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Totally Artificial Soil

Pleasant Grove, UT(Zone 6b)

I made the decision to use garden boxes with the Mittleider Method last year. My little problem was that I did not add the "Pre-Plant" Fertilizer to the artificial soil mix I made in advance. A couple of wierd things and observations. A. I ended up with a ton of Grubs (like those big nasty white ones you find in the lawn, never saw them in the lawn but am thinking that maybe they are in there as at the end of tghe summer I had some places kind of die off and start getting clumpy. I am planning to put some sevin granules out there in the spring (the lawn) but am worried about what to do with that in the grow beds. I went to the county extention with a jar full of them and they said they really like the organic matter (sawdust). More than that I did not get as good a yeilds as I had hoped. I believe this was due to steril soil without enough fertilizer (particularly nitrogen) with the peat and sawdust that I made the soil with (made it out of equal portions of Peat, Sawdust, sand, Pearlite and Vermiculite). This year I am augmenting this with straight EKO compost (not a planting mix or anything) I am buying 4 yards of it and I will be making 5 new beds so I can empty out part of the existing beds to fill the new and add the EKO. I have also purchased about 200 lbs of essentially Rock Dust (Azomite) to add to the soil to provide the minerals for the microbes to work with. I am wondering if I should add the Sevin powder to the mix to just in case kill the grubs and then wait to add the compost (will sevin kill the microbes I am buying the compost to get?) Any ideas would be appreciated...


Waxhaw (Charlotte), NC(Zone 7b)

Can I ask why not use 1/2 regular garden soil amended with 1/2 compost ? This gives you all the benefits and none of the drawbacks.

The problems with the mix you are trying to put together IMHO are:
- saw dust
--> ties up nitrogen, eliminates aeration (less air == more root problems)

- rock dust
--> eliminates air (very fine, fills up cracks left by organic matter)
--> does not have any CEC and does not (contrary to your comment) give anything for microbes to work on.

Compost will give microbes something to work on (so does sawdust, but sawdust ties up nitrogen and eliminate aeration... compost improves both).

Regular garden soil consist of a combination of sand, clay and silth in varying proportions (from clayish soil to loam to sandy loam to sandy soils). The percentages of each determines the make-up of your soils.

You can improve almost any type of soil by adding compost. Composted cowmanure, or composted forest products (or homemade garden compost) added 30-50% with the existing soil will produce a much better result than you can every hope to acheieve manually.

Thumbnail by kdjoergensen

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