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Living Soil Mix

Updated: Mar 25

Healthy roots are essential for healthy plants, but how do you help plants grow better root systems? The answer is: Living Soil. Living soil grows stronger, healthier, and faster growing plants and is the absolute best way I have found to ensure planting success!



I've been searching for the perfect soil mix for many years. I've tried just about every organic seed starting and soil mix out there, and either the price was too costly to use in bulk or the mix was not working well for my plants.


So I've been on an educational mission the past several years studying about living soil and experimenting with soil recipes. I'm so happy and excited to report I've had a ton of success and am finally ready to share my recipe with all of you!


My recipe adds two extra ingredients to Jim Bennett's famous Clackamas Coot Soil Mix. I add Mycorrhizae Inoculant to enhance root growth and aid in the plant water and nutrient uptake, and Yucca Meal to break the hydrophobic properties of the peat. Both of these ingredients are found in many of the high end soil mixes so in my experiments I found adding these ingredients were beneficial especially in seed starting and seedling growth.



There is so much information out there breaking down the science of the Clackamas Coot mix, so I won't get into that here, but I do feel it has the best mix of essential plant nutrients in both a slow and fast release form. This is the only soil I have come across that I feel is truly a "forever" soil. I love to think that when someone buys a plant from Melody Acres, they are also getting a pot of living soil to feed their own gardens.


Ok so on to the reason you are here: the soil recipe and links!


Here's a quick video on exactly how I make mine:


For my 40 gallon bin I double this recipe. (Make Coot mix beforehand and have it ready)


5 gallon bucket Peat

2 bags (12lb each) Earth Worm Castings (or a 5 gallon bucket of whatever castings you choose)

5 gallon bucket Perlite

4cups Coot Mix

2 tsp Yucca Meal

1/2cup Mycorrhizae Inoculant

4cups Ground Malted Barley


Mix soil well, making sure all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Water soil and mix until soil is evenly moist. Soil should hold together but break apart easily. Don't overwater. You want it to be moist but not standing in water.


It is ideal to let your soil sit for two weeks to a month before use to allow microbes to begin to break down the soil additives. I usually alternate between two bins so I have one ready to use and one breaking down.



Jim "Clackamas Coot" Bennett's site for his detailed science: https://clackamascoots.com/blogs/news/coots-soil-recipe-coots-nutes


KIS Organics detailed explanation of living soil:

https://www.kisorganics.com/blogs/news/basics-to-mixing-your-own-soil


Here is the full recipe (including the Malted Barley) and the premade mix. (You can buy the premade mix, which is how I started, or you can buy separate ingredients. Either way, KIS Organics has fantastic products and customer service.

https://www.kisorganics.com/products/clackamas-coot-nutrient-kit?_pos=4&_sid=496f0d721&_ss=r


The Mycorrhizae Inoculant I use:

https://www.kisorganics.com/products/wow-mycorrhiza?_pos=3&_sid=113ab57c3&_ss=r


The Yucca Meal I use:

https://buildasoil.com/products/yucca-meal-thermx-15m?variant=578953705


The Peat I use:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Premier-Premier-Peat-Moss-3-cu-ft-Organic-Peat-Moss-Moisture-Control/3138855?cm_mmc=shp-_-c-_-prd-_-lwn-_-google-_-lia-_--_-soil-_-3138855-_-0&placeholder=null&ds_rl=1286981&gclid=CjwKCAjwxuuCBhATEiwAIIIz0SKXYFhWtNcKroo-UV_jpOcY93py0wM_nrZg3SGxtxaY816jKv03KhoCGaAQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds


The Earthworm Castings I use:

(there are so many out there, just be sure yours is high quality!)

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/encap-earthworm-castings-1100761?store=1224&cm_mmc=feed-_-GoogleShopping-_-Product-_-1100761&gclid=CjwKCAjwxuuCBhATEiwAIIIz0ZPXwn4FO91b3QslrZynPNqDs6z6pvU3Di_OUjzx_E7FszQ5RspDSRoCcNYQAvD_BwE


The Perlite I use: (any coarse perlite will do)

https://www.greenhousemegastore.com/supplies/soil-and-soil-amendments/perlite?dfw_tracker=43186-SO-PER&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&adpos=&scid=scplpSO-PER&sc_intid=SO-PER&gclid=CjwKCAjwxuuCBhATEiwAIIIz0dmAQij7VVnhTJzIVVZALL1s7zOTAFiPbSAwxtTekg6ln8NDFld8sxoCvnkQAvD_BwE


The 40 Gallon bin I use to hold my soil:

https://www.samsclub.com/p/tough-box-40-gallon-storage-tote/prod22890096?xid=plp_product_1



Next Blog: Feeding your plants/ Compost Tea

Stay tuned! If you found this helpful be sure to follow us on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook where we share educational content and show all the cool stuff we are doing here on Melody Acres!


Happy Growing!








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