A Guide To Building Living Soil In 2023

Living soil is not just a concept; it's an entirely new way of growing plants and cultivating your garden. Living soil practices stretch far beyond the traditional techniques used in modern gardening - enabling you to create beautiful living systems that are has both environmental sustainability and incredibly robust. Read on if you want to learn more about how to make organic living soil for healthy plants and more extraordinary biodiversity in your garden!

What exactly is living soil?

Living soil is the unsung hero of modern-day gardening. It's often overlooked, yet essential for a successful garden or farm. So much more than just dirt, living soils are truly alive - a vibrant ecosystem filled with beneficial microorganisms and nutrients to promote healthy ideal plant growth. 

It even helps plants fight pests and diseases by building up plants immunity! Whether you're an experienced farmer or just starting with seedlings, paying close attention to your organic soil health is vital to flourishing crops and blooms.

What makes up living soil?

Living soil is a complex ecosystem that literally breathes life. It comprises many different organic and inorganic parts, from decomposing plant material to bacteria and fungi that are too small to see with the naked eye. 

For millions of years plants and microorganisms have lived and WORKED together in a SYMBIOTIC relationship where microbes consume nutrients from minerals and organic materials and break them down into forms that are easier for the plants to consume. Living potting soil consists of the following:

1. Mineral content: Sand, silt, and clay make up the inorganic part. Sand particles are much bigger than silt particles and tiny clay particles. These particles make up its shape and feel. The construction method influences how well it drains and how well nutrients reach the plants. 

2. Organic matter: Organic matter is composed of living plant roots and organisms, decomposing plant and animal residue in varying stages of decay, and enzymes secreted by soil organisms that act like glue to bind soil particles.

3. Organisms: The animals, insects, bacteria, and fungi that eat organic matter and turn the nutrients in plant matter back into a form that other plants can use.

4. Nutrients: Plants need about 20 different nutrients for good health. Plants need these chemicals to live. From making the first root to making seeds at the end of the season, these nutrients are what a plant needs to stay alive. And most of them are made from dirt.

  • Micronutrients¬†

Boron, chlorine, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum, nickel, sodium, cobalt, and silicon are needed in smaller amounts.

  • Macronutrients¬†

These are needed and used in large amounts. They include hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, carbon, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.

The N-P-K on a bag of fertilizer aka organic inputs stands for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These are the essential nutrients after hydrogen and oxygen, which plants get from air and water.

How to make living soils?

The secret to a successful garden is soil that is alive. Not only is it full of good microorganisms that help keep your plants healthy and fed, but it is also a way to garden that is good for the environment. By taking care of the natural cycle these soil organisms are a part of, you're helping to cut down on carbon emissions and increase biodiversity in our backyards. 

By making the environment rich in organic matter, you can also cut down on weeds, stop soil erosion, and make it better at holding water. All of these things help plants grow better and produce more. So, why not try out living soil? You'll help mother nature and make your own green space look better.

Here are 5 quick steps to help you get started.

1. Add Organic Matter

The first step in building live soil is to add organic matter such as compost, perlite, and peat moss. These ingredients will help improve the soil's structure and increase its ability to hold water and nutrients.

2. Add Microorganisms

The next step is to add organic materials to the soil by adding compost tea or using a product that contains beneficial bacteria and fungi. These soil organisms will help to break down organic matter and release nutrients into the soil.¬†These specialized fungi colonize plant roots¬†and extend far into the soil to acquire resources beyond the ‚Äúnutrient depletion zone‚ÄĚ that plants can't access alone.¬†

3. Add Nutrients and Minerals

After the microorganisms have been added, it is time to add nutrients. Some best ways to add nutrients to your living soil are rock dust, kelp meal, worm castings, and fish meal.

4. Mix Soil

After all of the ingredients have been added, it is time to mix them by hand. It is essential to mix the soil thoroughly so that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Making your soil mix a week or two before you need it will allow the microbes to get to work

5. Water Soil

Once the soil is all mixed up, it is time to water it. It is essential to water the soil until it is evenly moistened but not soggy. If the soil is too dry, the microorganisms will not be able to survive; if it is too wet, they will drown. Like all living things, soil needs water, and flows water along the path of least resistance to bring hydration and nutrients to plant roots.

What Is Soil Food Web?

The Soil Food Web is made of organic matter and the group of organisms that break it down in the soil. At the bottom of the web are bacteria and fungus that directly eat and break down organic matter, turning nitrogen into a form that plants can use and storing it in their bodies.

What are the advantages of using living soil?

  • Living soil is teaming with beneficial microbes that help to improve plant growth and health.¬†

    One of the fantastic things about the earth is its living soil. By adding good microbes to it, we can open the door to a bright future for our plants. Think of these tiny organisms as the vitamins and minerals your garden needs. 

    They act as nature's fuel and create tips and tricks that help plants grow, encourage healthy fertility, and keep bugs away. With the proper care and attention, living soil can be the powerful ally you didn't know your garden needed.

    • Living soil improves water retention and drainage and reduces compaction

    With healthy, living soil, the environment will be able to get the things it needs to stay alive. Plants and crops can't grow in the hard, dry ground because their plant roots need water, nutrients, and stability. 

    The microorganisms will help loosen the packed-down ground and improve water retention and drainage by taking care of our soil. When the environment is cared for with active love and attention, it can grow many plants that will last for many years.

    • Living soil increases nutrient uptake by plants, leading to healthier plants

      Trees that reach for the sky and vegetables full of healthy food depend on healthy soil to do their best. Living soil helps plants get the most out of the nutrients they take in. 

      • Living soil reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which harm the environment.

      Living soil is a game-changer that could completely change the way we farm. Not only can it grow healthier crops with more nutrients, but it can also help us use less harmful fertilizers and pesticides. 

      This new way of organic farming could be better for the environment and easier for farmers because these chemicals harm the environment and people's health. Living soil could change the way we use natural resources in a big way and help farmers all over the world.

      • Living soil sequesters carbon, which can help to mitigate climate change

        As we try to deal with the effects of climate change, it has become clear that living soil is a powerful tool that can help us. Healthy soil is full of living things and organic matter and pulls carbon out of the air and stores it deep underground, where it will stay for decades or centuries and not add to global warming. 

        Now is our chance to build a future with cleaner air and more stable weather, but it all starts with soil that lives and breathes. We should think of this resource as something other than useless dirt under our feet. Instead, we should see its power and use it to help all life on Earth.

        What is a Cover crop?

        In farming, cover crops are plants that are grown to protect the land instead of to be harvested. In an agroecosystem, which is an ecological system that people handle and shape, cover crops control soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity, and wildlife. 

        Mulch or cover crops can be used to protect valuable topsoil from erosion and to add rich organic matter as they decompose. Raindrops landing on bare soil can splash soil particles several feet into the air.

        Examples of cover crops include cowpea, vetch, rye grass, winter wheat, buckwheat etc. These are often mown and left to rot into the soil proving a green manure without the need to plough or disturb the soil surface. 

        What is a Blood Meal?

        Blood Meal is Nitrogen dense and breaks down quickly in the soil. It is often not used in a no-till living soil due to fears of hormone/chemical use in the animal feed. By adding it to yard soil, the nitrogen level will go up, which will help plants grow bigger and greener. The nitrogen inside can also make your soil more acidic, which is good for some plants that grow best in low pH (acidic soil).

        Who should use Organic living soil?

        Green thumbs that want the finest yields should use living soil. It improves sustainable plant nourishment and helps establish robust, healthy plant root systems that require less maintenance than conventional soil. 

        Those using living soil are often justifiably pleased with the efficiency of their root zone, constantly re-cycling and creating new nutrients sustaining a healthy cannabis root system.

        Living soil is an environmentally friendly and productive way to garden. Not only is it good for the environment, but it may also produce tasty crops and gorgeous blooms faster than traditional gardening. Even better, living soil can be used by gardeners of any age, from beginners to seasoned growers searching for something fresh.

        Alive-Market utilizes hemp that was grown in living soil.

        A woman showing newly sprouted hemp plants.

        With their "farm to bottle" method, Alive Market is changing the way the hemp industry works. All of their hemp is grown with care in living soil, which gives it a great taste and quality that synthetic compounds used by other producers can't match. we are advocates of getting away from force feeding our plants a fast-food diet of synthetic chemical nutrients.

        Living soil helps more of the phytonutrients in the plants we eat to be taken in and stored. This makes these products even better for a healthy lifestyle. Plus, knowing that all hemp was grown organically makes you feel even better. You can be sure that all Alive Market products are safe and good for your body and health because they don't contain any harmful chemicals.


        Following these tips, you can make healthy living potting soil supporting robust plant growth. Healthy plants are essential for the planet and human health, so do your part by creating living soil! 

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