Buy or make your own Organic soil…. Some notes and recipes.

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Posted by RobPatton | Posted in Soil Options | Posted on 29-12-2010




Appendix 1

Sources of Organic Potting Media, Untreated Peat Moss, Coir, and Other Approved Ingredients

It bears repeating: Organic producers should always consult their certification agents before purchasing brand name products, especially those with unfamiliar ingredients.

Beautiful Land Products
P.O. Box 179
West Branch, IA 52358
1-800-227-2718
blp@beautifullandproducts.com

Web site states that all potting media meets criteria for organic certification.

Cashton Farm Supply
199 Front Street
Cashton, WI
608-654-5123
organic@cfspecial.com

Long-time supplier of products to organic farmers — organic fertilizers, non-organic potting mixes.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
955 Benton Ave.
Winslow, ME 04901
207-861-3900
staff@johnnyseeds.com

Compost-based organic fertilizer products (two kinds).

Lambert Peat Moss, Inc.
106 Lambert Rd.
Riviere-Ouelle, QB
G0L 2C0 Canada
418-852-2885
1-800-463-4083 (U.S.)
418-852-3352 FAX
info@lambertpeatmoss.com

Produces OMRI-Listed peat moss products: Jeff’s Natural Solution, Ferti-Lome Pure Canadian, Lambert Canadian, and Canadian Gold.

Millenium Soils (Coir Div. of Vgrove, Inc.)
111 Fourth Avenue, Ste. 371
St. Catherines, ONT L2S 3P5
Canada
905-687-1877
905-687-8635 FAX

Organic Mechanics Soil Company, LLC.
110 E. Biddle St.
West Chester, PA 19380
610-380-4598
mike@organicmechanicsoil.com

Manufacturer of organic, peat-free, compost-based potting soil, sold to independent garden centers, natural food stores, nurseries, and landscapers. Products include a Premium Blend (OMRI-Listed), Container Blend, Planting Mix and Germination Blend.

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
P.O. Box 2209
Grass Valley, CA 95945
530-272-4769
1-888-784-1722
contact@groworganic.com

Long-time supplier to the organic community.

Seven Springs Farm
426 Jerry Lane, NE. Floyd County
Check, VA 24072
540-651-3228
540-651-3228 FAX
7springs@swva.net

Carries McEnroe Organic Farm growing mixes. Catalog claims these meet NOP requirements for organic production. Also carries asbestos-free vermiculite and perlite.

Sun Gro Horticulture, Inc.
425-641-7577
425-641-0138 FAX

Sun Gro manufactures about 20 different OMRI-Listed transplant media products. Most are marketed under the Sunshine, Sunny Grower, Alberta Rose, or Black Gold labels.

Superior Peat, Inc.
1700 Carmi Avenue
Penticton, BC V2A 8V5
Canada
250-493-5410
250-493-4475 FAX
sales@superiorpeat.com

OMRI-Listed products include Superior Peat Black Peat and Superior Peat Peat Moss.

Vermont Compost Company
1996 Main St.
Montpelier, VT 05602
802-223-6049
802-223-9028 FAX
sales@vermontcompost.com

Product brochure claims that all products are acceptable for organic production. Includes several potting mixes, composted manure, sphagnum, vermiculite, perlite.

Appendix 2
Recommended Guides for Learning to Make Potting Media

— For General Information on Potting Media —

Growth Media for Container Grown Ornamental Plants. Revised edition. Extension Bulletin 241. By Dewayne Ingram, Richard Henley, and Thomas Yeager. 1993 (reviewed 2003). 21 p. Published by the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

This publication can be downloaded from the University of Florida IFAS Extension website. Not available in hardcopy except as single copies to Florida residents via Cooperative Extension.

The Fruit, The Seed, and The Soil. John Innes Leaflets #1–9. By W.J.C. Lawrence. 1948. Published by the John Innes Horticultural Institution, Bayfordbury, Hertford, UK; printed by Oliver & Boyd, London. Order from Oliver & Boyd, 39A Welbeck Street, W.1, London, England.

— For Specialized Information on Organic Potting Media —

The New Organic Grower. 1995. By Eliot Coleman. Chelsea Green Publishing Co., White River Junction, VT. 340 p. (Chapter 14 is especially useful.) Available for $24.95, plus $3 for shipping and handling, from:

Acres USA
P.O. Box 91299
Austin, TX 78709
1-800-355-5313
512-892-4448 FAX

The Organic Gardener’s Home Reference. 1994. By Tanya Denckla. Storey Communications, Pownal, VT. 274 p. (Chapter 1 is especially useful.) Listed for $14.99. Available through most bookstores and online at www.amazon.com

Organic Transplant Production for the Advanced Market Gardener. This was the title of a workshop given by Dr. John Biernbaum, Michigan State University, and Chris Blanchard, Rock Spring Farm, Spring Grove, Minnesota. It was presented March 2001 as part of the Organic University program offered by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) in conjunction with its Upper Midwest Organic Conference. Participants were provided with an excellent manual. MOSES plans to continue offering the University program and should be contacted regarding scheduling and availability of the manual. Contact:

MOSES
P.O. Box 339
Spring Valley, WI 54767
715-772-3153
moses@win.bright.net

Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-up to Market. 1999. By Vernon Grubinger. Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY. 268 p. (Contains sections on composting and on transplant production.) Available for $38, plus $6 for shipping and handling, from:

NRAES
152 Riley-Robb Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
607-255-7654
607-254-8770 FAX

Growing 101 Herbs That Heal. 2000. By Tammi Hartung. Storey Books, Pownal, VT. 256 p. (Includes author’s favorite potting mix for starting herbs. Organic production.) Listed for $24.95. Available through most bookstores and online at www.amazon.com.

Appendix 3
Recipes for Growing Media

These recipes come from a variety of sources and present a wide range of options for working with organically acceptable materials. Because the sources are diverse, units of measurement are also different. When the origin of a recipe is known, or further details and recommendations are known, they have been provided. Note that several recipes are intended for use with Ladbrooke “soil blockers.” Soil blockers are hand tools designed to form free-standing blocks of potting soil, which serve as a substitute for peat pots, seedling flats, etc. The system has been popular among small-scale producers. One source of soil blockers is:

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
P.O. Box 2209
Grass Valley, CA 95945
(530) 272-4769.

The first recipe shown is a classic soil-based formula; the second is a soilless recipe based on the Cornell Mix concept.

Classic soil-based mix

  • 1/3 mature compost or leaf mold, screened
  • 1/3 garden topsoil
  • 1/3 sharp sand

Note: This mix is heavier than modern peat mixes, but still has good drainage. Compost promotes a healthy soil mix that can reduce root diseases. Vermiculite or perlite can be used instead of sand. Organic fertilizer can be added to this base.

Organic substitute for Cornell Mix

  • 1/2 cubic yard sphagnum peat
  • 1/2 cubic yard vermiculite
  • 10 pounds bone meal
  • 5 pounds ground limestone
  • 5 pounds blood meal

The following four recipes were found in the March–April 1989 issue of the Ozark Organic Growers Association Newsletter. The formulas are credited to the Farm and Garden Project at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Seedling mix for Styrofoam seedling flats

  • 2 parts compost
  • 2 parts peat moss
  • 1 part vermiculite, pre-wet

Sowing mix

  • 5 parts compost
  • 4 parts soil
  • 1 to 2 parts sand
  • 1 to 2 parts leaf mold, if available
  • 1 part peat moss, pre-wet and sifted.

Note: All ingredients are sifted through a 1/4-inch screen. For every shovelful of peat, add two tablespoons of lime to offset the acidity.

Prick-out mix for growing seedlings to transplant size

  • 6 parts compost
  • 3 parts soil
  • 1 to 2 parts sand
  • 1 to 2 parts aged manure
  • 1 part peat moss, pre-wet and sifted
  • 1 to 2 parts leaf mold, if available
  • 1 6-inch pot bone meal

Special potting mix

  • 1 wheelbarrow-load sifted soil
  • 1 wheelbarrow-load aged manure
  • 1 wheelbarrow-load sifted old flat mix
  • 5 shovelfuls sifted peat
  • 2 4-inch pots bone meal
  • 2 4-inch pots trace mineral powder
  • 2 4-inch pots blood meal

The following recipes are taken from John Jeavons’s How to Grow More Vegetables…, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA.

Classic planting mix

One part each by weight:

  • compost (sifted, if possible)
  • sharp sand
  • turf loam (made by composting sections of turf grass grown in good soil)

Note: the mixture should be placed in growing flats on top of a 1/8-inch layer of oak leaf mold to provide drainage. Crushed eggshells should be placed between the leaf mold and compost for calcium-loving plants like cabbages and carnations.

Simple soil flat mix

Equal parts by volume:

  • compost
  • bed soil (saved from a biointensive production bed during double-digging process)

The next three formulas are credited to the 1992 NOFA-NY Organic Farm Certification Standards.

Classic formula for horticultural potting mix

  • 1/3 mature compost or leaf mold, sieved
  • 1/3 fine garden loam
  • 1/3 coarse sand (builder’s sand)

Sterile peat-lite mix

  • 1/2 cubic yards shredded sphagnum peat moss
  • 1/2 cubic yards horticultural vermiculite
  • 5 pounds dried blood (12% N)
  • 10 pounds steamed bone meal
  • 5 pounds ground limestone

Recipe for soil blocks

  • 20 quarts black peat with 1/2 cup lime
  • 20 quarts sand or calcined clay
  • 20 quarts regular peat with 1 cup of greensand, 1 cup of colloidal phosphate, and 1 cup blood meal
  • 10 quarts soil
  • 10 quarts compost

Note: all bulk ingredients should be sifted through a 1/2-inch screen.

The following four recipes are credited to Eliot Coleman. The first was published in the Winter 1994 issue of NOFA-NJ Organic News, in an article by Emily Brown-Rosen. The remaining three are adapted from Coleman’s book The New Organic Grower (see Appendix 2).

Organic potting mix

  • 1 part sphagnum peat
  • 1 part peat humus (short fiber)
  • 1 part compost
  • 1 part sharp sand (builder’s)

To every 80 quarts of this add:

  • 1 cup greensand
  • 1 cup colloidal phosphate
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups crab meal, or blood meal
  • 1/2 cup lime

Blocking mix recipe

  • 3 buckets (standard 10-quart bucket) brown peat
  • 1/2 cup lime (mix well)
  • 2 buckets coarse sand or perlite
  • 3 cups base fertilizer (blood meal, colloidal phosphate, and greensand mixed together in equal parts)
  • 1 bucket soil
  • 2 buckets compost

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Coleman does not sterilize potting soils; he believes that damp-off and similar seedling problems are the result of overwatering, lack of air movement, not enough sun, over-fertilization, and other cultural mistakes.

Blocking mix recipe for larger quantities

  • 30 units brown peat
  • 1/8 unit lime
  • 20 units coarse sand or perlite
  • 3/4 unit base fertilizer (blood meal, colloidal phosphate, and greensand mixed together in equal parts)
  • 10 units soil
  • 20 units compost

Mini-block recipe

  • 16 parts brown peat
  • 1/4 part colloidal phosphate
  • 1/4 part greensand
  • 4 parts compost (well decomposed)

Note: If greensand is unavailable, leave it out. Do not substitute a dried seaweed product in this mix.

The next recipe and details come from John Greenier, of Stoughton, Wisconsin. They were published in the January 1996 issue of Growing for Market.

Seedling mix for soil blocks or seedling flats

  • 2 3-gallon. buckets sphagnum peat moss
  • 1/4 cup lime
  • 1 1/2 cups fertility mix
  • 2 cups colloidal (rock) phosphate
  • 2 cups greensand
  • 2 cups blood meal
  • 1/2 cup bone meal
  • 1/4 cup kelp meal
  • 1 1/2 buckets vermiculite
  • 1 1/2 buckets compost

Directions for mixing:

  1. Add peat to cement mixer or mixing barrel.
  2. Spread the lime and fertility mix over the peat.
  3. Mix these ingredients thoroughly.
  4. Add the compost and vermiculite and mix well again. When done, examine the distribution of vermiculite to ensure that it has been mixed in evenly.

Note that all bulk ingredients should be screened through 1/4-inch hardware cloth. Well matured, manure-based compost should be used (avoid poultry manure and wood-chip bedding).

The next two recipes were published in the September 1990 issue of Greenhouse Manager in an article entitled “Recipes for Success in Media Mixes,” by Kathy Z. Peppler.

Growing mix for packs

  • 40% topsoil
  • 40% Canadian-type Michigan peat
  • 20% perlite
  • 5 pounds lime per cubic yard
  • 3 pounds dolomitic lime per cubic yard

Note: The topsoil and peat are sterilized early in the fall, then brought indoors to be blended with the other ingredients and stored inside.

Growing mixes for pots and baskets

  • 30% topsoil
  • 60% peat
  • 10% perlite
  • 5 pounds lime per cubic yard
  • 3 pounds dolomitic lime per cubic yard

Note: The handling of this pot mix is the same as for pack mix.

The following recipes and instructions are from a workshop entitled “Getting Started in Organic Market Gardening,” which was offered as part of the March 2001 “Organic University” program sponsored by Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) in conjunction with its Upper Midwest Organic Conference. The first is credited to Tricia Bross Luna Circle Farm, Gays Mills, WI; the second is credited to Steve Pincus, Tipi Produce, Madison, WI.

Luna Circle recipe

  • 2 buckets black peat (1 bucket = 8 quarts)
  • 1/2 bucket compost
  • Fertility mixture:
    • 1 cup greensand
    • 1 cup rock phosphate
    • 1 cup kelp meal
    • 2 buckets sphagnum peat moss
    • 1 bucket sand
    • 1 bucket vermiculite

Directions for mixing:

  • Screen the peat and the compost and combine with the fertility mix.
  • Mix well.
  • Add the sphagnum, sand, and vermiculite.
  • Mix well again.

Tipi Produce recipe

  • 2 bales sphagnum peat moss (3.8 or 4.0 cubic foot bales)
  • 1 bag coarse vermiculite (4.0 cubic foot bags)
  • 1 bag coarse perlite (4.0 cubic foot bags)
  • 6 quarts of a fertilizing mixture comprised of:
    • 15 parts steamed bone meal
    • 10 parts kelp meal
    • 10 parts blood meal
    • 5 to 10 parts dolomitic limestone (80 to 90 mesh)

Note: This mix works well in small and medium plug trays and 1020 flats for growing lettuce, onions, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, melons, squash, cucumbers, and many flowers. When repotting small plugs into larger cells, add about 1/3 by volume of old leaf mold or compost and more fertilizing mixture. Continue to fertilize twice per week with soluble fish and seaweed fertilizer.

The following three recipes are adapted from a subchapter entitled “Using compost for container crops and potting mixes” in On-Farm Composting Handbook, by Robert Rynk, (ed.). 1992. PublicationNRAES-54. Northeast Regional AgriculturalEngineering Service, Cornell Cooperative Extension,Ithaca, NY. 186 p.

Vegetable transplant recipe

Equal parts by volume of:

  • compost
  • peat moss
  • perlite or vermiculite

Bedding plant recipe

  • 25% compost
  • 50% peat moss
  • 25% perlite or vermiculite

Container mix for herbaceous and woody ornamentals

Equal parts by volume of:

  • compost
  • coarse sand
  • peat moss or milled pine bark

The following two simple recipes came from Mark Feedman, a practitioner of the Biodynamic-French Intensive system. The first mix was used with great success while doing development work in the Dominican Republic; the second is an adaptation used later in New Mexico.

Dominican Republic mix

Equal parts:

  • fine loam soil
  • sharp horticultural sand
  • well-finished leaf mold

New Mexico mix

  • 2 parts well-finished compost
  • 2 parts good topsoil
  • 1 part leaf mold

The remaining recipes in this appendix are of uncertain origin, but were published in earlier versions of ATTRA’s Organic Potting Mixes.

Recipe #1

  • 50 to 75% sphagnum peat moss
  • 25 to 50% vermiculite
  • 5 pounds ground limestone per cubic yard of mix

Recipe #2

  • 6 gallons sphagnum peat moss
  • 1/4 cup lime
  • 4 1/2 gallons vermiculite
  • 4 1/2 gallons compost
  • 1 1/2 cups fertility mix made of:
  • 2 cups colloidal (rock) phosphate
  • 2 cups greensand
  • 1/2 cup bone meal
  • 1/4 cup kelp meal

Recipe #3

  • 10 gallons sifted two-year-old leaf mold
  • 10 gallons sifted compost
  • 5 to 10 gallons sphagnum peat moss
  • 5 gallons perlite
  • 5 gallons coarse river sand
  • 2 cups blood meal
  • 6 cups bone meal

Recipe #4

  • 40 quarts sphagnum peat moss
  • 20 quarts sharp sand
  • 10 quarts topsoil
  • 10 quarts mature compost
  • 4 ounces ground limestone
  • 8 ounces blood meal (contains 10% nitrogen)
  • 8 ounces rock phosphate (contains 3% phosphorus)
  • 8 ounces wood ashes (contains 10% potassium)

Recipe #5

  • 9 quarts compost
  • 1 cup greensand
  • 3 quarts garden soil
  • 1/2 cup blood meal
  • 3 quarts sharp sand
  • 1/2 cup bone meal
  • 3 quarts vermiculite

Recipe #6

  • 1 part peat
  • 1 part bone meal
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part compost (or leaf mold)
  • 1 part worm castings (optional)

Recipe #7

  • 2 parts vermiculite
  • 3 parts peat
  • 2 parts perlite
  • 2 parts cow manure
  • 3 parts topsoil
  • 1/2 part bone meal

Recipe #8

  • 15 quarts screened black peat
  • 15 quarts brown peat
  • 17 quarts coarse sand
  • 14 quarts screened leaf compost
  • 3 ounces pulverized limestone
  • 9 ounces greensand
  • 3/4 cup dried blood
  • 3 ounces alfalfa meal
  • 3 ounces colloidal phosphate
  • 9 ounces pulverized bone meal

Recipe #9

  • 10 pounds compost
  • 30 pounds sphagnum peat moss
  • 60 pounds white sand
  • 8 pounds calcium carbonate
  • 4 pounds soft rock phosphate
  • 2 pounds sawdust

Recipe #10

  • 70 pounds white sand
  • 25 pounds sphagnum peat moss
  • 5 pounds chicken manure
  • 8 pounds calcium carbonate
  • 4 pounds soft rock phosphate

NCAT would like to acknowledge OMRI staff members Cindy Douglas, Brian Baker, and Emily Brown-Rosen for their assistance in reviewing the original draft of this publication.


By Georrge Kuepper
NCAT Agriculture Specialist
and Kevin Everett, Program Intern
September 2004 ©NCAT
Reviewed October 2010
Paul Williams, Editor
IP112
Slot #61
Version 102810