Dirt. Soil. Gardening.

Add good plants to bad soil and you might as well just go ahead and throw them in the garbage. Usually. Bad soil equals plant stress, which is like hanging a neon welcome sign for disease, bugs, and looking crappy.

I want to submit our yard as the master gardener final exam. Look- a representative sample of every turf weed in NC. As you embark on your manual weed control (aka, hand pulling), you’ll stumble across the vole holes. Cue this year’s version of the World Vole War. But wait! That nandina JB hacked down last fall grew 20 feet– yesterday!

We have landscape challenges.

Soil amending is a hot topic in the gardening community. Just like everything else there are some strong opinions. I’m as enthusiastic about tilling 8-12 inches as JB is about sanding furniture on a Friday night. I once read about rent-a-goat program that seemed promising.

Too many random, yet simultaneously occurring projects, two kids, one husband, a couple dogs, several dozen voles… adding a good soil mix on top of bad soil, as mentioned in Square Foot Gardening gets my enthusiastic thumbs up.

But…it doesn’t solve the problem for the those plants not destined for either a pot, or a raised bed. Most successful (and I’m not) gardeners coexisting with as many mature (read: LARGE and nutrient-sucking) hardwood trees would be challenged with plant placement.

I could do more potted plants, but sometimes you have to water those twice a day in the hot NC summer. I have to water so many talking things in the summer, quite frankly the plants don’t complain loudly enough to catch my attention.

How to improve the overall condition of the surrounding soil for these lone landscape plants? See if you can follow where the ADHD brain went:

Plants, yay. Look at the delicious mint that E picked out– bah-ha-ha chickweed, the mint is gonna get you… at least mint is pretty. i love how they come in these peat pots– I can just plant without feeling the need to hoard five dozen little plastic six-packs. Peat pots are so useful for soil conditioning… hey! Sigh, I don’t want to go back to the store OR pay money for peat pots, I guess I’ll just…


Cue youtube and a shameful bastardization of other people’s talent.

E somehow navigated from the bags to “how to sharpen your scythe.” Um.

Dug out The Independent, folded some edges, added some glue. Rinse, repeat and cut a v-shape to accommodate the soil without damaging the flower.

I scooped and chopped up some leaves. Grabbed the bowl of pulp from the morning’s green juicing session (you could use regular kitchen scraps, but I’d give them a good turn in the blender to break them down into fine little bits).

I gave my 5 year old a shovel and a pot, pointing him to the old garden (which JB was transforming from a single large bed into two 4×4 beds square foot beds). Zach’s face seems less than enthused about 6 hour old kale juice pulp.


Add a few shovelfuls to the newspaper bag.

Dig your hole in the ground according to the specifications on the plant tag. Put your plant in the soil bag, and backfill.

Water with your repurposed milk container. Walk away.

Observe and admire the following day.

There it is– a dirtbag you actually want.

2 thoughts on “Dirtbag

  1. Niiice! Great idea. I also loved newspaper as weed block. That stuff was awesome.. you could still break through it with a shovel to plant (unlike the plastic sheeting) and it did a great job keeping the weeds out of the mulch.

    I only wish I had more space to plant something. Anything.

    • Know what’s even better than newspaper for blocking weeds? Cardboard! I killed an entire patch of english ivy with a few layers of cardboard. There is cardboard killing a large section of weeds in the middle of the yard (Z is horrified).

      But the little bags are nice for not screwing up the mulch. šŸ˜€

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