For an organic garden, Is it necessary to choose organic soils?

Asked April 18, 2020, 10:42 AM EDT

Hi, I really want to have a lawn and garden that's 100% organic. The trouble is, I have a large yard with poor soil. It needs a lot of compost and fertilizer to keep it healthy, and finding a garden center that sells organic compost in bulk has been difficult. At this point I'm wondering, where do I look? Does ANYBODY sell organic soil in bulk? And what are my alternatives if I can't find organic soil?

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Hello. I'm glad you've turned to AaEx.

Can you tell me more about why you think your lawn is unhealthy? Do you have a lot of shade? Have you tested your soil recently to find out if there are problems? Here is a link to the U of MN Extension Soil Test pages where you'll learn about their service, price, and how to submit a sample: http://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu/

I recommend purchasing your compost that's been sourced locally for two reasons. First you can ask if the compost has materials that have been exposed to herbicides and pesticides. And you can ask if the compost has been heated to at least 131 degrees for at least three days. Here's why. Minnesota has had an infestation of jumping worms (they squirm a lot but really don't jump) that can ruin soil. They typically live in the top couple of inches of soil and consume all organic matter and living organisms that reside in soil turning the soil into what looks like coffee grounds. Without these creatures and organic matter, plants don't do well. A lot of compost comes in bags from other states with jumping worms and we can't really find out if the producers are sterilizing the compost enough.

Here is more information about jumping worms: https://extension.umn.edu/identify-invasive-species/jumping-worms

Feel free to reply about what is going on with your lawn and I'll see if we can help.