Healthy soil is composed of millions of small organisms. Microscopic organisms include nematodes, fungi, and bacteria, but some organisms can be big enough to see like small insects and earthworms. These living organisms make the soil alive and offer it a great structure and texture. That is why the soil is called living soil, which nurtures and nourishes plants by offering a healthy medium to take roots and through a constant nutrient supply. If you are looking to make your own soil, you can easily find a good living soil recipe online.
When building this soil, here are things you must keep in mind:
You Must Have a Good Base
Most cultivators prefer approximately 50% sphagnum peat moss, 33% aeration, and 17% high-quality compost, and/or earthworm castings. A lot of people will go with 1/3 peat, 1/3 aeration, and 1/3 compost. But, studies show that 20% is the optimal amount of earthworm castings on the potting mix. Also, coco coir and other substrates can be used instead of peat moss.
You Need to Consider your Major Nutrients
Magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur are vital for plant growth, so you must add amendments that offer these nutrients in both fast-release and slow-release forms. The fast-release form will give a plant a good start in root development and vegetative growth early in its life while the slow-release form allows the plant to get nutrients throughout its life cycle.
Biological Diversity and Biomass
This creates nutrient cycling and makes essential nutrients available to the plant. When buying compost or worm castings, find companies that have performed biological testing on their product and are willing to share it. Avoid buying cheap municipal compost or one that has been sitting on a shelf for a long time. Another way to increase the soil’s microbial activity is aerated compost tea.
Proper Calcium and Magnesium Ratio
Earthworm castings help offer calcium to the soil; however, you must add lime, soft rock phosphate, lime, gypsum, or oyster shell flour to increase the soil’s calcium and magnesium content.
Bioactivity Activity in the Soil
For organisms to survive in the soil, they need oxygen, warmth, moisture, food, and near-neutral pH. To ensure these conditions, add organic matter to the soil regularly using a fertilizer that is not directly assimilated by plants, adjusting the pH as necessary, avoiding pesticides that destroy all forms of life, and embracing good practices like watering properly, mulching, and not overworking the soil.