Why We Choose Wood – Soil Science

When you look at a Kellogg planting mix, garden soil or potting mix you may notice its texture tends to be more “woody.” Admittedly, many other soil mixes don’t look this way. While this may look and feel different, we promise our products grow great plants, in addition to the benefits wood provides

Better Soil Structure

So why do we think wood is so important? For starters, wood does amazing things for the physical characteristics of soil. While the little bits of wood in our products are small, soil particles are even smaller. If there is not enough different particle sizes in any given stretch of soil, the soil will become compacted and water and air will have a difficult time penetrating beyond the first few inches. The slightly larger size of wood particles force soil particles apart, allowing water and air to travel down away from the surface and towards plant root systems. That is why it is critical to mix soil amendments or planting mixes with your native soil rather than using them “straight.”

Those little spaces create storage pockets for water and air that plants need to thrive. Adding just 5% organic matter (one heaping shovel-full per one sqft.), to native soil can help that same soil hold 20% more water!

Better Soil Environment

Though you can’t see it with a naked eye, those tiny pieces of wood are chocked full of wonderful microorganisms that will promote an abundant diversity of life in your soil. We think good organic gardening is all about building life in the soil – which in turn, promotes a sustainable garden full of thriving, healthy plants.

Not only does wood come with its own beneficial organisms, it helps feed the organisms already in your soil. Wood is high in carbon, which is an ideal food source for nitrifying bacteria. You may have heard that wood particles can actually deplete the soil of nitrogen. This is true—only when applied by itself. We always properly age our wood fines and incorporate plenty of nitrogen to prevent any nitrogen depletion.

The end result is a vibrant soil environment that supports stronger, more disease and pest resistant plants. Isn’t that grand?

Greater Sustainability

Wood is a renewable, local resource. Thanks to modern foresting practices, trees are grown for their wood the same way that a field can be planted with orange trees. In fact, we often buy wood and plant material that come from orchards close to our manufacturing plants.

Additionally, we often buy wood that is headed to the landfill for whatever reason. Maybe it was sawdust from a sawmill, or post-consumer wood material. Why throw something away when it can be repurposed in a way that is hugely beneficial to the environment?

Organic gardening is about building life in the soil that will also benefit the larger environment – your garden, your neighborhood, your community. Using wood fines in our soil amendments, planting mixes and potting mixes to benefit the environment is just one example of how Kellogg is focused on sustainability. Check out what else we have to say about not just lessening our impact on the environment but restoring and rejuvenating the world around us.

2 Comments
  • Wes
    Posted at 18:03h, 17 February Reply

    Does the wood rot and potentially cause problems for the roots? I’m not sure we really see solid wood chunks in the soil so I’m curious why putting wood in soil makes any sense. C

    • kellogggarden
      Posted at 19:39h, 07 March Reply

      The wood we use in our soils are aged wood fines, small, fine pieces of wood that are already composted. Think of the forest where pieces of wood as large as a tree to a small twig fall on the forest floor. Over time, those pieces of wood, large and small, begin to age and decay. They provide an excellent food source for beneficial soil microbes, which help provide nutrients to living plants, which in turn, help the plants resist pests and disease. Aged wood fines also hold plenty of moisture, this helps roots feed and retain water. Aged wood fines provide structure to the soil as they continue to break-down. This reduces soil compaction and allows water from rain or snowmelt to penetrate deep into the soil, helping roots stretch deeper into the soil for additional plant health and strength. Lastly, wood is a sustainable ingredient. Unlike peat bogs that require thousands of years to form, wood is readily available and in many cases harvested and replanted as other crops are throughout the country.

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