Annual Soil Building: An Organic Year in Review

| 11/29/2018 9:56:00 AM


Photo by Pixabay/Wiselywoven

The season is wrapping up for the calendar year. That said, here in the sub-tropical Bay Area, we have a 365 days of growing opportunity. As we clear out our fall tomato beds and perhaps seed lava and garlic into the beds for winter, now is a good time to give some love to your farming soil.

Safety first: Test your soil. For those of you hashing out new growing space into your homes, it can be important to bring in O.M.R.I. labeled bag soil. When a bag of soil shows this O.M.R.I label, you know that it has been tested to be free of pesticide residues. For those of you farming the ground, a lab test can be a good first step, to ensure soil safety.

I recommend Wallace Labs. They are California-based and offer a 1-week turnaround. They also offer a lab analysis of the soil profile, as well as sentences from the lab technicians to interpret the data into regular human terms.

Note: A  lab test not only can detect harmful elements (ie.. lead and heavy metals) but also determine soil nutrient levels and the important pH of the soil. By spending the $70 on a test, you can get a jumpstart on assessing your soils current status.

12/2/2018 2:04:34 PM

That's a shame that OMRI doesn't test for pesticide residue. That's my top concern with animal manures, since there are many herbicides used on pasture grass which can pass through the intestinal tract of animals without breaking down. These herbicides also don't break down during composting so they remain even in the final resulting soil, mysteriously killing your plants. I hadn't heard of OMRI before so I did a bit of searching and it sounds like the OMRI label is mostly of interest to people who are trying to grow certified organic produce rather than the "backyard organic" or "homestead organic" grower. OMRI inputs are intended to make it easier to get your produce certified, but they're not necessarily an indicator of safety or quality. OMRI-certified manure can still contain the aforementioned herbicides, and there are also many great amendments that don't carry the OMRI stamp.

11/30/2018 3:49:52 PM

Thanks for sharing information about OMRI! OMRI Listed products have been evaluated in terms of product ingredients and the manufacturing process to ensure that they meet organic standards and can be used in organic production. They do not use prohibited ingredients or prohibited pesticides. However, it might be helpful to clarify that OMRI does not typically test for pesticide residue. More information is available at

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