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quick fix (is there no such thing) for Nitrogen deficiency

Fall River, MA

I'm looking to till a new garden plot this weekend and my soil test shows that there is very little Nitrogen in the soil. I'm wondering what would be the best thing to add (and how much of it) to bring the Nitrogen level up. P and K look good. I'm all for composting, but having just moved into the house last year, I don't have any of my own.

So, yes, I'm looking for a quick fix for the lack of Nitrogen (I've got tomatoes that are ready to go in the ground). Compost? Urea? How much? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Try blood meal - follow directions on the package.

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

An effective and inexpensive choice is alfalfa meal (which also has valuable trace minerals), but the cheapest nitrogen boost is probably kitchen scraps (especially fruits & vegetables) blended to mush and poured into a hole next to the plant. See for an ongoing kitchen scraps discussion, and for a list of raw materials for composting that has a handy column for nitrogen percentage by dry weight.

I must offer a warning, though. I've discovered the hard way that overdoing the nitrogen-rich soil amendments can cause problems:

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I've seen warnings to NOT pace urea near sprouting seeds, and in any event to stay under 10 pounds per acre unless you can count on at least 1/4" of rain within a day or so 9and even then, stay under 20 pounds per acre).

On the other hand, I read one source that was considering adding 100 pounds per acre in one shot, since he expected somee crop to pull that much out.

Personally, even on established lawn, shurbs and trees, I spread it very thinly and several times per year to avoid burning: a 50-pound bag lasted me more than two years on about one acre.

Some advice that I think is sound:

Spread thinly to avoid burning.
Water it in to prevent loss due to turning into ammonia.
Don't apply before heavy rain: it is soluble and could wash right out.
Apply frequently and lightly, ratjher than in one heavy dose.

Best of all it to till it under during application, to get it into the soil.

The advatage is that it is cheap and concentrated: a 50-pound bag of 45-0-0 has more N than TWO TONS of compost that has 0.5% N.

On the other hand, your soil might need the 3,955 pounds of organic matter in that compoost even more than it needs the Nitrogen!

I would urge applying all the compost you can afford and haul to a new garden plot. Till it in with a little generic chemical fertilizer, whatever is handy.

Then, frequent light applications of any cheap high-N chemical fertilizer for the first few years, until you get a soil test that shows 'adequate' N for low-intensity gardening.

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