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Beginner Vegetables: soil amendments

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LMHmedchem
Boston, MA
(Zone 6b)

April 26, 2012
9:48 PM

Post #9099514

After soil testing in my cucumber and pea beds, I come up with the following.
pH = 8+
Nitrogen = trace
Phosphorous = medium high
Potassium = very low

I had to edit here since some of the post went missing, I made a more complete re-post below.

LMHmedchem

This message was edited Apr 27, 2012 4:00 PM
behillman
Plantersville, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 27, 2012
7:48 AM

Post #9099854

Can someone explain what this means. Does he have too much nitrogen.
LMHmedchem
Boston, MA
(Zone 6b)

April 27, 2012
9:07 AM

Post #9099935

I have no idea what happened to rest of my post. I read it last night after I made it, and now most of it is missing. I can't understand why part of my post would have been deleted after it was up on the fourm for a while???

This is more or less what was in the original post.
pH = 8+
Nitrogen = trace
Phosphorous = medium high
Potassium = very low

These are samples that were taken from my pea and cucumber beds where the seeds are already up. This means that I am limited as to the type of amendments I can use. Normally, I would use garden sulfur to lower the pH to 6.0-6.5, but I don't know if it is fast acting enough. I could use muracid, but I have never put that on a garden before. I could use blood meal or manure to add nitrogen, but I have the same question about how quickly it would be available to the plants. The only thing I have ever used to add potassium is wood ash, but I don't have any of that (it was warm this winter).

I guess I could just use liquid miracle grow. I will test the tomato, pepper, and green bean beds today and see if they are as bad as the other beds. The cucumbers and peas are at the back, and since they always get planted first, it may be that they just missed out on the compost I have been putting in for a while.

Any suggestions?

LMHmedchem

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 27, 2012
10:08 AM

Post #9100006

Do you have any fish emulsion? That would boost your nitrogen quickly.

Perhaps someone else could suggest something for the potassium. Personally I never bother with soil tests. I just add lots of organic material to the raised beds and let earthworms to their "thing".
LMHmedchem
Boston, MA
(Zone 6b)

April 27, 2012
10:51 AM

Post #9100055

I have never used fish emulsion, can you get it at a hardware store or is that something I would have to order?

I took the same approach by putting leaves and grass clippings on the garden every fall and working them in with a tiller. I figured that after a few years there would be plenty of nutrients. The exception is that I add bone meal every year after the plants flower. This was to give a boost to the roots as the fruit started to grow. It makes sense that the phosphorous is in better shape than the others because of the bone meal, but I thought that the compost would have provided more. I decided to test this year because the cucumbers did really badly last year and I didn't want to guess about how to fix the problem. It could have been weather related, but it's hard to tell.

I am going to go and test some other areas of the garden and see if they are as bad and the cucumber beds.

LMHmedchem

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 27, 2012
11:09 AM

Post #9100069

LMHmedchem - I purchased fish emulsion from here, but you might be able to find it locally.

http://homeharvest.com/alaskafishfertilizer.htm

Although I add lots of organic materials to our raised beds every year, I also give each vegetable organic fertilizer. Organic material is great as a soil amendment, but doesn't offer much in the way of nutrients.
LMHmedchem
Boston, MA
(Zone 6b)

April 27, 2012
12:56 PM

Post #9100205

Which organic fertilizers do you tend to use. I have used blood meal and bone meal in the past, and also composted manure.

My tomato bed is in a bit better shape. The nitrogen measured as low/very low instead of trace, and the phosphorous and potassium are both medium. That is probably where most of my wood ashes end up. The pH is still high there at 8.

Do you have to do anything to lower the pH of your garden?

LMHmedchem

This message was edited Apr 27, 2012 3:59 PM
microbiology1
Foxboro, MA

April 27, 2012
4:28 PM

Post #9100444

I would put down alfalfa/blood meal and kelp meal (or potash) then cover with compost. The meals will cover the immediate nitrogen and potassium needs and the compost will slowly break down to add more. I get most of my soil ammendments from here http://www.fedcoseeds.com/
tommyr2006
Poughkeepsie, NY

April 28, 2012
5:47 AM

Post #9100944

PH seems a tad high. A little lime will bring it down over a few months times.
LMHmedchem
Boston, MA
(Zone 6b)

April 28, 2012
9:06 AM

Post #9101171

[quote="tommyr2006"]PH seems a tad high. A little lime will bring it down over a few months times. [/quote]Adding lime is going to raise the pH of the soil, unless I have completely missed the point of lime. Am I in a time warp here or something, at least I have never heard of adding lime to lower pH.

I agree that the pH is high for a vegtable garden, but I was going to add garden sulfur or muracid. Peat would work, but would take too long.

LMHmedchem

tommyr2006
Poughkeepsie, NY

April 28, 2012
11:21 AM

Post #9101285

MY BAD! Yes, lime WILL raise it. My mistake, sorry! Yes, garden sulfur is what to use. I must have had a brain fart this morning!
LMHmedchem
Boston, MA
(Zone 6b)

April 28, 2012
1:31 PM

Post #9101420

[quote="tommyr2006"]MY BAD! Yes, lime WILL raise it. My mistake, sorry! Yes, garden sulfur is what to use. I must have had a brain fart this morning![/quote]That's what I was thinking, I put ~3lbs of sulfur on the garden today and will add another 3lb or so in a couple of weeks. I also added 2lb of blood meal and 2lb of a 2-4-6 mix to up the phosphorous. I watered the plants that are already up with fish emulsion to give them a boost. I will add some manure to the rest of the garden after I have watered in the nutrients I added today. I also ordered some potash because I couldn't find anything higher in potassium than the 2-4-6 and I don't want to add too much phosphorous. I will test again in a month and see how things are going. It got really cold again last night, so it remains to be seen what will happen to the peas and cucumbers that are already up.

LMHmedchem

TX_gardener
Brady, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 29, 2012
4:36 AM

Post #9102165

LMHmedchem, I found fish emulsion at WaldoWorld and AceHdw.

darius

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

April 29, 2012
4:57 AM

Post #9102179

The big box stores like Lowe's and HD also carry Alaska fish emulsion. Miracle-Gro can be toxic to your soil and plants. http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/441806/

Adding wood ash raises the pH just as lime does (gypsum does not, but it can otherwise adversely affect plants and soil despite the general myths).

Fresh human urine is a fast-acting source of nitrogen (and it's sterile). Mix 1 part urea (urine) to 10 parts water. Don't pour directly on the plants as it could burn them even diluted. I suggest using only urine from your own household, and exclude anyone taking prescription (or recreational!) drugs.



This message was edited Apr 29, 2012 7:07 AM
LMHmedchem
Boston, MA
(Zone 6b)

April 30, 2012
9:44 AM

Post #9103913

[quote="darius"]The big box stores like Lowe's and HD also carry Alaska fish emulsion. Miracle-Gro can be toxic to your soil and plants. http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/441806/
[/quote]
The Lowes and HD here don't seem to carry it, but it may just not be in stock yet. It is still pretty cold.

There are quite a few things in that post about miracle grow that rampant nonsense. I tend to avoid fertilizer like that, but I have added 6" to a foot of grass clippings and leaves to my garden for years and is has provided almost no nutrients. The suggestion that 1/2" of clippings per year is enough is just foolish. Even the Native Americans here found that they needed to add a fish head to each corn planting if they wanted to have any food for the winter. I generally wouldn't advocate something like miracle grow for use other than indoor plants and flower beds, but other soil additives are often very necessary and pure organic techniques aren't always effective if you can't plan far ahead. I do appreciate reading posts on such things, even though I don't always agree completely, so thank you for the link.

[quote="darius"]Adding wood ash raises the pH just as lime does (gypsum does not, but it can otherwise adversely affect plants and soil despite the general myths).[/quote]

I imagine that adding a number of different nutrients (like nitrogen) tends to raise soil pH. Acid rain tends to counter this to some extent, but I generally need to lower my garden pH. I have never had to use lime.

[quote="darius"]Fresh human urine is a fast-acting source of nitrogen (and it's sterile). Mix 1 part urea (urine) to 10 parts water. Don't pour directly on the plants as it could burn them even diluted. I suggest using only urine from your own household, and exclude anyone taking prescription (or recreational!) drugs.[/quote]

Unfortunately, this eliminates everyone here, since we are all on at least three prescriptions. Urine contains much more than urea and it is toxic to plants from some species, but not others. I'm not sure what the difference is.

I used a combination of fish emulsion and blood meal, so hopefully that will release some N quickly enough. I will test the soil again after a few weeks and see what had changed. It has got rather cold again, so nothing is growing very much now anyway.

LMHmedchem


This message was edited Apr 30, 2012 12:45 PM

This message was edited Apr 30, 2012 12:45 PM
TX_gardener
Brady, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 2, 2012
4:51 AM

Post #9106792

Don't remember all the different ones, but when I googled fish emulsion I found that the NPK is not the same for all fish emulsion -- ie I found one 5-1-1, one that had high middle number, etc.
LMHmedchem
Boston, MA
(Zone 6b)

May 2, 2012
9:15 AM

Post #9107135

[quote="TX_gardener"]Don't remember all the different ones, but when I googled fish emulsion I found that the NPK is not the same for all fish emulsion -- ie I found one 5-1-1, one that had high middle number, etc. [/quote]The stuff I used was 2-3-1, which was not as much nitrogen as I would have liked. The Alaska brand is 5-1-1 and that is more like what I need. I used blood meal as well, so hopefully that will give me enough N.

LMHmedchem

TX_gardener
Brady, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 3, 2012
4:37 AM

Post #9108153

Frankly, it gives me a headache sorting thru ferts, looking at NPK, trying to decide what's "best" -- trying to remember what somebody recommended, etc...
blackdove
Muntinlupa
Philippines

May 3, 2012
10:38 PM

Post #9109633

I make my own fish emulsion and the plants are doing quite well. Since its concentrated, a little goes a long way. Here's how I make it, complete with photos:
http://www.practicalgardening.blackdovenest.com/2012/03/easy-homemade-fish-emulsion-fertilizer.html

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 4, 2012
7:25 AM

Post #9109944

blackdove - I salute you for taking the time and effort to make your own fish emulsion.

Personally, I don't think I'll be making some anytime soon.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

May 4, 2012
6:03 PM

Post #9110814

My fertilizer system is easy but crude: buy what's cheapest and then use sparingly. And use all the compost I can afford or make.

Some day I'll do some soil tests, but every tiny raised bed is bound to be quite different , and I have 8-10 already.
BrrrAnn
Lunenburg, MA
(Zone 5b)

May 5, 2012
5:55 PM

Post #9111947

LHMedChem -- I'm in the Boston area as well. Check out Mahoney's Garden Center, they have a store front in Brighton, although their big place is in Winchester. They'll have everything you'll need.

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