Let's dive into some of the dogma around soils and some of the categories commonly used to describe them. We're talking about two types of soil that are like superheroes in the gardening universe: Living Soil and Super Soil and where GRO-DIRT sits on this continuum.
Living Soil: The Underground Party
The concept of Living Soil is most notably attributed to Clackamas Coots & Gascanastan. Arguably, these days are the most popular subtype of the more Artisan soils.
Living soil is centered around creating a microbe-friendly environment, focusing less on the nutrient content available in ingredients directly and more on what they can provide through microbial action over time. A well-functioning Living Soil is like a non-stop party for microbes, fungi, and all sorts of tiny critters. These little guys are hard at work, breaking down organic matter and turning it into an array of nutrients for plants. It's all about creating a self-sustaining ecosystem that's a paradise for your green friends. In Living Soil, you indirectly feed the plant by feeding the soil, which feeds the plant in a symbiotic relationship.
Likewise, with the Super Soil recipes, there seems to be even more divergence among people who take a hard stance on the "Coots Mix" being the absolute best, yet no one person seems to make it the exact way it is prescribed to be made, and, having used these mixes as is, we found significant tinkering was required to get them to a predictable and high-performance level, especially in regards to base material types, ratios and mineral/amendment proportions.
Our experience with these mixes is, again, they can work well but not out of the box, and we often found them to be lacking a bit of this or that which would, either in theory or in time, be made available but not within the time constraints of the crop windows people realistically work within.
Super Soil: The Nutrient Powerhouse
Regarding recipes popularized and distributed through the internet, Subcool's Super Soil recipe may be the first many growers started experimenting with.
The idea behind this soil was to create a very nutrient-rich (hot) mix to provide the plants with everything they needed. It is intended to be the ultimate pre-packed meal for plants, loaded with a great diversity of ingredients, worm castings, bone meal, multiple guanos, blood meal, all very nutrient-rich inputs. No one person I have met ever follows the same recipe when making theirs either; almost everyone adds, subtracts or substitutes ingredients based on preference or local availability, or starts with a particular base soil as the recipe calls for a potting mix, rather than straight base materials like Peat and Coco for its starting point.
Super Soil can work well for some people, thus its popularity, but you can do a lot better in terms of balance. It was originally suggested to make this hot mix, layer the bottom half of the pot with it, and then use just a standard, lower nutrient content mix on top. However, this can create a scenario where the plant starves until it finally gets into some richer soil. A far better approach is the whole media being rich enough to last the grow but not so over the top that it will toxify the plant early on.
Unfortunately, this isn't recommended with the Super Soil recipes as they are prescribed.
GRO-DIRT: The Groovy Soil Superstar
Ooooooook, so GRO-DIRT initially didn't start as either a Subcool or Coots blend, although the final mix we sell today has definitely borrowed some aspects from both of these.
But suffice to say, in our experiments with Subcool mixes, we found that the layering technique was inconsistent, and clearly, there was a line between a specific load of fertiliser and it being just too much, rather than having half the pot under and the rest over, we experimented with finding where "the line" was, regarding having the whole pot full of soil. A lot was learned from this experimentation. We liked that it used a relatively diverse array of inputs, but the preference for Dolomite lime and the fact it originally recommends more Creature based, rather than plant-based amendments meant that the microbial blooms in it were nowhere near what we could get in a Living Soil Coots Mix.
The Coots mix may be the answer. Well........while in some aspects it was a great leap forward, part of what made it simpler to replicate was that it starts with making your own base blend of peat (and or) coco, your chosen drainage material, and your choice of compost and castings. While this is more work, you aren't subject to a "bad batch" of whichever potting mix you may have been starting with in a Subcool mix. The trouble we found with Coots blends was that they often needed to drain better and seemed not to provide precisely what the plants wanted all the time; in short, they looked lacking.
So what if we took both subtypes and hybridised them to make a "water only" approach? Let's start with a predictable base made from the same suppliers each time, the highest quality compost and castings we can sniff out, add to that the amount - and type of drainage materials required that both allow for high-performance aeration, but also that wherever possible, permit the growth of microbes within them, and add to that the amount of amendments that are enough to last the distance without being so far under that the plants lack, or so far over that they burn. After years and years of experimentation, this is what we got to and why we dubbed GRO-DIRT a Living Super Soil.
Our Water Only blends, GRO-DIRT Full Spectrum and GRO-DIRT Guerrilla both follow this archetype. Mixes such as the GRO-DIRT Lite and ISLAND-BLEND are slightly lower in overall fertilizer content for on-the-fly nutrition.
Just Add Water: The GRO-DIRT Mantra
One of the coolest things about the water-only GRO-DIRT is its simplicity. Think of it like a personal assistant, chef and trainer all rolled into one. Use a large enough pot; all you need to do is add water! For the majority of your plant's life span, GRO-DIRT takes care of the rest. While we do make some nice auxillary products, our philosophy has always been soil first! This soil is like a gourmet meal, served and ready to go, making plant parenting a breeze.
No Cooking Time? No Problem!
Forget about the long, tedious "cooking" time that some soils demand. GRO-DIRT is like your favourite instant meal – ready when you are. This means you can get straight to the fun part: planting and watching your garden thrive. H.P.O understands that time is precious, and it's all about giving you more time to enjoy the nicer aspects of your garden.
Extra Perks and Bonuses
GRO-DIRT isn't just about easy gardening; it's packed with additional benefits. It's designed to be kind to your plants and the planet. The mix promotes a balanced soil ecosystem and supports robust plant growth. And hey, because it's such a nutrient-packed mix, you can say goodbye to constantly fretting over fertilisers and pH levels.
So, whether you're a green thumb guru or just starting to explore the gardening galaxy, GRO-DIRT is your trusty sidekick. It's not just soil; it's a revolution in plant care, making gardening more fun, accessible, and rewarding. Ready to jump on the GRO-DIRT bandwagon? Your plants are waiting!