Sta-Green Garden Soil purchased from Lowes in Henrietta, NY
Grade (as of May 26, 2009): B+
I figured I would go ahead and write a review- I can always come back and edit if the soil turns out to not be a good growing medium, but my seedlings seem to be doing well so far so that's great.
The first of my 4'x4' square foot gardens is filled completely with the Sta-Green soil. It's fairly cheap- sold in 1 and 2 cubic foot bags. It took 3 2cf bags and 1 1cf bag to fill up the 6" tall bed. Components seem to be compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. I do not believe that there is much if any manure in this garden soil, but if there is it is well-rotted and has lost its smell, which is of course a PLUS in a garden. One downside to this soil is that there ARE chunks of un-rotted twigs and wood in it- not terribly huge, but enough to annoy me. It does look pretty in the bed, though some may prefer a darker soil with no vermiculite.
There are also little pellets of time-release nitrogen fertilizer in the soil (they claim it will feed plants for up to 3 months)- this was not a feature I was particularly interested in, but it seems to be par for the course with garden soils so I was pretty much stuck with it. The pellets are green, but not noticeable until you look up close. Nitrogen tends to promote a lot of quick foliage growth, so we'll see how this benefits the garden.
The texture of the soil straight from the bag is pretty good- It is not too heavy, or clumped together (which I found to be a bit of a problem with the Miracle Grow garden soil I picked up for the other bed because I had under-purchased the Sta-Green and Lowe's is rather far away, so we went to Home Depot instead), and seems to have excellent drainage. Water retention is not great, but this is to be expected in a raised bed and thus I don't count this point against it.
My only real complaint (other than the minor issue of the fertilizer) is that there seem to be quite a few weed seeds in the soil. Now, this is NOT unusual for things like this that you purchase- grass seed, non-sterile soils, etc. will always have at least SOME weeds, even if they say "weed free" on the package. Unless it has been sterilized to kill seeds, there's really no way for a company to guarantee that there won't be seeds. That's something you should learn to expect when purchasing large quantities of anything. Now some potting mixes and such are actually sterile, and they will not have weed seeds to worry about- but this is not the norm, and especially for garden soil, you have to be careful.
However, there were some weeds actually sprouting inside the Sta-Green bags and when I poured the soil out, there was green there. This is not my idea of cool, but at least I can catch them right away and toss 'em. Your mileage may vary, but overall, I'm happy with the soil and unless something changes I'm giving it a B+.