Gardening with Soil Minerals

Gardening with Soil Minerals is a method of managing your soil so that you can grow food with more nutrients per calorie. Easy and organic, this approach is covered by the following posts! Sourcing Soil Minerals If you live locally to me in Vermont (Grand Isle/ Franklin/ Chittenden Counties), please know that I have a good amount of stocked soil minerals, including hard-to-find trace minerals. You’re welcome to contact me if you’d like to buy some – especially if you’re having trouble finding what you need, weighed-out in small amounts. I would be happy to help.   Nicko Rubin, owner of East Hill Tree Farm in Plainfield, is also able to provide home gardeners in the Washington County area with soil minerals in smaller amounts. You can contact Nicko here.   You can also set-up your own wholesale account with North Country Organics in Bradford, if you’d like to provide your friends and neighbors with soil minerals for their home gardens. North Country requires an annual minimum purchase of $450 in order to set up a wholesale account.   Otherwise, check in with these suppliers: Alpha Chemicals   Blog Posts Two simple blog posts to get you going! Here are some of the terms that we discussed, fleshed out a bit more: Total Exchange Capacity: Liebig’s Law of the Minimum:   More Resources Books & Magazines: Acres Magazine the ‘go-to’ publication for Nutrient Dense growers. Healthy Crops: A New Agricultural Revolution by Francis Chaboussou. A deep look at plant immunity as pest control. The Intelligent Gardener a fascinating and informative read by Steve Solomon, founder of the Territorial Seed Company of Oregon. The best book on Nutrient Dense Gardening. The Art of Balancing Soil Nutrients: A Practical Guide to Interpreting Soil Tests by William “Crop Doc” McKibben Your Money or Your Life I wish I could get behind the financial ideas in this book (which seem too dated to really work today) but I do recommend reading through the life-planning approach that they share, especially if you’ve never dug into that topic. Blog: the home of OrganiCalc! Erica Reinheimer (co-author of The Intelligent Gardener) and her wife Alice run an informative website alongside the soil mineral calculator. Workshops: Holistic Management International Check with UVM about opportunities to participate in locally run programs. Mine was called ‘Whole Farm Planning for Female Farm Managers’. Bionutrient Food Association Dan Kittredge offers 2 day, in-person workshops throughout New England, all about Nutrient Dense Growing and calculating Logan Labs soil tests by hand. Using a Refractometer To start, here’s that same Brix Chart handout that you received, as a pdf download:   Here’s where to find and purchase the same exact refractometer as mine.   And two bonus videos, all about measuring and comparing nutrients at home:   Testing Your Soil Want to know what’s going on in your own garden soil? Click here to submit a sample of your own garden soil for testing at Logan Labs. A simple video shows you how to take a proper sample.   A word about my pricing: A Logan Labs Standard Soil Test costs $25 and you must have an established account in order to do business with them. I pay $30 total for each report, as I request that they list ‘extra’ results for specific trace minerals, which costs an additional $5. You’ll notice that I offer testing through my account at a higher price. This is for two reasons: each customer receives a Glossary of Terms (which I’m offering you access to for free, below) that accompanies their results and a video showing them how to properly turn in their amendments my offering has a built-in safety net. Occasionally, someone’s soil reveals itself to be a ‘Calcareous’ soil. When this happens, I validate the results with further testing and then consult an expert for the final mineral recipe. I don’t charge for this extra work, although it can run upwards of $60 By following the instructions in the soil sampling video on the soil test sales page, you can get a decent idea about whether or not your soil might be calcareous. If you feel certain that it is not calcareous, feel free to email me and I will sell you the soil test at my cost – $30!   Understanding Your Soil Report Click here to download a pdf glossary that explains each entry on your soil report in plain English. You can use this to navigate your own results, or to follow along further with the ‘virtual garden’ you received at the presentation.   Using OrganiCalc When you’re ready to create a mineral blend recipe aimed at driving your soil numbers closer to the Ideals set forth by Dr. Albrecht, you’ll need to first create an account here. The cost is $9.50/ year. After you’ve made your payment and established a user name & password, you’ll be able to access the calculator.   Push play in the lower left corner of the video box below to watch a screen recording of OrganiCalc in use:    

How to Take a no-Fail Soil Sample

Posted by on Feb 28, 2016 in Gardening with Soil Minerals, Nutrient Dense Gardening | Comments Off on How to Take a no-Fail Soil Sample

How to take a Soil Sample

The most important thing to know when learning how to take a soil sample that’s truly useful, other than making sure that your tools are clean, is that you’re not actually after a shovelful of dirt.

In fact, what you’re looking for is an intact slice of your soil. Usually more than one.

Most of the time, when you dig in with a shovel or a trowel, a section of the top layer of soil will fall back into the hole.

The problem is that we want to be sure we’re including information about what our soil is made up of farther down, where the roots of our plants will develop.

Click here for our DIY Soil Testing Sampling Kit. Our kits includes pre-paid mailers, analysis from our favorite specialty lab, as well as instructions and support for creating your own soil mineral recipe aimed at growing more vitamins and minerals per calorie into your veggies.

So, you’ll want to keep digging, removing excess soil and debris, until you reveal six full inches of soil wall.

Really, you’re digging until you an expose an area that you feel confident you can remove a clean and intact slice from, without having any other loose soil interfere with your sample.

To do this, just scrape away any debris and begin creating your hole, removing all of the soil, rocks, and plant matter that keep trying to settle at the bottom.

When you’re ready, remove your intact slice of soil wall and place it in a clean bowl or bucket.

But that’s just the beginning! To take a soil testing sample be sure that you’re collecting a totally average cross-section that represents your entire garden, you’ll need to keep removing soil wall slices, mixing them together in your bucket.

I like to sample 4 or 5 slices per 100 square feet.

Avoid sampling any areas where you feel like special circumstances might affect the results.

For example, don’t test your soil close to buildings, near your compost yard, where you’ve recently turned in amendments or had an accidental spill, and don’t include soil where you know that all of the neighborhood cats like to pee.

After you’ve mixed the soil slices together in your bucket, spread 1 to 2 cups out on a plate to dry.

Pick through your selection, removing stones, roots, leaves, grass and other non-soil materials.

Now you’re ready to do a simple kitchen-counter experiment to determine whether or not your soil is calcareous – important information for any home gardener.

Place 1 ounce of dry soil in a clean bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and listen closely for the sound of fizzing!

If you see lots of bubbles and can hear the fizzing without your ear being right next to the bowl, then you likely have calcareous soil – but don’t worry, we’re still going to pack up your sample and send it off to our lab to get more information.

If your soil results reinforce these findings, then we’ll use the extra sample that you sent us to have tested by a lab that specializes in calcareous soils.

Either way, we’ll have all of the correct numbers in place to create a personalized soil mineral blend for your garden, aimed at growing veggies with more vitamins and minerals per calorie.

To join the free class on growing excellent food by creating DIY soil mineral blends, visit We can even provide test results from a ‘virtual garden’ if you’d like to participate but don’t have your own sample to use.

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Soil Mineral Resources, Tools, and Links

Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in Gardening with Soil Minerals | Comments Off on Soil Mineral Resources, Tools, and Links

Welcome to Part 5 of Gardening with Soil Minerals!

Be sure to scroll down below the video player – that’s where all of the juicy tidbits and links are posted!

Soil Mineral Resources, Tools, and Links:

Soil Tests from Logan Labs in Lakeview, Ohio, USA – accepting international soil samples

OrganiCalc Online Soil Mineral Calculator for use with Logan Labs test results

Download this PDF: Where and How to Find Mineral Suppliers

Want to Learn to Calculate Soil Mineral Recipes by Hand?

Check out this Book: The Intelligent Gardener by Steve Solomon & Erica Reinheimer (creators of OrganiCalc!)

Check out this Workshop: High Bionutrient Crop Production Workshops from the Bionutrient Food Association (targeting the for-profit grower and a bit on the academic side)

Want to Learn to About Everything that goes into Growing High Brix Food after you’ve Amended with Soil Minerals?

Check out our Course: Grow Excellent Food – Round Two Launches in Late Winter 2016

Your Last Training was About:

Working With Soil Minerals

Have a question? If at any point you’re wondering about a specific ‘for instance’ I’m here to help you out!

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Most Interesting Field on your Soil Report

Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in Gardening with Soil Minerals | Comments Off on Most Interesting Field on your Soil Report

Welcome to Part 2 of Gardening with Soil Minerals!

You can learn more about Total Exchange Capacity by clicking here…

Choose Your Report Below. What’s Your Exchange Capacity?

Soil Report Number One | Soil Report Number Two | Soil Report Number Three

Your Last Training was About:

Collecting Your Soil Sample

Your Next Training Is About:

But Which Minerals and How Much of Each?

Have a question? If at any point you’re wondering about a specific ‘for instance’ I’m here to help you out!

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Working with Soil Minerals

Posted by on Dec 20, 2015 in Gardening with Soil Minerals | Comments Off on Working with Soil Minerals

Welcome to Part 4 of Gardening with Soil Minerals!

Press play to jump right into today’s video and see exactly how I measure out and apply soil minerals.

Your Last Training was About:

But Which Soil Minerals and How Much of Each?

Your Next (and final!) Training is About:

Soil Mineral Resources, Tools, and Links

You won’t want to miss this if you’re seriously considering using soil minerals and a nutrient-dense gardening approach. There’s lots of good info here about how to actually find the minerals in the right quantities, and that can look very different depending upon your scale.

Have a question? If at any point you’re wondering about a specific ‘for instance’ I’m here to help you out!

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But Which Soil Minerals and How Much of Each

Posted by on Dec 20, 2015 in Gardening with Soil Minerals | Comments Off on But Which Soil Minerals and How Much of Each

Welcome to Part 3 of Gardening with Soil Minerals!

Press play to find out more about today’s training and what you have to look forward to as we wrap up.

A Soil Test Made for Human Health

Need a little review about how and why this specialty test was developed with an eye on health? Just press play!

Fix Your Soil the Easy Way

Watch this video to see how easy it is for a home gardener to transform their soil test results into a spot-on soil mineral recipe – using an online calculator!

Your Last Training was About:

The Most Interesting Field on your Soil Report

Your Next Training is About:

Working With Soil Minerals

Have a question? If at any point you’re wondering about a specific ‘for instance’ I’m here to help you out!

Read More