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Simple Organic Soil Mix That Anyone Can Make!

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#1 StickyMeds0621



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Posted 17 December 2013 - 12:37 PM

Someone that wants to go organic but doesn’t know where to start can easily be turned away from reading nothing but complicated soil mixes. I am here to change that. Organics does not need to be complicated. Granted, it takes a little bit more research to get started, but once you learn the basics of the soil food web, and how to build a proper soil mix, everything else will fall into place. This post will be very long because there is a lot to explain, but I promise, I will keep it simple!

This paragraph is one of the most important that you will read. It is how to change the mindset from a synthetic nutrient gardener to an organic. One thing you will hear from an individual trying to switch this mindset is “ERR MA GERRRDDDDD, my PH is TOO HIGH!!!” Well throw those expensive meters in the trash because they will only complicate things more. How do you like the idea of never checking your PH again? What is PPM? Who cares! It’s not necessary! When you build a proper soil mix, the microbes in the soil will buffer the PH for you! They are your new PH meter! But what about PPM, what if I overfeed my plants? Another thing that makes organics so amazing is that instead of forcing your plants to uptake the nutrients that you would synthetically, the microbes have a symbiotic relationship to the roots. When the plant needs potassium, it tells the fungi to go over there and get me some damn potassium! It is already mixed into the soil, so when your plant needs it, it will take it. No more 0-10,000-100 for flowering (exaggeration.. but barely). You don’t add more nutrients at certain stages of growth. Again, it is already mixed in your soil and the plant takes it as needed, rather than being forced to take it. I think you get the point ;)

Before I get into the mix, I want to suggest a very important read that will completely change the outlook you have on growing: “Teaming with Microbes” by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. This will explain in detail what exactly the microbes are doing in your soil.

Okay, now we are getting somewhere. Let’s talk about the base to your soil. I will not go into far detail about everything here because in the stickies in this section, there is very valuable information already provided for you on many different parts of organic soil.

Here is the easy part; each part of the base of your soil takes an equal third of your overall. I will use 7.5 gallons as a measurement, because 7.5 gallons is one cubic foot. So this mix will make approximately 3 cubic feet. 7.5 gallons will be what I use to refer to “one part.” You can scale this up or down as needed, just remember: equal thirds!

One part humus (Compost and/or Worm Castings)
One part Peat Moss (For every cubic foot of peat moss, you need 1 cup dolomite lime to balance PH)
One part Aeration

Remember, I said you can use any ratio of the two, or just simply one or the other. I believe that diversity in your soil is an important thing. With that said, I would recommend ½ part compost and ½ part worm castings. However, this is not necessary. It will add a better microbe population to your mix. **This is the most important part of your mixture** I said I would leave the reading of the soil biology to you, but I will add one important piece of information. These microbes found in the QUALITY compost and worm castings are what will make your soil do its job. This is what will supply the water and nutrients to your plants. I will get into this a little bit when I explain the amendments that you add to your soil.

Peat Moss:
As mentioned above, you need 1 cup of dolomite lime (can be found at any hardware store like Lowes) per cubic foot of peat moss. That is not when it is dry. You first want to evenly wet the peat moss. Anyone who has worked with it before knows it can be a pain. So you need to soak this stuff for a while to let it evenly suck up the moisture. When you buy a big bag of it, such as the 3.8cuft bag, it is dry when it is 3.8cuft. When you add water, this will take more volume than that. So add your lime when the peat moss is evenly moist at 7.5 gallons. Coco can be used in conjunction with or in place of this, but that will be explained at a later time. I would recommend using peat because it works much better for this mix IMO. Also, you would not add lime to coco (You put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up!) because the PH of coco coir is neutral. This would skyrocket your PH and it would lead to problems. Remember, I said if you mix your soil properly, you will never worry about PH again!

Here you can use anything such as perlite, rice hulls, turface, pumice, lava rock, or diatomaceous earth (must be the chunky kind, not the powder). Please do not use vermiculite as your aeration amendment, this will soak up too much moisture and hold it, which is not the point of aeration. This is not to say it is useless in your soil, but don’t use it as aeration. You can use any combination of these, but make sure they add up to 1/3 of your mix.

One last thing I will add is how you water it. To keep the microbes happy and working most efficiently, your soil needs to be evenly moist at all times. That means at any part of your soil, you want it to be only as moist as to squeeze ONE DROP of water out of one handful. This must be the same all throughout, with the exception of the top of your soil when the plants are actually growing in it. It is almost impossibly to keep the top level moist at all times, especially when growing under the summer sun or an HID light.

This mixture here (as is) is PERFECT for starting seeds

Okay ladies and gents, we are almost there! This is the base of your soil.

To this is where we will add the nutritional and mineral amendments that will supply your plants with everything that you need.

Edited by StickyMeds0621, 17 December 2013 - 03:00 PM.

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#2 StickyMeds0621



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Posted 17 December 2013 - 03:00 PM

Alright, so we have the basic mix already. Your mix contains all of the necessary microbes that will break down the nutrients and supply them to your plants. We now need to add a few amendments to the soil. Each will do different things.

First off let me be clear on something. This is NOT intended to be used with bottled nutrients. If they are labeled organic it doesn’t matter. You simply do not know what is in it. They do not have to label everything they add to the bottle and most of the time the stuff is not as good as it claims. You will get much more benefit by adding shredded up nutritional plant material to the soil, then dumping in God knows what into the top of your soil. The bottom line is you are feeding your soil, which is in turn feeding your plants. You add to the soil what the microbes want to eat. They don’t want all that fancy bottled garbage. Keep it simple and you will be rewarded.
I will first start by mentioning the two amendments that you absolutely want to incorporate into your soil: Kelp meal and Alfalfa meal.

Kelp meal—or Ascophyllus Nodosum—is one of the most important amendments that you can add to the soil. It is one of the most well rounded amendments that you can add as it contains all of the micronutrients that your plants need. More info http://gardening.ans...our-garden-soil

Alfalfa meal is another very well rounded amendment that is very beneficial to your plants. This is known to heat up your soil quite a bit so make sure your soil is very well “cooked” before planting. Of course, I will get into that in a little bit.
The benefits of both of these amendments together are almost impossible to list. They are fantastic for supplying nutrients to your plants.

Some other amendments that are very beneficial:

Neem meal (Neem Cake): this adds nitrogen and can also fend off pests in your soil or around your plants.

Bone Meal: Adds phosphorous and promotes root and flower growth

Blood Meal: Very high nitrogen content.

Crab Meal: 23% Calcium, 1.3% Mg; very important to plants!

Oyster shell Meal: 36% Calcium! Also improves overall soil texture.

Shrimp shell meal: 5-5-0

These crustacean shell meals also add a very valuable source of chitin.

These are just some of the amendments that you can add to the soil. But now that I named a few, how do we know how much to add?

Nutritional Amendments:
Okay so we have our un-fed basic soil mix that has 3 cubic feet total. These nutritional amendments will be added at 2-3 cups per cubic foot TOTAL. I would suggest adding double the kelp meal also (It’s THAT important!). So let’s say that we are using kelp, alfalfa, neem cake, and shrimp meal for all of our amendments. I would add all these together in a separate bowl or something before I add it to the soil. We need 2-3 cups for every cubic foot and we made 3, which means we need to add 6-9 cups of amendments. Let’s add 8 since it’s an even number and I like to keep it close to the middle of the range. If we are adding double the kelp, we can add 4 cups, and then 2 cups of each alfalfa, neem cake, and shrimp meal. Yes, that is 10 cups but we can save the extra 2 cups to use later on (Either for a botanical tea or maybe when we recycle the soil, which I will also get into later). So mix up all of those amendments together and then add 8 cups to the soil. It is much easier to do this when your soil is spread out. A kiddie pool or a tarp works great for mixing this up.

Rock Dust:
This is very important! Rock dust is basically powdered rock smaller than 200 microns. It MUST be that fine. Almost the same consistency of flour. What this is going to do is allow the microbes a place to attach to and is basically going to be their “home”. Basalt is a very good one to use. Any igneous rock will work. Granite and Glacial rock will work as well. Azomite is a debatable source of rock dust. I’ve seen both arguments, however, nothing conclusive. This can be added to the soil, but I would suggest using one of the three that I listed for your main source of rock dust. This can usually be pretty hard to find. Rockdustlocal.com is a good source and they include shipping in their prices, which comes out much cheaper than other places. Granite cutting shops are found in many bigger cities and usually will give you their scraps for free!
You want to add 4 cups total of rock dust per every cubic foot of soil. 12 cups would be used in this example.

This is basically a rediscovered technique that used to be used in agriculture for thousands of years. It is basically the burnt remains of organic matter. This will condition your soil as well as provide a microbial “reef” for your little critters in the soil. If you add this, make sure that the overall volume does not exceed 10% of your soil. For example, once your soil is all mixed up, which in this case will be 22.5 gallons, you would add about 2 ¼ gallons. This is optional, but highly recommended! Note: It will increase your PH slightly so I would use about ¾ the lime for your peat moss when using this in your mix.

Here it is! Our mix is complete. Keep in mind, this is an example. You can be creative and add many different type of amendments or rock dust or aeration, in almost any combination. Stick to these basics, and your soil will be ready to grow fantastic plants!

You can use this soil to grow almost any kind of plants. Never worry about your PH. You can add just plain ol’ water to this the entire life of your plants with nothing else! You can add teas (compost tea, and botanical tea, which info can be already found in this forum) but it is not required. I have never had a deficiency in my plants since I got the hang of organics. I’ve been growing cannabis, potatoes, sweet potatoes, berries, chia, lettuce, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, you name it! All of them grow in slightly different PH’s, but not in this mix! Remember, PH almost doesn’t matter anymore! You can almost grow anything in it!!

I could talk about the benefits of organic soil all day long but before I forget, let me add the last bit of important information to this mix and we will be ready to grow!

Nutrient Cycling:
Alright, I’ve mentioned the basics of how this process works but left out one bit for the end because it is the last bit of the process. You’ve probably taken away from this that the most important thing we are doing is providing microbes an exceptional environment to grow in because they are what is supplying nutrients to your plants. Remember how we added the 8 cups of nutritional amendments to the mix? Basically the microbes from the compost and worm castings are now going to break down those amendments that we added and turn the byproduct into a usable form of nutrition to our plants. When you add, say, kelp meal… the plants don’t just eat the kelp meal and use it right away like you would get from adding chemicals. The microbes in the soil need to break those amendments down. They excrete enyzmes and all different types of little bugs in the soil will work together to cycle those nutrients to be transported by the fungi to your roots and taken up by your plants. So this is very important here. If anybody has ever composted anything, you know that the pile literally will heat up, sometimes to 160°F! The (almost) same thing can happen in the mix we just made. Just to a smaller extent. This process takes about 3-4 weeks to be safe to add plants to. This is only necessary once you mix it up. Since it can heat up, the soil can literally burn your root zone and kill your plants. Do NOT try to rush this process because it will only hurt you in the end. I recommend at least 30 days to allow these nutrients to break down to a level where it can be immediately beneficial to your plants. It will also keep you safe and there is no more worry in burning your plants.

Remember, the basic mix is meant for seedlings. This soil with added amendments may be too much for young seedlings. I’ve never had a problem with it but I’ve heard of others having problems in the past. For that reason, I would recommend making a basic mix to start seedlings in, then transplanting when fully established into a container full of this completed mix.
So there you have it! I hope that wasn’t too confusing. I know, it was a lot of information, but hopefully it will be enough to get you started!

Feel free to ask any questions. Hopefully we will attract more knowledgeable people that share the same passion (green passion ;)) for organics and together we can make this thread change cannabis (and veggie) growers into using safer, healthier, and natural alternatives for growing!

Remember, mother nature had it right the first time. All of the chemicals used in growing are expensive, dangerous (to yourself, others, and the environment), and not necessary! Together, we can rid the mindset of growing with chemicals and do it the way it has been done for 1,000’s and 1,000’s of years—the right way!

Edited by StickyMeds0621, 17 December 2013 - 03:02 PM.

#3 StickyMeds0621



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Posted 02 March 2014 - 01:35 PM

why can i not edit my last post??

#4 Papaw49


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Posted 02 March 2014 - 03:08 PM

I think there is a time out as to when you can edit the post. After a set time period the post is locked for editing. It can be done by an admin or moderator if you need something done.

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