The goal: Find the ideal potting soil for fire-escape menageries or raised rooftop beds (or to top off one of the planters in our “Everything Guide to Ceramics”). We spoke to urban gardeners and private landscapers from Bushwick to Long Island, who all agreed: Soil alone won’t get your marigolds through a sunbaked August, so seek out a mix with compost in the recipe.
The verdict: McEnroe Organic Farm’s Premium Lite Growing Mix ($6 for a 22-quart bag at Hydroponic Garden, 146 Horace Harding Expy., nr. 148th St., Flushing; 718-762-8880; mcenroeorganicfarm.com), mixed in the Harlem River Valley, retains moisture while remaining light and fluffy thanks to those little white flecks of natural perlite. The perlite also helps roots spread out within the confines of a small planter, maximizing nutrient absorption. Which the compost provides, in ample measure: Making up half of the mix, it’s a homemade recipe of the farm’s own grasses, leaves, and horse and cow manure.