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What Is Organic Soil?

Only ingredients that have been certified as organic are included in organic soil.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2014
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Organic soil is gardening soil that contains only ingredients which have been certified as organic. There are a number of types, including organic potting soil, soil for backfill, and soil specifically designed for vegetable or flower gardens. Many gardening stores carry organic soil in a variety of formats, along with other organic gardening accessories, like organic mulch.

While gardeners might not necessarily think of soil as “inorganic” in the sense of “unnatural,” many commercial soils include high levels of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Soil is usually designed to encourage rapid, healthy plant growth while discouraging insects, fungi, and weeds, and commercial soil accomplishes this at any cost. Organic soil, by contrast, does not contain chemical ingredients, providing a rich substrate for plants to grow and using natural means in an attempt to control pests.

Instead of using chemical fertilizers, organic soil is amended with compost from organic sources, and manure from organically-fed animals. It may also be amended with things like mycelium, which helps the soil retain water and nutrients, along with organic mulch to aerate the soil and make it looser. Just like standard commercial soil, organic soil can be formulated for specific environments and uses, with varying pH balances and levels of nutrients. Good soil is extremely dark, moist, and fragrant.

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For gardeners, there are several advantages to organic soil. Some gardeners prefer to grow organic, in which case this soil is their only option. Organic It is also less likely to produce harmful runoff which could cause problems in local waterways, making it a more environmentally-sound choice than commercial soil. Some people also think that this soil is better for the Earth and the garden, since it promotes slow, healthy plant growth, rather than rapid growth, which may strip the soil of nutrients.

Bags of organic soil can be purchased for various gardening applications, and it can also be delivered by the truckload. Some people use it for backfill, digging out and removing exhausted, rocky, or contaminated soil and replacing it with new organic soil. It can also be spread on top of existing soil, adding a layer to the garden, which can be useful when people want to raise the height of their yards or flowerbeds.

Organic soil tends to be more expensive than conventional soil, and some gardeners prefer to build their own, working with organic compost, manure, and other ingredients to slowly build up the soil in their gardens. Ultimately, the choice between organic and conventional soil lies in the hands of the gardener. Gardeners who are worried about cost might want to look into sales at regional garden suppliers or government programs which help gardeners buy clean soil after contamination, plant disease, flooding, and similar incidents.

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Discuss this Article

anon266544
Post 4

Your soil should be full of life, with earthworms and good bacteria and other good life forms. It makes no sense not to also remove chlorine from your water if you are on a treated source.

cougars
Post 3

@Comparables- I just wanted to give a little advice for pesticides that are acceptable for organic and GMO free gardens. When you use pesticides, you should use products or recipes that target the specific pest problem that you are trying to deal with. "Kill all" pesticides will rid your garden of all the god pests too. Sustainable gardening should try to preserve the different species within each ecosystem, even if they are little.

I would also like to add that certain types of plants could act as natural insect repellents. Even in your small garden patch, you can use a poly-culture approach to maximize your garden space, keep bugs out, and keep your soil healthy. Plants like mint and onions will protect your nightshades (tomatoes, Peppers, eggplants) and corn plants from flea beetles. Garlic is also a useful pesticide. Planted with nightshades, they will also repel red spider mites. If you mix crushed garlic into an oil-based spray, you will also be able to repel rabbits and similar herbivores from your garden.

GlassAxe
Post 2

@ comparables- Choosing the right organic soil matter depends largely on the type of plant to be grown, and its stage in growth. You need to consider the drainage, stability, moisture retention, and acidity needs of your plants when choosing what type of soil recipe to use. There are a number of books on the issue filled with tried and true soil recipes.

I can give you a basic recipe that you can add nutrients to in order to suit the needs of your plants. This mix will work well for most plants. The mix is simply a third leaf mold or compost, one third organic topsoil, and one third sand. You can substitute other loosely packed soil matters in the place of sand (Perlite, Vermiculite, fine lava rock) to change the stability characteristics of the soil.

Comparables
Post 1

Would it be cheaper to make an organic potting soil mix rather than buy it premade? I live in a ground level condominium, and I only have a small garden patch on my back patio. It is approximately 6 feet by 14 feet, and I can grow whatever I want in it. What would be a good soil mix for growing herbs, hot peppers, tomatoes, and leafy veggies like spinach, basil, and lettuce? What are the best organic soil fertilizers that I could use to keep my soil nutrient rich?

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