Garden soil

Spring is in the air! From small pots on an apartment balcony to building raised garden beds, Chattanoogans are planting! And of course to plant, you need good soil. With many parts of Chattanooga having lead in the soil, many people choose to buy potting soil for their plants, and we were no exception.

But what about the plastic! All potting soil comes in those plastic bags, right? Actually, no, you can get high-quality organic ready-to-plant soil without any plastic! And it is way cheaper than bagged soil to boot! There are several places in and near Chattanooga that sell soil loose instead of in bags. I’ve bought from Windwood Bulk and from the Signal Mountain Nursery. American Gardens also has several kinds of compost and Micinnley Supplies has mushroom compost.

One word about Windwood bulk, this post isn’t sponsored by them, but I do want to say that their product “Black gold” really is just that. It is all ready to plant, with sand already mixed in for drainage, the perfect balance of organic and inorganic material. It is the best replacement for potting soil around. Our tomatoes and other vegetables LOVE it!

If you are doing a large project like putting in a raised garden bed, I recommend borrowing a truck from a friend and buying by the “scoop,” meaning the scoop of a front-end loader. You need about 1 scoop per 4×4 feet of garden bed. Most of them will also deliver to your house for a fee.

But what if you only need enough for a few pots? Well, I went to Windwood Bulk to find out how to get a smaller amount, without a truck. Not only will you save a lot of money, you will be protecting our planet. Why not try it?

Here’s how you do it.

First, put a few plastic tote bins in your trunk, the kind used to store clothes and stuff in your attic (you can often find them at thrift stores if you don’t already have one laying around). You might want to bring a 5-gallon bucket in the front seat. I used one large bin that took up my whole back trunk.

Then, drive to Windwood (it’s about 5 minutes down I-75, not far at all) and tell them you want to buy a 1/2 scoop of the Black Gold. It should cost about $15. Instead of putting it in a truck, though, ask them to put it on a pile on the ground so you can shovel it into your bins. The guy looked at me kind of funny when I said I wanted it in a bin, but I explained that I was trying to reduce the trash I make and he totally got it. He even got out and helped me shovel it into my bin! You want to have the bin in your trunk and shovel it in because it gets pretty heavy and would be hard to lift up into your car once it’s full.

You might not fit all of the soil into your bins, but that’s ok. Black Gold costs about $7 per bag. As long as you fit a little more than 2 bags worth in your car, you will be saving money. My 1 bin below held about 5 bags worth, saving me about $21! Not bad!

Is 2 bags worth still too much? Then go with a friend and split it! Or save the rest for later, just like you would if you only used a partial bag. I’m planning to have a bin full in our garage to use through the year as needed.

The guy working that day said that the most unusual request he ever had was to pour a load of mulch straight into the trunk of a small car. You could do that, but I think a bin will help keep your car cleaner!

Our load of Black Gold. It fit perfectly in our car.

4 thoughts on “Garden soil”

  1. For those not in Chattanooga, you don’t have to go far to find bulk dirt! We contacted our local city and are buying dirt from them for $25 per cubic yard (which is 27 cubic feet, not 3 cubic feet!!). They also have multiple different kinds.
    It’s made from all organic, local material they’ve composted bc they’re the ones who pick up the leaves, branches and grass clippings from your yard around the year.
    Now it would be even cheaper to compost that ourselves, but our compost pile isn’t far enough along yet to be broken down enough.
    I heard about this option from a sister who lives 3 hours away, so I know my city isn’t the only ones who do this. I recommend contacting your city first if you’re looking for good options!


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