For beginner's guides, anything by Storey's is a good start. For example:
Storey's Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance https://www.amazon.com/dp/1580172024/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_kRtfCbNP565HZ
Teaming with Microbes.
That much sun getting to the roots is never a good idea. The same plants in opaque vases would do much better, or if more of their root balls were in the substrate and not just sitting in the open.
> In the laboratory, when we work with plants we always cover the soil chambers with aluminum foil to protect the root system from light. You don't only have roots in there. There are bacterial communities, protozoa and fungi as well that are essential to the circulation of nutrients in the rhizosphere. If you ever see a drop of soil water under a microscope, it will blow your mind. This is a system that has evolved in the dark. So, if you find that the mysteries of soil ecology are as cool as the plant itself, give the poor little microbes some cover.
Here is a very good read on microbes and plants and how they work together: https://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Organic-Gardeners-Revised/dp/1604691131
I got this book after hearing a few interviews with the author. It's a good reference.
This book will teach you everything.
I’ve only grown cherry tomatoes and chard with hydroponics, but this book was super helpful when I was getting started. Gardening Indoors with Soil and Hydroponics - Sorry for the Amazon link, that’s the only place I was seeing it right now.
I ended up growing in hydroton and not messing with soil, but the book was a good jumping off point.
Oh, that's really cool! I have a stellar recommendation for you. There's nothing like connecting to the earth and touching the soil like so many of our ancestors did for the brunt of our history.
The book is called "The Soul of Soil." by authors Joseph Smillie and Grace Gershuny. It's nearly a booklet, a little less than 200 pages. It's so brief, but you'll learn about soil's affect on plants in an easily-digested way from an excellent source. Here's an Amazon link.
It must be out of print, I know it was updated in 2009. The price goes up every time I look at it. You'll want to keep one for yourself as a reference even though you'll be so tempted to give it away. People never want to give them back!
Just a note, Jeff Lowenfels has a related book you can read free if you have Amazon Prime. I’m reading it now.
Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition
Edit: Will check out Joshua Steensland.
Also, get this book. A lot won't apply but there's a. Good section on deficiencies
Gardening Indoors with Soil & Hydroponics https://www.amazon.com/dp/1878823329/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_grLkCbVF07FW9
I've never dealt with such a problem. But my gut tells me to throw a bunch of carbon and nitrogen at it to make it really hot and that should kill anything bad in there with a high nitrogen for a while. You'll also want to add sod as it's a starter. But I think hit it hard with the grass trimmings for the nitrogen to run it hot.
Almost everything I've learned about composting came from this book, that I LOVE.
While oftentimes (conventional) farming and cattle keeping practices get a bad rap for their effects on the climate, there is other information and evidence that SMART farming practices (no-till soil, cover-crops, no pesticides, larger mix of crops rather than monocultures, using cattle differently) will help build healthier soil and actually fix carbon back into the soil.
Do you have comments on this idea that the soil can help save us?
(An example of a book tackling this idea: https://www.amazon.com/Soil-Will-Save-Us-Scientists/dp/1609615549)
Start by making a Lactic acid bacteria serum; it will help you cut your teeth, and it's needed/warranted for many of the other ferments.
Find a place where you can get the purest, and cheapest sugar, because you're going to need A LOT of it. None of the processed stuff, read the forums on IG mag and the like, there is a lot of no-till knowledge out there.
Our main man u/ediblesdidmedirty is my go to guy for anything KNF related; he knows his stuff.
Read Dr. Cho's KNF manual, and Teaming With Microbes. You can buy it, or be filthy like the rest of us and download it from grasscity lol.
Edit: Look into Vero 29's before you spend some money on the "Cree" name. Their stats are pretty close in benchmark tests. I've heard good things about Citizen chips, but I never looked into them (~$12/chip). I also bought my drivers on mouser.com, they were cheaper.
Mel's book is great. However, I think he's very optimistic about spacing. It may be theoretically possible to plant things at those intervals, but a new garden plot needs a few years to develop the biodiversity it needs to achieve peak productivity.
I didn't use much other than Mel's book my first year. I think Teaming With Microbes is essential reading. If you understand soil, you'll understand your plants. Building Soils Naturally is also a good one and it's a little less dry.
I'll also say that Mel's "soil mix" did not work well for me at all. I don't have abundant sources of organic matter available, so I took his suggestion to mix 5 types of store-bought compost. I don't think commercial compost is a sufficient replacement for the homemade stuff. Perhaps if you mix it together with a small amount of homemade compost and let it decay for awhile, it would be better.
That said, plenty of people have success following Mel's book to a T, so your mileage may vary.
lol you have MUCH to learn. Either read something like this or simply look at r/notillgrowery.
For composting, I would look at Let it Rot and the Rodale Book of Composting. The second is more detailed and is my choice for "if I had to choose just one."