#gardenchat 11.7 -- SOIL

Tonight's #gardenchat, hosted by Courtney Tompkins was on the topic of soil health, and I'm so glad to see this topic covered, because as I've learned in class again and again and again: Soil is such a key part of growing!  We obviously can't cover every aspect of soil health, structure and importance in one crazy busy chat, but I think the best thing that happened this evening, was #gardenchat got everyone considering their soil and thinking outside the box (or inside the containers LoL)

We started with the basics: soil vs dirt.  As a horticulture and science student myself, I'm particular about calling it soil but not everyone agrees, and I can respect that :)

  • "Dirt" is what you scrape off your shoes, "Soil" is what you plant in -- @DSAldridge
  • A good gardener can make soil out of dirt -- @GreenSoil
  • I'm not above the dirt, I'm level with it. Soil, earth, dirt, it's all good :) -- @StarkBrosCares

After that, the tweets really do get flying!  Its far too much information to take in all at once, that's why I love The Gardenchat Transcript  One suggestion made by Courtney that I really agree with was that constant evaluation/feeding of your soil is [one of the] the best thing[s] you can do!  Then again, other growers that I truly respect, such as Linda Crago never have their soil tested, although she does amend with compost and green manure.  Really, what it comes down to as Annie Haven said: it's all about feeding the Soil!

Another question pertained to a subject I know plenty about: container growing.  "Can we use the soil from the garden in containers indoors?"  I've learned in my various horticulture practices and greenhouse classes that outdoor soil tends to be too heavy, it compacts and get waterlogged in containers.  I've also learned the hard way that moving soil from outdoors to indoors is likely to bring along contaminants such as pests, fungi and diseases.  In the research greenhouse, we use Berger BM6, and in one project: worm castings but at home I mix my own container soil -- primarily peat moss with perlite, vermiculite, sand, compost, or other amendments added as needed specifically by each plant.  Courtney agrees, "It's smart to test & tweak for each plant's needs!"

Then Bren of @bg_garden asked what was being grown indoors this time of year?  Bren and Linda are growing sprouts and pea shoots and me? as I'm sure you know by now I've got an Heirloom Tomato Crop, but I'm also doing a production crop of Mini Winter Cyclamen and my classmates in the research greenhouse have Basil and other herbs growing :)

Some last words of wisdom before I left #gardenchat for the evening:

  • Think about where your amendments are sourced from. Try to be low impact. That's why I love @GreenSoil! -- @ecokatLA
  • I just realized you could take a several tweets completely out of context and make a short novel out of #gardenchat -- @JanitC

Side note: we start #gardenchat each week, by introducing ourselves and which zone we grow in.
For those Canadians who don't know your zone, there is an interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map:
 http://sis.agr.gc.ca/cansis/nsdb/climate/hardiness/intro.html (use the "new" map)
And of particular interest to this evening's topic is the interactive Soils of Canada Map:


  1. Great post you are on the right track here. I grew up hearing my Grandfather and father always stress that weather you are farming, ranching or gardening it is all about the Soil! When you are growing anything from starting seeds to growing indoor plants. It is so important to provide nutrients to the soil so the roots can feed the growth optimally.

  2. Thanks for including me in your post. That quote about dirt vs soil isn't originally mine, though. It was the first thing I heard in my soils class in college. I wish I could remember the professor's name, I'd credit him.

  3. Thank you for this wonderful recap.... it is awesome looking back and reading it 2 years later. I've learned so much from garden peeps like you on Twitter.
    I'm forever grateful and my garden is too!