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intertruth: the garden of eden is your cure

Rosa Lokey Orbe, J.D. CalBRE License # 02067079

Soil Foods

(remember to always wear gloves)

You will have to determine what your plant needs from the soil. Once you have determined your soils health, you will get to the "good heart" of the soil and feed it.

  • "Top Dress" means to place the additive on top of the soil
  • "Side Dress" means to place the additive into or on top of the soil around the plant.


The best book I have found for complete technical information on soil manures and soil improvements is organic GARDENING by Geoff Hamilton and Compost Gardening by Rodale Press


  • This is the most natural of soil additives and manures add nitrogen to your soil.
  • For millions of years, all beings from humans to worms have left their "markings" in the soil.
  • And if you have really good soil you will have a large supply of worms constantly leaving their "mark" or worm casings.
  • Two bucketfuls per square yard of good manure stores the equivalent of 2 inches of rain.
  • Manure is my personal choice for all soil needs.
  • approximately 300 B.C., dung (waterless manure) and green manure were already widely used

Animal manures are by far the very best manure to use. 

  • There is chicken manure, cow manure, horse manure, sheep, goat, squirrel manure, worm manure etc.
  • Sheep & Chicken manure is considered some of the best manure with the highest nitrogen and other elements percentage wise.
  • Stick with manures that are plant based.
  • The three most common types are horse, cow and chicken.
  • I use a mixture of grass fed horse and cow.
  • Make sure you acquire WELL ROTTED manure.
  • It should look like very dark soil. Otherwise it can burn up your plants if the "freshness" has not been cure out of it.
  • Adding manure will lower the pH of your soil and keep your soil in good immunity which keeps disease and root problems lowered and your water levels stable.

Manure Nutrient Content:

  • Chicken Manure: Nitrogen: 4 percent; Potassium: 1.5 percent; Phosphorus: 4 percent; Trace Elements: Full range
  • Coverage: 8-12oz. (20-30g) per sq. yard/meter
  • Cow Manure: Nitrogen: 0.6 percent; Potassium: 0.3-0.5 percent; Phosphorus 0.2-0.3 percent; trace elements: Full range:
  • Coverage: 20-30lb. (9-15kg) per sq. yard/meter
  • Horse Manure: Nitrogen: 0.6 percent; Potassium: 0.4 percent; Phosphorus 0.6 percent; trace elements: Full range:
  • Coverage: 20-30lb. (9-15kg) per sq. yard/meter
  • Sheep Manure: Nitrogen: 0.8 percent; Potassium: 0.4 percent; Phosphorus: 0.5 percent; trace elements: Full rangea
  • Coverage: Half a sack full will provide enough liquid manure to last the average size garden a whole year.

Compost Tea:

For every 1 Gallon of water use approximately 2 cups solid of manure.

Compost Tea Recipe:

  • One 5 gallon container
  • 4-5 cups of manure or approximately 1 shovel full of manure
  • a burlap sack filled with measured manure (some people use panty hose)
  • de-chlorinated water
  • tie sack with a double loop of string
  • place a stake across the top of the water container and loop string over it
  • let soak for approximately 14 days or until water is rich dark brown
  • remove sack and cover container
  • make sure ground is watered and drained before applying
  • apply every two weeks

Applying Manures:

  • I rarely apply manure on the first day of planting unless I am (a) building the soil from clay ground up or (b) planting tomato plants or a rose or citrus tree (and I need a very acidic soil pH) or (c) I am seeding an area of earth that was used the prior year and I apply some manure to the soil as I turn the soil just before planting the seed.
  • Most really good organic soils will have some manure in them already.
  • Anything that is freshly planted needs some time to allow their roots to go deep into the soil and grab the underbelly of the soil.
  • So I wait about two weeks after planting and then top dress the area around the plant.
  • Once a month I apply manure to my garden by taking a handful of manure, then using my hand to sprinkle the manure around my plants.
  • If the pH needs to be quite lower than it is, I will side dress a handful of manure next to each plant that needs a lower pH.

Point Reyes Compost Company has by far the best soils and manures in the area that I live in.

I shop mostly at Green Jeans Organic Garden Supply, Goodman Building Supply and Sloat Garden Center.

honey hole

  • is a technique whereby you create a hole 2-3 weeks before you plant select plantings.
  • The hole is approximately 20 inches in diameter and 24 inches deep.
  • Place this hole in the center of your select plantings that will benefit from this food source.
  • You basically put your kitchen scrapes in here, and also materials that are dry that will soak up the kitchen scraps and anything else that you want to compost.
  • Layering as you go with brown compost and green compost and moisture.
  • The roots of the nearby plants will draw the nutrients to them.
  • Tomatoes, blueberries and Roses benefit from this technique greatly but it is useful for growing in general.

When I am dressing the soil with an additive 

  • I use my hands and I grab a handful of additive and hand sprinkle along the area I want to dress. I find this to be the easiest and most natural way to do this.
  • I dress once a month sometimes twice every month (if there has been lots of rain fall and wind conditions) during the growing season (February thru October), then I may put alittle additive during the winter months to keep the pH stable. 


Compost Gardening - Barbara Pleasant & Deborah L. Martin

Rodales's Ultimate Encyclopedia of ORGANIC GARDENING - Rodale Press

Golden Gate Gardening - Pam Peirce

The Garden Primer - Barbara Damrosch

organic GARDENING - Geoff Hamilton