Yukoners know to grow a variety of indoors and outdoors crops even for the poor conditions we are dealt with. A main skill is to build and maintain a functional soil or grow medium.
It composition needs to effectively convey the nutrients to the plants, keep a good water balance, and support beneficial microorganisms in their work ‒for instance the cycling of nutrients. Healthy soils also are porous, which allows the movement of air and water through them.
A step-wise soil-building and maintenance process can be as follows:
1- Build the Soil Organic Matter (SOM) content
Because native Yukon soils generally are very poor (low SOM, low clay content, low CEC), a foundational addition is materials that boost the soil organic matter (SOM) content. Products that increase SOM include biochar, compost and peatmoss. Visit USDA 'Manage for Soil Carbon' to learn more.
2- (Re)establish a healthy microbiome
With suitable SOM, the soil or grow medium can then support the (re)establishment of beneficial microorganisms. Products that bring beneficial microorganisms include compost
, and inocculants
3- Feed the soil with nutrients as needed
Ultimately, a healthy, living soil or grow medium can be added with nutrients as needed to produce bountiful crops. Products that supply nutrients include compost
, and fertilizers.
4- Adjust the pH
At any time, pH should be adjusted to the plants' needs. Products that can increase and lower the pH include lime
and aluminum sulfate
The type, proportion and quantity of soil, medium or amendment needed to optimize the conditions depend on your objective and the base conditions. For instance, composition can specifically be adjusted to grow tomatoes, cannabis or lettuce in a particular system (e.g. outdoors, indoors, hydroponic or not). Growing food and plants in our Yukon climate also requires special considerations.