Theres an old story about two
gardeners who were friends. One lived in the sandhills, the other in red clay country.
Whenever the gardener from the sandhills visited clay country, she took home a bucket of
clay. When her friend visited the sandhills, the friend always took home a bucket of sand.
Its a start: sand will help loosen the density of clay and
clay will give some body to sand, but if you wet the mixture of sand and clay and then let
it stand in summer, the sun bakes you a brick. You need to incorporate organic matter to
produce a good, friable soil that "good garden loam" gardening books talk
about so often.
For many years, gardeners worked peat moss into their gardens to
fill this requirement, usually to supplement compost, which is more dear than gold to
gardeners. Recently, though, soils experts have advised against using peat moss in heavy
soil, especially clay, because if the peat dries out it will not absorb water readily.
Your Growise Center has a variety of amendments for soil that are
conveniently bagged and easy to use and your Growise Center professional can help you
select those best for your garden.
One of the most welcomed amendments is compost, often produced
from rotted leaves gathered in nearby communities. It is similar in texture to what you
make yourself and you can buy as much of it as you need. This is especially good for
This is inexpensive, easy to use and a lot less smelly than the
standard barnyard pile. It also is good for vegetable gardens because it provides a bit of
Commercially prepared and bagged top soil contains a mixture of
organic ingredients and non-deteriorating elements such as sand. Its good for
patching bare spots in the lawn and adding to borders and shrub areas to increase the
amount of soil on the site. Bagged top soil is easy to work into your existing garden
soil, too. Your Growise Center professional can help you calculate the amount you need for
a given area.
Your Growise Center carries potting mixes for outdoor planters
and for indoor houseplants. The mixes for outdoor planters are heavier and will stay moist
with less watering than mixes for indoor plants. Potting mixes for indoors contain peat
moss, which works well in pots once you have moistened it. Potting mixes usually contain
some fertilizer as well as vermiculite or perlite or ground bark. Explain where you will
be using potting mix and your Growise expert will recommend the best choice.
Perlite and vermiculite
Like sand, these ingredients are not organic and are often better
than sand to loosen both peat moss and garden soil. Perlite white, irregularly shaped
granules, is the best choice when you want to end up with a fluffy growing medium that
does not hold a lot of water. Greenhouse growers often mix it with peat moss. They use
vermiculite when they want a growing medium that will hold more moisture.
Both amendments are used indoors more than in outdoor gardens.
Some gardeners dont like the look of perlite, which tends to move toward the top of
the soil, but a light mulch of leaves or pine needles will cover the white granules.
Large quantities of top soil
If you want to make a garden in an area dominated by hardpan,
rock or shallow red clay, the best answer often is to create raised beds which you fill
with topsoil. Once the bed is filled, you may add bagged amendments to create just the
kind of soil you want.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about the organic
amendments you add to your garden is that you have to keep adding them because organic
materials gradually break down. This means you should plan to work some compost or manure
into your garden areas every year.