Preview: Healthy Garden: What’s in the Bag?

Fine Gardening - Issue 186

Most of us care about ingredients. We read a label to know whether we’re buying a soup with noodles or one with beans, yet the process is less straightforward when we’re picking potting mix.

But why use a bagged product at all? Don’t plants just need soil to grow? For containers, the answer is no. Elevating plants changes everything. Surrounded by air, containers dry out fast. They lack vertical space for water to drain, organisms to release nutrients, and an established soil structure to support root growth. To manage these artificial conditions, we need potting mixes specifically designed to support and nurture container plants.

Reading labels is just the start

Potting mixes can include many different ingredients to meet basic plant needs. Historically, commercial mixes relied on peat moss for water retention, an ingredient with major environmental and climate change impacts. Today, alter­natives that substitute agricultural by-products, such as coconut coir, as ­water retainers are more readily available.

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