Adventures in Buying Dirt

This is the eigth installment in the collective blog series: Painting Our Black Thumbs Green. You can find other related posts in Veggies Squared. This blog meme is held in conjunction with Christina of The Table has Shoes and Other Ambiguities. We’re both garden virgins, making this our first undertaking in producing edibles in our own yards.

This week’s topic: Dirt.  Note: The blog post for MyNeChimKi will be presented in a 2-part series, 1st – Adventures in Buying Dirt and 2nd – Mel’s Magic Mix Modified

Find out about Christina’s soil here.

1/3 Peat Moss, 1/3 Vermiculite, 1/3 Blended compost

That’s Mel Bartholomew’s recipe for success as reported in

  1. Peat moss is essentially a “non-renewable” resource so it goes completely against my efforts towards sustainability.
  2. Vermiculite is expensive stuff.
  3. Blended compost = 5 different kinds of compost mixed together (read: expensive & time consuming).

Without knowing it initially, I found a solution to all of my problems by simply trying to solve the 2nd problem, inexpensive vermiculite.  Here’s the problem with vermiculite: you need the industrial grade stuff not the horticultural grade stuff.  Industrial grade isn’t easily obtained, it’s not at Home Depot, it’s not a Southern States.  You can get it from packaging companies like U-Line but you’ll pay an arm and a leg for shipping (almost as much as you pay for the vermiculite itself).  One option is to go in on an order with a bunch of other people; buying in bulk saves cash.  The other option is just to google the crap out of vermiculite until you find a decently priced purveyor.  The latter was my choice.

Enter Seven Springs Farm.  I can’t remember at the moment how I managed to stumble across them in my google search for cheap vermiculite, but my eyes lit up with excitement when I did.  Their website gives a great little summary of what they’re about:

[quote]Seven Springs Farm is a 125 acre organic farm….in Floyd County, Virginia, USA. Our philosophy is to be stewards of the land in the most ecological way possible. We use farming methods that build the fertility of the soil, such as organic fertilizers and biodynamically made compost. Pest management is achieved through cultural practices and biological and botanically-based materials. Ron carries a large variety of Organic Fertilizers, Growing Mixes, Animal Supplements, Pest Management, Grower’s Supplies, Deer Fencing, and Organic Cover Crop Seed. For more information about the National Organic Program go to the catalog and at the begining there is a section about the NOP.

The farm is also home to a Community Supported Agriculture Garden. Polly has about 5 acres in vegetables. She uses eco-ganic and biodynamic practices and she is committed to providing high quality food and preserving the rural economy.[/quote]

Scrolling around in their Organic Farming & Supplies catalog I found absolutely everything I needed.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was a soil-seeker’s dream come true!  Not only did they have the cheapest vermiculite around, but they also had Ko-Ko Pro, a sustainable alternative to peat moss, and McEnroe Premium Organic Compost, a complete compost – no need for mixing in additional stuff!  I was thrilled!  What was even better was that they are a local business; well almost local.  They’re a Virginia owned business, so we’ll count that for now!

DH and I planned a trip down south to go pick up everything since shipping would have been terrifically bad.  Check out the photos from our trip:

[nggallery id=17]

%d bloggers like this: