World Soil Day 2019 is on Thursday, December 5, 2019: What in the world is wrong with my planting soil?

Thursday, December 5, 2019 is World Soil Day 2019. World Soil Day World Soil Day

What in the world is wrong with my planting soil?

I’ve tried a lot of different combinations for potting soil in years past -- from store-bought to elaborate homemade mixtures that took hours and a motorized shredder/grinder to mix. Buying dirt in a plastic bag just isn't my thing and the noise of the shredder was hardly a pleasant experience (besides which we sold it). I decided I was making this project far too complicated and too hard, so I looked around for another solution.

Well that solution was easy and right near at hand. The compost pile.

We have two garbage cans in our greenhouse which are filled each fall with compost trucked from the compost pile in the garden via wheelbarrow. And that's it. In the early spring I sift the compost through a 1/2" hardware cloth screen, then through a 1/4" hardware cloth screen for fine soil for planting seeds. Sometimes I'll mix in some sharp sand if I have it. When it comes time to transplant I might sift the compost through the 1/2" screen for the flats, or I might just take it straight and pick out the larger lumps, depending on the quality of the compost and what I'm feeling that day. For larger flats and pots I use the compost straight.

The plants and I are quite happy with the results. I spray the seedling flats with a strong chamomile tea and that takes care of any damping off problems. Chamomile is easy to grow (I just let it self sow in the garden then let a few plants grow here and there). When I'm done harvesting blossoms for tea for myself, I pull the whole plant and dry it for the tea for the seedlings.


The above little piece was written written years ago and updated in 1998. Now it's almost 2005 and I have a bit more experience. I still use compost as my main potting soil ingredient [see the Compost article], but over the years I've found it often to be too heavy for the greenhouse plants. So now I'm back to adding a bit to the mix. Also, I've found it easier to screen it all before storing. I have a nice homemade, wheelbarrow size 1/2" hardware cloth sifter that makes it easy [see Sifters article]. As with many cooks, I have no exact recipe, but I shovel in and screen maybe a third or half wheelbarrow full of compost, then add several shovels of sharp sand, and generous dusting of wood ashes, a few shovels of old sawdust, and several generous handfuls of screened, shredded old dry leaves and well dried clippings (run over several times with the lawnmower). Mix thoroughly with the shovel and store. This has worked well, though I sometimes get some white mold on the flats. This isn't the same as damping off, as it doesn't seem to bother the plants. But it bothers me, so I often will put the dirt in the flats and pots then water with hot water before planting (letting the dirt cool off first, of course!), which seems to eliminate the mold.

Now, I've also potted up small transplants and full sized plants out of the garden to bring in the greenhouse in the fall, using plain garden soil and they have done just fine. But my experience using garden soil for indoor winter and spring potting soil hasn't been good, so I don't include regular garden soil in my mix. It tends to pack too much and I had more trouble with damping off when I used it. I'm sure this would depend on your soil, however, so experiment.

One way or another, there's no reason to BUY potting soil, particularly that packaged in non-disposable, landfill-filling plastic bags. Make your own! If you eat, you can make compost. If you live where you can't have a regular outdoor compost pile, check out the indoor worm composting method. Healthy plants and healthy people start with healthy soil

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If 3rd world nations werent 3rd world ?

If 3rd world nations werent 3rd world ?

Third world nations are often exploited by developed nations.

It has nothing to do with race, it has to do with the fact that we're willing to do wrongs to these people outside of our borders where there are fewer civil rights laws to protect them.

One example?

African countries. Where do you think we get our diamonds and precious jewels??? Many of them can be acquired simply by hiring the locals to mine and sift for diamonds. Diamonds cost THOUSANDS of dollars, do you know how much we pay them? Well... A "rich" congolese family in the diamond mining business can earn around ten dollars a month. If they find a single diamond they've GIVEN the company a jewel worth more than what many Africans make in a lifetime.

Another? Don't get me started on the middle east. Oil, enough said.

South America, Asia, and Africa:

Pharmaceutical companies harvest trees/plants in rain forests that help us get OUR medicines. We pay A LOT for these medicines and older folks do it regularly... So the money we spend on medicine must amount to a lot per person right? Well, they don't even pay locals our minimum wage to harvest these plants for them.


China. They mass produce products, that's the whole chinese advantage. American companies go to China because they know they can pay the workers less than our minimum wage for a whole day of working at a factory and building petty goods.

Trust me, third world nations are not incompetent, they are taken advantage of. The developed nations (not more than 30) use up 85% of the earths resources, leaving 15% to be shared among all other countries (over 100 countries on earth).

No. We developed nations are superior in a material sense, if you've been in various third world countries you'd understand this. These other countries are culturally rich, EVERY NATION HAS RESOURCES, we often fight wars over resources, but in some cases like the ones I've mentioned it's the hand of big big business and capitalism that has in a sense ROBBED other countries to make our lives better.

Would you want to pay twice the normal amount for diamonds? Would you like to pay twice the normal amount for each gallon of gas? Would you like to pay twice the normal amount for medicines you need to buy every month or even week? Would you like countries like China to start advocating for their peoples civil rights and actually give them decent pay? Because if you wanted that for Chinas people, prices like the ones you get at Walmart would NEVER exist.

Other people suffer for our bountiful way of life...

In response to your additional details:

Do you think people who can't even afford an airplane ticket will "exploit" a developed nation? No... I'm proud to be American, but I also have immigrant roots that I revisit in different undeveloped nations every summer... We're no more altruistic than other nations. You can't generalize like that, some people have more to give.. Some people wish they could give but don't have enough. Like I said, we're not superior in any sense except for a material sense.

To your second additonal post:

No I wouldn't expect them to have developed before us, some people like the Native American Indians were too rooted in cultural values to try and develop advanced technologies like we did. Our success on American soil was fine, but our exploitation of other countries without governments, civil rights, or developed lands can be seen as tyranical. Again, if you don't believe me just look at the middle east. They are ripping one another apart for oil and religion, and we exploited that situation in the war in Iraq. The war we literally JUST left was an example of how western countries have leeched off of the wealth that would have been used by others who are now impoverished.

Do you think the world is reverting back to the old days?

Do you think the world is reverting back to the old days?

I don't think that we can revert back to the old days. We have to be careful when we speak of the "old ways" being better. There was a lot of soil contamination in those days from people growing their own food. I think we have to have a combination of the old ways with new technology and knowledge. We should continue to strive towards a healthier food source while protecting our environment more than they did in the old days. Another point is that it is becoming more obvious that our food supply can be an easy target of terrorist groups and we should definitely pursue development of providing ourselves with a food source that is reliable and safe.... which means grow your own!!!

Holidays also on this date Thursday, December 5, 2019...