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Potting Mix: Forest soil?  RSS feed

 
Charles Laferriere
Posts: 103
Location: Quebec, Canada - 4b/5a
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Hello folks!
I'm wondering if anyone have experience using forest humus as a potting mix base?
Charles
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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We used it as compost, just mixing into the soil like you would compost.  I used some in pots with a dirt/compost/potting soil that is doing really well. The reason I added dirt was because I thought the compost would be too rich. Ours was from oak/live oak trees, we raked off the leaves, decaying wood and just bagged the compost looking matter until we hit dirt.  The compost still had some leaves and small decayed wood.
 
Charles Laferriere
Posts: 103
Location: Quebec, Canada - 4b/5a
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Love this forum.
Thanks Anne.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I don't use our forest floor litter for potting mix. It is far to valuable as a source of microorganisms (bacterium and fungi) to be wasted as a potting mix ingredient.
Instead, I put it directly into garden beds, where the microorganisms will thrive and be ready to attach to the transplants and sprouting seedlings roots.

When we are starting seeds to transplant into the gardens I don't want any non beneficial microorganisms, diseases, insect eggs/ larvae anywhere near the start of seedling life.
The seedlings are usually plants that I want to grow early in the season or late in the season, to give them a good head start and shorten the time to first harvest.
If I were to use our forest litter as part of the potting mix, I could inadvertently slow growth or worse create a situation that later wipes out everything in that transplanted garden bed.

Seedlings that start out in a near sterile mix, develop good roots, which in turn attract the beneficial microorganisms from the garden soil once they are in their permanent spot.

If I had started these in mix that included the forest floor litter, I might start off with infected plants that die or infect their neighbors.

Eventually the few diseases we have in our forest soil will be defeated but until then I make up a potting mix without the probability of any detrimental components.

Redhawk
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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While I consider forest floor soil an ideal starter for perennials (trees/shrubs/etc.), I do not like to use it for annual vegetables.

Forest soils are fungal by nature, and this is what most trees do best in.
Annual vegetable plants are the result of centuries of domestication.  Their ideal soil is bacterial, rather than fungal.  Many serious growers use a sterile soil mix for starting their annual vegetables.  I know some who actually bake their starting mix in the oven, just to kill off any unwanted micro organisms prior to use.

As Bryant stated, forest soil is full of microbial life.  Not all of those microbes are beneficial to plant health.  Annuals tend to be much more prone to disease than perennials are.  Annuals require some special care during their early development phase.  A plant with a short life span will not prosper if it doesn't get a good start.  A plant that lives for decades has more time to adjust to early short comings.The best soil mix for one is not necessarily the best for the other.
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I don't use our forest floor litter for potting mix. It is far to valuable as a source of microorganisms (bacterium and fungi) to be wasted as a potting mix ingredient.
Instead, I put it directly into garden beds, where the microorganisms will thrive and be ready to attach to the transplants and sprouting seedlings roots.
Redhawk



That is exactly how we used our.  This year we made 5 raise beds and used this compost in all of them with some clay included.

I had some plants that came up as volunteers in those beds that I transplanted into the pots.
 
Charles Laferriere
Posts: 103
Location: Quebec, Canada - 4b/5a
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Thanks for sharing your wisdom. It's very helpful.
 
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