Recipe for Success

Paonia Soil Co produces one of a kind soils that compliment each other to achieve maximum growing conditions for most plant varieties.  Our Featherweight Champion soil is perfect for starting seeds and cuttings. It has a light nutrient feed from the Dynamic Dressing compost and will never burn.  Our flagship soil, “The Bomb” has more nutrients to feed your plants in their vegetative stage.  These are solids from natural and organic sources like fossilized seabird guano.  As such these nutrients take longer to break down than liquid or chemical fertilizers and provide a perfect time release feeding every time you water.  To simplify, plant seeds in Featherweight Champion and transplant into “The Bomb”. These soils are teaming with benificial microbes that help feed and protect your plants. You will have great results with less work and expense.  We also have a Raised Bed Mix with no perlite that works great anywhere you want to mix in your own soil and Pro-Base which has no nutrients and is designed for professional growers that want to mix their own liquid or solid nutrient solutions.

Growing Techniques

Containers and Raised Beds

For applications in which growing in containers is desired, we recommend using Smart Pots.  Ideal for growing almost any kind of fruit vegetable or flower , these all fabric pots increase plant size and yield through aeration of the soil and elimination of root circling through air pruning. Particular favorites include potatoes…dumping out the pot is much easier than digging… and tomatoes.  Perennial flowers can also be swapped in and out of big expensive clay pots as they are in bloom.

Our fabric raised beds are a favorite for bigger gardens and we like to put them on pallets for even more aeration and better ergonomics.

We often see people limit their plant size with an undersized pot.  For instance a single large tomato plant can easily fill a 20-45 gallon pot and will produce double or triple the yield vs a 5 or ten gallon container. Optimum size containers for growing a single large size maximum yielding plant or tree range between 200 and 600 gallons.

Filling and Planting

We recommend starting seeds in Smartpot Transplanter pots.  They are inexpensive and because the roots won’t grow past the edge of the soil, there is much less transplant shock from broken roots.  Simply fill the pot with Featherweight Champion and plant the seed at the depth the package recommends.  Water and keep the pot moist until the seed germinates and roots.  After that water every 2-3 days letting the soil almost dry completely.

Transplanting

Fill a container with “The Bomb” and dig a hole slightly bigger than you think you will need for the root ball of the start.   If you would like mix a solution with soluble powdered kelp or liquid kelp. It’s not critical but kelp acts as a root tonic and helps prevent shock. Peel back the flap and turn the start over with the plants stem between your fingers and your hand supporting the soil.  Gently pull the transplanter pot off and spray the root area with the kelp solution if you have any.  Place the start in the hole in the larger container and fill. It is important not to leave large pockets of air by the root ball.

Watering

Water every 3 or so days completely soaking the container.  You want the soil to almost dry out but not to the point that the plant starts to go limp. Over watering is one of the biggest mistakes a novice gardener makes.

If you are using tap water we recommend that you let it sit for 12 or more hours before using it or using an aerator pump for 2 or more hours to evaporate chlorine. Chlorine can kill your beneficial soil microbes.  If this happens the nutrients will be less available to the plants.  If this happens don’t worry you can fix things with good compost and/or compost tea.  An aerator pump can remove chlorine from water in an hour. Depending on your water you also might want to adjust pH or get a filter if you have lots of solids in your water.  pH is how acidic or alkaline the water is and can be measured with a simple test solution that does hundreds of tests for less than $10. You can fill a trash can with water and adjust the pH up or down with citric acid or potassium bicarbonate before you water.  You are trying to get the water between 6 and 7.  Or you can just water 🙂

Feeding

The easiest way to feed is simply use our new version of “The Bomb.”  It has enough solid organic nutrients for 1 to 6 months without feeding depending on the type of plant being grown.  If you see signs that you need to feed, (brown leaf tips and yellowing indicate nitrogen deficiency and is often the first sign that you need to feed) You can choose between solid organic nutrient top dressings like our Dynamic Dressing and Bomb Dressing or you can use liquid organic nutrients.  We don’t recommend chemical fertilizers because they kill the beneficial soil microbes.

If you are not using “The Bomb”, or dressings, add a feeding of liquid organic fertilizer to your watering rotation at half label strength.  The cycle should be a straight watering, then water with 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer, and then water with compost tea diluted 5:1 to spray on soil and leaves. We recommend Vital Earth’s Organic Liquid Grow and Liquid Bloom.  To simplify every 3 days or so you water.  Then 3 days later if your plants need it or you want to, feed with liquid nutrients.  Then three days later water with compost tea and spray it on the leaves. It can even be diluted and still be very effective at adding protective microbes.

Compost Tea

As we have already heard compost tea is great stuff.  We are specifically talking about Actively Aerated Compost Tea made with an aerator pump. As almost all plant and human pathogens can only survive in an oxygen free environment, we are insuring they cannot survive. We then feed the beneficial aerobic organisms from good biodynamic compost and let them reproduce.  When we water them into our soil, they break down organic nutrients and create humus.  Both in the soil and sprayed on leaves with a 50% coverage or more our friendly microbes both consume and out-compete the bad organisms.  In numerous studies compost and compost tea have been shown to increase yields and control or eliminate most plant pathogens including  Botrytis(grey/brown mold), powdery mildew and fusarium wilt.

Trellising

Because you will be growing monster, high producing plants, you will probably need to support them with some sort of tomato cages or trellising. When necessary, use plastic trellising mesh to support large plants.  A super easy system is to use raised beds or pots in a line and put fence stakes at the ends and sides.  Roll out the trellis and suspend it between the stakes.  Repeat every foot vertically as tall as you expect your plants to be.  It works best if you start when the plants are small and weave them through this grid as they grow.  This will prevent breakage from heavy fruit and wind and is surprisingly inexpensive for the benefits.  This also works great for green beans and the like but often people run the trellis vertically instead of horizontally.

End of Season

At the conclusion of your growing season, we recommend using Hygrozyme, an all-natural enzymatic horticultural cleaner to eliminate potential pathogens from your soil, while at the same time maintaining beneficial microorganisms.  Crop rotation is just as important in your container as it is in the field and should be practiced with some sort of cover crop and an application of nitrogen fixing bacterial innoculant to help the cover crop pull nitrogen out of the air and put it in you soil in the off season.  We recommend a clover or legume seed. Try our Paonia Soil Co regenerative cover crop mix which is coming soon!

With this simple proven method, anyone can grow world class crops!