The Dirty Details on Our Dirt: Interview with Soil Expert and Gardenuity Partner David Mayer
Without a doubt, dirt matters. Quality soil is the very foundation for a happy, healthy grow. But good dirt is hard to find. Often, what’s outside in your backyard or purchased wholesale is missing key components plants really need to thrive.
At Gardenuity, we know this. So we’ve paired with dirt expert David Mayer to create a specialty soil blend (Foundation) for all of our gardens. We’re not afraid to say it: it’s the best dirt around. It’s a carefully crafted mixture that gives your specific plant everything it needs to grow successfully.
This week, we sat down with David to get the dirty details: how and what he creates, why it’s the best, and why dirt matters — in and out of the garden.
David is in charge of product development, so he knows all the ins-and-outs of the soil he’s making. He and his team are expert soil creators, designing everything from traditional growing mediums bought by propagators, to blends used by golf courses, to retail needs.
For Gardenuity, they produce two specialty blends: our live plant soil blend and our seed square soil blend. And yes, they’re different. As David explains to me, the two packages are suited to the plants’ unique phase of life. The seed square blend is mild with more delicate nutrient packages (they ultimately translate into salts!), while the live plant blend is a more aggressive package.
That’s David’s goal as he creates his soil: dirt that helps achieve a really good grow — the kind of grow that produces lush, full plants with increased flowering and fruiting every time. And he achieves this goal through a combination of heavy scientific research and a knack for creation.
So what exactly is this unique soil blend? As David’s talking, he sometimes loses me as he drifts into the science-heavy world of bio-stimulants and plant needs. But essentially, the soil blend includes some form of peat moss or coir (the base) and something that will provide porosity (usually a type of pearlite product). If you’re like me and don’t know what porosity is, it’s the ability of a material to transfer air and water back-and-forth — a critical and often absent element in soil.
Add to this the compost component, which is the most unique aspect of these blends. If you understand soil as the factory for plant growth — the place where the needs for all plant processes are met, then the compost is “…the heart of the growing factory we assemble.”
Their compost is made from alfalfa, coffee chaff, and yogurt. It’s then inoculated with a bio-engineered “mesophilic microbial” package and fortified with natural nutrients derived from a combination of organic sources to ensure all of the plants’ needs are met. David says, “The mixture delivers a precise and consistent array of macro and micronutrients with trace minerals.” It’s a carefully crafted compost that exists in a league all its own.
That being said, it’s really all of these components in aggregate that makes the product really special. David’s soil blends are meticulously engineered and require an expert level of scientific knowledge and genuine artistic process to create.
If it sounds like a demanding endeavor, that’s because it is. David himself chuckles and says, “My passion for what I do is borderline obsessive…I love the science and the art behind the product blending. I love the whole process from start-to-finish, and then the finish is the icing on the cake — to see something flourish and thrive with our materials. When I tell David that I’ve personally grown with his product (and to great avail), he genuinely lights up. He tacks on, “It’s a beautiful product. We grow and we make beautiful things that help other people grow.”
In truth, I could actually see the difference in the lettuce I grew compared to the lettuce I bought at the store (in New York City winter, mind you). The differences in plants that grow in our soil blends versus what you buy or grow in your backyard dirt are clear — they taste more vibrant, look lusher, and smell more divine.
David uses a specific example of the difference in quality: “One thing people see in our product that they won’t see in many other soil blends is our iron content. All of these plants are going to have a deep, lush, green tone to them with higher nutritional value.” And this example is just one among many of the effects good, quality dirt has on your grow.
David is as adamant as we are: dirt really does matter, and the quality of the dirt very much matters. He says, “Without the entire web of processes made possible by good soil, you’ll have barren landscapes and mediocre growth rates. You might not kill plants, but you’re not going to have that “wow” experience.” The soil is everything, and it’s rare these days to find soil in the ground that naturally contains everything you need to grow. It’s why we’re so passionate about our grow kits and one of the reasons we’ve partnered specifically with David.
We’re aware that bringing the joy of gardening to everyone’s front porch or kitchen isn’t something the Gardenuity team can accomplish alone. Like the microcosms in the soil, we’re seamlessly collaborating with partners like David to bring ease to the growing experience. If working with David has taught us anything, it’s that the soil we’re growing in is key to achieving this goal. Dirt matters — in and out of the garden, and we’re grateful to be growing with soil experts like David.