Building Healthy Soil
This resource is created as a guide to building healthy soil – the cornerstone of any thriving garden.
Before we begin...
Why is soil health so important?
Soil is the medium in which plants absorb all their nutrients. This medium should have a balance of aeration, nutrient availability, and water-holding capacity. This balance can be achieved by mixing the appropriate amounts of raw materials together.
Healthy soil contains an entire ecosystem, where organic matter (OM) makes up the most fundamental level of sustenance. OM can supply steady nutrients, hold 250% more water than most native soils, reduce soil compaction, and balance out soil pH levels.
Let’s Get Started!
Step 1 – Adding Soil to Your Garden Bed
Using Thrive Premium Soil Blend from Tanks: This soil has a composition that is formulated to maximize aeration, nutrient availability, and water-holding capacity.
Our mix contains:
35% coco peat
20% red screened dirt
Mixing Your Own Soil: If buying raw materials to mix yourself, look to the diagram on the right for our suggested layering, mixing, and watering strategy that you should use. Following these steps will help to:
Prevent uneven distribution of nutrients to your plants
Prevent your soil from becoming hydrophobic (unable to absorb water)
Allow plant roots to penetrate deeper into the soil
Water in the soil, preferably after each layer’s four components are added and mixed together.
Step 2 – Adding Soil+Nutrients to Your Garden Bed
The goal here is to simply provide an even distribution of fertilizers and amendments to the entire bed as you add in the soil blend.
When installing our soil blend:
Fill the container ⅓-full of soil
Fork in ⅓ of the ferts/amendments
Fill the container ⅔-full of soil
Fork in ⅔ of the ferts/amendments
Fill the container to the top
Fork in the remainder of the ferts/amendments
Fertilizers and Amendments we use per cubic yard of soil blend:
Cottonseed meal- 7.5#/yd
Humic Acid- 2#/yd
Worm Castings- 1 gallon/yd
Pro Tip: Combine all your dry fertilizers in a bucket, mix, and distribute them together rather than adding each fertilizer individually.
These fertilizer amounts are specifically designed to fit our Thrive Premium Soil Blend. If you are using your own mixture of materials, it is best to perform a soil test. Either way, you want to start with a balance of nutrients in your new soil blend and observe the first year’s plants to see what nutrients might be missing.
Get excited about worm poop! Worm castings are the soil amendment that we most highly recommend. A byproduct of composting worms, worm castings are a source of 100% organic compost – they contain no chemicals whatsoever, and do not need to be mixed with anything. They are easily absorbed by roots and can hold nearly nine times their weight in water. They help provide slow nutrient release that contains hormones that aid plant growth, and bacteria and microbes which help plants become resistant to pests. Their texture is luxurious to the touch. Your garden will thank you!
Helpful Tip: As a general rule, it’s good practice to mix your dry fertilizers from your wet ones. This is one reason why worm castings are added separately from the other fertilizers, since worm castings are technically a wet ingredient. Additionally, they contain worm eggs and often live worms, which should be mixed only into the top 6-8” of soil and would die from being mixed with dry fertilizers.
Step 3 – Applying a Soil Drench
Once your garden bed has been filled with soil, we recommend applying an organic biostimulant soil drench which is basically a compost tea packed with bacteria and fungi that will help boost the initial establishment of your plants in the new soil. The solution contains:
✓ EM1 Microbe Inoculants
✓ Bio Weed
✓ Rich Humic Acid
✓ Wholesome Organic Molasses
✓ Sea Minerals
Once your soil drench is applied to the surface of your soil, you should water it in.
Step 4 – Keep Your Soil Covered
Uncovered, unplanted soil will lose nutrients, organic matter, and water extremely fast. To avoid this, we encourage you to plant your bed as soon as possible and keep it planted throughout the year. If you don’t have seeds or transplants ready to plant right away, it’s okay to apply a 1-2 inch mulch layer to the soil surface. When you’re ready to plant, simply brush the mulch aside to create the planting hole.
Step 5 - Applying Mulch
Mulch is important in desert climates: it massively improves soil water retention and protects surface roots from drying out. It also prevents weeds. For quality mulch, we recommend:
✓ Tank’s Composted Organic Mulch
Materials that also work great as mulch are:
• Grass clippings
• Dead leaves
• Dried corn husks
• Wood chips or bark
• Hay or straw
• Even newspaper or cardboard shreds – as long as you can be sure they are non-toxic
And with that, Congratulations! After following this resource, your soil is fertile and ready to plant. You can rest assured that anything you grow will be healthy, lush and produce delicious food to enjoy. No more brown thumbs!