January 2012 Newsletter (vol.3) >> Keeping It Fresh
It´s that time of year for your soil orders to arrive to get you ready for spring plantings. When your shipment arrives, you will need to find the best storage location until it´s ready to be used. There are several things that may not cross your mind when storing media, but to help protect your profits here are some suggestions.
The best case scenario for storing your media is to keep it indoors on a clean, solid floor. Always keep your media on the shrink wrapped pallets until time of use. Never store it around chemicals regardless of their formulation (liquid or dry) or seed products (livestock feed, bird seed, and pasture seed). These items can degrade and penetrate the packaging which may result in contamination.
If you must store your media outdoors, absolutely keep it on the pallets or a raised surface to avoid contact with vegetation, water, and soil. It is also crucial to keep the bagged goods shrink wrapped and in an open circulated area that is not exposed directly to sunlight or precipitation. Over exposure to sunlight/heat and precipitation can result in a loss of nutrients, an increased pH, hardening/drying of the product, and decreased effectiveness of the wetting agent. Ideal outdoor storage would be under a lean- to, but if this is not an option a tarp should suffice. Just as with indoor media storage, you want to avoid locations where chemicals are stored or applied. With outdoor storage, the chances of weed seed contamination increases significantly, because the seeds can be blown onto the bagged goods and get caught in the creases and crevices of the packaging eventually making its way into your final product.
A regular inventory rotation must be maintained when storing a large quantity of soil at one time. Always use a first in first out (FIFO) rotation to prevent any nutrient charges or wetting agents from expiring. A good rule of thumb is to use any plug or propagation mix within the first six months of being manufactured. Potting mixes can last a bit longer, but it is recommended to test usability prior to planting, especially if it was manufactured over one year ago.
All media manufacturers have a dating method to track when a lot is produced, commonly referred to as the lot number. Most note the facility it was produced in and the year and day of the year, such as 121 which would be the 121st day of the year. It is important for you to note these dates on your shipments of media, because should a problem arise, it will be needed for reference.
Calvins, Todd. “Media Storage Basics.” GPN. Nov. 2010: 18-24.