Most of us have heard the term organic when it's used with food. The same basics apply when it's sold or made as soil. Organic is without chemicals and synthetic substances. I'm going to go over the benefits of buying organic potting soil and how to know if you are buying organic or not. I'll also go over how to find a good brand of organic soil, along with how to make your own. I hope that this helps you as you strive to keep chemicals out of your garden and out of your family's food.
How to Find a Good Brand
When it comes to choosing the right potting soil, it can be difficult to make a choice since there are so many brands out there. Even once you've decided that you want to go organic, there are still tons of brands to choose from. Fortunately, there are a few ways to know if you are getting a good brand, which will mean good soil.
Check the Ingredients
The first way to know if the brand is good is if you take a look at the ingredients. Keep in mind that some brands will have a lot of different soils, so if one potting soil doesn't seem good don't assume they are all bad. Good potting soils should have high quality ingredients. Organic soils are often called soilless potting mixes. This means that they do not contain any soil mineral particles.
Find Out If It Is OMRI Listed
Another great way to know if the brand is good is to look for soils that are OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed. You can also find out if it is OMRI listed by searching the OMRI website.
Make Sure It Is a Chemical Free Product
Check to make sure it is chemical free potting soil. It may also be called natural potting soil, or pesticide free soil. If it contains chemicals, then it may not be truly organic.
See If It Is a Top Rated Soil
Another simple way to know if the soil is good is if it is a top rated potting soil. The organic potting soil reviews should be positive, and people should be pleased with their purchase. If you notice a lot of people complaining about the product, then it may not be the best soil.
Feel How Heavy the Bag Feels
The last method to use when choosing a good brand is to lift the bag. This, of course, is only possible if you are buying it in person. If the bag seems too heavy or too light for its size, the potting soil might not be too good. The best potting soil will feel just right when you pick it up. This method should mostly be used when you are in a hurry. Overall, the best way to find out if the brand is good is to read the ingredients and find out if it is OMRI listed.
DIY Potting Soil Recipes
Although buying organic soil is a good choice, it can often get expensive. It can also often be confusing trying to decide which brand will work and which ingredients are the best. Because of these downsides to buying organic soil, many people make their own potting soil. There are so many benefits to making your own soil. First of all, it is inexpensive. Secondly, you know that all of the ingredients are safe for your plants. Last of all, you will be able to make a potting soil that fits the needs of your plant. Different plants often need different soils, so it is important to find an organic potting mix that will fit your plant's needs. Now that we know the benefits of homemade potting soils, let's take a look at some recipes for them.
As you may have guessed, this potting soil is for seedlings. It is very easy to make, since you only need three ingredients.
What you will need is:
- 2 parts compost
- 2 part peat moss or coir
- 1 part perlite
Once you have gathered these ingredients, mix them together and you have yourself a homemade potting soil. Remember that these are for seedlings, so you won't want to use it for older plants.
As I mentioned earlier, some organic potting soils are called soilless mixes. This means that there is no soil in it. One recipe that contains no soil is as followed:
What you will need is:
- 1/2 cubic yard of Sphagnum peat or coir
- 1/2 cubic yard of perlite
- 10 pounds of bonemeal
- 5 pounds of ground limestone
- 5 pounds of bloodmeal
Classic Soil Based Mix
This homemade recipe for potting soil is safe for most plants. Keep in mind that this recipe does contain soil.
What you will need is:
- 1/3 mature compost or leaf mold, screened
- Around 1/3 garden of topsoil
- 1/3 sharp sand
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Where Can I Buy Organic Potting Soil?
Although it may seem like regular potting soils are easier to find than organic soils, this is not true. There are many different organic potting soil brands, and some of those brands have many different organic potting soil options. When deciding where to buy organic potting soil, keep in mind that you may need to check several places out before finding one that you like. One such place to check is online. There are many sites that have organic potting soil, including Amazon and Home Depot. Another place to check is your local store. Nowadays, there are sites online that tell you if there is any organic potting soil near you. If you don't want to waste your time searching the store for potting soil, you may be interested in these sites.
Is It Worth It?
Although buying high quality soil can be more expensive than other soil brands, it is definitely worth it. Rather than replacing other soil later on, you can start out with organic potting soil. If buying organic potting soil seems too expensive for you, you can always make potting soil yourself, as I mentioned earlier.
Organic vs. Nonorganic
Organic soil, as I have talked about throughout this article, is a good choice for those who want pesticide free soil. It will contain organic ingredients, such as compost, seaweed, manure or mushroom compost, bat droppings, bone meal, soybean meal, soft rock phosphate, greensand, fish meal, blood meal and worm castings. There are specific blends for different plants, and it contains acids which help the roots of the plant soak up more water. Keep in mind that it will be more expensive than non organic soils. It will also have different pH levels.
Non Organic Soil
Non organic soil is much cheaper than organic soils. It also contains three main ingredients: peat, bark and perlite. It has a neutral pH level. Most non organic potting soils will contain chemicals. This means that unwanted bugs won't exist in the soil. Although this is a nice feature, it is considered healthier to not have chemicals in the soil.
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Pros and Cons
As with all products, there are pros and cons. Just because organic soil can be healthier than regular potting soil, doesn't mean that there are no disadvantages. But still there are many pros that may organic potting soil a good choice. I'll go over the pros and cons here, which will hopefully help you decide if you want to buy organic soil or not.
Pro: No Pesticides Used
A nice feature to organic soil is that is is pesticide free soil. Natural fertilizers improve fertility, and allow helpful bugs, such as ladybugs and worms, to take care of your plants.
Con: It Could Have Unwanted Bug In It
Because it is pesticide free soil, there could be insects that you may not want in the soil. If you notice unwanted bugs in your soil, then you may want to sterilize it yourself. There are many different methods, including freezing the soil, putting it in the microwave, and putting it in the oven.
Pro: The Produce Will Taste Better
Organic produce will taste better than produce from non-organic soil. It is also healthier than foods grown in non-organic soil.
Con: Can Be Expensive
Don't expect organic potting soils to come with a low price tag. Because they are so much healthier for your plants, they will be higher in price.
Pro: Organic Soils Can Be Made at Home
Although you can sterilize soils at home and make almost any potting soil, organic potting soils are especially easy to make since they do not require being sterilized. Because they can be made at home, this can lower the price.
Con: Homemade Organic Potting Soils Can Take a While to Make
When making your own organic potting soil, you will have to commit some time to this project. Don't expect it to be quick to make. You will need to take the time to search what ingredients you will need, buy each ingredient, and mix them together.
I hope this article helped you to understand a little more about organic potting soil. Buying or making your own organic soil does not have to be rocket science. Think about what your budget is, and just dig right in (pun intended). You may need to do some trial and error depending on what types of plants you will be growing. But it shouldn't take long at all before you find out what works for you, your budget and your plants. Happy planting!
Related Article: Best Potting Soil: Our Top 10 Picks and Overall Favorite
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