GARDENING: Build your own soil for stronger, healthier plants

DIY soil is a superior product

‘Black gold’ from the bucket is spread around established plants and covered with straw mulch to protect the soil. (Contributed)

‘Black gold’ from the bucket is spread around established plants and covered with straw mulch to protect the soil. (Contributed)

Loretta Fritz | Contributed

Bees and bee-friendly gardening were the focus of the Sooke Garden Club in 2018. This year the emphasis has been more down to earth. Literally. It’s been about the soil. As for the importance of soil, the Club’s calendar notes: “We don’t grow plants. We grow soil … and let the soil grow the plants!”

It’s true that we can buy good soil and soil amendments, but over time this can become expensive. Building and amending soil by composting at home, on the other hand, is both practical and economical. Moreover, the end result is a superior product.

Did you know that compost is a natural slow-release fertilizer that doesn’t get washed away in with the rain? Compost enriches existing soil, improves its texture, and helps it retain moisture.

And by improving overall soil fertility, compost contributes significantly to the growth and health of plants and to crop yield as well.

In short, composting is a fantastic way to create an excellent and free garden soil amendment. It is also a socially responsible activity in that it lessens the amount of methane-creating food and garden waste going into the landfill and encourages a healthy soil ecosystem.

This month, with harvesting well underway, leaves beginning to fall, and the supply of kitchen/garden waste on the upswing, the Sooke Garden Club is digging into the topic of composting. Kayla Siefried, site manager and community education coordinator at the Compost Education Centre in Victoria, is returning as the featured speaker. Her focus will be on Composting Essentials.

This informative session will delve into what it takes to produce a soil amendment that is rich in beneficial microorganisms and nutrients (and often referred to as “black gold”). It will cover the six factors for composting success, how to choose the best composting system to address particular needs and circumstances, and how to increase the rodent resistance of outdoor compost piles.

Join us on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road. The meeting will also feature the final parlour show of 2019. New members are always welcome. Questions? Visit our website at or email us at


Loretta Fritz writes for the Sooke Garden Club.