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Feeding the Soil

Feeding the Soil

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ONCE YOUR BEAUTIFUL PLANTS have been growing for 2-4 weeks, they are probably ready for you to begin feeding the soil! When it comes to feeding your soil, there are almost as many methods as there are farmers. You basically have a choice between using chemical fertilizers or using natural and/or organic inputs. Chemical fertilizers are full of chelated nutrients that are readily available but can contain high levels of salts that are antagonistic to your microbe life, as well as producing runoff that can be damaging to the environment. We choose natural and organic products for our farms. When using natural, organic inputs, you are using nature as your chelator, making knowing your inputs, and what they do, an absolute necessity.

Hopefully, you have chosen a soil mix, such as Big Rootz Soil, that provides adequate water holding capacity, as well as providing ample oxygen to the root zone. Having the proper balance of air and moisture fosters a healthy microbial population, needed to properly convert our nutritive inputs into plant available food. We also like to use products containing humic and fulvic acids, as these help to further break down the nutrients in the soil, for the microbes to in turn feed the plants.

For nitrogen, we like to use inputs such as high-nitrogen guanos, blood meal, fish emulsion, insect frass, neem meal, feather meal, or soy based nitrogen. We find various benefits within each source, so we will select a nitrogen source based on how quickly we want the nitrogen to become available as well as considering what other elements we are trying to add into the soil. For example, if we are looking for a longer term nitrogen source, we would use something more granular than powdered; if we also want to discourage pests in the soil, we might use neem meal. We also might use something like fish emulsion to add more amino acids into the soil life – these aminos help chelate many micronutrients as well as providing cellular strength to support the increased growth we have promoted through nitrogen feeding. All these different sources have their individual benefits, giving each it’s own place in the cultivator’s arsenal. Bone meal and high-phos guanos are great options for adding more phosphorous to your soil. Kelp and sulfate of potash are great options for adding more potassium to your soil.

When it comes to micronutrients, we love inputs like glacial and volcanic rock dusts, azomite, oyster shell flour, dolomite, kelp, aloe, willow, and alfalfa. Rock dusts contain great amounts of trace minerals needed to keep your plant healthy, while the kelp, aloe, willow, yucca, and alfalfa come with natural growth accelerators and also help act as chelators. Products like aloe or yucca also contain saponins which help act as a surfactant – helping your feed to coat the roots and soil and hold to it, rather than running right through. Oyster shell provides healthy doses of calcium, needed to build the strong stems needed to support the flowers that will be building up weight, while dolomite helps to balance to ph of the soil mix. We use kelp in every grow, other inputs might switch around – we might switch up or test a new rock dust – but kelp is a mainstay. Kelp, in particular, has high levels of cytokinins and moderate levels of auxins and gibberellins – all of which play important roles in healthy, vigorous, and disease-resistant plants.

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We like to top dress with these amendments and even scratch them into the topsoil a bit. When you just dump a handful or scoop of amendments on top, it tends to sit there in a pile, not doing much good to the soil life, but spreading it out allows it to work its way down into the soil for the microbes to then go to work making plant available food! Alternatively, if you need a quicker change in your garden, top dressing and watering in may take longer than you want to wait. A good solution is to use these amendments to create a compost tea allows you to feed your plants these same amendments, but in a way that allows for speedy uptake; or if you do not have time to brew, there are options for instant microbial teas from companies like Cultured Biologix, with microbe line-ups tailored to each stage of growth. For all of this to work together, the microbes are our MVPs Allstars! We recommend inoculating your soil with a good, granular mycorrhizae product, such as Xtreme Mykos or GreenGro All-In-One, and then adding some additional players, like a weekly dose of photosynthetic bacteria from a product like Plus-C (Photosynthesis Plus) or EM-1. Without a healthy microbe population, we will not see the results we are looking for.

If you have been diligent through our grow, using only the best amendment inputs and the best microbial inputs, watching closely for signs from your plants, and responding quickly to their needs – then will you be on your way to reaching the full potential of this amazing, beautiful plant of ours.

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