286: Emily Rockey on How Life Begins in the Soil.

Breaking down the recipe for good, healthy soil.


Emily received her degree in Plant Sciences from the University of Arizona.  In the past, she worked at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, and the Tucson Botanical Gardens.  She is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Tank’s Green Stuff in Tucson, which specializes in “green” landscape debris recycling, construction debris recycling, and more.

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Emily brings her passion for both plants and recycling to the company’s composting operation. This is where they convert landscape debris into organic compost which is then returned to gardens and green spaces.  They offer an entire line of organic garden and landscape materials which are “Good for People, Plants, and Planet”; and are available under the name ‘Tank’s Green Stuff’.
With her nickname ‘The Dirt Girl’, it is not hard to see that Emily loves talking about the importance of compost, microbes, and soil.


In This Podcast:

The ingredients for healthy soil make up an essential recipe for gardeners and farmers, and is worth describing a few times until the perfect connection is made. Emily Rockey appreciates good soil so much that she earned the nickname “The Dirt Girl” and she loves helping others appreciate compost and soil. She has something important to say to those who think they have a ‘black thumb’!

Listen in and learn about:

    • A childhood interested in nature and dirt
    • An independent study on compost in college
    • How she was led to work at Epcot Center and the WWOOF program working on farms in Italy
    • Circling round to working in compost
    • How she got her nickname “The Dirt Girl”
    • Why there is a difference between dirt and soil
    • The components of soil and a breakfast analogy to make up a healthy balance of physical properties
    • Chemistry of good soil with essential nutrients, pH, salts, humus
    • The biological aspect of good soil
    • How nature creates a healthy recipe
    • Avoiding traffic on the soil to help allow life to grow
    • Wood chips, compost and mulch – what it the difference?
    • Nitrogen and decomposition
    • Why wood chips and mulch do not go directly into the soil for planting
    • Tank’s Green Stuff and recycling green “waste”
    • Creating a special Planting Mix recipe for the Urban Farm Fruit Tree Program specifically created for the desert

As well as:

Her failure – The time that they got excited to have their products taken up by a large retailer and it fell through

Her success – Working with organizations as they create their garden projects and hearing the positive feedback, and Tank’s Super Mix Organic Fertilizer with great field tests

Her drive – Wanting to help others get to the point that they can grow their own food.

When hearing someone say they have a ‘black thumb’ she replies: “No! You have a green thumb, you just had bad soil”

Her advice – Please use good soil practices. Don’t cut corners and use a cheap product or skimp on the mulch. Use good quality compost, make your own soil if you can. Use organic practices!

Emily ’s Book recommendations: 

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

How to reach Emily:           

Website: TanksGreenStuff.com

Facebook: Tank’s Green Stuff

Phone: 520-290-2796

UrbanFarm.org/TanksGreenStuff


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