Have you decided to start a nice little (or big) garden? The first step for you would be to choose the plants that you want to grow there. Then, where you want to have them: in a pot or a garden (and here – in a raised bed or the ground).

The next step is also a very significant one – which soil to use. With so many options out there, you are probably confused about what is the best one.

We have made a list of the best soils and plant foods that you can use for starting a nice garden. Read on for the list and some more pieces of advice on how to choose the best soil for your needs.

Best Soil for Garden

QUICK OVERVIEW: Best Soil for Garden

Miracle-Gro Water Soluble
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4.13 x 6 x 9.88 inches
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Miracle-Gro Performance Organics
  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Size: 6 quarts
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Fox Farm Happy Frog
  • Weight: 40 pounds
  • Dimensions: 28 x 16 x 8 inches
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1. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble

Miracle-Gro is a brand of garden products that currently sell in the US as Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and in the UK as Ever Green Garden Care Ltd. They sell various gardening products, but mostly soils and fertilizers.

The company started by selling water-soluble fertilizer in 1944 and has been growing its business ever since. One of their products on the market today is this water-soluble plant food created to promote plant growth in its existing soil.

Specs

  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4.13 x 6 x 9.88 inches

What Plants Is It Good For?

This plant food is excellent for making any kind of plant thrive. It can be used from the sole beginning, when you only have tender seedlings waiting to germinate, and for adult plants as well.

This plant food is especially beneficial for vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, quash. It is also excellent for herbs – basil, oregano, or mint, for instance.

It is most recommended to be used in combination with the Miracle-Gro soil mixture, for having your plants healthy and rich.

Key Features

The Miracle-Grow Plant Food is a water-soluble fertilizer that can be added to any soil mix or raised bed mix. It feeds plants in a very short time, with an almost instant effect in that area.

To avoid fertilizer burn, use it strictly according to the directions on the package. It shouldn’t be used excessively.

It can be used before the seeds start to come out. In that situation, the seedbed should be only wet, not soaked. You should make sure that the drainage is good, both inside the pot and on its bottom.

The use is simple – mix the stated amount of the plant food with the stated amount of water, let it dissolve in water, and water your vegetable garden at the plant’s roots. This should be repeated every 7 to 14 days.

One package is good for about 800 square feet of garden. It is an excellent choice for outdoor gardens.

The mixture has a light smell of fertilizer before it is added to water. The solution has a mild orange color.

Pros

  • Soluble in water
  • Easy to use
  • Nutritional
  • Natural ingredients
  • Good for big outdoor gardens
  • Comes with a scoop

Cons

  • Not for small indoor plants
  • Not for flowers and fruit
  • No directions for pot plants
  • Package unsuitable for scooping

2. Miracle-Gro Performance Organics

Miracle-Gro has a wide variety of soil mixes in their offer as well. They claim that when combined with their fertilizers and plant foods, their organic soil produces healthy and lush plants.

Though they have raised bed soil and garden soil for specific purposes, this one is an all-purpose mix best for potting soil.  The part of the name where it says ‘all-purpose’ refers to the types of plants, and not to the places where they are planted.

Specs

  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Size: 6 quarts
  • Dimensions: 2.5 x 10 x 16 inches

What Plants Is It Good For?

This is a soil mix that can be used for both indoor and outdoor plants. Plants grown in containers thrive best when planted in this mix, despite the location of the containers (of course, excluded are places that are too hot, cold, wet, dry, or have other conditions that may kill a plant).

The type of plants that the soil is good for are various: flowers, herbs, vegetables, you name it. It is very useful for people who have various plants in their garden and want to take care of all of them for one price.

Key Features

This healthy soil with organic matter is suitable for use all year round. It should be substituted every three months because the nutrients run out in about that time. As a container has limited resources to offer to a plant, it is important to keep the soil rich in nutrients in order to feed the plant.

Many plants can grow in this mix, from vegetables and herbs to flowers. They claim that plants from this soil give two times more yield.

It is made of organic material, such as processed forest products, and blended with aged compost.

When you plant in this soil, there will not be a need for any further fertilizing for about 30 following days, after which you may choose to add some. Just be careful not to overdo it or else you may get fertilizer burn.

It can be used for adult plants and for starting seeds.

Pros

  • Organic and natural ingredients
  • Suitable for organic gardening
  • With forest compost
  • No fertilizers for 30 days
  • Good for seeding

Cons

  • Not for a specific purpose
  • Lasts only 3 months
  • Not for mixing with native soil

3. Fox Farm Happy Frog

Fox Farm produces organic soil mixes, fertilizers, and plant food. They started their business in the 1980s in Humboldt County and are still there, happy for the location and collaboration with them.

They produce everything you need for maintaining healthy soil for your plants – from soil for starting seeds, through soil conditioners, potting and planting mixes, through the liquid and dry fertilizers, to pest control.

Their cheerful product design with an unusual frog picture in the center is surely something that will draw the attention of potential buyers.

Specs

  • Weight: 40 pounds
  • Size: 51.4 quarts
  • Dimensions: 28 x 16 x 8 inches

What Plants Is It Good For?

As the name itself says, the Happy Frog soil is excellent for container plants. The type of plant can be any of your choice – a house plant, a flower on your terrace, or a raised bed in the garden.

As this product is made of organic materials, plants – be it herbs, flowers, or fruit, will get very good nutrition. Good potting soil types with adequate drainage make up a very important aspect of plant growth.

Key Features

Since plants in a pot have a limited amount of soil, and with that of nutrients from the soil, they need something that will help them feed. The Happy Frog soil has a special addition – soil microbes which encourage plant roots to expand.

It can be used right away without any preparation. The soil pH is appropriate for optimal uptake of the contained nutrients.

Whether you planted potted plants for the house or a garden, or you use the mix to add to the top of another soil surface, water thoroughly afterward. The results are strong plants with lush growth and an abundant yield of fruit and flowers.

The ingredients include microbes and fungi that help absorb nutrients. The base is organic bat guano and natural earthworm castings. Adding more nutrients is not forbidden but not necessary either. For those who decide to nourish the soil more, the company recommends their own fertilizers and plant food.

If you keep the soil in a plastic container, after some time, a bit of mold may appear on top. Should that happen, just remove the top layer and continue using the soil normally.

Pros

  • Soil microbes included
  • For container plants
  • Ready for use
  • Comes with Pearsons Protective Gloves

Cons

  • Not for gardens
  • Somewhat pricey

4. Miracle-Gro Nature’s Care

Miracle-Gro works hard to meet the standards in their field and the needs of their customers. They create innovative products from natural materials. They are considered one of the best companies in their field of gardening.

This product is not a soil mix bit plant food, designed to enrich soil’s ability to feed plants. Nature’s Care line contains natural and organic ingredients. It is not liquid, so it needs to be mixed with the native soil around plants.

Specs

  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.5 x 14.38 inches

What Plants Is It Good For?

The package says that this plant food is good for tomatoes, vegetables, and herbs. A tomato plant is printed on the front side, giving us the information that this is definitely good for this fruit.

The reason is calcium that is abundant in this Nature’s Care Plant Food. Though all plants need calcium for good growth, some need it more, and those are broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cherries, citrus, melons, lettuce, peaches, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes, to name some.

Key Features

The most prominent feature of this plant food is calcium, which makes it excellent for growing tomatoes. Natural and organic matter is included in its composition. The composition is: 6% nitrogen, 3% phosphate, 9% soluble potash, 5% calcium, 1% magnesium, and 1.5% sulfur.

The expected results are healthy plants and abundant yield. Though good effects are expected soon after the first application, it should be noted that with organic products this may come after some time.

One package is enough for 270 square feet. It can last for up to 2 months for smaller surfaces (for example a 4-inch x 4-inch bed).

For planting, you should mix the plant food with the soil. If plants are already in the soil, you should sprinkle the plant food around and push it gently in the soil.

For seeds, apply the food two weeks after planting. For established plants, you can use this food right after planting, and then add it every 6 weeks during the growing season. After applying it, water the plants appropriately.

Pros

  • Added calcium
  • Organic materials
  • Lasts 2 months
  • Good for gardens, raised beds, and containers

Cons

  • May need time to start working
  • May have an unpleasant smell

5. Jiffy G310

Jiffy is a Norwegian company that started in the 1950s. An innovative gardener thought of making soil compaction with compressed peat pot for young plants. This pot is beneficial for the transplantation process because the plant roots intertwine with the peat moss and accepts the new pot easily.

As the company has grown, so did their offer. Now they have a wide variety of gardening products: pellets, soils, and many tools and instruments you may need to grow plants successfully. Their website is one you should definitely check out.

Specs

  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Size: 10 quarts
  • Dimensions: 12 x 9.5 x 5 inches

What Plants Is It Good For?

This is one of the potting soils created specifically for growing plants from seeds. After the germination process has ended, if you need more soil or better soil, you can transplant the plant to another soil of your choice.

It is not specified anywhere which plants, in particular, this soil is made for, so it is safe to assume that you can use them for any kind of seeds. What you can do is check the ingredients and compare them with what is necessary for your seeds to grow strong and happy.

Key Features

The special feature of this mix is the sphagnum peat that is beneficial for seeds during the beginning of their life cycle.

The pH value is tuned for the soil’s specific purpose. The other nutrients that make up this mix include coir (coconut fiber), peat, vermiculite, and lime.

It can be used in pots, which is the most common usage for this product. Also, some users choose a raised garden bed for starting their seeds and this soil has proven to be efficient there as well.

Water absorption (due to the coconut coir) may be slow if you just put the soil in a pot and water it. To do it this way, you will need between 30 and 60 minutes to moisten the soil well because you should pour water little by little. A better way to do this is to use a bigger container, put the needed amount of soil and some lukewarm water, and mix them before transferring the moistened soil to the pot.

Pros

  • Good for starting seeds
  • With peat moss
  • Organic
  • Good for pots and raised garden beds

Cons

  • Absorbs water slowly

What to Look For When Buying Soil?

First and foremost, it is important to emphasize that using the right soil can make all the difference in having different plants live or wither.

There are two things to consider when you start pondering about the right soil for your needs: the kind of plants you will grow and the place where you will have them.

When it comes to the first thing, there are 6 types of garden soil: loamy, chalky, peaty, silty, sandy, and clay. Each has good and bad sides and plants that thrive and wither in it. Depending on the plants you have (or plan to have), you can decide which is the good soil for you.

Perhaps a more important aspect for this occasion is the second thing for consideration. Let us take you through a list of the possible growing environment and the types of soil needed for each.

1. Containers

There are various potting soils that are designed to make plants thrive in them. They usually have adequate drainage (to prevent soil compaction) and enough place for the plant’s roots to grow.

These soils can be used right away. Replacing the material from pots is advised every year. Water retention is discouraged because the roots may rot.

Related: Picking the Right Pot for Indoor Plants – 6 Rules

Ingredients:

  • Base: coconut coir or peat moss with limestone
  • Additional ingredients: perlite and vermiculite (for moisture retention) or grit and sand (for better drainage)
  • Fertilizers: organic compost – mushroom compost, bark, or leaf mold. This is added to mixes for adult plants. For germination, adding compost is avoided because it can be too aggressive.
  • Soil: in this kind of mix, the soil itself is rarely added, especially in mixes for starting seeds.

2. Raised Bed Gardening

If you have a raised bed garden, you may be happy to know that there are special mixes for that.

They are usually put on top of the native soil. Now, there are two options here to look out for: some of these need to be mixed with the native soil while others can take plants on their own.

Adding compost, in the form of organic fertilizer, is recommended here to boost soil fertility and enrich it with useful nutrients. For example, chicken manure is a good option if you want to use your own compost. Compared to organic matter which releases nutrients slowly and over a longer period of time, chemical fertilizers work fast and need more repetitions.

Ingredients:

  • Topsoil
  • Coconut coir or peat moss
  • Perlite or vermiculite
  • Compost pile

3. In-ground

If you have a nice place to set up an in-ground garden, you should first do a small (or more serious) soil test to see which type you have: if it is clay soil, sandy soil, silty soil, or any other of the 6 types mentioned above.

There are bagged good garden soil that can be bought for improving the quality of your native soil. In effect, it is topsoil mixed with organic material for enrichment.

4. More Soil Mixes

There are a few more things worth mentioning here.

First, if you want to grow succulents or other plants that cannot stand continuous soil moisture, there are special soils – cactus, palm, and citrus mixes. They provide excellent drainage. It is also very important here to have pots with holes on the bottom so that the extra water can leak out.

Also, if you want to plant a lawn, there are lawn mixes. They include fertilizers and soil amendments that help retain moisture.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the best garden soil to buy?

This is a complex question that has been answered in the text above.

To repeat shortly, you should try to figure out what type of soil you have in your garden and compare it with the plants you want to grow. That will show you what you need to add to the native soil to make it more appropriate for your desired crops.

What is the best soil for a vegetable garden?

For a vegetable garden, you will most probably have to prepare the soil prior to planting seeds. This preparation includes adding organic matter, i.e. compost on the soil surface to enrich it with nutrients.

If you want to buy bagged soil for your vegetable garden, you should choose one with organic nutrients. The other option is buying separate fertilizer or plant food.

Conclusion

Choosing the right soil for your pot, raised bed, or garden should not be that difficult. The most important thing you should have in mind is to match the needs of your plants with what certain types of soil can offer and make an appropriate match. Then sit back and watch your plants thrive!

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