previous
  • Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
    Indoor Seed Starting Materials List
  • Using Containers as Elements of a Design
    Using Containers as Elements of a Design
  • Garden Design Basics
    Garden Design Basics
  • NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
    NEW Video Series: There's a Better Way
  • Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
    Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
  • Rex Begonias
    Rex Begonias
  • 3 Ways to Design with Containers
    3 Ways to Design with Containers
  • How to Grow Mustard
    How to Grow Mustard
  • Black Plants Done Right
    Black Plants Done Right
  • 20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
    20 Gardenworthy Self-Sowers
  • Plant Finder: Spring Plants
    Plant Finder: Spring Plants
  • Go Green on the Patio
    Go Green on the Patio
  • Planting the Right Way
    Planting the Right Way
  • Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
    Bold and Beautiful Zinnias
  • Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
    Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid
  • DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
    DIY A-Frame Veggie Trellis
  • 10 Combinations for Shade
    10 Combinations for Shade
  • 10 Seed-Starting Tips
    10 Seed-Starting Tips
  • Pick Plants for Fragrance
    Pick Plants for Fragrance
  • Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
    Get your FREE Everyday Roses download now!
  • Homegrown / Homemade
    Homegrown / Homemade
  • Building Better Borders
    Building Better Borders
next

The dirt on greensand

Q: In her story “A Sanctuary in Every Season” (Fine Gardening #54), Pat Bullard mentions greensand as an ingredient in a mixture that will help break up clay soils. What is it, and how does it work?

John Owens, Glen Heal, FL

A: Nancy DuBrule, a garden designer in Northford, Connecticut, replies: Greensand is a naturally occurring, green mineral powder with the texture of fine sand. The most common type is mined in New Jersey and therefore called Jersey Greensand. It is primarily a source of potassium, but it also contains iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and up to 30 trace minerals that are necessary for plant health.

In organic gardening, a popular saying is “Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants.” Feeding the soil actually means feeding the life in the soil. Greensand, which is not soluble in water, has valuable nutrients that are released to plants only after being digested by the microorganisms in soil. These microorganisms also break down organic material. The result is a rich, well-balanced, black-colored soil teeming with earthworms.

I have been using greensand in my landscape business for many years. At first many of my customers were puzzled because they had never heard of it, but the results speak for themselves. Gardens that have greensand added at the initial stages of soil preparation have plants that are much more vigorous, with strong stems and abundant blossoms.

From Fine Gardening 60, pp. 16