58January 20, 2016

It’s probably the soil. If I had a dollar for every time I told this to a customer who had a gardening problem, the recent lottery jackpot would pale by comparison. Most people don’t truly understand that many of the plant problems stem from poor soil. It doesn’t matter if you are growing plants in containers or growing plants in the ground, if the soil isn’t correct than you are going to have a problem growing plants. Let me give you a few examples.

At this time of the year, many people are re-potting their houseplants. They probably have a left over bag of potting soil that they used to plant the window boxes last spring. This probably is the wrong potting soil to use for your houseplants. The reason is that many of the potting soils you would use outside are designed to hold extra water and they usually have a timed-release fertilizer. Most houseplants have a semi-dormant period from October to March. At this time of the year, they need less water and less fertilizer. Using a potting soil that holds extra water and releases a lot of fertilizer could be the death of your plants. There are potting soils that are also “ discount “ potting soils. They need to be made with cheaper ingredients in order to win the bid for supplying a lot of potting soil to a big chain of stores. If the soil doesn’t drain properly, it can rot away the roots of your houseplants. Another example is the garden soils that are being sold as an all purpose soil. They may work fine to fill in holes in your lawn, but they most definitely are not the soil to use for your houseplants.

Let’s talk now about the soil that you use in your outside raised beds. A few years ago, we had two customers who came into the store and bought 4 ft. by 4 ft. raised beds for their children. As many of you know, we sell Coast Of Maine soils. They are a quality made soil and the price reflects that quality. The one customer bought the Coast Of Maine soil and the other customer opted to by her soil at a discount store. By the end of the year it was obvious to both customers that “you get what you pay for”. The raised bed using the Coast of Maine soil produced better plants with a higher yield of vegetables. The other soil…. Not so much.

I have customers who have tried to grow a lawn for many years. They will put down lime, fertilizer and seed each spring. The seed sprouts and looks good until the drier weather of summer arrives. By the fall, the grass is dead. I will ask them to bring in a sample of the soil from the lawn. When they do and I look at the soil, the problem is that the soil is not a good quality soil. You see, you need at least 6 inches of high quality soil if you are going to successfully grow a lawn. If you have poor soil in your lawn, you can work a lot of compost, peat moss or high quality loam into the top 6 inches of soil. If you do this, you will finally be able to grow a nice lawn.

Soil is the “root ‘ of successful gardening. If you use the right soil and use a quality soil your plants will grow their best and you will get the best flowers, vegetable or shrubs. Remember…it’s all about the soil.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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