Mythbusting: common topsoil myths debunked
Enriching your soil and achieving the kind of rich and crumbly texture you see on gardening shows can seem like alchemy. For the novice, it can be tempting simply to use garden soil in everything from raised beds to containers because there are so many myths around topsoil. Debunk them, and you’ll know exactly which topsoil to use and when.
All topsoil is the same
False: although all topsoil is composed of sand, silt and clay, not all topsoil have the magic ratio of 60% sand, 15% clay and 25% silt. For example, we can supply economy grade, London blended mix and premium grade topsoil which have very different uses. You might use economy grade for hard landscaping, while a blended topsoil will give your lawn the kick start it needs to get established. For the best possible results for fruit and veg, a premium topsoil is the best choice.
Rich soil doesn’t need to be improved
False! All soil becomes nutrient poor as plants feed throughout the year. Even the richest topsoil needs to be replenished annually for the best possible results in the following growing season.
Garden soil is fine for a raised bed
Definitely false, particularly if your soil is very sandy and doesn’t hold water or nutrients, or very heavy with clay and doesn’t drain adequately. Garden soil is also unlikely to contain the level of organic matter that gives topsoil its excellent structure. Buying topsoil for your raised beds is not only less time-consuming than digging soil from the garden, but will create the best possible environment for healthy plant growth.
First, calculate how much topsoil your raised bed will need by working out the surface area in inches (length x width) then multiply this number by 8, which is the minimum number of inches of topsoil you’ll need. Now dig 2 or 3 inches of topsoil into the soil at the base of your raised beds and then simply pour the rest on top. This rich and organic growing medium will help you grow fantastic fruit and veg.
My topsoil is great, I don’t need to dig it
False again, as all soil benefits from being dug over periodically to promote drainage and nutrient uptake. Even the best topsoil can become compacted over time, so turn it over with a spade or fork, dig in some manure or compost, and top dress with topsoil to create the perfect growing conditions year after year.