Thursday, December 04, 2008

Balance of potting soil

Potting soil

I have given up buying potting soil when I garden in containers. I have also given up mixing my own, preferring to use compost. Pure unmixed compost is what I use. I have heavy clay soil, it is no good for mixing in. Sometimes I buy sand, or take it from former children’s sand boxes.

I figure the variety of microorganisms in the soil will make a nice environment for the plants. By the house is the paved part where I grow in pots. This is the only place broccoli and lettuce don’t attract the ground hog. Carrots and parsley get tucked in here, also flax seeds itself. I also have luck with potatoes, sweet potatoes, tender herbs, many seeds I like to toss in the pots like Love in a mist, Nasturtums, vining annuals like morning glories and patio tomatoes. Staking and letting the vines spill over the sides of the pots keeps me entertained.

I think the compost gets heavy and I know it dries out, has to be watered everyday in July and August. Potting soil has sphagnum moss or peat or perlite to lighten it up and absorb water. Sphagnum and peat are acid, will kill nasties. Compost usually has a balance of bacteria and will support a heathy colony, prevent overgrowth of cooties (I stole the term cooties from a landscaper who was talking about not putting mulch within an inch of a tree trunk in order to avoid unbalance of microorganisms and kill the tree. This situation seems analogous to Candida albicans in the gut).

I like the idea of balance of microorganisms. Alternately, an acid environment can be maintained. Potting soil with perlite is best added to the compost after it is used, in the compost pile, it will acquire a healthy balance of microorganisms. Being sterile, perlite potting soil has no defense against any cootie that decides to take up residence in your pot. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t.

Maybe Jerry Baker has a vinegar solution for nonacid soils. Or water perlite soil with compost teas. Aforementioned are untested ideas


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