Good Dirt

Spring is in the air, and gardening is on our minds. Local garden stores are gearing up with tantalizing seedlings and blooming perennials to entice even the brownest of thumbs. Along with the plants themselves are a dizzying array of fertilizers, seed starter mixes and potting soils.  How to choose?

Not all soil amendments are created equally. Granular chemical fertilizers are major sources of water pollution as well as greenhouse gases, so it’s best to steer clear.  Many potting soils contain peat or sphagnum moss, which generally means that far-away wetlands were damaged to create the product. Fortunately, there are alternatives.

The best options for the long-term health of your garden as well as the health of waterways and wetlands is to look for regionally sourced compost-based fertilizers and soils.  Ask your garden specialist to help you find a product that is made from animal manure or through other sustainably sourced processes.  Read the fine print because even “organic” products can contain sphagnum peat.  In the Washington DC area, look for Bloom.  But where ever you live, make sure your gardening practices are as green as your intentions.

Photo:  Creative Commons/Doug Noon