Soil Food Web Calendar

The soil food web is the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil and represents the key to the recycling of minerals and nutrients into forms available to plants.  As organisms decompose organic matter, or consume other organisms, nutrients are converted from one form to another, and are made available to plants and to other soil organisms. All plants – grass, trees, shrubs and agricultural crops – depend upon the food web for their nutrition. 

Building biological activity and diversity within your soils takes time.  With applications of: Compost (Microbial food & Inoculant), Compost Teas (Inoculants), and Mulch you will begin to see noticeable results within as little as 6 months time.  We highly recommend the 3-steps mentioned for building a diverse soil food web and the seasonal calendar below to assist you with your garden work.  The following is a list of our seasonal recommendations for building a healthy diverse soil food web.

Fungal Food Sources for lawns, trees, shrubs, and perennials: soybean meal, kelp meal, phosphate rock dusts, oatmeal (finely ground), humic and fulvic acids and brown carbon rich matter.

Bacterial Food Sources for lawns, flower and vegetable gardens (annuals): alfalfa meal, green organic matter and simple sugars. 

  • Winter:
    • Compost:
      • Composting with Red Worms to produce your spring planting mix.
      • Read up on the soil food web, composting, and general gardening.
      • Turn compost piles.
    • Compost Tea:
      • Apply to indoor gardens and houseplants at this time.
      • Inoculate all seed trays and plant starts.
    • Fertilizer:
      • Apply organic fertilizers or microbial foods as soon as the soil thaws to all annual beds.
    • Lawns
      • Apply organic fertilizers to lawn in late winter or early spring (when the forsythias begin to bloom).
  • Spring:
    • Compost:
      • Turn compost piles
      • Add green plant matter (spring weeds) to help heat up compost piles
    • Pull back mulches to let soil warm up if necessary.
    • Three weeks before leaves appear have your soils tested for microbial activity. (most important in the first few years of using to soil food web
    • Two weeks before leaves appear, aerate your lawns. (optional)
    • Two weeks before leaves appear, apply an appropriate microbe food to lawns. (soybean and/ or alfalfa meal)
    • Two weeks before leaves appear, spray lawns with a balanced compost tea (5 gallons per acre)
    • Clean up brown mulches around trees, shrubs, and perennials.  Apply a fungal food source along with compost and refresh mulch if necessary.
      • Fungal food sources: soybean meal, kelp meal, phosphate rock dusts, finely ground oatmeal, humic and fulvic acids.
    • Apply a fungal dominated compost tea as a soil drench around trees, shrubs, and perennials.
    • Once leaves begin to form spray all trees, shrubs, and perennials with a fungal dominated compost tea.
    • Soak all seeds and transplants in aerated compost tea at planting time.
    • Apply soil drench after germination.
    • Inoculate all seeds and transplants with the appropriate mycorrhizal fungi prior to transplanting.  (optional)
    • Do No Tilling or soil turning: This is possibly the most destructive thing a gardener does to their soils, destroying the food web that has been established.  Minimum disturbance is recommended.
      • Drill holes for seeds or disturb only the area to be planted.
    • Use lost of green mulch after the soil has warmed and seeds have germinated.
    • Lawns: 
      • Inoculate lawns/ turf with mycorrhizal fungi (once)
      • Apply compost teas to lawn. (weekly or monthly).
  • Summer:
    • Spray and Drench soil around plants and seed beds as needed (monthly first 
    • Apply a second application of an appropriate microbe food to lawns. (corn gluten, soybean and/ or alfalfa meal)
    • Include some form of mature compost with each planting hole.
    • Liberal applications of bacterially dominated compost and green mulches will keep weeds to a minimum in annual and vegetable gardens.
    • Apply microbe food once every two weeks if needed.
    • Fungal compost should be applied liberally around trees, shrubs, and perennials.
    • Treat any diseased or stressed plants immediately with the appropriate compost tea as a soil drench and a foliar spray.
  • Autumn:
    • Compost:
      • Gather fallen leaves and sticks and collect grass clippings for fall composting. (Autumnal Gold)
      • Feed your compost piles and apply starter compost or compost tea as a catalyst.
    • Mulch:
      • Leaves, sticks, and grass clippings can me mowed over several times and left in place as a source of food for the bacteria and fungi.
      • Apply an appropriate organic microbial food as a winter source of nourishment and to start the nutrient cycling process.  Alfalfa, Soybean, or Kelp Meal will all feed microbes.
      • Mulch all garden beds, shrubs, and trees.
      • Apply a thin layer of worm castings or other compost prior to mulching. (this will guarantee the right biology is present when spring planting rolls around) 
    • Compost Tea:
      • Apply 20 Gallons of Compost Tea per acre throughout your 1st year (5 gal/ acre in the following years), inoculating mulches, ground leaves, and compost heaps.
    • Test soils for microbial activity.
    • Lawns: Apply organic microbial food/ fertilizers.
  • Organic Mulch:
    • Brown organic materials support fungi.
      • Leaves, wood chips, peat moss (Peat is sterile and needs to be inoculated), pine needles can be used around acid loving plants. 
    • Green organic materials will support bacterial.
      • Grass clippings (pesticide free), weed/herb waste. 
    • Mulches excel when applied with mature active compost.  Apply a dusting of mature worm castings or compost first and then cover with mulch.