Neither my wife nor myself would be considered plant savvy. Despite this we try to grow things. Just for kicks I thought I might document the effort this year, as pathetic as they might be.
We have three main areas where we are planting. In the front of the house we have a flower bed around our front yard tree. Now this tree loves water so already we might be on shaky ground, but we are planting flowers around it. There are also flower beds outside the front door, around the walkway. There are a few potted plants on the front stoop as well. Finally on the back patio we have set up various containers to grow fruits and vegetables. Steph has also been growing herbs, in pots, out back for a few years but we haven’t done anything with that yet this year.
We live in a pretty average suburban housing project. This means the soil sucks. In both the flower beds and even the yard you don’t have to dig down very far (3″-6″) before you are hitting a soil/gravel mix. This year and two years ago I’ve added soil.
Given what we have now, even adding regular topsoil is an improvement. About half to two-thirds of what I added was just regular old Earthgro Topsoil that they sell at Home Depot and Walmart. It has a lot of negative reviews but I think that might be because what is in the bag varies by region. What I bought was great. Not very much clay, and only the occasional small rock or tree branch.
The remainder of what I added was Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Garden Soil. I added it as the entire top layer around the tree, mixed it with the topsoil in the flowerbeds, potted plants and vegetable containers. This seems to be pretty nice stuff to me. It is moist but crumbly black soil that obviously has lots of finely composted organic matter. It also contains a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Technically it isn’t for use in containers, I think because it holds moisture so well, but I also added some playground sand with it, and the topsoil, in the containers and they seem to be draining just fine.