Urban Farming

The BEST Garden Soil for Your Vegetables

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I love this time of year in northeastern WI!  The snow is long gone (fingers crossed), the grass is freshly green, the trees are budding and I get to play in my garden.  I am especially excited this year because I declared that this will be the year that I have a beautifully abundant harvest.  I will start with the BEST garden soil on the planet.  I will then commit to regular weeding and watering and will be blessed by the spirit of my sister, Alyssa.

Alyssa was a passionate organic farmer who worked on a real northern California farm.  She grew beautiful crops which she sold at a local market.  She loved to get her hands dirty and referred to her outdoor work area as her office.

Northern California Farm

Alyssa’s Office

She was my go to when I had questions on gardening.  I remember her stressing the importance of good soil.  I listened but was admittedly lazy about it.  Now, I have to rely on the books she left behind and her spirit guiding me.  

I also recall that she often talked fondly of a local store, Silver Lake Country Store, for all of her gardening (& dog food) needs. I knew I had to go there for the perfect soil.  I was informed by the staff that I needed to talk to the soil man, “Jack”, as he will be able to advise me on the best combination of soil and/or organic fertilizers. With my soil test results in hand, I met Jack.  

Jack the Soil Man

Jack is a man who truly loves taking care of our earth.  He spoke for over an hour about various soils and how he successfully turned over the grape making industry in WI by advising winemakers on their soil needs.  I watched him as he cut open bags, dug through the dirt with his hands and talked about how he can smell when he has good soil.  I knew I had the right guy. I could feel Alyssa smiling as she saw her inpatient, overly scheduled sister squirm from the time I had to spend listening to this passionate man talk for an hour about dirt.

Garden with raised beds

My Garden

I left with a truck full of special dirt eager to go home and mix up in my newly expanded garden.  This year I decided to add 2 more raised beds to my modest garden that had consisted of two 4’x8′ raised beds for the past 8 years.  My new beds are just under 4’x3′, are made of metal and were simple to put together. I also added a 3rd metal raised bed to surround my strawberries.  

I was gifted with a beautiful warm sunny Saturday to myself when I unloaded my truck of dirt ready to add it to my new and existing beds.  I literally mixed all 3 kinds of soil in each bed using just my hands.  James Taylor was playing, the sun warmed my face, the birds sang and I cried smelling the earthy dirt.  Silly, I know, but when I realized it was Earth Day, I got emotional.  I felt my sister’s presence in the birds song and the sun’s warmth. I was in her place instead of her getting her own hands dirty.  

I realized at that moment that this garden of mine is truly blessed.  It will definitely be an abundant year.  Alyssa’s energy will keep it growing strong.  I just hope she figures out how to keep the squirrels out:)

Time to Plant Some Seeds

It was now time to start planting some seeds into this heavenly dirt.  Being the planner that I am, I headed to my garden books and online to recall what I can plant now.  I discovered the most amazing garden planning software online.  Growveg.com allows you to design your garden layout easily.  You can then drag a large variety of plants into your virtual garden. It automatically adjusts how many plants should fit in one space.  My favorite part is that it then populates a list of your chosen plants with recommended planting times based on where you live.

I grabbed my new planner and my seed packets and got to work.  I planted Lacinato and Siberian Kale, Sugar Snap Peas and Brussels sprouts. I will then add Carrots and Spinach later this week and a bunch of other veggies as it gets warmer outside.

My intentions are to share my garden’s progress over the season.  I hope to provide helpful tips and inspiration to enable you to successfully grow your own vegetables. I encourage you to get your hands dirty and enjoy the earthy smell:)

The first thing I want to share with you is Jack’s special soil recipe. He recommended this combination for a new bed and to top dress an existing one.  He further offered a detailed soil test in order to provide recommendations for additional fertilization over the season. 

THE Recipe for THE BEST Garden Soil on the Planet

Print Recipe
Jack's Garden Soil
This soil combination was recommended by a passionate and intelligent gardner named Jack. It will be sure to grow an abundant harvest of incredible produce.
Garden Soil Blend
4'x3'x1' raised bed
  • 2 (2.8) cubic feet bag Sungrow Professional Grower's Mix
  • 2 (1) cubic foot bag Purple Cow
  • 2 (1) cubic foot bag HSU Garden Blend
4'x3'x1' raised bed
  • 2 (2.8) cubic feet bag Sungrow Professional Grower's Mix
  • 2 (1) cubic foot bag Purple Cow
  • 2 (1) cubic foot bag HSU Garden Blend
Garden Soil Blend
  1. Mix all 3 of these bags together. They can be used to start a brand new raised bed or as a top dressing with an existing bed. If adding to an existing bed be sure to loosen up the top 6" of your original soil first. Then add Jack's soil on top and mix it all together.
Recipe Notes

This mix is about a 3:1:1 ratio and can be modified for any garden bed size.  Purple cow is an amazingly rich organic compost that can make the biggest difference in your garden.  It is expensive (~$15/bag).  Think of it like garden gold.  You can certainly use less (1 bag per 4'x3'x1' garden) and simply add more of the other two.  HSU Garden Blend is a dense soil that helps to create the perfect texture when mixed with the Professional growing mix.  It does a nice job weighting down the soil just enough so that the wind doesn't blow it away.

Can't get to Silver Lake Country Store to meet Jack?  Here are some links to other stores that sell these products.

Sungro Professional Grower's Mix

Purple Cow Activated Compost






HSU Garden Blend:  This is a link to the manufacturer.  They do not sell it directly from their site but they do have a nice garden center locator on their "Find our Products" page under the "About Us" tab.

HSU Garden Blend

I’d love to her all about your gardening experiences, ideas, challenges and joys.  I’m no expert, but I’m having fun and would love to learn with you along the way:)