The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Stump dirt vs. potting soil

Onion seedling comparison

I love stump dirt, but my onion seedlings apparently aren't nearly so keen. I ran a side-by-side comparison of stump dirt versus store-bought potting soil...and the latter won by a landslide.

Despite my disappointment that the homegrown organic matter failed the test, I can guess the reasons. Stump dirt does a great job holding moisture and looks like rich, fluffy ground. However, if the product really is simply beetle castings, I might be seeing the same problem that those who use straight worm castings with seedlings see --- excess salts keep the baby plants from thriving.

Either way, I'll squash my urges to go entirely homemade and will start my next round of seeds in store-bought potting soil. After all, the final crop is the goal and I'll take whatever path I need to in order to achieve that destination.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hi Anna and Mark,

You might want to plant both. From what I read starting slowly is not necessarily a bad sign. i.e.- germinated seeds adjust to the soil they germinate in. So soil with chemical fertilizers can make them grow quickly at first.

Then they never adjust to the final soil they are asked to grow in.

You might also Brix the leaves and final products and see how well they store and also how they taste.

For me a useful quip is that "nutrient dense produce doesn't rot, it dehydrates".

Lots of fun :).


Comment by John Sat Mar 5 14:40:26 2016
Can you not mix the stump dirt with potting soil? I mix coffee grounds with the potting soil I use along with some sand, vermiculite and recycled dirt from failed seed starts.
Comment by NaYan Sat Mar 5 15:48:09 2016

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