Gardening: Choose your soil for your garden wisely

Thinking of purchasing soil, or compost for the garden? Take time to look at various bags or piles for sale before making a purchase. Once soil is delivered, it is just about impossible to return.

Both top soil and compost can be purchased in bulk by the cubic yard or by the bag. For large amounts is cost effective to purchase in bulk. Don’t have a truck? Don’t worry many places deliver in cubic yard bags.

By definition, top soil should be soil removed for the top layer of the ground without any additives. Screened top soil means that they have taken the time to remove all the roots, clumps and rocks. Cost and quality between sellers will vary.

Before purchasing top soil go look at the soil. Dig deep into the soil in a number of places checking to see if it consistent in texture and color throughout. Do not purchase the soil if it contains rocks, wood chunks, strips or lumps of clay or garbage.

A silt or loam soil will be loose and fluffy. Sandy soil feels gritty when rubbed together. Clay slides between the fingers when wet. Do not be surprised when the soil is a combination of two or more types of soil.

Inquire where the soil originated and how long it has been sitting at that location. Soil that was taken from a working filed or pasture may have chemical residue. Soil that sits in a pile, uncovered will contain weed seeds. Soil harvested from a working filed or pasture may contain chemical residue.

Compost, decomposed organic matter is by law, considered a soil additive as opposed to a fertilizer. It does not have to be registered but still has to meet certain criteria to be sold. The product name should carry the main material that was used in the compost. An example being a product that is labeled Cattle Manure must contain at least 60% manure and the rest can be decomposed carbon, plant products.

Compost, is to be sold by weight. The package or bill of sale, should contain the name and address of the company, minimum organic matter and maximum moisture holding capacity. It should also contain the directions for use. Companies and farmers that sell less than 100 tons a year small are exempt from these rules.

By, law compost that is sold cannot contain animal byproducts that can be linked to BSE or human waste. These two stipulations are to protect the food chain from deadly diseases.

If compost is mixed with other ingredients after the composting process is complete, it is then considered a fertilizer and must be licensed as such. Likewise if the product claims to add nutrients to the soil it is considered a fertilizer and a nutrient analysis must be either on the container or with the bill or receipt. .

Follow the same rules when purchasing compost as with top soil; look before purchasing. A well composted product should be consistent in shape and texture. It should not contain lumps, twigs, garbage or recognizable bits. It should smell like soil without any rotting odor.

When purchasing compost from a producer, that does not have labeling in place, ask about the animal feed. Was the hay sprayed? If so which chemicals were used? Do not be surprised if the answer is “I don’t know”. Know that the hay animals eat can contain broadleaf inhibiting chemicals such as Aminopyralid and Picloram. The chemicals pass through animals digestive systems and do not break down in the composting process and will be active in the compost for a number of years. Bottom line, The compost will stop broadleaf seeds from germinating

Care and due diligence when adding materials to the garden is a must as once it is mixed in, it is hard to remove.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

2 dead, 8 hurt in South Carolina nightclub shooting

Police are searching for two suspects

Ponoka RCMP lay charges following home invasion

33-year-old man who arrived on bicycle is in custody

Piece of Red Deer history up for sale

Willson House was built in 1911 and has been completely restored

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

P.E.I. reports three new COVID-19 cases, including one seniors’ residence employee

CHARLOTETOWN, P.E.I. — Prince Edward Island reported new COVID-19 cases for the… Continue reading

Even pandemic can’t spoil July

July. Finally. It’s seems like the last three weird months have taken… Continue reading

‘You have to show up:’ NDP MP questions virtual attendance of Alberta Tories

NDP MP McPherson says she’s disappointed Tory MPs haven’t been participating in virtual meetings

Flood warning, mandatory evacuation for people in remote Alberta hamlet

A flood warning has been issued for the rain-swollen Smoky River near the Hamlet of Watino

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, Amnesty, sex worker advocates say

‘We need to make sure the existing laws on the books aren’t enforced’

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

At Mount Rushmore, Trump digs deeper into nation’s divisions

MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D. — At the foot of Mount Rushmore… Continue reading

Most Read