Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dirty Talk

"You are what you eat" doesn't just apply to humans.  "Garbage in, garbage out" doesn't just apply to accounting.  It also applies to.. yes.. you guessed it.. plants!  I never realized that there is such a science behind soil and securing that there are enough nutrients in it for your plants to feed on.  It is not such an ethereal concept though so I thought I'd give it a shot.

So me and my empirical self drove 45 miles to Minden, NV to Full Circle Compost just to haul dirt.  Oh yes, I did.  

I will not go to great lengths about the science behind soil.  I'll leave that to the experts at Full Circle Compost.  But here's my case for sourcing from them when I can just easily drive to Home Depot to get soil.
  1. I grew a container garden last year from soil bought from Home Depot and from a local nursery.  While they all claimed to be "organic", none of them just cut it.  My plants never really looked healthy and the yield was mediocre, at best.  Well, I'm shooting for stellar.  If the results are not proportionate to the increase in my water bill, then clearly, it's not worth my time.
  2. Full Circle Compost is a local company and know our local growing conditions inside out.  They know how to work with our local growing environment isntead of against it.
  3. And since they're local, they're very accessible. I spoke with Craig Witt, owner of Full Circle Compost and sh*tologist extraordinaire, on the phone and he nearly talked my ear off (it's a good thing, really!) about the perfect blends suitable for the area, testing done on their soil and plants grown in them, how to use their products, etc.  He is a great resource not just for information about their products but for gardening in the Northern Nevada area in general.  Would you have the same direct access to the corporate bigwigs that manufacture your "compost" sold at your big box store?
  4. Craig Witt is a farmer himself and if you have any doubts, check out  He grew 100 lbs. of tomatoes in ONE plant.  I want THAT!
Here are my picks:

Full Circle Garden Soil 
This is a blend of Nevada native soil mixed with their product called Soil Essence Elite Garden Boost (see below description for more details) in the appropriate, proven proportion.  I have a 16 square foot garden bed with half of this stuff and so far, the veggies I've planted in them look happy and healthy.  I also like that this soil doesn't dry out too fast.  I picked up 7 bags (I think they're 5 gallon bags) for $3.25/bag.  This soil is very dense so if you're picking up more than half a cubic yard, take a truck.  This stuff's heavy.  Also, this is not available in Reno.  You gotta drive down to Minden.  It's a pretty drive. :)

Full Circle Potting Mix
Half of the my 16 square foot bed, I filled with Potting Mix, which is Full Circle Compost's closest take on "Mel's Mix" of 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss.  Square Foot Gardening is gardening method invented by Mel Bartholomew and now has a MASSIVE following because of its results.  It basically employs a simple but effective methodology of making efficient use of space.  More on Square Foot Gardening here:  It's too early to tell which whether there will be a variance in results, but I am super curious who will win in Garden Soil v. Potting Mix showdown. (Gosh.  I sound like such a geek.)  This is a bit more expensive than the Garden Soil.  I paid $4.75/bag for 7 bags.  

Full Circle Soil Essence Elite Garden Boost
If you cannot drive to Minden, then at least get this the Soil Essence Elite Garden Boost which is sold at Whole Foods and Great Basin Food Coop for $9.99.  If you have ever heard of John Kohler of, he swears by azomite or "rock dust" which enriches your soil with trace minerals that are required for optimal plant growth.  Soil Essence has rock dust, trace minerals, micorrhizae (fungi which helps your roots absorb minerals better) AND worm compost, which is another power ingredient for your soil.  You can use this to top off whatever soil you are growing in and supposedly 1 bag is enough for a 16 square foot bed.  

Full Circle Worm Wine
I just started using this today on my plants and I'm very curious if it would make any noticeable differences right away.  It's very concentrated and one small jar needs to be dilutes for 5 gallons of water (or 1 ounce per gallon of water).  I use it to spray on the leaves and per the folks at Full Circle, application once every two weeks is all you need.  One pint bought onsite at Full Circle ran $5 but I've seen it retail for $9.99 at Whole Foods, but I think it's a bigger jar.  

As you can tell, this experiment just barely started so I don't have any results to prove anything yet.  But even still, I'd rather give my business to a local Nevada company than to some unknown corporation on the other side of the country without any experience growing anything in the high desert.  Even for that alone, I think I'm still ahead.

Thank you for doing the dirty job, Full Circle Compost (so I don't have to)!

Here is Full Circle Compost's contact information:

Physical Address:
3190 Highway 395
Minden, Nevada 89423
775-267-5305 or

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