Potting Soil – Things to Know Before You Start Planting!
“What Does “Natural “and “Organic” on a Potting Soil Mix Really Mean?
Not much, as it turns out. And on the whole, the ingredients of most off-the-shelf potting mixes are neither local nor good for the planet.
Most potting soil is “natural” in the sense that its ingredients are derived from naturally occurring substances. Seeing this label on a bag of potting soil by no means indicates it is been produced in an environmentally friendly manner. Similarly, many store-bought mixes are “organic,” but only in the sense that they are made from carbon-based substances, as opposed to inorganic—that is, inert—substances, like rocks.”
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain exactly what is in a potting soil mix, and the environmental implications of each ingredient, simply by reading the label.
“Compost,” for example, a common potting mix ingredient, doesn’t indicate what materials were composted. The term is often used for composted sewage sludge, which, as Mother Jones has noted, “can contain anything that goes down the drain—from Prozac flushed down toilets to motor oil hosed from factory floors. A 2009 EPA survey of sludge samples from across the US found nearly universal contamination by 10 flame retardants and 12 pharmaceuticals and exceptionally high levels of endocrine disruptors such as triclosan, an ingredient in antibacterial soap that scientists believe is killing amphibians.”
- Modern Farmer
So now what?
So what can we do to in order to give our plants the best quality soil possible? Make sure you can trace your soil back to its source and know how it was treated.
Modern Farmer mentioned in their piece that homemade/DIY compost is a good, and eco-friendly way of providing nutrients for your plants, and Green Action Center has some helpful points on why composting is a good idea.
Cornell Composting – Composting in Schools provided the perfect compost recipe:
Add a mixture of some or all of the following
- Vegetable peels and seeds
- Egg shells
- Fruit peels and seeds
- Nut shells
- Coffee grounds
- Any other vegetable or fruit scraps
Note: (Do not add meat scraps, bones, dairy products, oils, or fat. They may attract pesky animals.)
YARD OR GARDEN COMPOST
Add a mixture of some or all of the following ingredients:
- Hay or straw
- Wood chips
- Grass clippings
- Weeds and other garden waste
- Shredded paper
We hope you feel inspired, it’s always a good idea to do your research! Happy gardening!