Soil + Plant Food: Power Combo for Your Garden

Want a huge harvest?

Chances are, you know that plants need water and sunlight. What you might not know is that they also need good soil and nutritious plant food to give you the results you're longing for, like juicy tomatoes, colorful flowers, and fragrant herbs. In fact, pairing the right soil and fertilizer will immediately improve your odds for success in a big way, with the soil providing just the right root environment plus a helping of nutrition, and the plant food ensuring that your garden is well-fed throughout the season.

No matter what kind of garden you want to grow—traditional in-ground, raised bed, or container—there's a soil and plant food combo for you. Here's how to combine the two for fantastic results.

Soil and Plant Food for In-Ground Gardens

It's tempting to take a shortcut when planting an in-ground garden. After all, there's already plenty of dirt, right? Here's the thing, though: That dirt might not be the best for growing. Are you starting a garden at a newly built house, for example? Builders often scrape the topsoil before they build, so what you're left to plant in is dry, dusty soil without the right structure or materials needed by plant roots. Or maybe you're planting a new garden in a grassy area. While

And then there's plant food. By itself, soil simply doesn't contain enough food to keep feeding plants throughout the growing season, so you need to add more on a regular basis. Otherwise, you'll begin to notice your green babies growing more slowly, looking weaker, and giving you a smaller harvest.

So before you plant your in-ground garden, improve the existing soil by mixing a 3-inch layer of Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil in with the top 6 inches. You'll notice that the soil you're adding is a little lighter and less dense than the soil already in your garden, plus it contains a starter dose of plant food. All of this means the roots of your plants will have just the right texture and nutrients they need to grow strong.

A month after planting, it will be time to start replenishing all the food your hungry plants have devoured. Just shake Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed® All Purpose Plant Food on the soil around them, following the instructions on the label, to feed for up to 3 months. Not only does it contain vital micronutrients, but it's also formulated with kelp, earthworm castings, feather meal and bone meal in an all-in-one particle to feed microbes in the soil. For a more hands-on approach, you could instead fertilize your garden every 7 to 10 days while you water with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food, which is super-easy to use and gives you fast results.

Soil and Plant Food for Raised Bed Gardens

Raised bed gardens are the perfect way to grow a lot of plants in a small space, but you need the right soil and plant food to support all of that growth for a bountiful harvest. Unlike in-ground gardens, which start with at least some nutrients in the existing soil, raised beds rely on the soil and food you provide to support the plants. So of course, it's important to give them the right stuff!

Start by filling your raised beds with Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Soil, a no-mix soil blend that's completely organic and ready to use. It's packed with natural materials like earthworm castings, kelp meal, bone meal, and more to create a fertile foundation for your plants. Just open the bags and pour the soil into the beds. Easy peasy!

Again, about a month after planting, you'll need to replace the nutrition in the soil to keep plants growing strong. Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Plant Food, with added calcium and micronutrients, is just the right plant food for raised bed growing and is the perfect complement to Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Soil. Just mix it into the soil (read that label!) and water thoroughly.

Soil and Plant Food for Container Gardens

A container garden is an excellent way to grow your favorite plants when your growing space needs to be confined to a sunny deck, patio, or front stoop. But you can't just scoop dirt from the yard into the pots and expect those plants to do well. Instead, you need to fill containers with a light, fluffy, nutrient-rich potting mix that allows water and air to move easily around the roots.

Good potting mix isn't enough, though. To get gorgeous flowers and a big harvest, you also need to feed container gardens with the right food at the right time. Yellow leaves often indicate hungry plants, and that tends to happen more often in containers than in-ground gardens. (Pots tend to need more frequent watering, and that can deplete the food in the soil more quickly.)

Fill containers with Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix, which contains a unique blend of ingredients—think coconut coir, aged bark fines, and peat—that help the soil hold onto just enough water for plants to grow without getting soggy feet. Plus it has perlite to help oxygen needed by plant roots to flow through the soil and plant food to get the growing started.

Then—you guessed it—you'll need to take fertilizing into your own hands a month after planting. For an instant boost, mix Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food in with water in the watering can. (You'll want to repeat the process every week or two.) For longer-lasting nutrition, feed with Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed® All Purpose Plant Food, No matter which type you choose, always read the package to know how much and how often to use it.

Here's one more tip for major garden success: Skip the seeds and start with young Bonnie Plants® veggies and herbs instead. Not only will you be that much closer to harvest time, but you get an instant feeling of success when you look out and see a garden that's already flourishing!

Back to soil and plant food, you can see how using the right combo of the two will make a big difference in your garden—without requiring much at all when it comes to extra time and effort. Next thing you know, all your neighbors will be wondering what your secret is!