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Garden soil & potting soil
Start with sandy garden soil
Garden soil is enriched dirt used to grow vegetables. You first have to understand organic gardening to accomplish this. Best books are by Eliot Coleman. Once you have healthy garden soil, with lots of humus from organic compost, you have what is called "sandy loam." Again, refer to an Eliot Coleman book to learn about these terms and concepts. The point is that soil is comprised of minerals (dirt), humus (decayed organic matter) and sand. The mineral portion is often in the form of clay that has to be balanced with sand. Without sand clay soil will compact, closing off drainage, aeration, and making root growth difficult. Humus is essential for roots to feed on nutrients. It "mediates ion exchange."
Growing in containers is different than growing in the earth
The soil at right, in the wheelbarrow, is sandy garden soil. But if you are going to grow in containers you need potting soil that has a lighter texture with much more drainage. Perlite is mixed in 50/50 for this reason.
Screen & mix soil + Perlite
The wheelbarrow of garden soil is already screened to 1/2". Then it is screened to 1/4" in a 5050 mix with Perlite. You may buy Perlite in 4 cubic foot bags at a garden store (Orchard Supply in California) for about $11. Yeah, its cheap! More about Perlite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perlite

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