When it comes to gardening there are basically 2 important things to remember … 1) Your soil is the most important part of your garden, indoor or outdoor..if your soil is shitty … your garden will be shitty… 2) Your PH levels of your water and soil. your roots absorb nutrients from the soil if your PH levels are within range for those nutrients to be absorbed. If your too acidic or too alkaline your plants will not be able to absorb what it needs. Usually plants need a PH range instead of a set level because some nutrients can only be absorbed at ranges that other nutrients can not be absorbed. In case you haven’t noticed I ramble…
Now back to the soil… you can mix your own soil which is usually better than premixed bag soil but you usually have to “cook” (not literally cook) your soil so the amendments do not burn your roots. The only time I’d suggest literally cooking your soil is if your going to bring soil from your yard or where ever into an indoor garden in an effort to get rid of unwanted pests, in that case … but it in something like a cake pan in the oven at about 150 degrees Fahrenheit (I googled the spelling of that) for about 45 minutes, be warned it might stink …
Here is 2 quotes that explain why you cook your amended soil…
Originally Posted by montanaorganics
I think most organic growers let their soils cook so that the microherds may further break down the nutrients added into less complex nutrient forms. This brings the ammendments to a more simple state that is more readily taken up then by the microherd and then the plant. In organics it is preferred to avoid sterilization and overcome pathogens with beneficials.
No I do not think you need to cook with just EWC. When you start adding guanos, powders, and plant materials it is of more benefit.
I’d just like to add that cooking is HIGHLY beneficial for your soil mix – by cooking I mean pre-mixed your soil and keeping it moist for a period of time before planting. A great example is dolomite lime, which is commonly added to soil in both organic and in-organic grows, which takes months to become it’s most active in terms of a buffer agent and micro nutrient source.
There are a lot of different things you can add to your soil to make it great for growing just about anything, the thing you should do before starting to add stuff to your soil is deciding what your going to grow and then finding out what those crops need to grow. After you have that information you should be able to mix up your soil and get ready for your successful planting season.
There are a lot of good premixed soil options if your not ready to mix your own, Just be careful of what you get and what is in it. There is too many chemicals in soil to prevent weeds and too many GMO seeds, plant and grow organic!
When you add organic fertilizers or foods like alfalfa meal, bone meal, blood meal, etc… you’re putting in microbial foods. The microbes are going to become more active and begin reproducing at greater rates. As this occurs, the nutrients are going to be cycled into plant available forms and also be locked up in the bodies of the microbes. The reason you need to wait a little while after adding these ingredients is because the microbes can multiply so rapidly that they will heat the soil (similar to thermal composting) or lock out the plant (think of adding unfinished thermal compost to your soil if it’s still hot) as the biology stops eating the exudates from the plant and just consumes the other foods in your soil mix.
In most cases of plant problems a proper PHed watering over a short period of time can fix most issues if your amendments are good and your plant is getting the right amounts of nutrients that it needs.
The cooking process… from the rustic garden…
2) Water thoroughly. This creates 100% humidity. Without the humidity it’s like trying to steam your veggies without any water…it just doesn’t work.
3) If your working with a ground level bed then dig a trench about 6-8 inches deep around your garden. If your working with a raised/framed bed usually you have about that much soil above ground so you can skip this part.
4) Cover with clear plastic (6 to 8 mm) overlapping the trench/framed sides. Fill in the trench with soil weighing down the plastic while pulling it as tight as possible. In a raised/ framed bed you can also use soil/rock to weigh down the plastic or you can staple it to your frames. Remember the key to success is a air tight covering.
5) Patience….Patience! 4-6 weeks of sunshine and you have healthy soil. No matter where it came from.