Potting Soil Comparison

Potting Soil Comparison

Tonight I was doing some research on potting soils and I ran across this site that would be an extremely valuable resource for any avid container gardener! I have a particular blend of soil that I use for my clients' potted gardens, but there are so many brands out there to choose from, it can be a little confusing to discern which is  the best one. You might even think that all potting soils are alike, that you're mostly paying for a brand, right? Well...truth be told, I sometimes think that, too. I'm only human, after all! But here is a guy, Wayne Schmidt, who took five popular brands and put them to the test. And I'm talkin' testing, baby! He would do Mr. Atchkins, my 9th grade science teacher, proud, with his controlled study features. Take a gander and tell me you're not impressed.So while you're all trying to forget that I just used the phrase "take a gander," please leave a comment and let us know what kind of potting soil you use. Is it pre-mixed? A national brand or a specialty local recipe? Do you make your own? Inquiring minds want to know!

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  1. Apel Mjausson says

    I guess I’ll be looking for Supersoil going forward. I always add water retention crystals anyway. Thanks for sharing this info.

    Locally it seems that Dr. Earth is considered the best soil. I wonder how it would fare against Supersoil.

  2. says

    I might do my own little experiment on our local potting soils vs. national brands. What I usually use for a good all-purpose mix is Metro mix (a growing medium), worm castings and a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote. It has worked extremely well for me in the past–lots of vigorous growth and flowers!

    Thanks for your comments!

  3. says

    I either use a Kellogg brand pre-mixed potting soil (they’re a West-of-the-Rockies company) or a brand called Edna’s Best, which I think is only available at Armstrong Garden Centers (a CA nursery chain).

  4. says

    This is a great topic. I often cruise the bagged soil aisle at garden centers just to see what the offerings are currently and always see folks scratching their heads as to which bag they should take home. The packaging is all so similar that the average homeowner has no idea what, if any difference exists.

    Pardon my pending ramble, but this IS right up my alley. Not sure where Wayne is located, but I’d guess CA, if not Northern CA as these are all relatively local products for us. Bagged potting mixes vary greatly, and if you read the bag, the same brand may be sold in different regions, with very different components. The ingredient list will often say something like: “This product may contain one or more of the following…” or “In California, this mix may contain…” and “In Georgia this mix…” Key word being “may”. Most are very inconsistent and unreliable. The manufacturer will vary the recipe according to what are currently the cheapest available raw materials. Peaceful Valley & the Rod McClellan Co., makers of Supersoil are surely two of the best at maintaining a consistent, high quality mix.

    The long root-like fibers he mentions in the Peaceful Valley material is the coconut coir fiber, which is the more environmentally friendly alternative to peat moss. Coir also hydrates much more easily than peat moss. Supersoil is a very well made product as well, but this is a case of apples and oranges. Are you an organic IPM inclined gardener, or still inclined to use lots of chemical nutrients? I realize the plants don’t really care, but this is the obvious difference between the two top mixes. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply is strictly an organic farm & garden supply house, while the Supersoil folks have gone for the high-end of the mainstream packaged products for sale at garden centers & big-box stores. The Dr. Earth brand that Apel mentioned is also a very high quality organic product line from Northen CA. They have a great web site, google them & they come right up.

    For myself, I make my own mix of coir fiber, clean sand, lava or pumice stone, organic compost & worm castings. I also add Lassenite Pozzolan (a type of DE) for better air & water porosity, a small amount of gypsum for calcium and feather meal for slow-release nitrogen. My veggies & ornamentals all thrive in this very porous mix and I only have to water every 4-6 days unless it gets into the mid-90s for several days. IF I was buying bagged soil in this region, it would be Peaceful Valley or Dr. Earth.

    End of ramble.

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