Building an "active soil microbe herd"

csross(9)January 13, 2014

I was reading a discussion of fertilization on the Tomato forum, and DigDirt discussed how an "active soil microbial herd" is needed to break down compost, etc. I built a raised bed veggie garden last year by smothering the grass on my lawn and then filling it with a truckload of bulk "planting mix" from my local nursery. The mix contained mostly small wood fragments, compost, sand, etc. Things grew relatively well last year (as far as this first time gardener could tell) and I'm planning to amend the soil this spring with my own homemade compost, which is almost ready.

So my question is, would it be beneficial for me to buy one of the "soil microbe starter kits" being sold at my local nursery, or is that just a waste of money at this point? I transplanted some potted plants into the garden last year, but I don't know how much microbial activity is going on in my soil.

What else can I do to ensure a healthy soil microbial community?

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paleogardener(9)

csross:
Your micro herd was established with the first input of organic material into the raised bed.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 4:23PM
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paleogardener(9)

Making & using compost is the best thing you can do for your micro herd.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 4:32PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Just add organic matter/compost. Mother nature will do it.
Another thing is avoid using pesticides that kill the microbe herd.

JMO

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:40AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

This is one of those if you build it they will come items. Provide the proper habitat, a soil well endowed with organic matter, and the Soil Food Web will move in and grow and no "soil microbe starter" is needed.
Earthworm activity is one indication of an active Soil Food Web, as would be the presence of others such as centipedes, millipedes, Pill bugs and all their relatives.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Biology Primer

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 7:23AM
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toxcrusadr

Even the soil you had there before you did anything, had an ungodly number of microbes in it. That said, organic matter or compost will boost them as others have said. You don't need commercial products for that.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:14PM
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