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Old March 17, 2013   #1
Melissa569
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Default My Soil Test Results... Bleh.

Wow... Ok so I tested my native lava ash soil we have on the ground out here (the video is not up yet). I was thinking I could use maybe half that, half good potting mix for the container plants. Well... Here are the test results:

Ph: 8.0 / Alkaline
Potash: Low
Nitrogen: VERY low
Phosphorus: VERY low

Yeah. I know. lol.

Actually, the last two.. Nitrogen and Phosphorus.. Were so low, they didn't even register! Really, they stayed the natural color of soil and water, didn't change at all.

Looks like this lava ash/sand up here is fairly devoid of just about everything, lol. I was a little disappointed, with how most of the people I've met face-to-face are always saying how nutrient-rich it is. Hmmmmm.

The only good thing I can say about this stuff is--- Its GREAT for drainage. Pretty much impossible to over water. And I guess its good that I can control the amount of nitrogen (if I do mix some of this in with my potting mix), because it would be added. So "leafy plants with no fruit" can be avoided.

But seems like I will need a decent potting mix and some good nutrients for at least 80-90% of what my plants will be growing in, to have a respectable harvest.
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Old March 17, 2013   #2
Redbaron
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Sounds like you need worms and manure to rescue you! Not sure about potting mixes, but outside that will do the trick!

PS Lava ash is good for trace minerals, not necessarily "rich" until organic material is added. Good news is a peat based mix combined in like you suggested is acidic and will counter your alkaline. So you can buy the cheaper peat instead of the expensive blends.
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Old March 17, 2013   #3
paulgrow
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Looks like raised beds might be in your future.
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Old March 17, 2013   #4
bughunter99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa569 View Post
Wow... Ok so I tested my native lava ash soil we have on the ground out here (the video is not up yet). I was thinking I could use maybe half that, half good potting mix for the container plants. Well... Here are the test results:

Ph: 8.0 / Alkaline
Potash: Low
Nitrogen: VERY low
Phosphorus: VERY low

Yeah. I know. lol.

Actually, the last two.. Nitrogen and Phosphorus.. Were so low, they didn't even register! Really, they stayed the natural color of soil and water, didn't change at all.

Looks like this lava ash/sand up here is fairly devoid of just about everything, lol. I was a little disappointed, with how most of the people I've met face-to-face are always saying how nutrient-rich it is. Hmmmmm.

The only good thing I can say about this stuff is--- Its GREAT for drainage. Pretty much impossible to over water. And I guess its good that I can control the amount of nitrogen (if I do mix some of this in with my potting mix), because it would be added. So "leafy plants with no fruit" can be avoided.

But seems like I will need a decent potting mix and some good nutrients for at least 80-90% of what my plants will be growing in, to have a respectable harvest.

Look at it this way, you already knew that you needed good potting mix, pretty much every has to add N, P, K to container plants and then if you throw a shovelful of your native soil in too, you will have a lot of the trace minerals covered. Plus good drainage is a good thing. Way better than hardpan clay, trust me on that.

As gardeners we all sort of have our area specific issues. In the southeast they have bad bugs and more disease, in my area we have the crazy winds, violent storms and unpredictable giant weather swings, in the mountains the lack of soil, in the southwest high temps and dry conditions.

All these things are convenient in their own way in that if a crop fails, we have something to blame other than the fact that I was lazy about getting them staked.
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Old March 17, 2013   #5
Cindyb1969
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I used the same kit (I'm guessing) and got very similar results. My bed is raised and did well last year. My nitrogen, like yours, was clear. My phosphorus was just low, not very low....or at least that's how I interpreted it.

Makes me wonder if these are good kits???
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Old March 18, 2013   #6
Melissa569
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Here is the video I shot about this, for those who want to actually look at the results: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7iHY1JOtAM
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Old March 18, 2013   #7
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Nice vid, I subscribed
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Old March 18, 2013   #8
Melissa569
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Thank you
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Old March 18, 2013   #9
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nice work, i learned about my Topsy junk 2 years ago terrible if you grow it correctly it gets to heavy. After heavy rain
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Old March 18, 2013   #10
paulgrow
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I don't have much faith in the do-it-yourself kits.

I would get a reliable test through your extension service.
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Old March 18, 2013   #11
Doug9345
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What Paul said. This link compares some test kits to a real soil test. http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/soiltest.htm Basically they all are almost to completely useless. It's consistent with what others say but more organized and more concise. Did you use distilled water? If you didn't I suspect that you are just checking the pH of the water. The other factor is that if the pH is truly 8.0 then I believe it will react with the other tests that more or less expect a neutral to slightly acid mix. In fact that is the real problem with alkaline soils is that they react with the other things in the soil so that the plant can't use them.

Last edited by Doug9345; March 18, 2013 at 08:55 AM.
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Old March 18, 2013   #12
Dak
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Another vote for getting a professional soil test. I use loganlabs.com, just $20. I highly recommend them.
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Old March 18, 2013   #13
paulgrow
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Good point on the distilled water.
I surprised (not really) that the do it yourself kits don't insist on using distilled water to ensure some accuracy.

I've done a lot of reading on different experiments done by university laboratories and they all use distilled H2O to ensure accurate results.

Why don't you retest using the same kit with distilled H20 and see what the results are.
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Old March 18, 2013   #14
feldon30
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Agree with others. If the soil is already loose and well-draining, then I would just add lots of compost. Composted cow manure, leaf mold compost, mushroom compost.
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Old March 18, 2013   #15
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my nitrogen tested clear (depleted) too, seems like the others are okay in my four separate garden beds. I am thinking of using blood meal 12-0-0 dosage as recommended on the 3lb bag. I may also try 10-10-10 during planting but keep away from the stems
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