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Gardening Glossary

Garden centers can be full of complicated-sounding concoctions made from  ingredients you've never heard of. Or if you have, you may not have the slightest idea of why they're used and what they do in your garden. We don't think gardening needs to be so complicated. We're here to demystify caring for your plants.

Here are some of the materials and nutrients used in soil amendments and fertilizers, along with descriptions of what each ingredient does for your soil and plants. 

Ag Lime Agricultural lime (aka high-calcium ag lime) is a mined mineral that increases the pH of the soil. Lime is mostly calcium carbonate. The secondary benefit of lime is it also provides available calcium to the soil and plants. Not to be confused with "dolomitic lime" (an inferior product sold at most garden centers), ag lime is the choice product for growers in acidic soils, which are often found in wetter climates.
Azomite (Rock Dust) Azomite is a mined mineral from a unique volcanic deposit. It is ground up into a fine powder and applied to soil to import all the minerals volcanoes have to offer. The abundant minerals in volcanic soils are why some of the best wines and tastiest vegetables come from volcanic regions. Azomite offers a way to volcanize your soil and improve trace mineral levels.
Biochar is a charcoal-like carbon substance that has been used for millennia to enhance soil structure. There are records that pre-Colombian people have used biochar for over 6000 years in the Amazon basin, an area famous for some of the world’s most fertile soil, known as “Terra Preta”. Our biochar is created through slow pyrolysis of trees removed for wildfire prevention in Colorado. Pyrolysis is the process where biomass is heated in an oxygen-deprived environment and breaks down into its simplest components. It is proven to regulate soil moisture and nutrient retention. Biochar is also an effective way to sequester carbon in soil for positive climate impact in your home garden. 
Bone Meal
Bone meal is a by-product of the meat industry. It's ground up bones, packed full of phosphorus, calcium, nitrogen, and micronutrients. Bone meal is one of the best sources of phosphorus in organic gardening, and plants love it. It breaks down slowly in the soil, giving microbes and plants a nutrient source through the entire growing season.
Just like in humans, calcium is one of the most important minerals for plants. It holds the cell walls, or the “bones” of plants together, so it is crucial in new growth and sustaining existing growth. It is also an important process signal that helps the plant to defend itself against diseases. Calcium is important for all plants but especially tomatoes as a deficiency will cause fruit to grow irregularly and even cause blossom end rot on the vine, where the bottom of the tomato appears rotten. 
Compost is the result of organic material’s natural decomposition. It requires a mix of materials that are nitrogen-rich like leaves, grass, and food scraps, carbon-rich like wood chips or paper, and manure. Our compost is upcycled from racetrack bedding and mushroom farming, so it contains both recycled nutrients and mycelium that help your plants thrive. Compost is rich in plant nutrients and beneficial organisms like bacteria, nemotodes, fungi and protozoa, and improves fertility when used as a soil conditioner. 
Corn Steep Powder Corn steep powder is an up-cycled waste stream product derived from corn steep liquor fermentation that carries necessary macronutrients for all plants. Corn steep powder provides a well-rounded NPK of 7-6-4 which supports abundant root formation, soil microbial activity, and prevents or corrects nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium deficiencies.
Epsom Salt Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, and the single best way to provide magnesium to your plants. There are no frills here--it's the stuff you put in your bath to soothe sore muscles--but it does its job nicely. Keep scrolling to find out why magnesium is important for your plants!  
Gypsum Gypsum is a mined mineral that works invisible magic in plants. Gypsum is primarily calcium sulfate and is used to supply abundant and available calcium to the soil Scroll up to find out why calcium is so important! Gypsum is used prolifically in organic gardening when you need an infusion of calcium without increasing the soil pH. Our gypsum is mined in Utah from a clean and sustainable deposit. While other forms of calcium, like oyster shells and eggshells, tend to act slowly in the soil and only provide a little calcium, gypsum provides a heavy boost.
Kelp Meal Kelp meal is derived from ocean kelp, a species that is both carbon negative and a bio-accumulator of ocean nutrients. Because the ocean contains over 40 minerals, kelp meal is a great way to transport the magic of the ocean into your soil. It contains abundant micronutrients and trace minerals that create a "bio stimulant" effect in the plant by triggering complex bio-chemical pathways. The added benefit is it also stimulates the microbes in the soil. We source North Atlantic Kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum), which is top-shelf in the world of kelp.
Magnesium Magnesium is an important nutrient for seed germination, nutrient uptake, chlorophyll, and fruit production in plants. It is one of the key components in the process of photosynthesis where the plant creates energy from light. If a plant is deficient in magnesium, it will result in stunted and poor plant growth due to depleted chlorophyll.

Mycelium is the root-like structure of fungal threads that colonizes soil and creates relationships with plants. Mycelia help to decompose organic matter and convert it to food for itself and the plants it associates with. Mushrooms sprout from mycelium to spread spores and to be enjoyed by the foraging human, insect, and animal. A colony of mycelia could be too small to see with the human eye or span thousands of acres!  


A mycorrhiza is a symbiotic relationship between the mycelium of a fungus and the roots of a plant. Fungal mycorrhizae play an important role in plant nutrition, soil chemistry and soil fertility. The plant trades sugar and carbon for water and nutrients from the fungi. Endo- or ecto-mycorrhiza refers to the location where the mycorrhiza colonizes the plant roots. Endomycorrhiza associate inside of the root tissue and ectomycorrhiza associate outside of the root tissue. Almost all plant families associate beneficially with mycorrhiza, and some - like orchids - are even dependent on it as their seeds won’t germinate without the presence of mycorrhiza!  

NPK NPK is the combined chemical symbols for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are the three primary nutrients that plants need to grow, also referred to as macronutrients. Nitrogen plays a key role in a plant’s coloring and chlorophyll production, making it an important factor in leaf development. Phosphorus plays a key role in the growth of roots, blooming, and fruiting. Potassium contributes to the overall health and vigor of plants. One good way of remembering the impact of these numbers is up (Nitrogen helps plants grow up), down (phosphorous helps roots grow down), and all around (potassium helps with overall health).
Potassium Sulfate Potassium sulfate is an organic fertilizer high in available potassium. While composts, kelp meal, and other products can supply a little potassium, potassium sulfate packs a punch. It's mined from potassium deposits across the United States
Soybean Meal Soybean meal is a byproduct of organic soybean oil production. Since it is a protein-based source of nitrogen, microbes mineralize it slowly, feeding plants throughout the season. At 7% nitrogen, it provides a heavy dose, but is still plant-based and gentle on plant roots.