This is John Kohler with GrowingYourGreens.com.
I have another exciting episode for you, coming to you from my backyard vegetable garden.
As you can see, I got a beautiful garden this time of year here. It’s the springtime and
we’re gonna answer one very important question for you guys today. And it’s a question
I get a lot. So this video is gonna explain my views on this subject. And, once again,
that’s what they are. They’re my views. Is this the way you should definitely do it?
Well, I don’t know, it’s just the way that I would do it based on all my growing
experience and successful growing experience at that.
So the one question we’re gonna answer today is simply this: John, I’m starting a new
garden in my backyard. How should I do it? Should I just rototill the soil and plant
some seeds? Should I build raised beds and bring in some organic compost? What kind of
soil should I use? What should I use and what should I do?
So in this episode, we’re gonna take the opportunity to share with you what specifically
I’m doing to grow successfully. And because, as you see, half my backyard here is beautiful.
It has round, circular four-foot raised beds and I’m actually just starting to develop
the other half. So this is a question I’ve pondered a lot. I know many of you guys also
that are starting gardens may also have, so we’re gonna explain my opinions on this
subject. Now you could see we’re on the other side
of my backyard, and this is the side that actually gets a little more shade so that’s
why I actually developed the other side first and started growing a garden on that side.
Because it does get more sun, plus there’s some trees behind the camera that you guys
can’t see that actually shades out this side a lot. So in the summertime, that may
be a good thing to grow things that don’t like as much heat, but in general, the more
sun you give the plants, the better they’re gonna do. And that’s just one of the tenants
of nature. So—and we’ll talk about some more tenants of nature in just a little bit.
But what I’m gonna talk about now is, as you can see, the ground here, it’s basically
like a sand, and actually not even just a sand, because this is sand but it’s a hard,
packed sand. There used to be a lawn here, and it just went the way of the West, and
now there’s basically some weeds coming up—actually, some wild mustard greens that
can’t be eaten, but they seed prolifically. So all underneath the camera, there’s a
whole bunch and you can see there’s some sparsely here.
Now, the main option you have when you’re building a new garden is two things. number
one, you’re gonna basically dig up and enrich your soil that you have currently, or most
people would just fertilize it, and then plant new plants and grow in that. So that’s one
option. Option number two is to bring in compost and build something like raised beds and then
grow in that. So you might be thinking “John, what are you gonna do?” Well, as you saw
on the other side, it’s a lot easier, in my opinion—and I want to make gardening
easy for you guys—it’s a lot easier in my opinion to actually bring in compost that’s
rich compost. Because the compost, the soil, the medium you’re growing in becomes your
plants and however healthy the soil is is however healthy your plants are. Healthier
plants will produce tastier food, more food, and be more bug and disease resistant over
all, other factors being considered. So that’s why I choose to grow in compost.
Now, I know some of you guys might not be able to afford compost. Depending on where
you live in the country, sometimes compost could be a couple bucks a cubic foot. Depending
on some other part of the country where you live, you could get a cubic yard of compost
for twenty/thirty bucks. So originally, when I built my front yard garden, I brought in
like sixty cubic yards of compost. And yes, that was a major expense. It is about nine
hundred dollars, close to a thousand dollars—and that was including delivery because actually,
the delivery charge was quite a lot because I had to get an eighteen wheeler. But that’s
how important bringing in the compost and growing it in good, nutritious, rich soil.
We’re not really gonna cover in this video other things you should add to your compost
to grow in, and that depends on your specific location. I will just say, in general, I do
like to use the Mel’s Mix or Mel Bartholomew’s growing mix for square foot raised bed gardening,
which is basically one third mixture of compost, one third vermiculite, and one third coconut
core or peat moss. And that’s the end of that.
So the other question arises—so that’s the way I recommend you guys do it. And the
other thing is if you are having a lawn already or just a ground here that’s unimproved,
if you build a raised bed, you do not have to rototill, you do not have to do anything
to your existing space. You just build the raised bed and fill it up with soil. Now if
you have grass or weeds or other things already existing in your space, you might want to
do what’s called cardboard sheet mulching. So I’ve been saving a lot of cardboard over
here—and what you’re gonna simply do is you’re just gonna take the cardboard and
you’re just gonna lie it out over the ground like that, and then you’re gonna build your
raised bed on top of that, and then fill it with soil. So this way, there’s no rototilling
and its least about of effort so that you can be growing faster and be growing successfully.
Because that’s why I make these videos. I want you guys to be able to grow your food,
make it easy, and make it successful without going through all the rigor and difficulties
of what people say you should do. Let’s take a second and talk about one thing
called “rototilling.” So the question comes up, comes up sometimes “John! Do you
believe in rototilling?” and my grandfather, he owned a rototiller and before I was informed
on rototilling, I bought a hand operated rototiller on clearance that I think I need to sell.
In most cases, I do not recommend rototilling. Rototilling disturbs the soil microbiology
and it’s just not a good thing. And conventional agriculture, that’s what they do because
the soil’s not alive, so it doesn’t really matter what they do to it. Especially when
you’re adding chemical fertilizers that also, in my opinion, are not good for the
soil, for the microbes and actually for the growth of the plants or for the planet or
for you in general. So what I recommend is a more natural approach
to gardening. So my natural approach is to rebuild the soil to get it to how it used
to be. Now by bringing in organic compost, you’re bringing in a lot of organic matter
that can help do that, but bringing in your own organic compost and filling it in your
raised bed, then you’re bringing back the microbiology like the soil should be. And
another benefit is over time, the cardboard will break down and over time the compost
will actually start to mix with your native soils below and start to rebuild and regenerate
soil as well. So, I know you might be thinking “John,
what if I can’t afford all that compost? That’s like really expensive. Can I do anything
else or should I just not grow my food and continue to buy my groceries from the grocery
store?” Well, I say absolutely STOP buying your groceries at the grocery store and start
growing whatever you can with whatever resources you have.
So another way to do it if you did just want to grow in the soil, what I would recommend—and
you’re not gonna bring in a whole bunch of compost—is to do what’s called “double
digging.” Double digging was made popular by John Jeavons, who started a bio-intensive
gardening method, and basically you’re just gonna dig a trench and you’re gonna take
the dirt out of the trench, put it in a wheelbarrow, and then you’re gonna did that to about…I
don’t know, yea deep, as big as a shovel head. You’re gonna dig that part out. Then
you’re gonna dig again and loosen up the soil, uncompact it—because soil compacts,
one of the biggest challenges with growing plants successfully. And that’s why I like
the raised beds, because you’re filling it with soil and you’re not stomping it
down. Because the plant roots grow, not through the soil, but through the air spaces between
the soil. And if you have really hard, compacted soil, makes it more challenging for roots
to grow through and especially get the nutrients it needs to absorb.
So back to double digging. So with double digging, what you’re gonna do is you’re
gonna take a shovel, you’re gonna dig a trench about yea big and about yea deep, and
you’re gonna dig it out. That’s step one. Step two is you’re gonna go down about another
shovel worth and loosen up the soil. Just dig it but don’t remove it from the trench.
And then you’re gonna dig ANOTHER bed. So you’re gonna dig another row, and the row
that you’re undigging there, that soil off the top is gonna go into your first bed to
fill up the top. Then once you got that dug out, then you’re gonna go ahead and dig
that down and loosen the soil, and then in the second row you’re gonna put the soil
from the first row in. now if you’re not doing two rows, that’s alright, just dig
half your first row and then use the soil from the first row in a wheelbarrow and then
dig the second half of your row. And then what you’re gonna do, in my opinion,
which is the best thing to do, is to add compost and other soil nutrients. So you can get away
with less compost doing this method, and then you can also—you’re gonna need to add
things like the soil biologics. So you want to add the trace minerals and microbes. I
like to use the AZOMITE, rock dust at present time. I like to use things like the mycorrhiza
and then beneficial fungi and beneficial microbes in the soil. One of the easiest ways to get
that is through the Boogie Brew Compost tea, because that has a whole host of different
microbiology in there, which then you will actually culture in your house with an air
bubbler in a bucket to create more. Then you’re gonna spray that on your soil and even foliar
feed it onto your plants so your plants can dance.
But another thing, you know, if you’re doing a lot of space, double digging can be a lot
of work. You gotta dig out and each thing and you probably couldn’t pay me enough
money to sit here in my back yard and double dig this soil. Because this stuff, let me
tell you, it is very, very, very, very hard. That’s why I’d rather spend and invest
the money to bring the compost in and build raised beds on top instead of double digging.
If you are intent on using the existing soil without bringing new stuff in, which is my
number one recommendation, I have another recommendation for you guys to work the soil
that you already have or improve the compost that you’re brining in. and that’s with
some products that can help you actually bring the soil microbiology back in to the soil
you have. Another problem, if you’re growing in the soil that you have existing, depending
on how long you’ve owned the property, you don’t know if they sprayed Roundup, if they
sprayed toxins in it, if they used conventional fertilizers—you don’t know if it has led
paint contamination from your house that’s really old. You don’t know if they were
doing drugs back in New York City in an apartment complex and they’re disposing of all their
drug needles in the ground. So that’s yet another reason why I like just to layer off
the cardboard, build a raised bed, and then you don’t have to worry about the soil.
Another thing interesting about once you start bringing back in the soil biologics, they
will start to break down some of the toxins in the soil. Now, am I gonna say they’re
gonna break down everything and make it clean as new? Probably over time they can, but in
general, that’s why I like to build on top instead of grow in the existing soil.
So next let’s get into some products that can help you increase the soil microbiology,
help clean out your soil and also make your growing experience much better, especially
if you don’t want to bring in a whole ton of compost.
As you guys just heard, I’m gonna bring in the compost. And as you can see, here’s
the compost that I got to use in my garden here. I wish this compost was a little bit
better quality, in my opinion. I know some of you guys might be thinking “John, how
can you tell the quality of the compost?” Well, if I pick the stuff up…to me this
looks like sand and it doesn’t quite look like it’s fully alive. So the quality of
your compost can vary widely from something that looks like sand, not fully alive. Compost,
to me, is like dark, rich, black. Smell it, it smells kind of earthy, like you picked
up soil form the forest. This is just, in my opinion, not so high quality. It’s almost
like a blend of the native desert soil and maybe some compost that’s well broken down.
So for that reason, I can’t wait to—my own compost to be done and ready so I can
start adding that back into the soil. Because this stuff’s not totally alive.
Now from this end of the spectrum, from being like grainy like sand compost, then you can
have the other end where it’s more like a mulch and not fully broken down. You can
see big chunks of bark and leaves and things not fully done. So you want somewhere in the
middle. You don’t want it fully barky, and a lot of the compost that I have seen at the
big box stores. In my opinion, it’s not fully broken down, needs to be broken down
further. And there’s a lot of still woodchips in there that’s not optimal. So I don’t
know where you guys live, but it’s always prudent to do the best you can and research
and check out local landscape supply houses, local nurseries, even big box stores, and
source the best compost, the most natural and organic compost to can. Because it’s
definitely gonna make a difference and I can see the garden, the backyard garden here,
suffer due to the fact that my compost is just not as rich as some of the stuff that
I’ve used in my front yard garden. So that’s kind of sad.
So in any case, I need to improve it. So whether you’re using your native soils or maybe
a compost that’s not so rich like this, one of the easy things you can do is bring
in the microbiology. Now, you might be thinking “John, how do I bring in the microbiology?”
Well, you could make your own compost and add it to it, you could make your own composted
woodchips in a slow, no-heat method to bring in the fungal aspects, and of course the regular
composting is gonna bring in the bacteria, that’s the high heat composting, and combine
those together. You could also buy the products that do that, but this can get challenging
to source everything from all over. So I like this company that I found called John & Bob’s.
They have this little kit here. This kit treats one thousand square feet of garden space.
So that, I find, is a good treatment for a standard garden and they do make larger kits
and you could also by each of these in individual components in bulk.
Next, let’s go ahead and open up this kit and show you guys what’s inside. So the
first hang you’re gonna find in here is this stuff called the penetrate. So the penetrate
basically is gonna break up the hard clay soils or hard packed soils like I have here.
Now is this gonna work in like one day, you’re gonna spray it on and tomorrow, you could
work your soil? No. nature takes time to work this stuff to penetrate and get down and loosen
your soils, can take literally six months to a year just to loosen a few inches of the
soil to make it workable again. Because think about it, the soil you have in your backyard,
front yard, has taken years and years to get to where it is today, and it can’t just
be all undone in a day. That’s what they try to do with rototilling, but rototilling,
besides being negatively impacting the soil, rototillers run on gas, they contribute to
pollution, and also it’s a very violent machine.
This is a much easier way, also. The rototiller, you gotta RRRRR—this is a lot easier. Basically
what you’re gonna do is, inside here, the two things that make this work are bottle
number A—this is bottle number B. and bottle number A. So A and B. Basically, what he have
in here is aerobic bacteria. The aerobic bacteria’s in one bottle, and in the other bottler, we
got the bacteria food. So for best storage results, you need to store these separately
and then only combine them when you’re gonna actually spray them out. Because otherwise,
if you combine them now, they’re only gonna last about twelve hours.
So the aerobic bacteria in the penetrate product is the same exact bacteria that you use in
many organic fungicides. So, guess what, when you’re inoculating your garden space with
the beneficial microbes, they do more than just build your soil, they also give your
plants disease resistance. So this is step number one.
In addition, in this kit, you have three other items that’s gonna bring back the soil microbiology.
And my favorite one of all is this one right here. This is actually called the Maximize.
So the maximize combines two of my favorite things in the world that are required in the
garden in my opinion. Number one, it’s the trace minerals. So in here they use a rock
dust powder that has a full spectrum of trace mineral supplementation for your garden that
are required for plants for optimal growth. Now, yeah, most people would put MPK, three
minerals, back in their soil, because that’s what we’re all taught. But in nature, there’s
a myriad of minerals, not just three. So that’s why I like this product. The trace minerals
that I have found, number one, make your food taste better, number two, enhance your plant
growth so it grows bigger—so If you’re selling by the pound, by the ounce, whatever,
you’re gonna get more money because you have more product and yield. And that means
if you’re putting food on your table, you’re gonna have more food if your use the trace
minerals. Number three, your plants are gonna be more
resistant to disease and bugs. And here’s’ why: if we eat at McDonald’s diet, we all
know McDonald’s is fast food junk food and it’s not healthy for us. If you eat McDonald’s
you’re not gonna be so healthy. May be prone to getting sick more. But if you do good diet
like out of your garden based on fruits and vegetables, you’re gonna be a lot healthier.
And that’s what we want to do with our garden. We don’t want to feed our garden McDonald’s,
which is in my opinion the chemical fertilizers. This stuff is really gonna build your garden,
build a healthier garden. Now besides just the minerals in here, which
is already amazing, the other thing they do, they add the beneficial microbes. So they
add the micorrhizal fungi’s in here, and there’s also the protozoa in this product.
So not a lot of products have the protozoa and there’s what’s called the food-soil
web. I mean, even if you think the soil in your back yard or the soil in this compost
is not nutritious and you try to grow plants in there and they don’t grow, they don’t
produce successfully—just by adding something like this product, you can literally unlock
locked up nutrients that are in the soil, because our plants can’t just directly absorb
some of the nutrients in the soil. It takes some of these beneficial microbes to break
down the nutrients in the soil into smaller components so your plants can absorb them.
So that’s what this maximize does. It’ll maximize your soil so that your plants can
better absorb the nutrition in it. So the next product besides the Maximize,
once again, the maximize good for the bacteria, the fungi—I wish it had fun girls, I’d
be partying with them—and the protozoa. So that’s this product right here, and then
next we have the soil optimizer. So what the soil optimizer is, it has some
minerals in there, but mainly what it is, it’s the humid acid. And the hemic acid
or the hummus in here will help to feed the microbes that are existing in the soil and
the ones that you’re adding with the other products. And with will attract beneficial
microbes. Like, say you live in New York City and the dumpster is overfilled and the lids
aren’t closing and things are piling up, it’s gonna attract the rats. The rats are
gonna come, they’re gonna eat because there’s good available. In your current soil, the
microbes are not gonna be there because there’s nothing for them to eat. Now, if you add this
stuff, it’s gonna foster the bacterial growth and the growth of the microbes that you’ve
already added with the other products, but it’s also gonna attract new ones and they’re
gonna multiply and replicate. And the more microbes you have in your soil, the more they’re
gonna digest the large particles of the compost that your plants can’t digest and make it
more bioavailable. So you’re literally gonna grow your own nutrients in your soil by adding
the bacteria and the microorganisms in the soil. That’s the whole principals of the
food=soil web is about. I’m not gonna really go into that in this
video, but if you want a good video about that, check my past videos where I talk about
growing gigantic pumpkins. That video specifically goes into that. So that’s why I like this
soil optimizer. So the last component of the kit here is this
guy right here, and you get a nice large bag of this stuff, because this stuff’s very
important. Man, it’s heavy. This is a natural fertilizer that’s a 721. Now one of the
tricks about fertilizers that I’ll share with you really quick—how can you tell if
any fertilizer is natural or not? Now, when I mean natural, I mean derived from something
natural and not chemical, like a petroleum based fertilizer. Basically what you want
to look for is all natural fertilizers in general will be under 10-10-10. If it’s
over 10-10-10, like 30-25, then it’s from chemicals. So I want you guys to use the natural
fertilizers. So that’s one way to easily look at it, but then also every time you buy
a fertilizer, you want to check the ingredients and find out what it’s made form. It’s
very important because if you’re doing all this work to increase your microbes, if you
put some chemical fertilizers on it, it could destroy all the work you’ve done.
In addition, another thing that’s really important to remember is once you’re doing
all this work to increase your soil microbiology, you don’t want to put things on it that’s
gonna kill it, such as the chemical fertilizers, but also the chemicals in your water. So most
city municipalities add things like chlorine to the water, which is there so that we don’t
get sick and there’s no waterborne outbreaks of giardia or cryptosporidium, but this can
also have a negative impact on your soil microbiology. So for that reason, I recommend you guys get
a water filter and check my past episodes for a good deal on a water filter for your
garden. While this is from plant sources, you can’t
just take some chopped up vegetables or chopped up leaves and put it in your garden, because
that’s not gonna be so effective. Actually, it’s probably gonna track wildlife and other
creatures that are gonna break that down and make it available to your plants, and that’s
why I recommend you guys have a compost pile. A compost pile or worm bin to break down your
food scraps, your yard and garden clippings top a form that’s more assumable by the
plants. And that’s what they’ve done here. They’ve taken plant sourced materials and
broken this down to make it bioavailable to your plants and they put it in a bag. So this
product, what it’s gonna do, it’s gonna nurse your plants, encourage the microorganism
growth plus it can also be helpful to reduce the soil PH because many people may have problems
with high soil PH. In addition, it’s also gonna help the nematodes, the bad nematodes
in your soil. I mean, once again, if we work in balance with nature, if you go into the
forest, there’s not an overabundance of the bad nematodes in there because there’s
the good nematodes to kick those guys’ asses. I mean, if you think about it, one of the
things that we’re first exposed to as we come out of the mother’s womb in a standard
vaginal birth is the mother’s birth canal, and we get inoculated with beneficial microbes.
So beneficial microbes are all around us. One of the things is, we’re actually made
up of more microbes than human cells! And that’s how it should be in our garden as
well. We want to build the soil microbiology all the ways we can, and that’s why I like
the John & Bob’s product because they give you four simple products so that you can do
just that. So I’m gonna fill up my raised beds that
I’m making with the compost, because that’s what I agree with and that’s what I got.
I got this stuff, actually, for free because I rescued it from my friend’s garden. But
it looks kind of spent to me and doesn’t look super rich like some of the compost I’m
used to getting. So I’m gonna inoculate it with this stuff to bring it back to life,
to put life in the soil, to put the microorganisms in this soil so they can break down the soil
even further to make it notorious that my plants can absorb.
So that’s pretty much my philosophy on if you should rototill, what you should add to
your garden, if you should grow in the existing soil or not, and I hope it had been helpful
for you. One of the things I do want to mention before I go is that I have negotiated special
pricing for you guys on the John & Bob’s stuff. I really, truly believe in this stuff
so much that I talked to them and got a special deal for you guys. If you guys order this
kit, which is currently 79.99, treats one thousand square feet and you can order the
items separately if you’d like. Use the coupon code growgreen for 10% off your order
and you’ll also still get the free shipping. Because I want you guys to be able to grow
the healthiest garden ever and get back to nature, work with nature instead of against
it. So hopefully you guys enjoyed this episode.
Once again, my name is John Kohler with GrowingYourGreens.com. We’ll see you next time, and remember, keep