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What Are the Pros and Cons of Organic Potting Soil?

Alex Tree
Updated May 16, 2024
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One advantage to organic potting soil is the ability to make it at home. When a gardener must purchase it, he or she is sometimes supporting small businesses. Gardeners can save money by making their own all-natural soil at home, sometimes without having to buy ingredients. In addition, several companies that make organic potting soil only supply small businesses rather than chain stores. Some disadvantages of organic potting soil is the possibility of a misleading label and the cost if purchasing rather than making it from scratch.

A potential con of organic potting soil is the possibility of deceptive labeling. In many countries, businesses can call their products organic without it being first certified. As long as the product is not grossly mis-advertised — for example, not being potting soil at all — selling it is usually legal. If organic potting soil matters to a gardener, he or she should make sure the product is officially certified by a reputable organization. One way the soil may not be completely organic is if poultry litter is used as an ingredient but the chickens that produce this product are not fed organic feed.

Another disadvantage to going green in this aspect of living is cost. Organic potting soil is often more expensive than potting soil mixed with various unnatural chemicals. This is because the latter is easier and usually less expensive to make. A lot of green products cost more than their non-organic counterparts because the cost of manufacturing goes up; for example, the manufacturers may now have to buy by-products of organically fed chickens rather than accepting the products of the lowest bidder.

Organic potting soil can be homemade to save money and precious minerals from being mined in certain regions of the world. Sawdust, leaf mold, and other basic ingredients are blended and left to rot until needed. There are literally dozens of recipes to create the perfect blend of nutrients for all vegetables and trees. In addition, a gardener who makes his or her own organic potting soil mix is no longer supporting companies that mine increasingly rare minerals.

Another advantage of buying all-natural potting soil is that some makers of this product do not sell to chain stores. By purchasing this type of soil, the gardener is supporting small businesses. On the other hand, this can be a disadvantage if there are no small businesses nearby or none willing to stock the product. In some cases, it is possible to order directly from the manufacturer, however.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
Discussion Comments
By croydon — On Aug 21, 2014

@Mor - As long as you don't have open sores on your hands, or put them near your mouth before you wash them, you should be fine. Organic potting soil is going to be much safer for you in the long run anyway, because a good organic potting soil recipe is going to provide a lot more nutrients and good growing conditions for your plants, with less need for additional chemicals.

By Mor — On Aug 21, 2014

@Iluviaporos - The same goes for your own organic potting mix, particularly if you are making compost that can be exposed to the open air.

The theory is that the heat of compost will break down all the nasty elements but that's not a perfect process and you don't want to risk getting it wrong. It's just a good idea to wear gardening gloves anyway, since there are other things you'll want to protect your hands from as well.

By lluviaporos — On Aug 20, 2014

Organic potting soil might also be more dangerous than the average potting soil, depending on the conditions used to make it. Even conventional potting soil carries some risks of bacterial contamination, which is why it's recommended that people use gloves when working with it. And that potting soil is made through a standardized process.

Organic potting soil is more likely to be made in small batches by people who may or may not know what they are doing. I'm sure the best organic potting soil brands don't have any more risk than normal potting soil does, but be cautious if you're buying from someone who makes it in their backyard.

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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