Vegetable Container Gardening

balcony gardening soil

Zone toronto ontario | thorold added on January 19, 2014 | Answered

Why can't regular soil be used on the balcony for growing veggie and herbs? In the article it says synthetic soil only.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on January 20, 2014

Soil from your yard will compact in containers, which will make it very hard for your plants to grow a healthy root system. This happens because of 2 reasons.

First, garden soil contains fine ground rocks that naturally fit together. Think of how sandstone is formed and the soil in your garden is what sandstone was before in compressed.

Second, out in your yard or garden, there is a thriving, complex ecosystem that is continually aerating the soil (preventing the compaction from the first reason). Things like burrowing critters, like earthworms, bacteria, decomposition of organic material and water make sure that most soils in the garden stay uncompacted. Clay soil is the exception because it has a high, fine mineral rate, which is why you need to add organic material to clay soil.

In a container, the area is just too small to maintain the kind of ecosystem. There is nothing to stop the minerals and ground rocks from coming together. And roots have a difficult time growing that way.

When filling your containers, you don't need to use synthetic. You need to use organic material only. Compost, well-rotted manure or peat moss will work well, as will store bought potting soils, which are typically made up of a combination of these materials.

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