To say I was thrilled to get an invitation to visit the Super-Sod Soil3 farm would be a major understatement. When I read the email I squealed with delight... I was going to get to see up close and personal how my favorite soil is actually created!
Having worked in the horticulture industry for two decades this was not my first time visiting a compost facility. I was expecting large piles of decomposing organic matter and big bold tractors facilitating the heavy lifting. What I wasn't expecting was a sandy ridge amongst fields of red clay housing the cleanest, most organized, and efficient facility that I ever had the pleasure of touring.
Located “someplace south of Macon” in what I call rural, central Georgia, I drove along idyllic streets that seemed of another era. Antebellum style southern plantation homes dotted the landscape among the fields of red clay and stands of loblolly pines. Sprawling oak branches reached to the sky and ground, creating cool pockets of shade in an otherwise unbearably hot and humid climate. I couldn’t help but ponder with amazement that people actually lived here before air conditioning!
As we turned the corner a block of BigYellowBags filled with Super-Sod’s Soil3 came into sight. They looked like modern day terracotta warriors lined to perfection ready to deliver gardening success across the southeast.
Upon pulling into the soil farm the long black rows steamed as the organic matter cooked. I could hardly wait to jump out and explore, but I tried to keep my composure. My knowledgeable hosts began to explain the compost-making process as I skipped away to a pile and sunk my hands in to feel the warm, perfectly textured compost I had grown to covet.
Getting to Know the Dirty Details
Soil3 compost is special, actually it’s extraordinary. Until this visit I just chalked it up to being “black magic” that made my garden burst with beauty and bounty. Now, I had the opportunity to get all the dirty details and learn why this particular compost reigned supreme.
For starters, Soil3 is made of decomposed grass clippings, straw, and cow manure that’s free of persistent herbicides. This combination results in a well-drained, rich substrate that is ready to be planted in when it arrives to your home.
The reason the soil farm is located on a sandy knoll rather than a clay-based field relates to the heavy rain the central Georgia experiences throughout the year. Originally the soil farm was located in a clay field, which was great for heavy equipment during the dry season, but resulted in the compost absorbing too much moisture while it was cooking in place. They decided to relocate the soil farm to a sandy ridge to reduce the excess and ensure that the compost would never be bagged too soggy.
Another advantage of relocating the soil farm to a sandy area is the addition of sand particles. Though it’s not part of the formulation the small amounts of the native sand blow into the compost piles, providing added drainage and pore space. Just another reason to love this compost!
In the past few years I have read a lot about the modern ways in which farmers deal with grain crops, namely wheat and rye. There are stories all over the internet about how desiccant herbicides are applied to make these grain crops dry more evenly and quickly. The Super-Sod experts were keen to mention that all of the hay used in Soil3 is 100% free of the class of herbicides that persist, rendering some other products “killer compost.” Additionally, the cows that provide the rich manure eat that same hay, ensuring there is no contamination that could negatively impact the growth and development of your plants.
The process of making Soil3 takes between 3-4 months depending on the temperatures and custom-designed machinery is used to turn the rows allowing light, air, and water to penetrate throughout the entire mass. Internal temperatures are taken regularly to monitor the rate of decomposition. Most importantly, the property is kept perfectly clean- no weeds within eye shot that could blow seeds in and no fire ant mounds threatening to infiltrate the lush compost. These things matter- a lot! Did you know that some of the most invasive weed seeds can be transported in the substrates you purchase? I know first-hand that I purchased compost infected with invasive weeds like nut sedge or diseases like Bacterial raulstonia. I was so impressed with the great lengths that the Super-Sod Soil3 team goes to ensure that every single bag is top quality!
Dreaming of the Possibilities
As my tour concluded I had visions of Soil3 bags dancing in my head. I was over the moon excited dreaming about all the opportunities this compost was going to provide to gardeners across the southeast. If every person had just one bag of this their gardening lives would never be the same.
Successful growing starts with healthy soil and here in the southeast we have to add organic matter regularly. The reason we have to pay more attention to soil health in the southeast is simple: our ground doesn’t freeze! And in the winter, when we get massive amounts of rain, much of the top soil runs off into the storm water system and ultimately lands in the ocean. That is why adding compost is so critical. Once your beds are created you can simply topdress the surface with fresh compost seasonally. I usually add 1-2” right on top of the mulch. Then I replant and let the roots do the tilling for me. The Soil3 compost provides necessary nutrients while holding the right amount of moisture to keep my garden plants happy and healthy. Once I started using Soil3 as a topdress for my landscape beds I was able to reduce my weekly irrigation cycle, which resulted in a much lower water bill!
There are countless reasons to invest in Soil3 so you can experience all this goodness for yourself. Check out the Soil3 website, visit a store near you and dig your hands in to feel the difference. I promise you won’t regret it!