"Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can't live without."
Funnily enough, (yes, funnily is a real word...google it!) the same quote applies to garden supplies. Specifically, bags of the "good stuff" every yard and garden craves.
Your garden can't live without these 8 bags of crumbly bag goodness if you want your plants to survive and thrive.
So next time you visit the local garden center and they do have those fantastic clearance prices this time of year, stock up!
Or, you could use my affiliate Amazon links below to stock up! Some of which are super on sale now! Thank you =)
1.) potting soil
And you know how it is. Re-potting plants is a random activity. Here I'll be cooking dinner, folding laundry and sweeping the floor when I'll spot it- a plant that needs re-potting. Pronto.
Can this task wait an hour? Nope. It's a pressing concern!
Literally, I drop everything and go re-pot that plant. Save me from myself.
This is why I always have a bag or two on hand. Nothing worse than being ready to re-pot a plant desperate for re-potting and not having fresh soil to use.
As a side note, when I go to re-pot, I dump the old soil in my perennial beds or a low spot in my yard. It doesn't get re-used giving the plant a fresh start.
Besides, over time the soil becomes compacted and laden with calcium deposits. I try to flush it all out, but there's nothing like a new lease on life.
So what do I love about the Miracle-Gro brand? It's so light and airy.
My pick: Miracle-Gro Expand 'N Gro - Concentrated potting mix
2.) all-purpose fertilizer
Although you can buy fertilizers that target specific problems (bloom booster that help plants grow lots of flowers or a mix that encourages root growth) it's convenient to have one really good all-purpose fertilizer on hand at all times.
What I like about the Dr. Earth brand is that it's safe for people and pets. It's natural and organic. So I'm not adding anything bad to my soil.
It's also a multi-tasking product because it can be used for flowers, vegetables and herbs.
I tend to plant a few flowers and herbs in my vegetable beds for both aesthetic and practical reasons. I don't want to have to grab a separate fertilizer for them.
Easy button it is. Fertilize once a week or every other week when I'm super busy. I start fertilizing as soon as the plants go in the ground and stop about mid-August.
I even use it to perk up all my herbs rejuvenating them when they get weak and leggy.
Best of all: Dr. Earth is an organic fertilizer that I can testify actually works. There's no point in adding fertilizer that doesn't pump up those plants to give them a solid start.
Dr. Earth fertilizers increase yield without making the plants too beefy. You don't want all that energy going into humongous plants and not into producing vegetables.
Regardless of what brand you choose, make sure you follow the instructions on the bag ensuring you use enough product to make it work.
My pick: Dr. Earth All-Purpose Fertilizer
3.) weed & feed
Weed and feed products allow you to fight weeds and feed your lawn simultaneously. That's ideal for those of us short on time.
I once witnessed a neighbor manually cutting the grass around his driveway with a pair of scissors. I guess the weed whacker didn't "cut it." Holy moly, to have that kind of excess time!
But for those of us feeling the pinch, most varieties of weed and feed include herbicides that kill pesky weeds like dandelions and thistles.
And if you've ever stepped barefoot on a thistle, you know why weed and feed is essential.
For an organic option, try a weed and feed made with corn gluten like from Jonathan Green which prevents weeds from germinating. It also adds nitrogen to boost your current lawn while prompting new seed growth.
Apply the product in spring, before weeds emerge for best results.
If an organic product doesn't work, it usually means you either applied it too late in the season or didn't use the correct amount of product for your square footage.
Make sure you know the square footage of your lawn prior to ordering. And remember: It needs to be applied before the seeds emerge!
My pick: Jonathan Green Weed/Organic Fertilizer (with corn gluten)
Been there....done that.
Topsoil is the familiar black stuff under your feet in that "top" layer of your lawn forming that vital foundation.
While it's common, it's also the most vital building block of your yard. Topsoil is the Legos of landscaping.
Typically sold in 40-bags, plain topsoil is ideal for filling in those troubling holes or smoothing out irregular bumps in your lawn.
My parents bought a house where all the topsoil was once stripped by a company who sold it in small batches for a huge profit. Smart move on their part.
And their lawn has suffered because topsoil is valuable. It's a sopping wet mess in more ways than one!
Because topsoil is this magic combination of minerals and organic content that makes growing anything easier.
My pick: Markman Peat All American All Purpose Top Soil
Can you ever have enough compost?
Nope. It's black gold. Pure magic in the garden.
Not only does compost improve your soil's fertility but it increases its water-holding capacity.
The options are endless. There's cow manure varieties and even some mellower blends made from seaweed and mushrooms.
We make our own using a plastic barrel composter and that's a free option that works for us! Keep in mind that when you make your own compost DIY style, it does take forever and a day to break down.
Think eggshells as an example. They take years to break down! So adding some compost starter like the one from Jobe's is a good idea to kickoff your compost quicker!
All are ideal just about any time you choose to apply. Apply in spring to give new plants a boost, mid-season for a quick plant pick-me-up or in fall to nourish the soil in preparation for spring.
Apply 2-4 inches on the surface of the existing beds as a topdressing. Another option is to mix some with your topsoil in the hole where you are adding a new plant.
While compost doesn't look bad in itself, we like piling a few inches of mulch on top of the compost to give our garden that polished look.
Tom and I use so much compost that we end up buying extra and hauling it home in a trailer. (Although we still think our homemade compost is best!)
My pick: Make your own compost...but use a compost starter like the one from Jobe's to get the process going much faster!
6.) garden soil
Garden soil is like your topsoil and compost got married. Okay, I must be really tired so sorry for all the silliness.
Because garden soil is a 50-50 mix of quality topsoil and compost.
If you're setting up a new flower or vegetable bed, you are going to need some garden soil to launch your new beds.
Spread roughly four inches over the existing soil before planting.
Garden soil can also be used to perk up established plants that are starting to lag and get spindly mid to late season.
If you want to skip a step, buy garden soil bags with fertilizer already mixed in so you don't have to feed plants for a few months.
I purchased roughly 12 bags of garden soil at ALDI for $2.99 a bag, but there was zero fertilizer mixed in. And you know how it is at ALDI...if you don't buy it right away, it's gone! Kind of like those salted caramel ice cream bars. Gone!
My pick: Espoma makes a super quality garden soil that won't disappoint.
7.) worm casings
And it's thrilling to "know" what piles of worm poop actually looks like.
In fact, I felt like I started to live my life the day I got my first bag of worm casings. Okay...let's call it as it is, worm poop.
Now I can guess what you're thinking. Does worm poop smell? No.
Worm poop are these tiny granules that you use in your garden to nourish the soil on a whole other level. It's fantastic and I've used it with great results.
It's easy to apply and a little goes a long way. Just a sprinkle as a topdressing in your garden.
I also put a handful in the holes for spring plantings and my plants get extra nourishment.
It's organic and cheap to buy!
Mulch is aesthetically pleasing giving your landscape a polished vibe. When you've added that mulch, it shouts off the rooftops that you've finished a project to the neighbors.
Mulch is usually made up of wood nuggets or shredded bark from cedar, pine, hemlock, or spruce trees. So it even smells nice!
Your blueberries and hydrangeas will appreciate the pine variety as it makes the soil more acidic.
Depending on the wood chips you use, mulch can be black, brown, red or come just natural in color. I tend to go dark knowing it will fade in the sun, but that's just a preference. The dark mulch also seems to match the soil better.
Natural mulch like the Ameriscape cedar mulch not only looks great but smells fantastic!
Application is easy peasy. Wearing garden gloves, apply a three to four-inch layer around the plant and anywhere else you want to prevent or slow the growth of weeds.
We like to put a layer of cardboard down first and then put a layer of compost followed with mulch as our dynamic duo!
It's super convenient to have a few extra bags of mulch on hand and ready-to-go when you transplant or add a new plant to the garden.