Walmart Expert Gardener Garden Soil -- help please.

morgangMay 24, 2007

I just came home with 6 bags of this stuff, expecting actual soil (like it says on the bag. I dumped a bag into two planter boxes and it looks like nothing but a combination of shredded cedar mulch and cow manure -- and it SMELLS like FRESH manure and it's wet and brown, like fresh stuff. Surely this isn't going to be good to plant in, is it? Is it even healthy to handle? Ick. I'm new at this. I feel like taking the 5 bags back to the store -- or is this what it's supposed to look like? I was expecting it to look like the Miracle Grow dirt, except being a "store brand."

As for the bag I've opened, I don't want to scoop it up and tote it back to the store in my car. Will it work to work it into the soil in my garden and let it decompose? Or start a compost pile with it and grass clippings and dried leaves? It looks NOTHING like soil. Maybe I'll take a baggie full (sealed!) to the store and let them sniff it...

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julianna_il(z6 IL)

Hmmm, it sounds like moisture got into the bag and soured the soil. Or maybe they just package up whatever they've got on hand.

A couple of years ago I bought a bag of super cheap potting soil from Big Lots and it was the most horrific stuff ever. It was like they went to a clay pit, dug clay and added black dye. Awful stuff.

Since then, I only buy brand name potting soil.

This stuff you bought would probably be fine for adding to topsoil, but not so good for planters. You could do the things you mentioned with it (compost, work it into your garden) or take the unopened bags back. I agree not wanting to gather up the opened stuff...I'd take the empty bag and tell them if they want it they can come dig it up themselves because it's nasty stuff.

But if your Wal Mart is anything like ours, it's getting very difficult to return things. Even when you have a receipt they yell at you and act like you're a burglar. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 11:50PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

I wouldn't shop at Walmart in the first place, but it's a little late to tell you that. I would say return it and say it isn't soil and you want your money back for all of it. If they won't give your money back, you could always pour it out on the floor so that they can observe personally through sight and smell that it isn't soil. :-)

Below are three links about the evilness of Walmart.


Here is a link that might be useful: why to boycott Walmart

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 12:55AM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

Hi, the first link above leads to a page with many issues on it, this is the link specifically about Walmart. (I know we are supposed to be able to edit postings but I couldn't see how.)


Here is a link that might be useful: Walmart is evil

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 1:12AM
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"it looks like nothing but a combination of shredded cedar mulch and cow manure", and that is probably just what it is and that is why I keep telling people to expect nothing from anything labled "topsoil", "garden soil" or similar stuff. There is nothing to regulate those terms, anywhere, and anyone can sell anything under those labels.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 7:11AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Expert makes several different formulas all sold at Walmart:

Perfect Mix Garden Soil for Flowers & Vegetables
Perfect Mix Garden Soil for Trees & Shrubs
Perfect Mix Lawn Starter Soil for Grass Seed and Sod
Organic Mix All Purpose Potting Soil
Perfect Mix All Purpose Potting Soil

Since you bought it for containers, are you sure you got the All Purpose Potting Soil (pink bag)? Your post title says you bought the Garden Soil (red bag) and, just like the Miracle Grow products (MG Potting Soil vs. MG Garden Soil), they are two entirely different products. The Garden Soil products from both companies state on the bag that they are NOT for use in containers, only for the garden.

Wife and I have used many bags of the pink bags of Expert potting soil mix in flower containers this spring with quite good results so far. I prefer it because they use Osmocote ferts rather than MG. Some do get wet as the great big bags are stored outside but once the product is exposed to the air and dries it works just fine - no odors at all - and good container textures.

But morgang - Most container "potting soils" sold today do not contain any actual soil. It compacts too much in containers and can cause drainage problems. They are primarily so-called "soilless" mixes composted of shredded barks, peat, composts, time release fertilizers, vermiculite or perlite, and composted manures.

Link below gives more detail on the products. Hope it helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Expert Gardener Products

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 8:52PM
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gardnpondr(Zone 8)

I have bought the cheap .98 potting soil from there as well and learned my lesson quick! It's full of chunks of hard stuff as well as sticks. I just mix my own these days with cow manure, peat humus, and my own soil.
I'd bag the stuff up in a trash bag and throw the bag in there and take all the mess back to them. I wouldn't even keep the one you opened. Put it in the trash bag and take it back to them! LOL

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 1:12AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

The bag said it was "Garden Soil", it did not claim to be "Potting Soil". "Garden Soil" can be absolutely anything you might find in your garden. Can anyone come up with a formula for "Garden Soil"? Al

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 4:00PM
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I googled around and came up with garden soil is like "dirt" combined with organic material. Can be a combination of sand, silt, clay, manure - in effect anything organic can be thrown into it and apparently in any proportion. Potting Soil is in reality potting "mix" and has no soil in it; shouldn't contain any sand, silt or clay.

Other than being unpleasant - as say a fresh load of manure might be - I don't think there's anything in the Wal-Mart Expert Garden Soil that would hurt anything except perhaps plants in a container... it will clump making drainage an issue. I don't do any edible gardening but might not put it on/in a veggie bed, but I'd consider working it into regular beds or in a mixed shrub border.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 7:46PM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

Sounds like what you got is intended to be mixed in the native soil in the ground as an amendment. It will not be good in containers. Shredded bark and manure would be a good soil amendment but not a container mix. If it's labeled Garden Soil, you could not expect them to refund you the money on the opened bag but you should still try to return the unopened ones and exchange for a potting soil, if it's potting soil/container mix you want. I don't know how they are about returns as I do not shop there. I know if I had my receipt, and the product is unopened and still exactly as it left the store, and I'm within a reasonable time frame, I would insist on a return and demand to speak to a manager if they gave me any lip.

Soil for the ground and soil for the pots are two different things. Organic amendments for the soil in the ground is a third thing, and it sounds like this is what you got. You do not want fresh smelly manure in containers! that's for sure. Bags of potting soil should have a list of ingredients on the bag, which I would read when looking at a new brand. No ingredients? no sale.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 12:21PM
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As long as you buy bags termed soil or potting soil you will be fooled into expecting something that doesn't exist. There is organic matter which is good for the soil and potting media which should be a soilless mix which means it has inert items that will allow you to grow in a pot.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 8:01PM
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On Sunday I purchased a bag of Expert Potting Soil (I think that's the brand---comes in a pink bag)from my local W**-M*** store to plant my containers. This is about half the cost of other brands and I have never had problem with it before. Not this time. When I opened the bag, the top part of the soil was covered with white cobwebby-like stuff and smelled foul!! In spite of that, I was stupid enough to go ahead and use it in several containers. WARNING: the terrible smell is persisting and I have already lost my rosebud impatiens and the rest of the annuals I planted are not looking good at all. (Fortunately, I ran out of time and didn't get everything planted so it's not a total loss). The store did refund my price of purchase for the soil, but I will have to buy a lot new plants. I hope I have learned my lesson---from now on I'm sticking with Miracle-Gro soil. I have instructed my husband to dump the containers today as far away from the house as he can get! Just be warned that this is NOT the soil to use!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 12:16PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry for your negative experience with it, mainerose. Mine is just the opposite and I have used Expert gardener mixes off and on for years.

I bought 5 2 cu. feet bags of it - the pink ones - just 2 weeks past week and all mine were in great condition. I potted up 2 more tomato plants, a pepper plant and several different containers of flowers. All are doing very well.

I don't think it is the brand that's the problem, it is the way some of the bags are stored where they get wet, baked in the sun, compressed, etc. and so turn anaerobic - thus the smell and fungus. I alwlays dig through the bags a bit and go for the ones lower down that weigh less - that way I know they aren't wet. In the Walmart yard here there were broken open bags of MG potting mix that had the same problem - stinky.

And the problem is made even more complex when folks don't understand the differences between the different types of mixes sold or read the ingredients. The OP of this thread "expected actual soil". had they read the print on the bag - it is a soil-less mix intended as an amendment for garden beds and is not for use in containers.

Brand names and vendors often get an unfair bad rap when the customer is inexperienced or under-informed. ;)


    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 3:14PM
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Actually, I used the Expert Potting Mix. According to their website: " Expert Gardener Perfect Mix All Purpose Potting Soil is pre-mixed and needs no additional amending. Simply add the potting soil to containers or use as a soil amendment in the garden. You can grow just about anything in containers, including delicious vegetables, flavorful herbs, and beautiful flowers.Look for helpful potting and planting tips on the back of each package. " Unfortunately, I have lost another container full of nasturtiums and will probably lose a couple of calibrochea. I have been gardening successfully for 20-+ years and am a reference librarian so I really don't feel that I am inexperienced OR under-informed. :)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 10:23AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

What you probably bought WAS bark and cow manure. They just mixed it together and bagged it, without letting it compost first.

WalMart sells the cheapest stuff made from the cheapest materials via the cheapest labor. That combination just doesn't make for quality products.

Another thing I've noticed is that even when they sell brand names of some stuff, they seem to be 'seconds', esp with shampoo, laundry stuff, and other 'dilutable' (?) products.

Just dump the contents of the open bag under a bush somewhere, and take the others back.

Like the others said, potting soils and similar aren't regulated, and not only can be junk, but they can differ considerably from bag to bag. I used SuperSoil for years and liked it better than anything, but now it's just chunky garbage. Live and learn.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 8:09PM
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I have noticed that all the popular brands of commercial potting mix, available at large outlets, are now using wood chips or black mulch as filler. This is a rip off.

Buy your potting mix from a commercial green-house supply.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 4:32PM
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