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Stump dirt vs. potting soil revisited

Seed-starting trays

Several of you made thoughtful and thought-provoking comments on my potting soil vs. stump dirt post (both on and off blog). So I thought it deserved a followup post.

Broccoli seedlingJohn asked whether veggies started in stump dirt might grow slower but then do better in the long run. This is a valid hypothesis --- I'm always a proponent of starting seedlings off in low-nutrient areas at first so they'll develop good root systems. That said, the issue with stump dirt tends to be seedling death, not slow growth, which suggests the problem isn't low nutrients at all.

But I'm not giving up on stump dirt entirely. I've had great luck using the homegrown amendment for potting up tomatoes, peppers, and other seedlings that spend quite a bit of time indoors. I'm just disillusioned about stump dirt's efficacy at getting plants from the seed to the two-true-leaf stage --- the area where I've traditionally had the most failures in the past. I'm hopeful that starting them off in potting soil then moving up to stump dirt will eliminate that issue while also keeping costs low for my always over-ambitious indoor spring garden.



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Hi Anna,

I should clarify a little. That farmer has HUGE piles of 'compost' which he moves whereever and in which he grows his crops.

After outside processing, he sifts the compost, dampens it and heats it to 145F for an hour or more. He uses this to start his seeds.

Thus once the seeds germinate and are growing well, he transplants them in to similar soil so the plant doesn't see a change in its growing conditions. His tomatoes were already up more than a foot last week [ in hoop houses ]. He is an amazing guy :).

I didn't realize your young plants were dying. Not good.

Have you ever read Mr./Dr. Oliver on journeytoforever.org/farm_library? The story of his grandfather's farm and its worm compost is a real hoot :). enjoy :).

John

Comment by John Mon Mar 7 10:43:29 2016