do get the same natural feel of soil when you work with it. Plus it’s a renewable and sustainable growing medium. Since coco doesn’t contain added nutrients, you know you are getting a consistent product every time. Coco offers superior aeration for your roots, but doesn’t dry out so quickly that you have to water everyday. Mix perlite into your coco if you want to water your plants more frequently.  Feeding your plants more often can help achieve higher yields. When gardening in coco, you can use your nutrients at full strength whether organic or synthetic. We recommend using House & Garden’s coco coir because it is very clean and pH buffered.

So to recap, if you want to water more often, use a medium that has better drainage – for example, look for a soil with more perlite. If you want to water less often, look for a soil with greater water retention properties – choose a medium with higher peat moss content. If you want to fertilize more frequently, then start with a blend that has little to no nutrient value. To feed less frequently, use a “hot” soil that comes rich with amendments. Because there are so many plants with different nutrient requirements, research the specific needs of the variety that you are growing.

We want you to be successful in your garden so if you have any questions, visit any of our stores for answers or visit our Ask A Grower service at

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