With no snow to speak of and the ground even starting to thaw a bit I have been out and about hunting for the right soil medium in which to start my onion, leek, celery, and celeriac seedlings. Normally we try to make our own "homemade" potting soil that does differ slightly each year depending upon what type of materials we can come up with. For the most part I just try to produce a semi-fine soil that is able to retain moisture and remain pliable without hardening up. Our house is heated with a wood stove and the one drawback of this is the lack of humidity in the air, this lack of moisture tends to cause the soil in our seedling trays to harden very quickly making it difficult for the plants to germinate and grow. So when it comes to potting soil my focus is on keeping the dirt soft and arable.
This season I am using a rather interesting mixture. I am lucky in the sense that I have a massive pile of decomposed sod which will make up the bulk of my potting mix. This combination of topsoil, dead grass, and fine little roots should work well.
Also added is my own version of peat moss, in this case a common green moss that grows in great abundance around here. After I fill a tote it is dried by the fireplace before being added to the mixture in order to help with water retention.
Lastly, strange as it may seem, I incorporated a couple of vacant red ant nests to help keep the soil from hardening. I scoped these potential amendments out last summer. Every once in a while for reasons unbeknowst to me the nests are abandoned never to host ants again. Red ants in these parts build large mounds using materials gathered from their surroundings, in my case these materials are largely made up of very small twigs, pieces of dead grass, and other debris that should provide excellent soil aeration. I hold these particular ants in high regard as they are very omnivorous, thus helping to keep many of the so called "bad" insects in check as nature intended.
A wheelbarrow full of ant nest, we have lots of these nests around but only a couple that were abandoned.
Here is a closeup of the materials ants use to build their mounds.
Yes Silke, he does tend to be quite the little helper. Rowdy's job was to break up all of the clumps.:)