Making a seed nursery in the Amazon: preparing the soil

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Preparing soil for seedling bags is not as easy as it may seem: local soils are very poor clays and finding ingredients for something resembling a potting compost can need a lot of resourcefulness

Whilst Inga grows well in very acidic degraded and poor soils these are not the best soils to start seedlings off in a nursery prior to planting them out. We want to produce strong vigorous seedlings that will have the best start that they can when they are planted out in the poor degraded soils that they are set to restore.

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Click to view clip: the ingredients for a rudimentary compost need to be mixed but then sieved to ensure that the final mixture is fine enough to fill the seedling bags

To do so we prepare a mix of two-thirds forest or river bank soil and one-third organic matter. Organic matter typically takes the form of dead trees found in the forest that have rotten down to a soft dark pulp. Where the soils have too much clay to permit mixing we dredged some sand from a stream bed and mix it in. The mix is then shoveled through a home-made sieve, chicken-wire nailed to a wooden frame, to produce a fine enough texture for bagging.

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