Thursday, March 04, 2010
making starter soil
Today were going to make soil for starting seeds. Most of the ready-made starter soil available for sale has nasty fertilizers in it. As a certified organic farm we can't use any of that and while there are some certified organic soil mixes on the market, I like mixing my own. It's cheaper too. So here we go.
We start with peat moss. I recommend a high quality peat even if it costs a bit more. The cheap stuff has lots of trash in it. It's purchase in compressed bales so it needs to be sifted. I use a mesh screen to do that.
My recipe uses 4 five gallon buckets of peat moss lightly tamped so each bucket is packed full.
Then we add 1 five gallon bucket of perlite.
Next 1 bucket of vermiculite.
One bucket of worm castings or finely screened compost.
And lastly we add about 2 pounds of pulverize lime so the pH is right.
We add all of our ingredients into the electric cement mixer.
We add water. I've never measured this out. You want it moist but not soaking wet. My guess is about 1 five gallon bucket.
And then we let the mixer do its thing. Putting a cover over the opening allows the mixing bucket to be tipped on its side while spinning without spilling the soil. This greatly helps to get all the ingredients thoroughly mixed. To do this small U hooks were wielded to the mixer and bungee straps are used to hold on the lid (an old trashcan lid)
The results are poured out into a kiddie pool where we can fill up containers ready to be planted.
Extra soil gets stored in a contain that keeps it from drying out completely before we need more soil. Of course you could scale back this recipe and you could mix it by hand. This system really helps get lots of high quality starter soil ready in a short period of time.