Zombie Soil vs Living Organic Soil
Living Organic Soil out-performs Zombie Soil every time.
Every. Single. Time.
Most leading organic soil mixes (also known as “Zombie Soils”) start out with mostly dead and nutrition-less material that is advanced in its decomposition (aka “composting”) process and require fertilizers to sustain plant and microbial life.
Living Organic Soil starts with fresh ingredients and uses the nutritional value of those fresh ingredients during the entire breakdown process to the plant’s advantage. It utilizes the naturally occurring nutrition within the fresh ingredients from beginning to end. This is an entirely fresh approach to organic gardening, and wasn’t really a possibility before the invention of the biomass processing technology of The Bio-Burner and Biomass Processing System by LEI Products.
Never before has organic soil been made this way; nor has it been possible. Thanks to the new proprietary technology of The Bio-Burner and Biomass Processing System by LEI Products, Living Organic Soil is changing the way we approach organic gardening.
Living Organic Soil = A Fresh Approach to Organic Gardening
We at Simple Organic Gardener believe that the solution to the problems common to Zombie Soil (which until we stumbled across this during testing, we had no idea we even HAD) is:
Living Organic Soil.
Just what it says:
Organic soil that is alive.
Aside from the obvious results
(as if that wasn’t convincing enough) …
Why is Living Soil a better choice than Zombie Soil?
Living Organic Soil products use an entirely new and different philosophy. A fresh approach, if you will... Living Organic Soil products start with fresh ingredients, then pasteurizes, dehydrates, and resizes them to the optimal configuration. They’re packaged with all original nutrients intact, and the breakdown process is made dormant by the dehydration process. The products store indefinitely and activate to become a living soil ecosystem once you add water.
Baking Yeast activation video:
If you’ve ever baked bread, it’s just like how yeast can be stored for a long time in the package and then comes to life and bubbles up once you add water.
Over a long period of time (I’m talking years, here) the ingredients break down (via the “composting” process) and eventually form “humus.” (Click here to jump to the definitions of compost and humus.) The composting process is happening within the soil and results in root respiration (aka the plants breathe and the gases released by the composting process are beneficial to the plants and soil ecosystem) instead of pointless greenhouse gas release.
It is a natural, healthy soil ecosystem that last for years and years instead of starting well into the ingredient breakdown process and wasting the valuable nutrients that leech out over time during composting.
We’ve run many side-by side tests and the results are consistent.
Reader: “Alright, the suspense is killing me…”
What’s in Living Organic Soil?
Living Organic Soil is made from 5 simple ingredients:
- The ultimate in carbon sequestration and one of the most sought-after soil amendments. We make our own Premium BioChar (>80% carbon) with our LEI Bio-Burner. The Bio-Burner (click here to learn more) provides heat for another machine we make called The LEI Biomass Processing System. The LEI-BPS efficiently and cleanly uses heat created with the Bio-Burner to pasteurize, dehydrate, and resize different forms of biomass into products we use in our soil and soil amendments.
- We bring in fresh material straight from the sawmill. We do not allow composting. We pasteurize, dehydrate, and resize it according to our needs. Varied sizes of pine bark particles are used for soil mixes and soil amendments. By controlling the particle size, we have control over water retention/drainage, soil aeration, and more “sciencey” (but totally necessary) stuff like soil pH and CEC. Once this material is processed we can store it indefinitely and use it predictably in our recipes.
- We use fresh fish parts and fish guts from a local invasive species clean-up combined with fresh biomass to create a product that can be blended, pasteurized, dehydrated, and sized to make an ideal organic fertilizer we call FishPlus. We make a second version called FishPlus Premium that includes chicken manure that is processed the same way. The NPK value (remember that from before?) of these FishPlus products are in the 3-3-3 range. Because we use the entire fish and guts, there is also calcium, iron and magnesium built in to the mix (as well as a host of other micro ingredients).
- Clay and lime are used for soil density, pH and CEC (cation exchange capacity).This is an element that is missing from many soil mixes. They allow us to grow everything from seeds to trees, from roots to fruits. It makes Living Organic Soil function as a potting mix, greenhouse soil, or container garden mix.
- Applied to replace theunpredictable microbes that were killed off in the pasteurizing process. By adding this ingredient, we control the quantity and types of microbes in the soil mix. The fresh ingredients of the soil mix offer the hungry microbes a clean buffet that activates when water is added and roots are introduced.
Cool, right? Over a period of years, we have tried different ingredients, tested different mix ratios, grown (and sometimes killed…oops) a multitude of types of plants. The results are clear.
Living Organic Soil is the way to go when you want versatile, reusable, high-yielding organic soil.
The Obvious Choice
Here are some other reasons to choose Living Organic Soil:
By using dehydrated ingredients, we can package and store all the nutrition needed for a vibrant ecosystem that will last for years. Our soil does not break down during shipping because it is shipped dry.
Living Organic Soil Stores Dry Until You Activate It…
Just add water!
We can easily control NPK and pH levels. By balancing the nutrition level and the pH level at which they’re available, we create optimal conditions for any plant variety to thrive. Living Organic Soil is full of nutritional content and comes in 2 pH varieties to meet the needs of a wide range of plants.
Fresh Ingredients + Balanced pH = Best Nutrition
Pasteurizing the product eliminates risk of disease and a host of other potential problems. Our process kills off the bad bacteria and weed seeds. The result is virtually weed free gardening when using our Living Soil with Simple Organic Gardener Growing Hardware.
See how we garden weed-free!
Living Organic Soil + Garden Hardware = Weed-Free Gardening!
We have control over water retention and drainage qualities by sizing of the particles, clay, lime content and Premium BioChar characteristics and soil CEC is optimized through particle size and ratios.
Drains AND Retains Water
Soil salinity (affects decreased water uptake, ion-specific toxicity, interferes with nutrient uptake, affects soil structure) is not a problem due to excellent drainage characteristics when combined with our Simple Organic Garden Hardware. It is nearly impossible to over-water when using them.
Good Watering Retention/Drainage = Healthy Soil = Healthy Plants
The fertilizer contained in Living Organic Soil is hosted in the fresh ingredients. It is rich and slow to release. For this reason, the soil will handle heavy growth without need for additional fertilizer for an extended period of time. The biomass in the fertilizer contributes to the overall health of the soil ecosystem by providing “food” for the microbes that lasts for years.
Fresh Ingredients = Built-In Fertilizer
Living Organic Soil lasts for years. Small additions to allow for soil breakdown over time will be necessary, but breakdown of soil volume is minimal due to the specific particle sizing and precise formula of Living Organic Soil. This means that you spend less time and money annually on soil and fertilizer!
Precise Formula + Fresh Ingredients = Reusable
Spend Less Time and Money!
Because we manufacture our products with locally sourced ingredients using The Bio-Burner and Biomass Processors, the process is highly efficient and has a low carbon footprint. The lower weight also contributes to a greener carbon footprint.
Less water = Less weight = SAVE MONEY
We also have other products that take the same fresh approach to organic gardening. Whether you need to lower your soil pH, you want some Garden Tea for an instant kick of nutrition, or you want to rehabilitate unfit soil to start an in-ground garden… Using this approach, we’ve figured out how to help.
Zombie Soil: a Paradigm Past its Prime
noun zom·bie \ˈzäm-bē\
Definition of zombie
- 1 a: a will-less and speechless human (as in voodoo belief and in fictional stories) held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated b : the supernatural power that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body
(definition directly from Merriam-Webster)
What is a zombie? The term comes from folklore, where a zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly: magic.
While magic is not being used here, the concept still applies.
Much like a zombie eating a living creature in order to sustain life, most modern organic soils are made of mostly dead and nutrition-less material. Zombie Soil must be "reanimated" through various methods and replaced annually so the cycle of insanity continues year after year...
Here at Simple Organic Gardener we believe it’s time for Zombie Soil to sleep with the fishes. Kick the bucket. Be dead and gone.
… and what is Zombie Soil, anyway??
Zombie Soil is composed of compost, humus, an aeration component, and fertilizer.
noun com·post \ˈkäm-ˌpōst, especially British -ˌpäst\
Definition of compost
- 1: a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land
Compost is a common ingredient in most potting mixes and garden soils. It is commonly a mixture of “browns” (such as fallen leaves or straw) and “greens” (such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps), though a huge variety of elements may be incorporated. Over time, microbes within the compost pile begin to break down (aka “eat”) the components and digest it into the product we know as compost. If the composting process happens ideally, it heats up to 120-170 degrees Fahrenheit. This kills unwanted seeds, pests, parasites, and diseases. However, the ingredients of compost vary wildly, therefore resulting in product that is equally unpredictable from batch to batch in terms of pH, nutrient content, texture, color, etc. A collection of components that is in the “active” breakdown stage is called compost. Compost that has broken down completely is called humus.
noun hu·mus \ˈhyü-məs, ˈyü-\
Definition of humus
- geology : a brown or black complex variable material resulting from partial decomposition of plant or animal matter and forming the organic portion of soil
Humus content is a component of soil that’s reached a stationary (or nearly stationary) point of decomposition; it’s been broken down already. The “food” component of humus content has already been eaten and *ahem* spit out by worms, insects, and microbes. Its nutritional value is little-to-none.
noun per·lite \ˈpər-ˌlīt\
Definition of perlite
- : volcanic glass that has a concentric structure, appears as if composed of concretions, is usually grayish and sometimes spherulitic, and when heated expands to form a lightweight aggregate used especially in concrete and plaster and as a medium for potting plants
Soil requires space for plant roots, insects, worms, and microbes to breathe and for water to be retained. Perlite is an aeration component of soil. The pores of perlite provide space for air and water to exist within soil. Other soil aeration components could include vermiculite, sand, coconut coir, bark, or peat.
noun fer·til·iz·er \ˈfər-tə-ˌlī-zər\
Definition of fertilizer
- : one that fertilizes; specifically : a substance (such as manure or a chemical mixture) used to make soil more fertile
Fertilizer is a chemical or natural substance added to soil to increase its nutritional value. On fertilizer packages it is generally defined as the NPK level. N = Nitrogen. P = Phosphorus. K = Potassium. These macro-nutrients are indicated by a set of three numbers like this: (#)-(#)-(#). The higher the numbers, the more nutrients contained in the fertilizer.
For more info about fertilizers, this page has a great definition:
The ingredients of most Zombie Soils are a combination of humus, compost, soil aerators, and fertilizers. The “fresh” ingredients have been mixed together, moisture added, and allowed to break down.
Ingredients + time = compost. Compost + more time = humus.
The longer the mixture sits, the more the original nutritional component is eaten and “used up” by the insects, worms, and microbes.
The more it’s been eaten, the higher the humus content.
Here’s the reasoning behind the formulation of Zombie Soil:
Humus is a reliable growing medium. It’s stable and it won’t break down further or heat up. But it’s pretty much void of any nutrition.
Compost is the younger brother of humus. It hasn’t grown up to fill big brother’s stable shoes, but there’s still enough life going on to temporarily support plant life.
Soil aerators maintain a system of highways and byways for water and oxygen to reach the innermost parts of the pile, ensuring that plant roots, insects, worms, and microbes can breathe and stay hydrated.
Fertilizers add nutritional value back to the mix because in order to sustain life there has to be food – and the original nutrition is long gone by the time it reaches consumer hands because of the composting process.
Seems logical enough, right?
But there are definitely some pitfalls.
Why it’s time to put Zombie Soil to rest
Usually consumers must replace Zombie Soil every year because it’s started out as mostly humus and requires constant fertilization (aka “Zombie Juice”) in order to maintain life. This gets expensive and is labor intensive – especially at a large scale!
Only small amounts of fertilizer can be added – because, remember, fertilizer is food for microbes… and what do microbes do when they’re being fed? They heat up! Bags of soil which were heated up to 120-160 degrees during storage and transit would be a major problem.
Adding a soil aeration component seems great, right? But what else does it add? Is there a way to both aerate soil and contribute to other requirements for healthy soil? If there were, an ingredient solely for soil aeration becomes an unnecessary expense.
Because vendors lack control of the raw ingredients of compost, it is difficult (or even impossible) to predict the pH level from batch to batch. Soil pH is important because it makes nutrients available to plants. If the pH is wrong, there could be more than enough nutrients in the soil, but the plants are unable to access them.
See this video for a real example of soil pH and how it affects nutrient availability to plants.
Composting releases greenhouse gases.
Reader: “*GASP* Say it ain’t so!”
I wish I could, friends, I wish I could…. but it’s true. Composting releases both methane and some nitrous oxide.
Click here to read an article about this topic:
Combine all these elements, and what do we get?
A product that is already mostly dead, decayed, and devoid of most life.
This is why we call it “Zombie Soil.”
Reader…(I hope): “Ohhhhhh…. I get it.”
Awesome! Fantastic! Wonderful!
In case you still aren’t convinced:
Here’s a side-by side test where we took healthy little seedlings (of the same variety) and reversed the soil they were planted in. The healthy seedlings started in Living Organic Soil were switched to Zombie Soil and the Zombie Soil seedlings were switched to Living Organic Soil…..
Get it now?
Zombie Soil vs. Living Organic Soil
We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ve explored the possibilities and dug deep (hehe, bad pun, I know), but the conclusion is clear.
Zombie Soils made mostly of compost and humus have been the best solutions available to us so far. They’ve taken waste streams and utilized them in the most economical way that people have had available. Woohoo! Yep. All about using that biomass waste… The logic made sense and there have been many practical reasons for doing things the way they’ve been done for so many years. Now, though, The Bio-Burner and LEI Biomass Processing System (LEI-BPS) and the trail that’s led us to this place has been an organic (yes, another bad pun) and logical path. We at Simple Organic Gardener, and now hopefully you, see that another way is possible.
That way is Living Organic Soil.
Living soil is the soil of the future.
A message from Scott Laskowski:
Founder and CEO of LEI Products & Simple Organic Gardener
Hi, I’m Scott Laskowski, and I am President of LEI Products where our mission is to be the leader of biomass utilization experts around the world.
I come from a family of serial entrepreneurs and I’ve had the good fortune to experience the development of several products and business startups over my lifetime. I won’t bore you with the details, but I do want to call out one business we started about 35 years ago. Maybe you’ve heard of a company by the name of Wood-Mizer? My father started the company in the early 80’s and grew it to an international company that is still thriving to this day. My job was VP of Product Development. This information is only significant because it gives you a glimpse of the path I traveled to land here.
A Wood-Mizer is a portable sawmill. Sawmills produce a lot of sawdust and other wood waste. When testing our sawmills, we created mountains of wood waste that needed a place to go – preferably with a market that generated income. Traditional uses for these waste products are boiler fuel, mulch, or paper chips. The sawdust made by band saw mills don’t have much of a market so we tried to make one.
We invented a machine we call the Bio-Burner that can burn sawdust and several other forms of biomass. We convert waste biomass to hot water that can be used to heat facilities or be used as process heat. Greenhouses are one typical application for our burners.
We also invented a biomass processor to further process all sorts of biomass into value added products. With this equipment we can dry, pasteurize, and resize biomass to meet the specifications of different markets. One byproduct of the burner and biomass processor is high-quality biochar. Biochar has many uses, but for our purposes here we use it as a high-quality carbon source in the soil.
When you combine:
- The ability to convert a wide range waste biomass in to value added products
- The ability to make a continuous stream of high Premium BioChar
- The ability to make unique organic fertilizer
- An overactive desire to create solutions to problems
You end up with a man passionate about a possible paradigm shift in what we think we know about gardening methods, soils and soil amendments.
While I don’t hold a PhD to support my claims, I have conferred with a lot of smart people about the science behind what we’re doing and have not had any disagreements about, and more importantly have the years of testing/research/working gardens to back up, the foundation of our approach.
For more information and real-life examples of what we do at Simple Organic Gardener and LEI Products, subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
From us at Simple Organic Gardener, until next time….