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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old March 6, 2016   #1
marc108
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Default Bad soil test results, need some help with amendments

I did a rapitest on my garden today with some bad results. Ive heard it said on forums they arent accurate, but UC Davis ag tested is against their labs and it was >90% accurate.

Soil ended up being N depleted, super excessive P, deficient K. My soil is clay amended with Kellogg Amend (rice hulls, compost, manure), a little wood chips, and worm castings, which I amended about 3 weeks ago. My preference is to keep the garden organic if possible. I also have seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons) growing that will be ready for transplant in 3-4 weeks.

My plan is to use blood meal and kelp for N. My garden is 24 square feet, so 5 oz blood meal and 2.5 lbs kelp now which should give me a nice quick and slow hit of N. 1oz blood meal at plantimg in 4 weeks and every 3-4 weeks after.

Do I need to worry about my plants burning from that much blood meal?

For K I'm planning on using 1.25 oz potassium sulfate. I have no clue about its release rate though and if I need to reapply during the season.

I'm also unsure how deep to work these into the soil?

Does this sound good? I've also thought about using espoma palm tone (4-1-5) during the season. Any other input would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old March 6, 2016   #2
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I can't help but bumping this so people see it.
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Old March 6, 2016   #3
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Had never heard of that test before, thanks. I mostly grow in containers but maybe I'll get one. I do have a few spaces available for more tomatoes!
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Old March 8, 2016   #4
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Blood meal, neem meal, alfalfa meal, feather meal, fish meal, Chilean nitrate - could all provide nitrogen.

Kelp meal, sulfate of potash, sul-po-mg or hardwood ash could easily take care of your potassium needs.

The real question though and the part of the equation you are missing with such tests, are things like CEC and % of organic matter. Knowing these are key in trying to assess how much nutrient retention ability your soil has.

I'd be curious how much calcium and magnesium was in your soil as well. It is also fair to assume that with that much phosphorous in the soil you are tying up your iron and zinc which have a direct impact on flower formation, consistent fruiting, chlorophyll production, utilization of nitrates, and photosynthesis.

Rather than trying to apply these items periodically throughout the season, I'd be more focused on getting everything in the soil a couple weeks prior to planting. Generally speaking you want 60% of total nitrogen in ground and the remaining applied about 2 weeks after the first fruits begin to form.

Last edited by TheUrbanFarmer; March 8, 2016 at 05:42 PM.
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Old March 8, 2016   #5
marc108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUrbanFarmer View Post
....

Thanks for the heads up, especially about the P trying up micros. I'm going to submit my soil for a real analysis. I'm a little skeptical about the rapitest now... yesterday I poured some calcium nitrate solution into the soil and then tested it 30 mins later and it came back exactly the same...No nitrogen.

I like to do a little ground and foliar feeding of chelated nutrients... that should bypasss and P-lock issues, correct?

It's been cold and rainy, so maybe that has something to do with it? But either way I'm going to get the real deal done.
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Old March 8, 2016   #6
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You can certainly supply the micros through foliar applications. If going that route, look at the research and information provided by John Kempf of Advancing Eco Agriculture.

Last edited by TheUrbanFarmer; March 8, 2016 at 07:23 PM.
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Old March 8, 2016   #7
marc108
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Originally Posted by TheUrbanFarmer View Post
You can certainly supply the micros through foliar applications. If going that route, look at the research and information provided by John Kempf of Advancing Eco Agriculture.

OK Great thanks. You're the Texas Tomato Food guy huh? I almost used your products, they look great. It's one of 2 pre-mixed fertilizers I could find that had nutrients in research recommended proportions.
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Old March 8, 2016   #8
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We visited California few years ago. Beautiful place. We stayed in San Diego for a few days. You have kelp there in huge amounts laying on the beach. If I leaved nearby I would bag it and mulche it in my soil. It is great source of nutrients.
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Old March 9, 2016   #9
TheUrbanFarmer
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I'm not the Texas Tomato Food guy. I'm just a regular joe. I guess our names here are similar as this isn't the first time I've gotten that response. I've heard nothing but good about the products though. I might have to look into them myself.
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Old March 9, 2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUrbanFarmer View Post
I'm not the Texas Tomato Food guy. I'm just a regular joe. I guess our names here are similar as this isn't the first time I've gotten that response. I've heard nothing but good about the products though. I might have to look into them myself.
Your user names are so close I cant remember what his is now.

I even went into the birthday section looking and couldn't find it.
I think it is Urbanfarms farm or farmer.
I found it it is Urbanfarmer not like yours TheUrbanfarmer.
He is a great guy honest and if you email him he will return it promptly.
The set up is in Freeport Texas.
http://www.tomatoville.com/member.php?u=12010

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Old June 16, 2016   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marc108 View Post
I did a rapitest on my garden today with some bad results. Ive heard it said on forums they arent accurate, but UC Davis ag tested is against their labs and it was >90% accurate.

Soil ended up being N depleted, super excessive P, deficient K. My soil is clay amended with Kellogg Amend (rice hulls, compost, manure), a little wood chips, and worm castings, which I amended about 3 weeks ago. My preference is to keep the garden organic if possible. I also have seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons) growing that will be ready for transplant in 3-4 weeks.

My plan is to use blood meal and kelp for N. My garden is 24 square feet, so 5 oz blood meal and 2.5 lbs kelp now which should give me a nice quick and slow hit of N. 1oz blood meal at plantimg in 4 weeks and every 3-4 weeks after.

Do I need to worry about my plants burning from that much blood meal?

For K I'm planning on using 1.25 oz potassium sulfate. I have no clue about its release rate though and if I need to reapply during the season.

I'm also unsure how deep to work these into the soil?

Does this sound good? I've also thought about using espoma palm tone (4-1-5) during the season. Any other input would be appreciated. Thanks.
Your soil probably isn't N depleted, although clay soils usually don't have a lot of N. The nitrogen is probably tied up or used up by other factors. A mistake a lot of people make is adding wood chips. Adding wood chips to your garden will use up nitrogen in the process of making the wood chips break down. And the Kellog Amend has other "forest products" which means ground up forms of tree matter. Those being composted with the manures that were added to it is why the Amend has such a low amount of N.

Other amendments for clay soils include sphagnum peat moss, not the bags of black dense peat that resembles soil. You want the brown fluffy peat that you can buy in 2 cu ft bales. In heavy, wet clay soils that don't drain, peat moss in not recommended because it holds water. In dry, hard, sandy clay soils like I have, peat moss is very helpful. Know your clay type first. http://www.sunset.com/garden/garden-...soil-structure

That said, peat moss is acidic so you will need possibly need to add something to raise the pH back up. One thing that will do that and more is plain old hardwood ash. It will raise the pH and add potash (K/potassium). Did you test the pH after adding the Amend? Most plants like a pH in the range of about 6.0-6.5 pH. So don't use ash if your pH is 7.0 or higher. In that case you would be better off with the potassium sulfate. One nice thing about the would ash is that it is readily available potassium. Here is some info on that: https://hort.purdue.edu/ext/woodash.html

Another thing you can add to help loosen the soil and improve drainage is GOOD homemade compost. Most gardeners don't full understand how to make compost, especially one that is full of nutrients. The old way was to simply pile up leaves and grass clippings, etc, wet them down, and turn them occasionally with a pitch fork. That is time consuming, back breaking work, and the results aren't very good. In order to make good compost it has to get HOT. This means up to about 150 degrees in the center. This method will make compost quickly, like the compost tumblers you see in garden mags. The old fashioned bin type method takes about a year, and most of the N will have been lost.

I am fortunate to have a piece of large plastic sewer pipe that was left over from a construction job. I made plywood ends with a hole in the center covered with hardware cloth. I fill it with fine shredded materials and wet it down. I just roll it around on the ground every few days until it's done. It only takes a few weeks. A thermometer stuck into the mix registers 150 degrees midway through the process. It makes 2 to 3 wheel barrows full of compost. Since your garden is only 24 sq ft, you could make a similar tumbler with a plastic 55 gallon drum, or even a garbage can. Just make sure to make air vents on it because the mix needs oxygen to break down. Mulching the materials first with a mulching mower will give you fine material that will break down faster. You also need to use the right amounts of the materials. I found a very useful compost calculator that will give you the correct carbon to nitrogen ratios here: http://www.klickitatcounty.org/Solid...cted=948111261

A very good addition to compost that is higher in nitrogen than poultry manure is coffee grounds, but since they are so acidic they must be fully composted. Here is some info on that: http://www.gardensalive.com/product/...et_your_garden

Another way to deal with heavy wet clay (I don't know if yours is wet, or dry like mine) that doesn't drain is to make a raised bed type garden. Raised beds help drainage. If you build sides around your garden now and keep adding compost, you will end up with a raised bed full of good rich soil. And no you don't have to worry about the blood meal burning your plants since it is slow release nitrogen. But since your N is either tied up or used up, you may need to fertilize your plants weekly with the kelp or liquid fish emulsion. Be careful not to get that stuff on your hands, it's very stinky and the smell doesn't wash off.

Also, I found that blue green algae fixes nitrogen, much like legumes do, but not by way of symbiosis. It's called free living bacteria and it takes nitrogen from the air. But this information isn't widely reported. Probably because it would certainly put a dent in the fertilizer industry by letting people know they can get nitrogen for free "out of thin air" so to speak. So I started making algae water for watering my plants simply by leaving a large plastic tub of water sitting out in the sun and letting it turn pea green. It's amazing how much mother nature will do for you when you work with rather than against her. http://www.esf.org/fileadmin/Public_...s/CIANOFIX.pdf
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Old June 16, 2016   #12
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