Soil for the first garden


Q: I’m going to try gardening for the very first time and I have no clue where to start. The soil in my garden hasn’t been touched for years. So someone suggested buying fish compost, which I did. But do I mix that with some soil as well? If so, what kind of soil should I use? Some people say potting soil and some say top soil.

FYI: I bought some spring bulbs to plant (lilium and gladiolus). Any tips for planting these?”

The key to a good garden is the soil, so good for you for taking the time, as often it is overlooked.  Fish compost is excellent, I have often planted straight in it with success, and every year I mulch with it.  

I also like to add different organic matter to my fish compost base, simply to keep nutrients and microorganisms happy. I’ll often add leaf mold, kitchen compost, mushroom and steer manure.

I find that my amending my soil each spring and fall and adding a little of this and a little of that works the best. The key is that it is loose and nutritious, not heavy wet clay.

As for your bulbs, I always recommend to plant them three times as deep as the bulb size, root side down, with a splash of bone meal or glacial rock dust.

A great book to pick up if you are growing vegetables is the West Coast Seed Catalogue as well as Carrots Love Tomatoes; of course a subscription to GardenWise and regular website visits will be good too!

Good luck in you garden this summer, and welcome to gardening!