Unless you are a gardener, you probably never though about it before or assumed they were the same thing as I did for years. Christmas Poinsettia Care | Year-Round Tips, Soil Testing at Home | Homemade Soil Test Kit, How to Grow Greens in a Bag of Potting Soil, Flowers That Reseed Themselves | Garden Advice, Yankee Magazine’s Ultimate New England Winter Guide, Yankee Magazine’s Ultimate New England Summer Guide, 63 Reasons Why We Love the Cape & Islands, Yankee Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to Autumn in New England, Get Rid of Skunk Odor | Methods to Deskunk Your Dog, 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England. And when should you use compost? Perlite: Perlite is the result of volcanic minerals (obsidian) being pulverized and heated. It is added to soil to make the mixture more porous and is also used as a medium in soils made for drought tolerant plants, such as cacti and succulents. It has compounds in it such as sand, silt, and clay that make it ideal for growing. They understand the difference between the stuff you dig up in your backyard versus the "black gold" that consist of compost, manure, decomposed organic matter and millions of beneficial microbes that are actively at work underground Let's start with soil texture. Dirt is what you get on your clothes and hands while working in the soil. To them, dirt has no history. Sand, silt, clay, and organic matter make up soil. Dirt and soil - once you get into the technicalities of gardening, suddenly they aren’t interchangeable terms. Fill Dirt. Dirt is made up of sand, silt, and clay, and it may be rocky. When this magnificent living thing called soil leaves the garden on your hands or clothes, it gets displaced and is now defined as dirt. Soil provides food, trees, shrubs, and flowers, but dirt is a nuisance remove. Happy Planting! It has concentrations of nutrients including potassium, phosphorus, and iron. According to Yankee Magazine and its article “The Best Medium for Your Gardening Needs | The Difference Between Dirt, Soil, and Compost”-Dirt: Dirt is bland and often either rocky or silty and void of nutrients. Because dirt is disassociated from its ecosystem, it lacks the nutrients needed to promote plant growth. It must show no signs of the previous organic matter that it is made up of. The simple difference is this: “dirt is soil where it’s not supposed to be”. If you add water to a handful of plain dirt, it will not compact well, if at all. The different sized particles create texture and structure, which aid in aeration and drainage. Advice, folklore, and gardening secrets! Both fill dirt and topsoil are sold in bulk by the cubic yard. Soil actually encapsulates an entire ecosystem that is a foundation for life in your garden and those all over the world. It has the exceptional drainage necessary for container and raised bed gardening. If decaying vegetation is still visible in the compost, it has not yet finished breaking down and the nitrogen level in the compost is too high to safely apply on or around plants. Basically, if there’s no life or organic matter mixed in with the sand/silt/clay, then you’re working with Dirt. Soil: Soil, on the other hand, is the perfect gardening medium, as it is rich in nutrients and microbes, and when scooped up in your hand, it will clump or form a loose ball easily — often without water being added. There is actually a vast difference between the two that farmers and gardeners are well aware of. It is not an organized ecosystem. The Difference Between Dirt and Soil Soil = Dirt (sand, silt, clay) + Organic Matter + Organisms You can’t have soil without dirt, but you CAN have dirt that’s not soil. Worms, fungi, microbes, and bacteria are the natural result of good composting practices. 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