You’re more than ever convinced the world is on a slippery slope to become a hotter place and your survivability depends on growing your own food. You have some seeds or veggies ready to plant, but to plant it in? The bewildering array of stuff at the garden center is confusing, and you never ask for directions anyway. How to choose the best potting soil for your needs will depend on its components, what you plan to grow in it and understanding what’s important (or not) about being labeled ‘organic.’

Mineral Mixture

For Better Blooms

This popular product is made primarily with peat moss, compost, bark and perlite combined with fertilizer and a wetting agent. Miracle-Gro

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What’s in the potting mix will tell you a lot about its quality. In addition to peat moss, pine bark and vermiculite or perlite, there may be additives such as compost or fertilizers, and also sand and soil which add weight and volume but little to the plant value of the mix. As a rule, the denser and heavier it is, the poorer the quality as a potting mix.

Know What You Grow

Everything They Need In One Bag

This mix is loaded with organic materials that feed plants over a long period as they decompose. Fox Farm

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Knowing what you’re growing will help determine which mix to buy. Starting seeds, growing African violets, replanting succulents…each has different soil, nutrient, water and pH requirements. Look for a potting mix that supports the different plants you are growing.

Organic or Not

Holds On To Moisture

This product is treated for water retention. Espoma

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‘Organic’ tends to be a highly values-laden word, but at its basis, the difference between organic and non is pretty simple. Organic potting mixes have no chemical additives and rely on the decomposition of natural materials to make nutrients available to the plants over a long period of time. Non-organic mixes have chemically derived fertilizers and other additives that tend to boost plant productivity more in the short term. Use of non-organic mixes may require additional supplements over time to replace the original additives as they are used up.