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Building A Better Soil: Demonstrations & Discussions Of Organic Soil Recipes


Grow Journal of the Month: Dec 2017 - Photo of the Month: May 2020
You can store it in cold freezing frozen.

I'm a composter, my compost is good all year long. I've even hacked at it with a hammer to get a few chunks broken off in the winter. You will be fine.

Bacteria can live fine WELL outside of any temp range hoo-mans can tolerate. Thats how we got here. Bacteria living at the btm of the sea around volcanic vents where the temps are extreme both hot and cold.

Oh wait there's that 40 days 40 nights thing and we just showed up 4000 years ago and we are not related to worms... wait, yes we are. lol

Van Stank

Plant of the Year: 2018, 2019 - Member of the Month: Nov 2017 - Plant of the Month: June 2018, Nov 2018 - Plant of the Month: Sept 2019
It will be fine but you may want to bring it into warmer temperatures about two to three weeks before you intend to use it. Give it a good ACT and everything will be fine.


Well-Known Member
I just wanted to give one more update on the super soil recipe. This last run was a hunt for another mother plant. I ran 6 different strains from 4 different breeders. All were vegged in #1's of FFOF with no nuits. Then put into #3's of super soil. So 2 gallons of SS for bloom cycle. The finish times were from 8 weeks to day 75 for the last two strains, Chernobyl and 501st OG. The SS mix carried them all the way thru flower. No tea's, no added anything, just un pH r.o. water. Here's Chernobyl at day 75
heres 501st OG my dense little cactus

Van Stank

Plant of the Year: 2018, 2019 - Member of the Month: Nov 2017 - Plant of the Month: June 2018, Nov 2018 - Plant of the Month: Sept 2019
Gotta love the simplicity and the quality from organic soil. Great looking lady there.


Well-Known Member
I have a question about mixing soil in the freezing winter. Is it a waste of time to mix soil this time of year. It's below freezing here but I'm out of my super soil and I'm bummed out going back to bottles. My mix has bone meal among others that have to cook. If I mix it up this time of year and store it in trash cans in my un heated garage will it give me a jump on it or will it hurt the microbes


Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016, Apr 2017 - Photo of the Month: May 2018
I am torn by this idea but here goes... natural winter. I always feel microbes can come back either naturally or get re added.
I am about to purposely leave ~5 gallon out in the cold. I have all I need in this soil amendment wise. But I don’t need it now.

But I am using EM-1 and gro kashi in my earthbox to get microbial activity going. As long as the amendments are there and I hope broken down I will be go to go. Best way to tell if you got proper amendments broken down is a soil test.
It is more work and other gardeners may differ.


Grow Journal of the Month: Dec 2017 - Photo of the Month: May 2020
Microbes be fine in the cold. They slow down or speed up depending on species for temps.

There's all kinds of activity under the ice and snow here where we are and the leaves turn to soil during the winter time. Someone has to be busy breaking them down. I've even seen evidence of worm activity recently.

Nature doesn't take a nap - thats the bears and I think they even get tired of laying around and get up to go foraging. We've seen some big ass footprints and they digging up the ground for something. It's alive.... the soil its alive.

Amy Gardner

Member of the Month: March 2018 - Photo of the Month: April, Dec 2018, Apr, Sept 2019, February 2020


Plant of the Month: April 2020 - Member of the Month: July 2019 - Grow Journal of the Month: November 2019
Thanks for that info Bob, I appreciate it. Now I can get my Stank Soil tested and see what kind of improvements I can make.
Hey Van, did you get the test and did you find it enlightening?


Well-Known Member
I'd appreciate some advice on building a soil....
Already have a bale of ProMix/myco, perlite and worm castings for a base mix but could use some help with amendments. I'm trying to use as much local product as possible and have feather meal and alfalfa meal already. Kelp meal coming soon. Gypsum, dolomitic lime and powdered dry eggshells were my plan for Ca/Mg. Volcanic rock dust is available close by as well. What i am wondering is if there is anything serious lacking with this list and if i could get some guidance as to proportions that would be fantastic. I plan to mix this in spring/early summer and use it this fall for indoor grows. Thanks all!


Grow Journal of the Month: Dec 2017 - Photo of the Month: May 2020
here's what I do - you want to add in some crustacean meal and oyster shell FLOUR to what you already have - if you wanna source as local as possible try your local feed store.

Acadian Kelp Meal @ 1/2 Cup per cubic foot
Neem Cake and Karanja Cake 50/50 Mix @ 1/2 to 1 cup per cubic foot
Crustacean Meal @ 1/2 Cup per cubic foot
Malted Barley @ 1 Cup Per Cubic Foot (ground fine in a coffee grinder)

Gypsum Dust @ 1 Cup Per Cubic Foot
Brix Blend Basalt @ 1 Cup Per Cubic Foot
Glacial Rock Dust @ 1 Cup Per Cubic Foot
Oyster Flour @ 1 Cup Per Cubic Foot

Mix with:

Quart of EWC (can be as much as 25% of the humus portion)
EWC = earth worm casting
1/3 humus = Compost/EWC/Vermicompost
1/3 aeration = Rice hulls or Perl-lite
1/3 CSPM = Canadian Spagnum Peat Moss (look on bag for country of origin = Canada)


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Thanks for the response Bob!
I've been trying to find crustacean meal. Tough to find in Alberta - not a lot of ocean. I was planning on hitting the local seafood restaurants and try to collect shells and eventually make my own to add later - subsequent runs. I've been doing a lot of reading (especially of your journal actually!) and would like to go LOS / no-till eventually. Hate buying fertilizers!
I was reading an earlier post of yours where you gave several links for organic calcium sources. I didn't bookmark the page but i remember that DRIED crushed eggshell was very comparable to oyster flour (and its a lot easier and cheaper for me to obtain) as far as release time but it does require work.
The neem/karanja is just too pricey for me right now. What specific benefits does it provide? Any alternatives?
The volcanic rock dust i found sounds pretty good - canamaze.com if you want to take a look. very similar to azomite i think.

I have to use RO water so i was concerned that i should have some Mg in the mix, hence the dolomite. I notice you don't have any in your blend but do you think i should avoid it?

thanks again for your help!


Grow Journal of the Month: Dec 2017 - Photo of the Month: May 2020
I need to look up some alternatives to Neem Cake/Karanja Cake. I buy it in bulk so have plenty laying around.

Neem cake has many benefits that have to do with plant/root/soil health and pathogens.

I've been running no-till for many years. It works the cost is nothing after getting the initial amendments.

For crustacean meal, kelp meal and oyster shell flour these they should have options for you at your local feed store. They may give it a different name but you can for sure find these at the feed store same with your alfalfa meal.

Feed animals require mineral supplement for their diets this is where you find these amendments and since they are for animals the cost in MUCH less than what you would find at the local box store or on line.

Rock dust - yes you should be able to source that locally. When this recipe was being developed we looked at a lot of different rock dusts. They are all ok but we wanted to go with lowest cost/best performance.

Azomite sure its good but its a lot pricier than say a local sourced item again these are used as feed supplements for animals.

For Dolomite limestone - its an OK source of Ca/Mg but its not the optimum ratio. For LOS soil we like to see better than 5:1 ratio of Ca:Mg higher the better as plants dont really need excess Mg. So if you want to use dolomite lime you will want to add in extra Ca to raise up your Ca:Mg ratio. Oyster Shell flour is perfect for this.

Key with dolomite lime is its OK to use just be aware that the plants are going to use up a lot more Ca than Mg over time. So amending the soil with Ca like Gypsum is good as it wont mess with the pH of the soil in containers over time like amending with say Oyster shell or dolomite.

Basically amending with Ca can be detrimental in containers as it will change the soil pH. So gypsum you dont have to worry about the pH. Same with crustacean meal.

You can see if you can find fish bone meal or something like that as well. That can sub for crustacean meal in a pinch.

Don't forget your Malted Barley - this amendment should be available to you in spades just grind it up fine and add in. Can top dress with it too for good result. It will give you chitin that we also get with the crustacean meal (shrimp/crab/lobster).


Well-Known Member
Sorry to be a PITA but i have another question now about the base mix. I just now noticed that you say that EWC can be as much as 25% of the humus portion. I was going to use EWC as pretty much my entire humus addition. I've used the garden compost pile in the past but i thought to start with 'virgin' material for total control of the new soil. Also, i have to keep pulling weeds when i start the seedlings. (Cold compost - i could bury the car under the pile but its crude stuff - has to be screened).

I think i read on the KIS site somewhere about a 90%:10% Ca:Mg ratio. I thought that if i used 2 :1 Gypsum to Dolomite, that would put me in the right range?

Further researching and i've found fish bone meal so i'll get that - fellow i was speaking to said he hasn't been able to get crustacean meal for a couple years now. And yes, no problem with barley - we grow the best in the world right here. I had no idea that it also was a source of chitin! Can i use barley as my chitin source solely? It would be a lot easier to source! And i don't mind top dressing with that regularly.

Thanks once again Bob. I should be able to get this mixed as soon as my sister gets here with the kelp meal. She's coming from the coast to celebrate mom's 90th next month! Lots of time to be ready for fall.


Grow Journal of the Month: Dec 2017 - Photo of the Month: May 2020
I wood use 3:1 ratio of Gypsum to Dolomite or more. You don't need much Mg dont matter what anyone says about it. There will be plenty in your soil for the long haul.

Dolomite lime is about 2:1 Ca:Mg ratio. Ok for 1 run maybe...... You want from at minimum 5:1 ratio and even more is better.

You can use EWC for your compost portion. I use Vermi-compost that I amend with goodies when the worms are active. Screening is a good thing. What they make a wheel barrow for!
I have a wood frame with a screen attached, put on top of wheel barrow, add compost and shake the screen across the top of the wheel barrow. The result is my humus that I add EWC to when I have some but I've used the screened Vermi-compost many times as my complete humus portion.


Well-Known Member
Throwing in my recipe that I've tweaked for years now. Just for background, I have experience using the CC and MO mix which I found a bit heavy for my outdoor notill container gardening.
This soil recipe gives you a well-draining mix perfect for container gardening, and is easily customized. It's based on amendments per gallon, making it easy to mix small amounts for indoor soil growers.

Here's a base recipe using volume:
5 parts CSPM or 50%
3 parts perlite or 30%
2 parts compost/vermicompost or 20%

I eyeball these measurements with a 5 gallon bucket.

Add 1/4 C. dry meal fertilizer per gallon (Kelp, alfalfa, neem, chicken manure pellets, etc) Topdressing dry meals: easy way to create your own dry fertilizer mix, and adjust NPK

Lime and minerals per gallon of base mix:
1 Tbsp calcium carbonate (gardening lime, ag lime, oyster shell) or dolomite lime
1 Tbsp rock dust
1 Tbsp Gypsum
1 Tbsp greensand (Optional)

Leave out the fertilizer, rock dust, gypsum, and greensand and you'll have a fine seedling mix.
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