Soil

Soil is the plant's digetstive system and just like humans, with poor digestion the plant will struggle. 

I can't stress this enough- don't skimp on soil! Many people come to me and complain that they have a black thumb and when I ask them what they used for soil, they say a bag of top soil. I would have a black thumb too if I used that! It is best to use a potting soil in your raised beds and pots. A good soil will be 25% water, 25% air, and 50% organic matter so having the right organic matter to achieve this is very important. If you have too dense a mix, you will lack air in the soil. Air is vital for the organisms we are trying to promote to help cycle nutrients for our plants. If your soil has too many large particles it will struggle to hold moisture. 

What's in Farmer Jay's potting mix?

Peat:

Organic matter that has been composted anerobically or without oxygen. Peat is the component of soil that holds water and nutrients. Think of peat like a sponge, within it there are many microscopic pores that fill with water. 

 

Perlite:

The small white particles in soil, not to be confused with styrolite product that some growers use to save money. Perlite is sand that is heated to high temerature and pops like popcorn, styrolite is styrofoam. This componenet is used to add pore space in the soil for drainage and air. The tiny little pourous pebbles also hold some water as well. 

 

Composted Pine Bark:

Pine bark is a byproduct of the milling industry and a sustainable additive. In South Florida we get lots of rain and drainage is very important. Most potting mixes are designed to hold water because most people forget to water their plants, but this can hurt you when it rains everyday. I add composted pine bark for added draniage. It must be composted because otherwise the bark will break down in your soil and will draw nutrients from your palnts. The pine bark also further helps with fungal activity to support plant growth. 

 

Dolomite Lime: 

This is added to balance the soils PH before we add nutrients. 

 

Chicken Manure:

This is the most cost effective way to add nitrigen to the soil. The chicken manure we use was composted a specific way with microoorganisms to give a perectly balanced release of nitrogen for optimal growth. I only use organic chicken manure.

 

Worm Castings: 

I don't know why they don't just call it worm manure, but that is what it is, manure. Darwin called worms the intestines of the Earth and one of our most important creatures. Worms feed on bacteria and fungus, but also eat protazoa and nematodes accidentally as well (they have no eyes), and when the eat the microorganisms (they have no teeth either) they go into a crop (mush like a chicken) and the worm extracts what it needs, then the food passes out the rear end calcium coated and locked in suspension are all the organisms of the soil food web. These creatures feed on chicken manure and release nutrients to plant. Think of worm castings as an innoculant.

 

Azomite:

Ground metamorphic rock derived from volcanoes. This component adds 70 trace minerals to the soil. Minerals are how a plant produces secondary metabolites and how it protects itself. Plants can't run from predator or put on sunscreen to protect itself, so they must protect themselves systemically through mineral absorption. 

 

Coral Calcium:

The purest and most concentrated form of natural calcium on the planet that also includes over 80 trace minerals. Coral calcium has also becoime a popular supplement for human consumption.