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Soil and Soilless

Vic's Super Soil recipes & notes

Super Soil Mix

Original Recipe, as it was given to me.

1 Bale sunshine mix #2 or promix
2 L Bone Meal - phosphorus source
1 L Blood Meal - nitrogen source
1 1/3 cups Epsom salts - magnesium source
3-4 cups dolmite lime -calcium source & pH buffering
1 tsp fritted trace elements
1/2 - 1 bag chicken manure (steer, mushroom, etc) - nitrogen & trace
elements

- Mix thoroughly, moisten, and let sit 1-2 weeks before use.

Revised Recipe, after several failures due to bad manure sources, I now use the following recipe. Results have been excellent and the clones seem to take off right away instead of having a slow growing settling in period.

1 Bale sunshine mix #2 or promix (3.8 cu ft)
8 cups Bone Meal - phosphorus source
4 cups Blood Meal - nitrogen source
1 1/3 cups Epsom salts - magnesium source
3-4 cups dolomite lime -calcium source & pH buffering
1 tsp fritted trace elements
4 cups kelp meal.
9kg (25 lbs) bag pure worm castings

- Mix thoroughly, moisten, and let sit 1-2 weeks before use.


Substitutions

- The original recipe was a success, but I simply needed to experiment. In addition, sometimes not all ingredients were always available. Therefore, here are some possible additions and/or substitutions:

Blood & Bone Meal - when trying to cut costs
Kelp Meal - contains over 62 trace minerals. Good supplement for reducing the manure content to speed availability of soil.
Worm castings - excellent source of micro nutrients.
Bat guano - excellent for top dressing a week into flowering.
Seabird guano


Bugs

On a couple of occasions, I've ended up with fungus gnats with this soil mix. They are more of an irritation than anything but may harm weak or young plants. Some have said that putting a layer of sand on top of the soil in the pots stops the gnats from reproducing. Others can get rid of them by doing a soil drench with gnatrol or vectobac (BTI). Personally, I prefer to simply introduce fungus gnat predators (Hypoaspis miles). Once established, they not only control fungus gnats, but also thrips and mites. When there is no insect food available, they survive on dead plant material, so remain even after pests are gone to prevent future infestations. Actually, since they have been introduced, I've had no pest problems in over a year and I don't filter my intake.


Recycling Soil

Used soil - Reusing soil has a few downsides such as it makes it easier for diseases, viruses, and pathogens from entering your garden. Also peat based soils break down and become acidic. If you fertilize with chemicals you'll end up with salt buildups that will slow growth. Unless you like to take chances, have a good eye, and a good horticultural understanding, you may be better off with staying with fresh new soils. That said; I grow strictly organic and I've always reused my soil. I don't sterilize the soil between plantings as my soil is full of microbes and predatory bugs that keep the bad bugs under control. After each crop, I chop up the soil and root balls with the leaves, stalks, etc and let compost for about 3 months. I then mix it up and add about 2 - 3 cups of lime for every 50 gallons composted soil. I also add about 1/2 cup epsom salts, 2 liters bone meal, 1 liter blood meal, 1 liter kelp meal, 1 tsp trace elements, and enough perlite to regain the porosity of the original soil. I used to add a bag of manure, but I was getting fertilizer burn and so have stopped now.

As I've been fine tuning this, the plants just keep getting healthier and I haven't had any real pest problems for quite a while. I know this is a controversial approach and maybe even risky, but it allows me to keep my garden pretty much self contained. I don't attract attention by buying bales of soil every 3 - 4 months year around, or in the disposal of leaves and soil after each crop. It's definitely not for those who want sterile crops and those that use pesticides and chemical ferts. I believe in working with nature, not against it. After several generations, a nutrient imbalance developed which was only solved by leaching the soil thoroughly. My hunch is that one of the micro-nutrients was building to toxic levels. I guess farmers don't get this problem because they have the winter rains to leach excess nutrients from their fields.