The Dirt on Sexy Soil


Ten Easy Steps to the Organic Garden of Your Dreams:

If you’ve ever walked by a neighbor’s yard and thought, “I’ll have what she’s having” – if you’ve ever experienced overwhelming garden lust – this list is for you. The secret really is in the soil.

1. Why sexy soil? Easy. It’s the best “breeding ground” for any flower or veggie that you plant. It nourishes your nasturtiums, caresses your carrots with compost and supports your sunflowers. The best news is once you have it, you won’t need any toxic chemicals to make your garden to grow. If your soil thrives, your plants will, too.

2. What’s your type?
Before you begin, decide if you’re crazy for daisies or if you’re really a lettuce lover. Be realistic as to your climate, garden size, and time commitment.

3. Lighten up.
Watch the sun to check its daily path across your garden. Every plant has different light needs and this may help you choose.

4. Pick a partner. Next, head to your local nursery with a soil sample, and let the soil expert know what you’d like to plant – flowers, veggies, herbs, succulents, etc. Most importantly, let them know you plan to make this an organic activity. They’ll help determine if your soil is sandy, has too much clay or if you’re very lucky, naturally loamy.

5. Good dirt. It’s easy to crumble and light so it can absorb nutrients and water. You’re creating living soil that ultimately maintains itself with proper care. You’ll get a feel for it if you scoop out some potting soil at the nursery. Whether you’re planning a big plot or a few containers, the nursery can help you with amendments to fix yours or simple potting mix.

6. Dirty talk. What do you mean you don’t like to get your hands dirty? For those trying to maintain a manicure, there are some terrific garden gloves created by and for women.

7. Fork play. While we’re on the subject, like any new relationship, the right tools transform digging from drudgery to delight. Spades, trowels, weeders and forks are basics that will make your life easier. Buy the best you can afford.

8. Do you compost? No, that’s not a personal question. If you have the space, it’s the best way to amend your soil and recycle kitchen scraps.

9. Making your bed. Getting the plot or pot ready for planting is the garden equivalent to preparing a gorgeous, fluffy bed. Whether you’re amending or adding compost, turning the soil well is all-important. Be sure to turn the soil deeply and thoroughly so your plants of choice can snuggle in and put down roots.

10. Digging in. Before you plant, place the pots where you envision them. Be sure not to overcrowd the plants. They need room to grow and spread in the living home you’ve created for them.

Editor’s note: Bonnie Trust Dahan is the best-selling author of Garden House: Bringing the Outdoors In.

Image: Simon Grossi