What is the Difference Between Living Soil and Super Soil?
Living soil and Super Soil are two ways of using organic nutrients to maximize the growth and health of plants. Neither one is necessarily better than the other. It depends on the type and the number of plants one would like to grow, and the makeup of the already existing soil one would be using.
Both methods are excellent options for soil care in lieu of using synthetic fertilizers. While fertilizers can provide short-term growth, over time they are more unhealthy and less advantageous. They can degrade the soil by making it more acidic, and disrupt the microorganismal and fungal balance of the soil. On the other hand, Living Soil and Super Soil can create balanced soils with bustling, healthy networks of bacteria and fungi.
What is Living Soil?
Living soil is the process of harnessing beneficial microorganisms and nutrients already present in soil to create a healthy environment for plant growth. It is essential for soil to contain a diversity of life in order to maintain a balanced ecosystem. Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and arthropods are all integral elements that interact with one another to decompose dead matter and (re)produce beneficial chemicals and nutrients that sustain life.
Using living soil means you are invested in the long-term health and growth of your garden. It is also a low-maintenance method, as you are simply encouraging the helpful elements already present in soil to do their work.
An organic living soil contains the following interacting elements:
First, organic material in the form of dead and decaying plant and animal matter falls into and below the already and existing soil. Then, bacteria and fungi help decompose this material. As it decomposes, nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur are released. This interactive network in turn creates soil structure, and a positive feedback loop where both decomposers moiand plants are able to thrive.
When there’s good soil structure, the soil also retains water more effectively, which is integral for health and growth. Lastly, all these things help to balance the pH of the soil. Having a pH that is somewhere between acidic and alkaline is generally beneficial for growth.
If you think you need some extra help to make a more productive and vigorous soil, Monster Gardens has a vast selection of organic soil amendments to cover anything that might be missing. For living soil, common additions include compost, manure, worm castings, mycorrhizae, peat moss, and vermiculite.
What is Super Soil?
Super Soil is similar to living soil in that the primary goal is to use organic materials and harness the positive qualities inherent in the soil. Where it differs is that it is just a specific mixture designed to enhance the soil and create a nutrient-dense environment for plants to grow. It was developed as an easy, reliable way for gardeners to get the most out of their soil using organic methods.
Super Soil contains the following materials:
- Worm Castings
- Organic Bone Meal
- Organic Bat Guano
- Organic Blood Meal
- Natural Rock Phosphate
- Epsom Salt
- Garden Lime
- Humic Acid
What are the Benefits of Super Soil?
Super Soil is a pre-mixed blend designed to give a plant all of the nutrients it needs over the course of a life cycle, without having to add amendments or fertilizers. So, if you’re comparing living soil vs. Super Soil, Super Soil might be the best option if you have a sizable garden where you’d like to save time, money, and labor.
Super Soil positively affects the long-term health of the soil. It improves structure, helping the soil retain moisture and avoid erosion.
Super Soil also contributes to higher production and yield out of plants, since it creates a more fertile medium for them to grow and thrive.
One downside of Super Soil is that it can be more expensive up front; however, more savings are possible in the long term as there would ideally be less of a need for amending the soil during the growth cycle of your plants.
How is Super Soil Used?
One of the primary features of Super Soil that differentiates it from living soil is that it needs time to mature and percolate before it is used. Super Soil is a “hot” soil mix, meaning it is very nutrient dense. After Super Soil is added, it is recommended to wait 6 to 10 weeks before planting.
During this maturation period, it is important to provide the right sized container for the plants that will be there, as well as water the soil periodically and sparingly. Only provide enough water to moisten the soil – too much water will erode structure and drown the nutrients and life that are trying to grow.
Throughout both this beginning phase and into the planting phase, monitor for the following things:
- Moisture levels: if soil is too dry or too wet, adjust accordingly and water less or more.
- Nutrient levels: As plants grow, yellow leaves and stunted growth can tell you if there is nutrient deficiency or toxicity.
- Microbial levels: Check the soil for networks of fungi (white hyphae that attach to roots), and for earthworms. Both are signs of positive microbial development.
- pH Levels: Find a DIY or more professional soil test you can do to check for pH. Super Soil normally has a higher pH, but you do not want it to go too high.
Should I Choose Living Soil and Super Soil?
As with everything in gardening, it really depends on what your specific goals are and the types of plants you’d like to grow. Either living soil or Super Soil could be an excellent way to nurture a budding garden. As a rule of thumb, Super Soil should be a consideration if you are looking for more yield, efficiency, and production out of your garden. But living soil is still a great method for building a garden with longevity and wellbeing.
No matter what you choose, Monster Gardens, with one of the vastest selections of soil and soil amendment brands as well as experienced gardeners on call, is here to answer any questions you may have.
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