Soil building, good plan?

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

We're starting a new veggie plot and I've received our soil test.
My major need is calcium, phosphate, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc and, boron.

What I'm using to correct; listing it at lbs/per 1,000 sq.ft.

Calcium: dolomitic lime (45lbs)
Phosphate: soft rock phosphate (10lbs) and elemental sulfur (2lbs)
Potassium: langebenite (K-mag 5 lbs)..building reserves with minerals, whatever I can find locally, (azomite, greensand, 0-0-60) (3lbs)
zinc and copper sulfate (0.25 lbs)
biochar: as much as I can scrounge
boron: Solubor spray

We plowed under some winter grass in this plot (loam soil) so there is plenty of nitrogen and organic matter to get seed and transplants started. Tilling in amendments. Transplants and any bed that can get mulched, will get mulched. I plan on this eventually being no till, but will till in more lime in fall and the mulch will get tilled in with it, for more immediate organic matter. Using home brew compost tea for microbes and humic acid. I'll use fish emulsion during fruit set.

I hate doing things twice and always second guess myself once things get growing. Any changes, or recommendations are appreciated!









Tonto Basin, AZ

One philosophy of mine is to add as much organic material as possible. Despite sometimes quite large amounts, I've never seen a problem I attributed to the additions, and I always wind up with a beautiful soil. I've used leaves, rice hulls, spent brewery hops, stable sweepings, fresh horse pooh, aged cow and chicken stuff, sawdust, wood chips, moldy hay, leftovers from straw bale gardening, and on and on. In a few cases, I had some germination from seeds, but it was a one time fix and easy to handle, especially since we've always mulched heavily. When I add material which is not fully decomposed, I supplement with nitrogen to compensate.

Another philosophy is to use only inorganic material which can be demonstrated to be needed. Your list of amendments seems appropriate for that soil analysis.

Just my 2c.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

I whole heartedly agree about the compost. We don't have a don't have a bucket loader on the tractor and it's difficult to transport as much as I need. Perhaps I misused the term mulch, I'll be composting in place.

I use everything I can scrounge from the barns and coop, but straw is all but impossible to get in Texas. I've been using old hay, as long as it's deep enough I don't get much germinating. That works great for transplants, the hard part is getting beds ready for direct seeding. If I try to pull back the hay, it sprouts a jungle. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with that yet, perhaps adding a solarization cover time into the rotation?

I plan on more root crops that can be left to breakdown in the soil as well. Still experimenting which ones grow the best here that the animals will eat and don't make our milk taste funny.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

cocoa-lulu...Aren't most Texas soils alkaline? Or did your soil test give you a pH reading?

I'd be concerned about all the lime you have added, and mentioned you wanted to add more, if your pH is already alkaline.

Shoe

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Shoe, is this also true of adding Azomite to the soil? I got all excited (easy for me) about discussions re: Azomite and purchased a 40# bag. A friend here in Phx mentioned on another board that using Azomite in an already alkaline soil will cause the pH to whack out with negative results. Do you have an opinion on this? There was a recent conversation about Azomite but I have not been able to find the thread again.

http://www.azomite.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:certificate-of-analysis&catid=38&Itemid=11

Thanks, Mary

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Howdy, Mary...

I've read about Azomite over the past years but haven't any personal experience with it. With it being mainly a supplier of trace minerals/micronutrients I tend to get those things from using cover crops, compost/misc plant matter amendments, and rock phosphate.

From just now visiting the link you supplied I found it has a ph of 8 which is a bit alkaline. However, this doesn't mean you couldn't use it sparingly in your alkaline soil. Some reports I've read state it may not be as water soluble as the makers claim. If that is the case then there won't be any immediate affect on your soil pH. Any idea how alkaline your soil is? If it is around 8 already then there would be no "whack out" (grin) of your soil pH by adding it. It wouldn't have an immediate affect/effect on your soil like lime would (raising soil pH) or, at the other end of the spectrum, like sulfur would (reducing soil pH).

Hope this helps.
Shoe

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Yes, that does help Shoe. Thanks. Never have done a soil test but since I keep amending it each season, I'm guessing the pH is a fluctuating thing and I'm not really planting in 'native' soil. I just finished digging out a bed that I have not amended much, took a wheelbarrow load of soil out to plant the asparagus. I don't know how accurate these 4-in-1 probe testers are but I just checked that load of soil and it's pinging out at about 6.5. LOTS of fat juicy worms in there!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Great! 6.5 is a wonderful pH to work with. And I thought I saw on another thread you were using a commercial/nursery "loam" mix, so you should be good to go. I wouldn't worry in the least using your Azomite.

The pH probe testers are close enough for what you need to know. I have several. (Don't have the 4 in 1 kind though.) It's pretty important to keep the probes well cleaned though so be sure to wipe them down with a "scratchy" cloth (like tulle or gentle scrubby pad).

Looking forward to your garden this year!
shoe

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Alright. Thanks Shoe. I'm plumb worn out for this weekend. Next weekend is planting time. I'll turn in all that sandy loam with a sprinkle of Azomite, plant and wait for the jungle to spring up!!!

cocoa_lulu - thanks for letting me hijack the thread for a bit. :-))

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Aw, Hijack away, Mary! I learn so much from everyone's experiences :0)

Shoe, I think alkaline is true of most the state, but the further east the more acid it becomes. I'm in a narrow band right before the piney woods woods called the post oak belt. I can go out in my yard and find everything from slick yellow clay to sugar sand. This new plot is loam with a few small pockets of sugar sand. Ph shows 5.9

What prompted this test was last years tomatoes. I grew a couple hundred pounds of san marazano tomatoes... despite adding compost, minerals, mg, and alfalfa to the rows, every single tomato was inedible, mealy and bland. But no BER, so the Ca count really caught me by surprise.

Mary, I need to double check but I think azomite comes in two textures, the finer would be more surface area and released quicker. I'm glad you mentioned it, I didn't know azomite is ph 8 and think I'll lean more towards using it then greensand. At least till I can get enough organic matter incorporated.

Azomite is also a livestock supplement, I like the idea of feeding it to cows and let them do all the work of spreading it around the pastures ;0) win:win

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Heheheh, getting more bang for your buck using those cows, too!

I saw on the Azomite site that some people also take it for a supplement, 1 to 2 tsp/day. Hmmm...I think I'll stick with my Centrum, it won't get stuck between my teeth like Azomite would. :>)

Wow, 5.9 pH. This past summer I was sowing grass seed for a customer who had a pH that low and 45 lbs was recommended (according to my charts) so you should be right on target. I have in my notes to apply half of that amount initially then the rest a month or two later so it wouldn't shock the soil.

As for mealy tomatoes, I know temperature sure comes into play there, usually cold temps though and I imagine you get more than your share of heat in Texas. Sure hope you get a better tasting crop this year. I'd recommend Heidi over most SM types though; it's got great flavor, the perfect juice to meat ratio, produces over a long period and seldom has BER. Don't get me wrong though, S-Marzano can be a keeper, too but it's difficult to find a good seed stock since it is a tomato named after a region more-so than after a particular variety/strain.

Shoe (cold, wet, and someone on the boob tube is threatening snow. Go figger.)

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I use both greensabd, and azomite... and occasionally add aragonite since the calcium is in an available form, and the magnesium is low...

Aragonite Raw (0-0-0-94 Ca) - A sea calcium that is high in calcium and low in magnesium. 97% calcium carbonate and calcium silicate combined; 33%min - 40% available calcium. Other minerals in aragonite; Fe203 .025%, Al203 0.15%, MgC03 1.50%, SO3 0.20%, NaCL 1.25%, Sr0 1.25%, Si02 0.88%. Rate: 250 - 500 lbs. per acre. Natíl List

I'm considering some of this for a raised bed:
Cal Plus Liquid 6% - From ORGANIC BIOLINKģ this liquid Calcium is complexed with naturally fermented organic acids and is immediately available to plants. Calcium is essential for plantís cell wall structure and helps with fluid and nutritional transport. Contains 0.5% humic acid derived from seaweed. Rate: use 2 oz per gallon water, or 1-2 Qts per acre. WSDA Certified Organic.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from cocoa_lulu :
AWhat prompted this test was last years tomatoes. I grew a couple hundred pounds of san marazano tomatoes... despite adding compost, minerals, mg, and alfalfa to the rows, every single tomato was inedible, mealy and bland. But no BER, so the Ca count really caught me by surprise.


That is an old wives tale that apparently will never go away. It seems once upon a time some researcher tested BER-affected tomatoes and found low calcium levels, so they concluded that was the cause. Well, maybe in a sense it was - but the reason for the BER isn't a lack of calcium in the soil. Ask anyone who has used lime, superphosphate, gypsum, calcium nitrate - and still ended up with BER. It is a physiological condition caused by a failure of the plant to either absorb or translocate calcium into the developing fruit - that must occur VERY early in the fruit development (really right after fertilization), which is why calcium sprays generally don't work either. Root problems, injury, stress, uneven soil moisture, even growth spurts (which pull calcium into the new stem and leaves) - all can cause BER in susceptible varieties, even with plenty of calcium in the soil.

It is a perfect example of the statement so well known to students of science and statistics: "correlation does not imply causation".

-Rich

Tonto Basin, AZ

Quote from rjogden :
Ask anyone who has used lime, superphosphate, gypsum, calcium nitrate - and still ended up with BER.


Yep. Our soil has so much naturally occuring gypsum that soaker hoses turn white first usage as does the soil surface around them. And I guarantee that if I water sproadically and heavily I'll get BER. BTDT. Makes the soil alkaline - 7.5 to 8.0 in native soil, about 7.3 in amended beds,otherwise no adverse effect on the things we've grown, Except Azaleas, they just wouldn't thrive no matter how hard I tried to acidify their beds.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

"...BER. It is a physiological condition caused by a failure of the plant to either absorb or translocate calcium into the developing fruit - that must occur VERY early in the fruit development (really right after fertilization), which is why calcium sprays generally don't work either. ":

Ditto what Rich said above. And I suggest everyone concerned with BER read the sticky on BER in the Tomato Forum, a great mini-treatise by Carolyn that iterates the above statement.

However, the Ca, whether it is in soil or the plant (locked up or not) may play a role in BER but I doubt it has any role in Cocoa-lulu's tomatoes being mealy and bland, which is what she was referring to initially. Sure wish I could figure out what would make tomatoes like that (mealy and bland) other than temperature or variety traits. Any ideas, anyone?

Shoe

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

sometimes a type of tomato is great one year, lousy the next, were ANY other varieties planted and if so, did THEY have the same problem?

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from Horseshoe :
However, the Ca, whether it is in soil or the plant (locked up or not) may play a role in BER but I doubt it has any role in Cocoa-lulu's tomatoes being mealy and bland, which is what she was referring to initially. Sure wish I could figure out what would make tomatoes like that (mealy and bland) other than temperature or variety traits. Any ideas, anyone?

One possibility: Cool temperatures (below 50F) at any point during fruit development are strongly implicated in mealiness and lack of flavor because they interrupt some of the processes needed for proper ripening. If these processes are interrupted, they do not generally restart, and your fruit will resemble artificially-ripened winter tomatoes.

-Rich

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Mineola is where my uncles once had gorgeous watermelon patches- there are pretty places there...I dont remember if you guys had the droughth we did down south, but the weather was definitely off last year

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Rich. I thought I mentioned the cooler temps but maybe it was on another thread. I bet, like me, you'd never think of putting a tomato in the fridge either! Blasphemy! *grin

The other year we had just excessively hot weather and very little rainfall, several of my tomato varieties tended to have extra thick skins that year. Flavor was so-so. I was glad I normally grow a variety more than one year to determine its features (or faults). Weather sure plays a role, doesn't it.

Shoe

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

I had posted a thread about those lousy tomatoes last year...I looked it up http://davesgarden.com/ apparently I did have BER (internally) and the whole BER/calcium thing was explained to me then...guess Momma was right, I don't listen very well.lol

Shoe, I reread my report and it's suggesting .."45lbs now and test again next year, as another ton/acre may be needed. It is best to use only 45lbs/1000 sq.ft, unless deeply incorporated, at a time to avoid soil shock"...I'm a bit nervous about adding more, but since I'm tilling this into the soil, my question is, will I have enough?
BTW, I was listening to you and Carolyn when you both suggested Heidi...it's under the grow lights as we speak :0)

Darius, I love the stuff you find! I'll have look those up. The aragonite raw sounds like a product I can get locally called sea-90. For now, I need the mg tho, and not so much the na.

About the texture, there wasn't any cool temps last year during fruit set. I got to think it was a bad variety and not optimum soil for growing the san marizano...I won't be retrying them again. ever.
I don't have the soil as the rest of the state, I get a bit more rainfall in the the spring, but I get to share all the same brutal summer temps!

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from cocoa_lulu :
About the texture, there wasn't any cool temps last year during fruit set. I got to think it was a bad variety and not optimum soil for growing the san marizano...I won't be retrying them again. ever.
I don't have the soil as the rest of the state, I get a bit more rainfall in the the spring, but I get to share all the same brutal summer temps!

Sounds like it could have been the variety. Paste tomatoes are reportedly prone to going mealy. Come to think of it, I've had that problem myself with some I grew in containers.

Here's a brief article I just found on a Google search on mealiness in tomatoes that seems to sum it up nicely:
http://www.tomatocasual.com/2008/09/06/why-are-my-tomatoes-mealy/

-Rich

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

That's what I'm hearing too. I'm not hung up on having a paste, but would like a great tasting early det. that would hold up well under canning...really, is that so much to ask for :0)

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from cocoa_lulu :
That's what I'm hearing too. I'm not hung up on having a paste, but would like a great tasting early det. that would hold up well under canning...really, is that so much to ask for :0)

Consider the name "paste tomato". It implies they are intended to be reduced down to a paste, which translates mainly to a low moisture content to reduce the time and energy required to reduce them. Texture isn't an issue because they end up in a form where the original cell structure is completely gone. Flavors and chemical composition undergo some drastic changes during the long cooking and milling processes as well.

I believe Carolyn has posted the names of some favorites for canning, and IIRC they are not paste types. Sorry, I have lost that pointer.

-Rich

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

cocoa-lulu, I attended a class recently about growing tomatoes in our desert environment. Each participant received two tomato starts, one of them is called Silvery Fir Tree tomato. Here's what TomatoFest says about this one:

A Russian heirloom. An early season (55 days) dwarf tomato plant. Our TomatoFest organic tomato seeds produce short, 2', determinate tomato plants with wispy, fern-like, silvery fuzzy leaves that yield moderate crops of bright-red, 2", 4-5 oz., flattened, round tomatoes. A perfect tomato plant for growing in small containers and hanging baskets. Good tomato plant for a patio garden. A perfect choice for a canning tomato and salad tomato. A unique tomato variety. Disease Resistant.
http://store.tomatofest.com/Silvery_Fir_Tree_Heirloom_Tomato_Seeds_p/tf-0454b.htm

Also available from Seed Savers Exchange. http://www.seedsavers.org/Details.aspx?itemNo=29(OG)

I've never seen this type of foliage before, the wispy carrot-top-like greens. Sorry, I have no seeds to share yet. :-|

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

MaryMcp
I am looking forward for you to try this tomato.
This might be a very stupid statement .... when I see the word "Russian" on a tomato title I just stay away from that variety, because: how can a tomato plant, which was an heirloom in cold Russian, do well in my hot-sunny-no water garden in Texas?
sooo.... I hope you will prove me wrong ... giggle

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Calalily in south TX has grown and is growing Silvery Fir also. My thought was the same as yours on the Russian produce but there are balmier areas in Russia too.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

We shall see.....I'll let you know how it goes.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Rich, That makes sense but when I buy canned tomatoes they are always in that oblong 'paste' shape. Are the commercial canned tomatoes not a paste variety? The other hopeful canner I have this year is 'rutgers'. A neighbor recommend and uses that one.

Ah Mary, thank you. I've seen that name Silvery Fir Tree, probably from a Podster or Calalily thread, didn't realize the attributes tho. I trust those ladies opinions! I'll put those on next years list :0) Eager to see how it does for you as well.

Drthor, in many ways we can use some cold area plants to our benefit. They have to rely on plants that will set fruit early before it gets cold. We have to rely on plants to set before it gets too hot. That's how I understand it.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

>Are the commercial canned tomatoes not a paste variety?>

Not usually. I think Rich was referring to Carolyn's mention of using non-paste types for sauces rather than using paste types, mainly for more flavor that comes from them (the non-paste types).

Canned tomatoes are usually along the lines of standard determinates, and yes, Rutger's was the standard for canning for decades. You may like that one, C-lulu, especially if you find "Rutger's" rather than "Rutger's Improved". I'd highly recommend Marglobe as well (one of the parents of Rutger's).

I grew Silvery Fir tree several years ago but it was more of a novelty for me. The wimpy foliage allowed too much sun scald on the fruit in my area. I bet Calalily is using covers/shade cloth on hers though, possible to prevent that but also cus of the high winds in her area.

Shoe (off to start tomato seeds in the g-house!)

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

My Silvery Fir will be on the front porch, thanks for the warning Shoe, I can protect it by pulling the container in under the awning or hang some shade cloth. Good to know.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Wonderful info, as always, Shoe!

My seed for 'rutgers' says indeterminate, that's the one I want?

I looked up Marglobe in plantfiles, I'm really interested in this. I've been growing 'japanese oxheart' for my husband, It's his favorite. We like the meatiness, but it just doesn't produce much fruit.
I've promised to find him another oxheart since I didn't save these last year. The Marglobe description says some are heart shaped, so might it be a good replacer?


Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Ok, found a list of hearts Carolyn recommends.
Kosovo
Anna Russian
Nicky Crain
Anna Maria's Heart

Reds

German Red Strawberry
Wes
Danko
Russian 117
Linnie's Oxheart
Indiana Red

I'll start researching those...too early to be excited about 2013? lol

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I'm currently growing a tomato variety, Russian Rose. It's supposed to be cold-tolerant. Subsequently, I'll be growing it as a spring/summer AND a fall/winter variety, to see which 1/2 of my growing season it likes the best. I'll be sowing seeds again in June...

I'm betting on the fall/winter...one thing I can tell you now -- it is gonna be one monster of a tomato. The seedling stems are already as thick as a fat pencil -- the kindergarten fat pencils!

Linda

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

>My seed for 'rutgers' says indeterminate, that's the one I want?<
Yes, cocoa- that is what I'd prefer. You probably have "Rutgers" or "Rutgers Select", both being indeterminate. And yes, definitely try Marglobe; Rutger's dates back to to the '30s and Marglobe further back than that...there's a reason it's been around so long, eh?

And if you like your Rutgers you may want to save some seed from it. There are so many derivatives of "Rutgers" you never know what you're gonna get from some seed companies. Even Rutger's (University) admits to losing the original strain years ago so all available now are probably variants of the original.

As for hearts/oxhearts, I've never found one to be really productive. I guess it's a trade-off between quantity and quality/taste. Lots of folks really love the oxheart flavors. (I think they are some of Carolyn's most favored tomatoes.) I don't believe Marglobe is considered a true heart though but none-the-less it's a keeper. How about slicing one up and putting your hubby's taste buds to the test (blind test!) and then share his opinion w/us! *grin

Shoe

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

I got out my reading glasses, I can't find 'select' mentioned anywhere, so keeping my fingers crossed I'll be a good strain.
I am going to try Marglobe, thanks for talking me into it. Shouldn't be too hard setting up your taste test experiment, I've long suspected he mows around my flower beds blindfolded. Ha

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Shoe, or anyone for that matter, you mentioned using green manure. Do you happen to use summer cover crops?

I'm starting to panic about getting enough mulch. I don't think we'll have enough hay bales (the ones I have well are rotted) Still having to buy fresh hay this year for the critters. I found some straw 60.00 per 4x4x8 and a four hour round trip..ugg, can't do that either.

Is there anything anything beside cowpeas or bush beans that can be used as a living mulch during the summer?

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from cocoa_lulu :
Is there anything anything beside cowpeas or bush beans that can be used as a living mulch during the summer?

How does buckwheat do there? (Check with Extension Service?)
(or see http://barbara-brown.suite101.com/texas-gardening-cover-crops-to-enrich-soil-a152322)

-Rich

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Thank you! I'll check into buckwheat, that would be nice if it does grow here. I was under the impression it won't grow here, however I can't remember why I thought that that. Brain like a sieve I tell ya!

I read till my eyes glazed over last night and still need to do more research. I'm interested in soybeans, haven't tried those before and they may grow out longer then green beans, not sure. Any idea there?

'Puna' forage chickory sounds promising, especially since it's not a legume. I think it's suppose to be sowed in the fall tho..still researching :0)

Yet another non legume, sunn hemp. I'm getting conflicting web info as to whether it's toxic to livestock, that would be discouraging. Everything else sounds good, nitrogen fixing, large quick mass. One site said that if cut early can be tilled in. I was thinking of the possibility of thinning it out and using the leaf stalks as mulch on other crops. It looks kinda sparse as far as foliage goes tho.

Off to read some more.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Howdy, Folks...

"Shoe, or anyone for that matter, you mentioned using green manure. Do you happen to use summer cover crops?" "Is there anything anything beside cowpeas or bush beans that can be used as a living mulch during the summer?"

I use buckwheat here and hope you can, too. You can get double-duty out of it by letting it flower then go to seed. Not only does that bring in pollinators and some of the beneficials but is extremely cost effective. It needs to be sown pretty thickly though 'cus it is basically a skinny stalk with a few leaves on it. Here it will flower/seed in 3-4 weeks, five tops. If you let the seeds drop it will re-sow and they'll start volunteering. I use it quite a bit at the ends of rows, within rows, etc because it comes up so quickly. (I can't stand bare spots in the garden.)

If you don't want to wait for it to flower/seed you can easily knock it down with the back of a rake or shovel. The stalks are hollow and can be easily laid down to become mulch material.

I wonder if Sudangrass would do well out your way as well. Although it can grow as tall as me most folks will mow it back several times so it grows a nice root system, suppressing weeds that way. The good part is that cold weather will kill it so it won't volunteer like some other grasses will.

And yes, soybeans will grow out longer than bush beans, mainly because they are day-length sensitive and won't flower until later in the year. Again, sow very thickly.

Shoe

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Shoe, sudan might just be my best bet, that's a great idea! I might try seed head types, I can put up some chicken scratch as well and still have plenty of organic mass left over.

I would really love to have the chicken scratch, there's a sorghum syrup festival each year where they use a mule to press the canes. Too much work for moi, but I'm glad someone is keeping the tradition alive :0)

The other info is really helpful too! Dh wanted to disc today, still too wet. After last year, I will never complain about rain ever again. promise.

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