Oh the temptations of the garden centre, especially for hard-core plant collectors (like me!) whose heads are turned so easily by a new leaf shape and “Come And Get Me” colour. “Look, it comes in bronze now! Ooh! Chartreuse!” Sound familiar?
Garden centres are like grocery stores. We know not to fill our bins full of sugar-coated cereal, free-range steak and fancy bagels without ever stopping by the fruit and vegetable aisle. So, at the garden centre, start thinking of the piles of soil amendments—sheep manure, mushroom compost, triple mix and mulch—as the fruit and vegetable aisle for your garden bed. For every plant you buy, it’s essential to pick up a bag or two of something organic to amend the soil it grows in as well.
We gardeners are often avid composters, but our city compost piles aren’t usually big enough to support our garden beds on their own. Plus our own compost isn’t always ready when we need it. Luckily we have great choice with soil amenders now: organic amenders. Don’t even think of putting chemical fertilizers on your garden bed, they do nothing to help the soil, and actually interfere with soil microorganisms that are the backbone of your healthy soil. (Healthy soil means healthy plants.)
Fall is a perfect time to add soil amenders on top of your garden bed. Try a few bags of manure or mushroom compost, topped with some natural mulch. Next time you are at the garden centre, make yourself walk over to those boring-looking bags over to one side. Hoist a couple onto your cart. They’ll fit right in with your carrots and broccoli.