DIY Potting Soil

Saturday, we started planting seeds for our garden. We wanted rich, composted dirt. We found it… in the chicken pen. This time, however, the dirt had been through chickens and goats and also had been the previous site for our compost pile. There were also composted pine needles in the mix. Instead of breaking up the clumps the best we could, Danny tried something new: hardware cloth.

Requirements: two five-gallon buckets, a large piece of 1/2 inch hardware cloth, a large piece of 1/4 inch hardware cloth, shovel

Start by digging up one small shovelful of dirt.

A comparison of the dirt clumps the two types of hardware cloth catch: The first sifting leaves large clumps (left); the second sifting leaves much smaller clumps.

Sift it through the 1/2 inch hardware cloth into one of the buckets.Dump to the side any clumps that don’t fit through the wire. Repeat until the bucket is full. Place the 1/4 inch hardware cloth on the second bucket. Pour a small amount of dirt from the first bucket onto the hardware cloth and sift until all of the dirt has been sifted, still dumping leftover clumps of dirt to the side.

The end product is fine dirt that is beautifully natural (or naturally beautiful?).

The alternative to “homemade” potting soil is store-bought. Many (if not all) store-bought potting soils are sterilized (or pasteurized) to prevent “harmful” organisms from reaching the plants. I, for one, do not believe in pasteurization in any way for any thing. When something is pasteurized, harmful bacteria is, indeed killed – but so is beneficial bacteria. Instead of running to man-invented methods for growing, producing, and preparing our foods, shouldn’t we look instead to the natural way of doing things? I wrote about white flour quite a while ago. Bleached flour contained no nutrients because it had the nutrients sifted away and then killed with bleach. To compensate, the flour needed enrichment; without enrichment, the flour held no nutrients for the human body. Why do humans insist of taking something God made and twisting it into what we want? We end up with something less than perfect; something that cannot sustain us.

Instead of growing plants in a mixture of dead brown stuff that needed to have fertilizers added to it, try starting your plants with your own soil. You’ll be amazed at just how well things grow in dirt.

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