What's in your soil?

For those gardeners who enjoy growing their vegetables from seed at home, here are some tips on selecting good growing mediums, as not all products on the market are created equal.

To begin, soil mixes usually include a combination of these ingredients:

Perlite and Vermiculite - promotes aeration and drainage and prevents soil compaction.
Sphagnum peat moss - increases water retention, provides organic matter, and helps to hold nutrients in the soil.
Coconut coir - increases water retention
Some higher quality mixes also include worm castings, organic nutrients, and biochar

Be informed... more information on what to watch for:

Soil mixes claiming to be organic or “natural”, but do not list ingredients
Bags stamped with OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute), a nonprofit organization that evaluates products and certifies their use in organic applications. We require that our community gardeners use only OMRI certified products.  However, some of these certified products are now being manufactured by chemical companies. As a consumer and home gardener, it’s your decision whether to support products manufactured by these companies (i.e. Scott’s/Miracle Grow/Ortho, and many others).

The bottom line is - just as you read the packaging of food you purchase, I encourage you to do the same with any products used to grow food.

Speaking of growing mediums, we recently began a winter micro greens trial in our greenhouse using a NY-based grow mix donated by GreenTree Garden Supply through their local distributor Saratoga Organics in Ballston Spa.  One of our greens germinated in just 3 days. . . a much shorter germination time than the 10-day predicted rate listed on the packet!  What fun experimenting in this cold weather. Stay tuned on Facebook for more information on our microgreens trial.

Also, mark your calendars - we’ll be holding a seed starting workshop in the greenhouse on Sunday, March 1, from 2 to 3:30.  Check back soon on our events calendar for more information and registration.

Please send your questions my way!

Joyce Carroll

Community Gardens Director

[email protected]

Joyce Carroll Board Member

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