Soil Salvation Applications
USES AND FUNCTIONS OF SOIL AMENDMENTS
Compost is used to improve soil quality by combining it with the soil, using it as a top dressing, or by using it to make tea. You can figure to use an inch over established beds with good soil that just need a boost and as much as four inches deep if you are working with poor soil. Compost can be combined into existing soil by hand with a fork (without disturbing existing micro organisms) or with a rototiller for more thorough integration. When used as a topdressing, it will suppress weeds and the nutrients and micro organisms will leach down into the soil. Compost tea can be made from compost and sprayed onto soil around plants or directly onto plant leaves for foliar feeding.
The most important thing about good live compost is that it is loaded with bazilions of beneficial bacteria, protozoas, nematodes, and fungus that work around the clock in your soil to make nutrients available for your plant roots. A healthy balance of this soil life also combats plant diseases and keeps harmful micro organisms in check. The work of the bacteria in the soil causes a loosening of the molecular structure of clay soils known as “flocculation”. In this way, compost can help heavy clay soils to drain better and allow air movement. Compost is loaded with humus and humic acid, which help the soil to retain water, make air available to plant roots, help pull nutrients out of minerals in the soil, regulate micronutrient balance, and aid in photosynthesis. Manure based composts are better for this than peat mosses or wood lignin based composts. Compost helps warm soils and safeguards against dramatic temperature fluctuations. Compost on the soil surface helps stop damaging light that would otherwise reflect onto plant from light colored soils. It contains and makes available plant nutrients as well as makes carbon available to plants. Compost supplies micro nutrients to plants which help in water retention. ( this information came from the Rodale Book of Composting )
Planting mix is one half compost blend and one half a blend of top soils. This blend is ready to plant in and should have a fairly neutral ph. It is perfect for filling raised beds. You just fill the beds and then plant. I always recommend using a shredded leaf mulch as a top dressing. Planting mix is also ideal for topping off your sheet mulching lasagna, since it is great to plant into. This is also a great starting point for the do it your selfer cannabis cultivator who wants to add in all of their own super amendments.
Top soil can be used to fill in areas of your landscape that just need to be raised where you don’t need a nutrient dense matter but want good soil. It is also a good clean medium for someone who already has their own compost or aged manure.
I create my own blend by screening decomposed sod, a light loamy soil, and some more clay soils and some more sandy soils. The decomposed sod is high in organic matter and micro organisms. My topsoil winds up having an ideal balance of sand, silt, and clay. This allows for good drainage while still being able to hold moisture. The fine particles of clay are able to hold water and nutrients well due to their large surface area. Clay particles also hold a negative charge which allows the positively charged plant nutrients to stick to them, holding them in place and making them available for plant roots.
Fungal blend does well as a top dressing for fruit trees or shrubs. It is loaded with fungal activity that can assist your plants by aiding in the decomposition of organic matter and by connecting to plant roots to bring in water and nutrients. This
is an example of the symbiotic relationship between fungus and plants. We use a blend of mycohrizal powders to be sure there are endo and ecto varieties of fungus.
Wood chips are generally used as a top dressing to surpress weeds and to hold in moisture. The popular belief that they rob the soil of nitrogen seems to be incorrect according to my sources that say that wood chips break down real slowly and therefore do not rob a significant amount of nitrogen. Also, if you have healthy and abundant and balanced soil biology, there should be plenty of nutrients generated on the daily through the dance between roots, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, fungus, and worms.
Wood chips are used a lot in sheet mulching projects as a bottom layer or the first layer to go in on top of the cardboard. In this application wood chips serve by holding moisture, hosting fungal activity, helping with drainage, and helping with air movement . Worms come to love wood chips as they decay. I know people who yearly add a layer of wood chips to their gardens as one of the main ways of feeding their soil.
The medicinal blend is intended to be a ready to go grow medium for cannabis. This same blend would be great for people who want to grow vegetables that are off the hook as far as speed of growth and yield. The other idea with this blend is that it is intended to be a healthy, abundant soil for years to come. This is the opposite of a “disposable” soil that must be discarded after each grow season. This soil should get better each year. Ingredients like rock phosphate and oyster shell flour will still be releasing nutrients after five years.
WORM CASTING LEAF MOLD
This product could be screened out to yield worms, worm castings, and semi composted leaves. It could be used to seed a new worm colony. It could be used as a top dressing to send major worm casting nutrients and biology into the soil as well as introducing worms to the new soil and leaf mulch.