Using Soil Tinctures to = “Feed The Soil, Not The Plant”.
Healthy plants look great, produce high quality produce, repel pests (via volatile organic compounds) & more. To sustain health, they require a wide range of nutrients, much more than NPK – nitrogen, phosphorus & potassium. The basic nutrients (biochemical sequence) are used in the order…
- Boron, which activates:
- Silicon, which carries all other nutrients, starting with…
- Calcium, which binds =
- Nitrogen to form amino acids, DNA and cell division. Amino acids form proteins such as chlorophyll and tag trace elements, especially =
- Magnesium, which transfers energy via…
- Phosphorus to:
- Carbon to form sugars, which go where –
- Potassium carries them to build plant cells.
Thus, the nutrient with the lowest concentration limits growth – much like the shortest plank in a barrel limits the amount of water held.
Nutritional requirements change from…
– plant to plant –
– species to species –
– season to season –
– location to location –
Thankfully, planet Earth is a living lab which has been working on plant health for billions of years! So we don’t need to work it all out – we just need to work with (or mimic) nature.
Plant nutrients are produced by soil organisms who decompose large particles into small particles – so small, that they dissolve in water & are taken up by plant roots (via capillary action).
Healthy soil = living soil!
We can identify the presence of healthy, living soil – because the soil stays attached to a root system when it is lifted. The plant has a ‘fluffy’ rhizosphere (or root zone) as roots, living beings & soil become one.
This is (bio) activated soil – it is living soil.
…the living organisms within activated soil are:
The key to ACTIVATED SOIL = MICROBIAL DIVERSITY !!!
- Earthworms & small animals
…proliferate when fed = simple carbon sources:
- Green materials (leaf)
- Fruit juice
- Fish emulsion
…proliferate when fed = complex carbon sources:
- Brown materials (bark, wood, roots)
- Cellulose (i.e.. Lucerne)
- Wood chip
- Fish oils
- Moisture exists.
- Hard-hooved animals are absent.
- Synthetic pesticides & pollutants are absent.
- Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) grown in buckets from pond water which has been allowed to sit for a few weeks (until it goes green).
Inoculate soil with:
- Protozoa tea
- Each other
Inoculate soil with:
Earthworms & small animals:
- Decomposing organic matter.
- Other soil life.
Inoculate soil with:
- Livestock manure
Soil tinctures keep soil healthy by feeding the soil organisms.
Dominant soil biota:
- Bacteria-dominant soils (agriculture) = groundcovers, salads, grains, root-crops, herbs, leafy vegetables, flowers, shrubs.
- Fungi-dominant soils (horticulture) = larger shrubs, bulbs, mushrooms, fruit trees, nut trees, sap trees, vines, small & medium trees, large canopy trees…
- One cup of boiled rice.
- Add selected nutrient based on what organism you wish to be dominant:
- Bacteria eat (simple carbon) – brown sugar.
- Fungi eat (complex carbon) – carbohydrates.
- Place in a bucket with holes drilled into the bottom & sides.
- Place into worm farm (on top of castings) for 1-2 weeks.
- One cup additional nutrient:
- Extra food for bacteria/fungi
- Whatever your soil lacks (i.e. if it is low in calcium, add fish).
- Plant nutrient (see ‘The biochemical basis of plant nutrition’ above).
- Optional step: Aerate (with a bubbler or pour between containers/vigorously mix twice daily).
Compost Tea – farming aerobic microorganisms & producing plant nutrients:
- One part compost (as diverse a mix as possible).
- Ten parts water.
- Aerate (with a bubbler/vigorously mix twice a day).
- Brew for one week (minimum).
- Dilute to the colour of weak tea.
- Apply to the soil (target the plant roots).
- Make a ‘Compost Tea’ – but use lucerne (in place of compost).
Super simple compost tea:
Add water to a few handfuls of leaf litter & soil – if possible, add manure.
Aerate daily by pouring from one bucket into another.
It’s ready when it turns the colour of tea – around one week!
Synergistic cover crop mix – inputs 50% sugar into soil (feeds soil biota):
Apply as seed or living plant:
- Legumes (beans, seed pods) 40%
- Grasses 25%
- Cereals (grains) 25%
- Chenopods (quinoa, amaranth, fat hen etc) 5%
- Brassicas (radish, cabbage, broccoli, kale, canola, mustard etc) 5%
If a plant species is known to shoot roots when placed in water or directly in the ground, it is high in root-growth hormone (usually indole acetic acid or a derivative of). This is the same store-bought hormone used in propagation as a dipping powder or gel.
To collect & use = macerate the plant in a minimal amount of water, pour liquid off & use fresh. (This will not keep, use immediately.)
- dip a cutting (clone) into the liquid & plant into growth medium (ie. soil, perlite etc).
- pour around the stem (to target the roots).
Pest repellent + :
The above tincture can be used for any desired plant product, for example – to repel pests, macerate a plant which contains a repellent & spray liquid onto leaves.
[Related article: Natural Broad-Spectrum Herbicide Recipe (Wild-Foraged).]
- Main image: The New York Times. 2013. The Hidden World Under Our Feet. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/12/opinion/sunday/the-hidden-world-of-soil-under-our-feet.html. [Accessed 21 September 2019].
- Eco Farming Daily. 2019. Building the Microbial Bridge for Soil Health. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ecofarmingdaily.com/build-soil/soil-life/soil-microbes/building-the-microbial-bridge-to-support-nutrient-availability/. [Accessed 21 September 2019].
- BioAg. 2020. Top 5 tips for spring pasture. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bioag.com.au/top-5-tips-for-spring-pasture/. [Accessed 13 January 2020].
Special thanks to Noosa & District Landcare presentation “Tonics For Your Soil” with Nina Saxton & Dave Clark (20th June, 2019).