The benefits of using organic soil with good nutrients are clear, but the term “Certified Organic” goes beyond the simple meaning of “Organic Soil”.
Since the modern swing towards highly processed foods, the overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, genetically modified seeds (GMO’s), and harmful ingredients and additives even in the packaging our food and drink comes in, awareness is growing about the benefits of keeping things, fresh, raw, natural, wholesome and organic wherever possible.
When growing fruits and veggies, any died-in-the-wool gardener knows it is ideal to have ample natural nutrients and microorganisms in the soil to feed their healthy growth.
But what exactly does “organic” mean? And is it different from “Certified Organic”?
Depending on the context these terms can mean slightly different things. Those looking for organic soil for their gardens or lawn may need to take a little care to find what they are looking for. If you are operating a certified organic business as a grower, you’ll need to choose soils or mixes that are compliant with the applicable certification standards of your country.
The common meaning of organic is essentially a substance of animal or vegetable origin. It pertains to living organisms and is characterised by the systematic arrangement of parts; meaning that organised, systematic elements fit together as a unified, organic whole.
Amazingly, the elements that make up organic soil seem to know how to find their own balance! This startling discovery was reported in a study published in 2012 by University of New England biophysicists Professors Iain Young, John Crawford and others:
What does “Certified Organic” mean?
“Bacteria and fungi take on a little feng shui and they can rearrange the soil particles… Fungi and other microbes can reorganise the structure of soil so it is able to absorb more water and carbon.”
Professor Young describes soil as “the most complex biomaterial on the planet. In a handful of fertile soil there are more individual organisms than the total number of human beings that have ever lived on the planet,” he says. “The life in soil defines the soil and its function and properties.”
So, the benefits of using organic soil with good nutrients are clear, but the term “Certified Organic” goes beyond the simple meaning of “Organic Soil”. It means that not only is the soil made with composted organic matter, it also complies with recommended procedures for all stages of organic and biodynamic products preparation. The Australian Standard AS 6000-2009 (and similar standards in the U.S.) sets out minimum requirements for growers and manufacturers wanting to label their products ‘organic’ or ‘biodynamic’. If you need to be sure your soil has complied with these standards, look for the ‘Certified Organic’ designation on products.
Choosing the right soil nutrient balance for the type of plants you are growing is important, as phosphorus and mineral levels, pH and other factors come into play. Ask your local nursery supplier about what conditions specific plants may need to thrive. Even organic soils often need more nutrients, like a vegetable soil mix, while others are already made from rich, fully organic, composted materials and mixed with composted green waste, cow manure, loam, sand or ash.
The bottom line is that your soil mix is the foundation of a successful garden – it literally lays the footing for the plants that grow from it. For avid gardeners who strive to keep their home-grown produce organically wholesome, the soil should have a healthy contribution of organic matter, especially in the top 200 to 400 mm.
Whether you go to the lengths of it being “Certified Organic” may depend on what standard you are looking to meet. But as a general rule natural, organic matter is a vital part of a healthy garden or lawn.
Mark Locock is the 2nd generation in this family company, Turtle Nursery in Sydney, Australia. His 30 years answering customer questions and running the business has helped to make Mark very knowledgeable in gardening and landscaping supplies whether it’s the right sand for paving or the best soil for your garden, indoor or out. With any spare time, he builds and flies small glider planes.