Which is Best When Starting a Garden – Build Existing Soil or Buying Compost ?

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
on growing.

99 thoughts on “Which is Best When Starting a Garden – Build Existing Soil or Buying Compost ?

  1. I am afraid that I got the soil mixture wrong. Will my hard work be fruitful? Did I get the mixture right? Today I went to Wally's (big box mart) and got myself a laundry basket with a lot of holes.

    I filled it with what I believe are the three things that you mentioned. The first was called top soil, the second was an organic miracle grow medium for vegies and the third said all purpose black soil. I planted watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, bell pepper, onions, lettuce and garlic.

  2. He took the time out of his day to explain free useful information, then merely suggested if you were looking for something like these products, here's what he found that works. If you think John's all about advertising, then clearly you haven't seen many of his videos…Thanks John for another great video!

  3. I've heard him explain in a video never to pull out your compost and replace it year after year. He even went as far as to compare his soil to wine, and stated it gets better with age.

  4. Your comments really were the snide ones really, you leave some stupid comment insinuating that he's trying to sell people stuff like that's his entire goal in making videos. You clearly haven't been watching John's videos long.

  5. Where do you get free wood chips in houston? I've called around tree services and no one is giving them out.

  6. Great information, but I have been eating the wild mustard greens that are growing in our yard and I think I heard you say they were toxic?

  7. Hi John…great video. Im curious where that compost came from. Have you checked out A1 Organics here in Southern Nevada? It is where I purchase my compost …specifically the Eco Grow. When I picked it up in my truck it was great quality…. and also a great price per cubic yard. It holds water for my garden extremely well but I also cant wait for my personal compost to be finished! Thanks again for another great video! Keep them coming!

  8. I noticed your nopales (prickly pear cactus) in the back. I've heard it's great to use for diabetes. Was wondering if you've heard the same or if its b.s. If you already touched on the subject in a prior video, please disregard my comment, I'm sure I'll come across the video

  9. If you till non rich organic soil I doubt you would be killing off much beneficial microbes and probably no more than a few weeks until a freshly supplemented mels mix + compost tea, worm castings give you an over abundance of microbes to help your plants so I dont buy that tilling is always so horrible. If you dig it up like you said you are disturbing the soil also and again if its half dead who cares.

  10. Yup, unless we trade with/buy from other low wage earners, we're just hurting ourselves. The super-wealthy too-powerful people have hoarded trillions of dollars away already, and the more we give them, the less circulates amongst the rest of us. Our buying from the wealthy is why our corporations and super rich people are making record profits, while most of Americans remain too poor for housing/food/education/retirement.

  11. I'm going to check it just in case. It's mostly hardwood leaf compost but I don't know if that makes a difference. I've also got some old felled trees that I've left just to rot and I checked them the other day and it was beautiful rich compost. I'll let the chickens pick thru it for bugs before I use it though LOL You'd think as ticky as I am about my dirt, I'd know more about the soil pH.

  12. Says the guy who is consuming electricity and using a computer to write his snide post. The fact is you have to put something in to your yard to get something back. We all consume. Duh. Or we'd be dead! But gardening and taking care of the soil is putting in in such a way that we and the world around us gets far more out of it than we put in. I buy compost by the dump truck load. And in return my children are surrounded by all the flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables they could want.

  13. I agree with everything John said. I would add that there are more natural ways to do this. As John mentioned the soil wasn't destroyed in a day and you can't rebuild it in a day either. Imitate Nature and be blessed.

    I have been working on my beds for years now. We didn't have the money to dump hundreds of cubic feet of compost. We added what we could and started growing. The first year was pretty sad. 2nd year wasn't much better but this year we are doing great in the main bed. Cheers! Mark

  14. I like these product review videos. There are a lot of products out there that are garbage, and it's nice to hear about the ones that actually work, from people that have used them. Thanks for the video!

  15. Well, that's the kind of lies you are going to tell yourself regardless of what anyone else says. But I can assure you people aren't feeling guilty at the "truth" put forth by an internet troll who can't form a complete sentence to save his life. We just occasionally make the mistake of getting sucked into replying to an obnoxious narcissist who feeds off of annoying people.

  16. With time the condition of the soil tends to degrade. What should one do to maintain soil fertility?

  17. He makes a living from selling juicers. Pretty sure he doesn't make anything from featuring any product on his videos.

    But, you are correct, he has inspired many folks to grow food, including myself, and he does it for free.

  18. John has a video for what he does at the end of the growing season, I think it was called topping of raised beds or something. This will help with keeping the soil healthy.

    Also, it is usually good to do soil tests with your local county extension office every year or every few years to make sure you are on track

  19. oops here it is called "How I Amend my Raised Bed Garden at the end of the Growing Season" just search his channel for that

  20. Hey John I wanted to add something about tilling. You always talk about how it interferes with the soil food web. But it also causes "panning". Panning is very detrimental to your soil it effects way more than just the soil food web. It effects soil dwellers such as earthworms, drainage and not to mention the longer root systems. Look into the subject and I think you will find it important enough to mention next time. Thanks Terri

  21. In January this year I started using fresh chicken manure and straw (what I was cleaning out of my small chicken coop basically) as mulch in some of my empty beds–about 4-6 inches deep–and I let it sit until I began planting them up last month. I noticed a big difference in soil texture and consistency; where the beds had been quite compacted before, they are now soft and full of worms–and with no weeds, too. So I recommend it as an alternative to tilling!

  22. your advice has merit but to be technical don't you live in what is naturally basically a dessert? returning it too its natural state would result in poor soil quality

  23. Hardwood leaf and wood tends to be pretty good humus. Relatively neutral pH, compared to say, pine. You'll also want to watch your sand and clay levels. You don't want the soil too dense to drain well, or for the plants to put down roots.

  24. A great book to read on this subject is called "Teaming with Microbes". I think John has recommended the book in the past. It really gets into soil microbiology and explains why deeply tilling the soil is not a good thing.

  25. Thanks so much, I was recently given the opportunity of building a school garden in Oakland… I have been watching at least one of your videos a day since the project began. You have provided much more than information. Your passion for growing things the right way is inspiring. I am doing my best to pass on the same passion to my students.

  26. Hi John, i apreciate your great example, the way you commit to gardening is why I started to grow on my own, you really are a motivator. I have geografic particular conditions. I live at Monterrey Mexico (2.5 hours close to Texas), here the temperature is between 90-110F full sun, the main native plants are small bushes and lot of nutgrass. Many of the productos you buy are limited for delivery to Mexico (Azomite, Gaia Green and Vermiculite). So we have to improvise to raise things.

  27. Continue…

    I like to know your thinking about this. The main region industry is on raising cows, horses and sheeps, so there our compost is mainly based on their manure, its common used for covering and fertilizing the lawn at winter.

    Is there a different quality between a manure and a non-manure compost? cause theres a lots of it and is barely used as it should be.

    Thanks again for your teachings, your invaluable time and great effort is preding through the globe. "Green thumbs for you".

  28. Solarization might work to kill the clubroot. If you're interested, search on soil solarization to see how it's done. Good luck!

  29. I encourage to use whatever local resources you can find to start growing. Think.. Good.. Better.. Best. Growing in some well composted manure is better than not growing at all. I encourage you to make your own compost. Also be sure to check my videos from las vegas, which sounds like similiar conditions and similiar things may grow as well.

  30. Great info! Exactly what I needed to know! I have NEVER had a garden in my life, finally planted one this year after watching some of your videos. Thanks for the instructions at a level I can understand!

  31. I learn so much from your quality videos and from your fan comments… changing the world for the better!… Ah! now if only I could be a "fungi-rl"… Lol!

  32. Thanks, Ryan, for doing good work and teaching kids about the importance of gardening. It can add so much to the joy of life. Keep up the good work!

  33. Good quality soil that is teaming with microbes actually does a pretty good job of warding off airborne insects and pathogens. You can also check out the organic sprays on my website for more ideas.

  34. Thanks, John! Great video, as always. You present accurate information on the importance of protecting and increasing the microbiology of the soil. We are always working to educate people about the importance of microbe-rich soil. It's the foundation of any garden! Please keep encouraging your fans to use the discount code for our products. Much appreciated!! John.

  35. Thank you so much for all your help and that's good to know! I do not have any sand here but the people over in the bottoms by the river do. If I dig deep enough I get to some kind of clay but it's not the gumbo or red. I really don't know what you'd call it besides kind of hard dirt LOL I don't have any pine trees, just hard wood with a few scrub trees thrown in the mix. I hope to check the pH tomorrow or very soon. I'll let you know what it is. Thank you again! 🙂

  36. Which of your kits would you recommend for a basic SFG (Mels Mix) that is not healthy? My SFG certainly does better than our native soil but I have not gotten the results I should be. I used a combination of purchased compost (mostly fir compost) and worm castings.

    If I want to try your kits should I get the Maximize kit or the Natures Garden Kit? What do you recommend?

  37. Hey no worries. It certainly sounds like you will need to add some sand to what you have, but too much would obviously be bad. I think you'd be able to tell though, just by touch, how much sand is too much.

    And bear in mind that ALL of your soil needs (pH, sand/clay/loam quantity, nutrient density, etc) will vary from plant to plant. A high quality middle-of-the road soil mix will probably be good enough for any plant, but if you really want to nail it, you'll have to customize by plant.

  38. Just curious 🙂 I plan to do raised beds, using organic compost, coir, and vermiculite. Which company do you recommend in this case, for the minerals and other great things to add to the soil — Boogie Brew or John & Bobs, or both ?

  39. state of the art, informed advice from a genuine real gardener. Lots of energy and practical tips. I'm impressed.

  40. Does anyone know if he mixed that in with the compost or he layer it over the cardboard and then put the compost on top of that?

  41. @DanielManahan It is generally considered a bad idea to use feces from meat eating animals. It carries parasites such as round worms, which have to be under high temps for long periods of time in order to kill them. I would recommend using manure from a herbivore.

  42. Free organic matter sources for composting:
    Lawn clippings and raked leaves that people bag up and leave on the sidewalk for easy pick up.
    Cardboard boxes- cut them into strip for faster composting.
    Tree trimmings.
    Starbucks coffee grounds- they have free (big) bags of coffee grounds that they give away free just for walking in and asking.
    These things shouldn't be added directly to the soil, but instead used as mulch (where it will breakdown and compost on it's own), or as ingredients in compost piles. Leaves and cardboard are carbon, coffee grounds are nitrogen.

  43. there is a more natural technique I use not sure if it really works but to loosen up the dirt you can plant tap root weeds like amaranth straight in hard dirt than when you harvest the seed heads cut down the stocks and lay them on top to feed next years growth then use alfalfa or another legume for winter to fixate the nitrogen. and my question is why not get a sledge hammer and basic high school geology to crush rocks like pink rocks for potassium?
     Also if you want to add more foreign organisms why not go to the grocery store get oyster mushrooms or some kind of caps get spore prints and grow a culture to fully inoculate your soil.

  44. he sells too many things, he is running this page as a business so i understand it, but i watch his vids often to take what he says and look for a cheaper alternative that does not require these fancy products

  45. wow….you really don't need all this and half what he's saying is a lie…don't buy all that crap just some good compost, manuer and some peat moss and you're good to go

  46. I like to go to my county yard waste facility, get free chipped(mulched) yard waste and then I run it through a 1/2" mesh screen and get some nice soil. I use it for garden soil. The stuff is rich in nitrates and works really well. I put a video about it on my channel. Check it out when you have a chance. 

  47. I live in San Antonio. The San Antonio Water System or SAWS adds about 1 PPM of chlorine to the water. From just a few minutes of research, I found at least one study that showed bacterial growth was not adversely affected by such low levels of chlorine, therefore, I don't believe I need a dechlorinator for my garden. In addition, bacteria grows back so quickly that even if there were 100 times the amount of chlorine in my water, the soil would return to normal three days after watering. 

  48. I just started my garden and I come to find out I have clay soil filled up with stones which makes very hard to dig and start loosing up the soil any idea if there is some type of chemicals to break it down?

  49. u got to mix the compost into soil so the plants have native soil to grow in. if you just use compost and not use topsoil with it, the plants will lack the nutrients

  50. I love your videos. I have watched multiple videos where you demonstrate and or instruct on several topics that are of interest to me. I appreciate the time and effort put forth in producing great videos. Thanks again.

  51. John are you still in Riverside, CA? I was just wondering where have you found the best quality compost to buy in bulk?

  52. When you til the land it makes less of it. All it does is make a top layer. I don't like fertilizer either. Thanks for this!

  53. Have watched your videos for a few years now. I was just curious as to where you reside at the present. I think you used to live in Nevada, San Francisco and Riverside, Cali. I have learned quite a bit from your knowledge and I thank you. Cheers

  54. Hi John,
    Where do you buy your Vermiculite? – I heard t buy the larger quantities bc it is much less expensive that way/ Are vermiculite and perlite interchangeable? I'm doing SFG, so guess I should stick the recipe, though this time I got compost from a farm and didnt mix it with anything, BUT– my real question- what do you think of bone meal, blood meal ?? did Isay that right, and epsom salts for enrichment.? What do you think of chicken manure? Would that be part of compost? Thank you.

  55. The "easier" way is to build raised planting beds and bring in good compost and topsoil and build up. That said i tend to do things the hard way which is to hand till up the parent soil (clay) with pix axe and shovel down 12-18" before mixing in generous amounts of compost. I then pile more compost on top and mix it in. Clay is a good thing in moderation, retains water.

  56. lol it's a love & hate feeling when ever I watch your tube, John! Each vid is so long, but you giving out so much information that I feel like I just digested a WHOLE course meal. Much appreciation man!

  57. We did a mixture of the soil in the yard which was loose clay and mixed it with store bought compost to start off our garden. Now we make our own compost to use in our garden.

  58. My nearby place that delivers soil, they don’t have compost, they have dirt, wood chips, or manure. They can do manure mix with wood shavings and dirt for 30/cubic yard. And delivery is 80 usd. I live within 5 miles so that’s the delivery cost. I think it’s way too expensive for what they offer. Even though they have good reviews on yelp for their price. I figured for my raised bed I would just lay down some cardboard and my own unfinished compost, and cow manure with my own urine to stuff the bottom. Then top it with 2 bags of store bought compost.

  59. so john, how did you decide how tall and how much compost you were going to have in each bed, did you have the plants tap roots in mind?

  60. You came up first, but can not watch it based on your previous political video, and suggest everyone else does the same….

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