Using Organic Soil

Have you ever wondered about organic soil? It may seem overly complicated at first, but lets dive in to some typical pros and cons.

Cons:

Expensive to get started!
Organic soil takes time and physical effort to make.
Yields aren’t as big as chemical grows.
You have to make the soil according to the pests you wish to avoid.

Pros:

Cheaper than chemicals once started
Ridiculously low maintence.
No pH checks.
No need to fertilize.
The soil does all the work, so all you have to do is water.
The taste is far superior to anything you’ve ever eaten from the store.
The nutrition.

Everything that grows out of the ground on my property, grows out of my personal homemade recipe of organic soil - fruit, veggies, herbs, spices, trees, etc… If it goes in the dirt, it goes in a hole or a bed filled with an environment that I have set the variables for.

Muskmelons

Herb and spice bed (parsely, thyme, rosemary, cayenne, rapunzel tomato, and cucumber, with a shield of marigolds to keep the yard bunnies away).

4-in-1 apple tree (Granny Smith, Early Summer Red, Gala, and Fuji)

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This pear tree wasn’t planted with my soil, but I dug up the dirt around the roots and replaced it with mine, and the tree still produces 300+ pears a year (it’s 22 years old).

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The recipe, NPK values, and effects:

SixFoot Soil™

4 cubic feet of organic, pest-resistant, water-only soil

Base of Soil:
10g Earthworm Castings (1.0-0.0-0.0)
10g Peat Moss (1.0-0.0-0.0)
10g Perlite #4 - 1" course pellets

Amendments:

16c Glacial Rock Dust (0.0-0.0-1.0)
Pest/disease resistance
Symbiotic microbe promotion
Essential minerals not found in fertilizers

2c Dolomite Lime
pH balance

2c Seabird Guano (0.0-11.-0.0) - Great for blooming
2c Crab Meal (4.0-3.0-0.0) - Pesticidal
2c Neem Seed Meal (6.0-1.0-2.0) - Pesticidal/Nitrification
2c Alfalfa Meal (2.5-0.5-2.5) - Encourages Branching
2c Kelp Meal (1.0-0.1-2.0) - Great for Rooting
2c Mychorizae - Microbial Cultures that form a symbiotic relationship with the plant’s roots.

Mix thoroughly
Pour soil into metal container (I use a 55 gallon drum)
Spread 2 gallons of distilled water evenly over surface of soil
Cover container (I use an old wool blanket from the Army), and leave it in temperatures between 75°F and 90°F for 8 weeks (preferably in the sun)
Ensure soil remains moist during this period

g = US Liquid Gallon
c = US Customary Cup

Mixing soil is no easy task. You will work up a sweat. The idea behind organic soil with microbes, is that once your soil is “cooked” and ready to go, you are simply giving water to the Mychorizae while it feeds your plants. The cultures also ensure a consistent pH balance, and help regulate the amount of water retained in the soil.

“Feed the microbes, not the plant.”

Instead of fertilizers or “tea”, I amend the soil annually with a little rock dust, or which ever amendments the plants from the year before may have been lacking in (usually phosphorus).

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Raised beds & automatic drip irrigation. When I first built the beds years ago, I had a few loads of mushroom soil delivered. That’s how I started the beds. You will get some weeds, but the heavy plastic takes care of that. In go the pants, then just flip a switch.

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Between the amount of annual rainfall and the design of my soil, I only have to water my thirsty crops (tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, etc.) every couple of days around sunset, and I can farm directly into the soil without worry over pests, as the neem and crab meals dehydrate bugs and larvae. If I notice any pests in the soil, I can always make a tea out of the neem and crab to quickly kill them off.

The trees, spices, herbs, etc., never need my attention until it’s time to harvest them.

I’m still currently studying up on how to convert this property into a permaculture garden (since it’s already “organic” and all), cutting what little labor I already have by more than half.