Dirt: It Ain’t Soil

baby basil in amended soil

Let me reiterate. Dirt is not soil. When designing a garden bed you want to create a nutrient rich environment where your plants will thrive. Unfortunately it is often the case that the brown chunky stuff that’s been sitting in your little planting plot (if you’re lucky enough to have one like i am) is completely void of any of the good stuff that plants need and love. Of course there are totally hardy, tolerant plants that seem like they don’t need any TLC (you know who you are, sedum), but if we’re talking veggies and herbs you’ll need to do some vamping up.

What I suggest is cultivating the dirt so it aerates and mixing in bags of organic compost until it feels rich and soft. As you dig around, mind your wormy friends. They do wonders for your garden and we can’t afford any casualties.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to enrich your bed and in fact I found small bags of rich organic compost at the local dollar store. Or better yet, do your own composting and you’ll have the black gold at your disposal.  If you’re a little lazy like me, simply don’t clean your garden in the fall and all those leaves that have fallen on top of the dirt will not only act as mulch over the winter but come spring they will have broken down and the nutrients will have gone back into the ground. Voila, compost.  Additionally adding a soilless agent like perlite or sand is a good idea so that your soil achieves sufficient drainage.  If you feel like splurging, mix in a bit of time-released plant food like Osmocote.

Congratulations. You have now transformed your dirt into soil. Your plants will thank you for it with bigger blooms, better buds and incredible edibles.

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