With so much rain this spring, it’s been hard to get the garden planted. But there is still time to plant, and still time to get help with your garden. Your vegetables can’t grow unless they have the right “foundation” – the right soil with the right nutrients to keep them fed. Poor soil can kill your garden as quickly as bad weather or pests. Clay soil can hold too much water, drowning your plants. Rocky soil can drain too quickly, drying out your plants. So how do you know what kind of soil you have, what things you might need to add to it to make it “good” soil, and what kind of nutrients it needs?

Lael’s Landscape and Stone Supply can answer all your questions about soils, which ones to use, and how to use them in your garden. Lael’s has a variety of dirt available for various uses. Screened topsoil and sandy loam are great for fill dirt and to raise up low areas. They also carry their own custom blend of topsoil that they developed, containing decomposed bark that drains well and already has mineral nutrients in it. Lael’s also sells Cascade Compost, a product from a Pacific Northwest company. It’s a mix that comes in bulk or by the bag for smaller uses such as container gardens.

Lael's Organic Compost
Lael’s certified organic compost has all the nutrients your plants need. Photo credit: Nancy Keaton

There are some gardening questions that are common for many people. For instance, you may want to know how much dirt you even need to get. Dan Lael says that first you need to determine how big of a garden you want, and whether you want it in the ground or raised beds.

Perhaps you have soil that you know is difficult for growing. Say you have clay soil. How do you make anything grow in it? Lael says that you can add organic matter and compost and mix it in. If you’re not sure what kind of soil you have, you can take a sample of it in to someplace like Wilco and have it tested.

Lael laughs when asked about what is in organic matter. “One thing it is not is human waste. We get that a lot, people seem to think organic means human waste, but it doesn’t at all. It’s anything ‘woody’ or ‘barky,’” he says.

Mushroom Compost
Mushroom compost works great in gardens. It’s not made from mushrooms so there is no concern about mushrooms growing in your garden. Photo credit: Nancy Keaton

Maybe you have questions about compost, such as how to use it. Lael says you simply lay it on top of the ground and till it in. If you haven’t used compost before or you’re not sure if you’ve used it correctly, Lael says that you can simply add it at the end of the growing season so that it can sit until the next year. Or you can also add it in the spring before you plant. One thing you do not need to do is add more during the growing season. Lael says that you also do not need to add any other nutrients or growth products or fertilizers either. “Everything your plants need is in the compost,” he advises.

Lael’s even has mushroom compost, a bi-product of the mushroom farm in Olympia. No, it isn’t made from mushrooms, however, it was used to grow mushrooms. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be concerned about mushrooms growing in your garden. “We sterilize it to kill any mushroom spores so that they can’t grow,” explains Lael. In case you’re wondering what is in the compost if it doesn’t contain mushrooms, it is simply made up of wheat straw, gypsum and dried urea.

Maybe you don’t want to plant directly into your soil, but prefer raised beds instead. Lael recommends their “3 Way Mix” made up of two parts premium topsoil and one part mushroom compost.

Lawn Mix
Lael’s Lawn Mix is ideal for spreading out to a thin topsoil to grow your lawn. Photo credit: Nancy Keaton

Then your next question might be how would you know how much mix you need for your raised beds. You simply tell Lael’s the measurements of all your beds and they will be able to calculate how much product you need.

Lael’s can answer most any question you have about dirt and getting your garden started and growing well. They know the soils in the area. They are knowledgeable about their products. They can help you by taking the guesswork out of your gardening and recommending which products you need to use for your circumstances such as your soil, the size of the garden you want, and the kinds of plants you want to grow. You don’t have to be an expert gardener or know all the answers yourself before you visit Lael’s. They are happy to help you learn if you are a beginner, or help you increase your knowledge if you are more experienced.

Call Lael’s Landscape and Stone Supply at 360-807-2018 or visit them at 1301 W. Reynolds Avenue in Centralia to find out all the answers to your soil needs.

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