Food & Garden: Benefit from making your own organic soil mix

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By Andrew Padula, Contributing Columnist and owner of Greer-based Padula's Plants:

Making your own organic soil mix outdoors has many benefits to both yourself and to the plants you are making it for.

Some physical benefits to yourself include getting outdoors into the fresh air and sunlight, burning calories from the labor involved in making a mix. Some mental benefits to yourself include knowing what is going into your soil mix and gaining a better understanding of what your plants and garden need to grow — all while enjoying the benefit of entering into a naturally curious frame of mind that only being outdoors and around nature can help you attain. And since natural curiosity helps you to gain a better understanding of the world around you, that frame of mind is a great place to be in.

When it comes to how your homemade organic soil mix will affect your plants, there are many beneficial ways. An organic soil mix should have at least 10 organic based ingredients added to it, and some of them you can find right around your home.

These ingredients when mixed together create an excellent slow release fertilizer, which is what plants really need in order to thrive. (Quick release non-organic fertilized soil mixes are great for fast growth, but that is all. Once their fertilizing time is up, there are little if any benefits to the plants left in the mix itself.) Making your own organic soil mix naturally creates a slow release fertilized mix that can benefit your plants for years. One main reason is that many of the ingredients become more useful to the plants as the ingredients decompose, and decomposition takes time. This method of feeding your plants over time allows key nutrients to become available during different stages of growth throughout the seasons, instead of all at once with some quick release non-organic soil mixes.

Another benefit of making your own organic soil mix is it allows your plants to grow at their natural pace.

For those of us who love to grow herbs, the herbs mental and physical benefits along with their essential oils are some main reasons for our love of growing them. And many of these herbs do not reach their full potential of benefits offered for months or even years. So growing them at a faster pace simply speeds up their life cycle, depriving them of that time needed to accumulate those benefits.

Organic soil mixes added to your garden attract many more beneficial/predatory insects and earthworms to your garden area. This in turn greatly helps out your plants by allowing them to attract more pollinating insects. A healthy flowering plant will produce more flowers, which will attract more pollinators.

These pollinating insects will then attract predatory insects. These predatory insects will attack some pollinators but also eat a  great deal of plant pests. The earthworms that are attracted to the organic soil mix will help to aerate the soil with their tunnels, providing more air to the plants roots. The earthworms will also provide nutrients to the plants through the earthworms castings.

With the addition of an organic soil mix into your garden, the garden will thank you by becoming more self sustaining and healthier. This self sustainability the garden achieves will allow you more time to appreciate it's beauty and charm.

Learn more about Andrew Padula and Padula's Plants here.

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