Part 1 - The Potted Ecosystem
In this mini-series, we want to emphasise and explain the effectiveness of our soil! As a small business, we have always been passionate about educating and sharing our love for soil. We take pride in what we have created and the hard work we have put into formulating our exceptional mixes. We didn't want to just release a product without providing guidance. We're here not only to get our hands dirty but also to offer advice and help your plants thrive!
The Magic of Soil
Part one focuses on perhaps the most crucial aspect of successful plant growth - the potted ecosystem. You might not be aware of the microscopic world thriving in every pot on your plant shelf. That tiny world within the pot is what ensures the healthy development of your plants.
Each bag of Soil Ninja contains beneficial mycelium, which forms a web-like network of fungi that has a symbiotic relationship with your plant's roots. These fungi protect the roots from pathogens while enhancing nutrient and water absorption. They hug the roots and extend their reach, bringing water and nutrients closer to the roots and converting certain nutrients into a form readily available to the plant. In return, the roots provide carbohydrates to the fungi, benefiting both life forms.
But it's not just mycelium and plants that make up this ecosystem. Our mixes include worm castings, which host a diverse population of beneficial fauna and microfauna such as springtails, worms, and helpful microbes. These organisms consume decaying matter and produce nutrient-rich waste, acting as living soil recyclers.
The science behind our soil is truly fascinating, and there's so much more to explore...
Part 2 - Premium Components, Soil Physical Structure, and Chemistry
Now, let's delve into the second part of our mini-series, "Why Soil Ninja," where we discuss our premium ingredients and how they contribute to the physical and chemical characteristics of our soil. Understanding the physical structure and chemistry of a soil mix, as well as the interactions with water, air, and nutrients, is essential for the long-term health of your plants. Let's explore a few important factors and how specific components in our mixes significantly impact the soil's physical and chemical properties.
CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity)
CEC refers to the soil's ability to hold positively charged ions (cations) and exchange them with surrounding water. These ions include essential nutrients for plants. Therefore, it's crucial for the soil to retain these ions while allowing them to be released when watering occurs.
So, which components in our mixes enhance CEC?
Let's start with the base - Coco coir. Our coir is specially washed and buffered to remove excessive amounts of naturally occurring sodium and potassium, which greatly increases the soil's CEC. Excess sodium and potassium ions disrupt the soil's capacity to store and retain other positively charged particles.
Speaking of CEC, let's talk about Zeolite. This component is a star because it can significantly improve several physical and chemical properties of the soil, including CEC. Zeolite carries a negative charge, allowing it to absorb and store nutrients. When plant roots come into contact with a piece of Zeolite, they exchange the stored nutrients with hydrogen ions naturally released by the roots.
You're probably familiar with this concept. Aeration refers to the presence of air in the soil and its ability to move throughout. Why is this important? Well, roots grow through the air gaps in the soil, not the soil particles themselves. Therefore, maintaining well-aerated soil is crucial to avoid overwatering or under watering your plants.
Components can contribute to aeration in two ways:
By naturally existing in the soil mix, any rocks, bark chips, or even sand on a microscopic level will create air pockets by breaking up the soil and creating small chambers around each component. If you've ever used a transparent pot, you can observe how these granules naturally create air gaps.
By storing air within their structure. Pumice is a great example of this as it contains micropores that act as small tunnels to store air. This increased surface area allows these components to act as additional oxygen-rich spaces in the mixture, providing an ideal environment for root growth.
Water Retention and Drainage
These two factors may seem contradictory, but they both play important roles. When watering, we want the soil to absorb as much water as possible. However, we also want excess water to drain out of the pot to prevent waterlogged conditions that can lead to root rot. So, which components aid in achieving this balance?
Coco coir, due to its capillary action, draws in water and distributes it evenly throughout itself. When fully saturated, water is directed downward between the coir fibres and out of the pot.
Aerators, such as Zeolite, Perlite, Vermiculite, and Bark, contribute to both water retention and drainage. These components create pathways for excess water to drain through different sections of the mixture and eventually out of the pot. Additionally, they can absorb and retain water within their pores, increasing the water retention capacity of the soil mix.
Interestingly, sand and grit can be used to decrease water retention and increase drainage. These non-porous materials allow water to pass through easily. Sand, in particular, creates micro-passages in the soil, promoting efficient drainage.
This is why these components are heavily used in cacti mixes, as these blends require minimal moisture retention and optimal drainage.
Part 3 - Sharing Our Knowledge and Educating
In the final part of our series, we want to emphasise our commitment to educating the community and empowering everyone to develop their own green thumb!
When we launched Soil Ninja, we made a promise to ourselves to be transparent, authentic, and open about our substrates and components, as well as their functionality and benefits. Coming from the same community, we recognised the lack of guidance and willingness to educate from the major players in the industry. It was important for us to show you that we genuinely care by teaching the fundamentals, so you can confidently understand the essential aspects of this hobby beyond the basics.
Fast forward two and a half years, and we now have a comprehensive Houseplant-Soil matching index, blogs covering various topics from components to repotting guides, and a dedicated customer service team led by our amazing team member, Amy! She is passionate about providing advice and sharing knowledge with anyone in need.
But our journey doesn't end here. We believe there is always more to learn and more to teach. If there are any aspects of the soil game that you still find mysterious, please let us know, and we will work on creating content to fill those gaps.
We sincerely appreciate all of you for reading this blog on "Why Soil Ninja" and for supporting our efforts to make a positive impact in this growing sector. We couldn't have achieved this without you! Here's to all of you!
With love from the Soil Ninja Team x