Plant seeds are small miracles: they contain all the genetic material of a plant, they can fly and swim. They survive heat, fire and cold. They can also spend years in a deep sleep and travel hundreds of kilometers. After some or all of these stresses and strains they germinate to grow again to a complete plant. What a miracle.
If we cultivate plants we take control over the seed process by, firstly, collecting seeds, secondly, store them carefully, and, thirdly, put them in the soil and let nature do the magic. But can we do more? Yes. We can prepare the best fundament by mixing the perfect soil which, by the way, we don’t buy, but mix ourselves.
What you need is very simple. You need to follow a basic principle of 60, 30, 5, 5. It takes 60% of the top thin layer of forest soil, 30% of your basic or “mother” soil which you find in your garden, 5% of wood ash and the other 5% organic fertilizer (e.g. “Deltafert stallatico super” which is 100% biologically active humified bovine and poultry dung).
The top layer which is the “forest floor” is composed of fresh and partially decomposed litter that has accumulated over many years. It contains whole or fragments of twigs, leaves, seeds, bark, and wood. It is full of organisms and most of the nutrient cycling happens here, making it a very important part of the overall functioning of the ecosystem. For this reason it makes 60% of our recipe.
The 30% “mother soil” is a good mix already and has a moderate organic matter level and iron oxides. Wood ash contains potassium (which regulates the plants’ water balance) and also calcium (which the plants use to build cell walls and membranes). The use of cattle manure is a popular practice in many rural areas, and this has a reason: among other things, it contains beneficial bacteria, which convert nutrients into easily accessible forms. Sounds like a good support for a germinating seed!
There are many recipes for mixing good soil and it always depends on the plant you are planting, because a vegetable’s seed is different from an herb or flower. However, we had good experience so far and I recommend it plAntily 🙂