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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 July 29, 2015   #1
Salaam
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Default Another help with soilbuilding thread...

Hello all,

I had my front yard soil tested last year - results were good - more than adequate NPK and fairly balanced pH. So I decided to go ahead and make some (three) garden beds there this spring.

I sodcut the sod and put on some garden soil composed of 1/3 black earth, 1/3 topsoil, and 1/3 mushroom compost. I added about an inch of shredded pine bark mulch, then I planted some perennials, cabbage, collards, some peppers and tomatoes.

All are not doing as well as they should. The cabbage and collards are okay, the perennials not as good, and the peppers and tomatoes quite poor. There's a huge difference with my backyard.

I don't know what's wrong, but I'm thinking of amending the beds with a couple of bags each of composted sheep or cow manure in the fall. Maybe some other compost, too. And then tilling a bit. I didn't till the first time. Is this a good plan? What to do with the shredded pine bark mulch? Should I just till that in, too?

Thanks!
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Old July 29, 2015   #2
Cole_Robbie
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Definitely don't till the bark mulch in. Scrape it off if you are going to till, then push it back on top when you are done.

Do you have any neighbors with good-looking gardens? You could also visit a farmer's market vendor selling tomatoes they grew locally, and ask them how they amend their soil. They also might be able to point you toward good local sources for compost or manure.
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Old July 31, 2015   #3
4season
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Cole R is right bark and wood chips should stay on the surface. Look on the web for articles by Lemieux. [PDF]
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Old July 31, 2015   #4
Salaam
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Not the answer I wanted to hear! A lot more work...

Cole_Robbie: My backyard's great. I double dug, raked in a couple of bags (one bag per about 70 sq ft) of compost and compost manure, then planted. But you're right, I should ask around. The soil I used for the front did come from a reputable source, though.
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Old July 31, 2015   #5
Dutch
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Pine bark can be used as a soil conditioner. I use it in all my containers.

"Pine Bark Benefits
Commercial pine bark products are usually made from the byproducts of milled wood. Finely ground pine bark works well as a soil conditioner because it helps the soil retain moisture, and adds “pore space” into the soil, through which oxygen and nutrients can filter. Pine bark soil conditioner also adds nutrients, such as sources of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium and other minerals to the soil. Pine bark can be acidic, so if you use a large amount as a soil amendment or regularly apply it in your garden, you should monitor pH levels so that they do not fall below the desired level for the plants you’re growing." http://homeguides.sfgate.com/pine-ba...er-101383.html


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Old July 31, 2015   #6
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My garden soil is basically dolomite clay. The native ph of my soil is 7.1 – 7.2. My well water is about the same. Ag gypsum and pine bark have worked well for me to break up the clay and aerate the soil. The pine bark does help bring down the ph a little, but not much. I say, till it in, unless your ph is way too low already. My ph battles are more than I would like to discuss now. I’ve got to get back to the garden. Time waits for no man.
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Old August 13, 2015   #7
Mike723
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The last thing you want to do is till in woody matter.. We all know the old tied up nitrogen issue.. IMO wood doesn't really have any business in a vegetable garden.. Besides the tying up of nitrogen it can harbor pests and disease.. If it is PURE pine bark and contains NO woody material what so ever than you'll get away with it, as it has a very high lignin content.. But you need to be sure of that.. Not worth it IMO.. It'd serve you (and your plants) better to stick with leaves and grass clippings if you're trying to increase organic matter.. The only thing wood should be incorporated in is a compost pile, so long as you add extra nitrogen to fuel its decomposition.. And always, mulch mulch mulch!

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Old August 17, 2015   #8
gregory
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I can tell u I had a drainage issue and I added a great deal early spring.
I tilled it in otherwise a strong wind can blow the bark around or wash off from
Rain. I haven't had any problems growing vegetables. I added extra lime since I had my soil tested last fall.
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