Mix your own dirt and tell Miracle Grow to go somewhere!

I hate Miracle Grow dirt.  It’s overpriced and their version of organic potting mix has the look and consistency of mulch. By the way, their claim that it’s impossible to over or under water plants while using their dirt – lies! Do you mean to tell me that you could plop a plant in the middle of the driveway, not water it, and it’s going to survive?  How about if I stick a plant in a pot with no drainage holes and drench it repeatedly?  I suppose the guarantee only works if you have a receipt and I typically end up spitting my gum in mine. I actually bought some organic Miracle Grow dirt when I was having a dirt emergency (my local garden center was out of Vermiculite – I’ll explain what that is later). Compare the dirt in my mini corn field experiment to the super black awesome dirt that I mixed at home.

Crap-tastic Organic Miracle Grow Dirt (notice the huge, chunky wood chips)

Mel’s Mix is super soft, easy to weed, organic, less expensive, and plants love it!

Mel’s Mix is a dirt recipe from the book “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew. This dirt has 3 basic components.  Compost, Peat, and Vermiculite. You can get these items at your garden center.  You will probably not find all of these things at Lowes, but they will probably be at a feed store or grain elevator. I could give you a specific recipe, but it’s not that important. Each should take up 1/3 of the overall mix.  The Vermiculite (natural mineral) helps retain moisture and keeps the soil light. It’s generally easier to mix on a tarp in the yard, but if you’re a mini gardener, you can mix right in the pot.  Use equal parts peat and compost and sprinkle enough Vermiculite that it’s present throughout.  I bought a big bag of peat and a big bag of compost ($3.50 each).  The Vermiculite was $10, but I used a third of the bag. These supplies are enough to fill4-5 big pots with Vermiculite to spare.  The moral of the story, look and feel like a pro and get armpits deep in this dirt.

As my friend Erin (the Boston Marathoner and general badass) says, “Get after it!”

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