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Let's collaborate & share SOIL TINCTURES - what's your favourite?

Posts: 47
Location: Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
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HI, I've written & continue to update a list of soil tinctures (& related info) for supporting organic plants - what is your favourite?   Is it already in this article - if not, are you happy for it to be included?  If yes, would you/who should I credit as the source?  Together, we can create an excellent resource for us all to grow & share our knowledge!

Read the article text below...or view in full at:  https://www.permaculturecourseonline.com/soil-life/how-to-feed-the-soil-not-the-plant-understanding-soil-life/?preview_id=10353&preview_nonce=7a73910a9a&_thumbnail_id=10361&preview=true


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. (Image of Leibig's 'Law of the Minimum' concept viewable here:  https://www.permaculturecourseonline.com/soil-life/how-to-feed-the-soil-not-the-plant-understanding-soil-life/)

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.

Activated Soil…

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:


Key players:

   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


…proliferate when:

   Moisture exists.
   Hard-hooved animals are absent.
   Synthetic pesticides & pollutants are absent.

Inoculate with:

   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…

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).

Protozoa tea:

   Make a ‘Compost Tea’ – but use lucerne (in place of compost).

Super simple compost tea:

(Images for 'Super simple compost tea' are available here:  https://www.permaculturecourseonline.com/soil-life/how-to-feed-the-soil-not-the-plant-understanding-soil-life/)
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%

Bonus tinctures…

Root-growth hormone:

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). at https://www.permaculturecourseonline.com/growing-tips/natural-organic-broad-spectrum-herbicide-killer-plants/]


   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).

P.S.  You can also write an article & include in the community magazine here:  https://www.permaculturecourseonline.com/mag/

P.P.S.  What would you like to read about?  Got any tips for what topics to write about?

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