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Old July 8, 2017   #31
Redbaron
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This is a mostly raised bed, lol. Built into a hill, so two sides are raised with a retaining wall to make the bed level. Over the years I just kept adding a little more fresh compost until now it is basically full. I just checked my garden journal and I started it in 2006.
looking good. What you got going on with those tags may I ask? Looks interesting
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Old July 8, 2017   #32
SueCT
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Every variety is labeled with the name. I plant almost all heirlooms, and I rarely plant 2 of the same variety. I am careful to label them and note in my journal any standouts, be they good or bad. That way I know what I like, what has worked well in my garden and what I want to plant again. The "must plants" and any others that I replant I can reuse the labels for. I found metal labels that I can write on and a clear UV protection label that goes over the writing so it doesn't fade, and that way it is good to be reused in future years. Sorry, might be too much information.
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Old July 9, 2017   #33
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Every variety is labeled with the name. I plant almost all heirlooms, and I rarely plant 2 of the same variety. I am careful to label them and note in my journal any standouts, be they good or bad. That way I know what I like, what has worked well in my garden and what I want to plant again. The "must plants" and any others that I replant I can reuse the labels for. I found metal labels that I can write on and a clear UV protection label that goes over the writing so it doesn't fade, and that way it is good to be reused in future years. Sorry, might be too much information.
actually that's the info I was after! so how does a guy like me find those labels?
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Old July 9, 2017   #34
SueCT
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Don't know if these links will work, but the markers are Zinc, available from Gardener's Supply Co through Amazon or their own website. I bought them on Amazon twice, so they were probably a little cheaper there. Sometimes you might get sale offers from Gardener's Supply, though, that might make them a better buy early in the season or late in the season. The Covers are Orion Garden Markers Sun Block Covers, size small. They are still available from the web site for a reasonable price. They work very well. I used Sharpie fine point industrial markers from Amazon to write the names. Thanks for reminding me, I am going to order more of the covers because they worked so well, and I am afraid they will stop making them. It is 4.25 for 30.

[/URL]https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


https://www.gardenmarker.com/product...lock-covers-30
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Old July 9, 2017   #35
SueCT
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Wow, I just went to order more and the minimum shipping charge is 7.30 for me. I believe I also ordered and used a pain pen from them that seemed to work well. You might want to see if there is anything else you need from that site to justify the shipping charge. That is crazy for some labels. The problem is, their plant markers do not appear to be as sturdy or good a quality as the ones at Gardener's Supply, but see what you think.
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Old July 13, 2017   #36
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Just an interesting FYI. I found my confirmation email from ordering those label covers 2 years ago. The shipping was $2.32 for 2 sets. Now it is 7.30. Do most people not care? Do you think they see a decrease in orders after a shipping charge increase like that? From my last order the labels were said to weigh .04 lbs. If I remmenber correctly they came in a standard white envelope, first class mail. The 7.30 was also for US Mail postage. Crazy. Do you think they just don't want any small orders?
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Old July 14, 2017   #37
rick9748
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Default You can over do it on composting

For years I have been adding composted material to my garden; composted grass and leaves, composted horse manure and plant a Fall, Winter cover crop each year.
Problem when I got soil test back; phosphorus 973 lb/ac, potassium 267 lb/ac, calcium 4,504 l/a, magnesium 493 l/a.All readings are max excessive with magnesium high.
Called Clemson Ag to discuss results; was told to add no compost until readings dropped into sufficient range.
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Old July 14, 2017   #38
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Just an interesting FYI. I found my confirmation email from ordering those label covers 2 years ago. The shipping was $2.32 for 2 sets. Now it is 7.30. Do most people not care? Do you think they see a decrease in orders after a shipping charge increase like that? From my last order the labels were said to weigh .04 lbs. If I remmenber correctly they came in a standard white envelope, first class mail. The 7.30 was also for US Mail postage. Crazy. Do you think they just don't want any small orders?
I hear you on the s/h charges from some companies. I simply try my best to not buy from them, as even with postal prices going up some, I know what it costs to mail things out and it just annoys me when tose sellers charge way too much.
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Old July 14, 2017   #39
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I also have my soil tested every year and this year my nutrient levels were all above optimum. I do not add fertilizers other than compost or occasionally some sulfur to bring down the pH. Organic material levels are usually around 8%.

Since I get more tomatoes and other vegetables than we can use and everything seems to be healthy I see no reason to add fertilizers. I give away lots of vegetables, especially tomatoes, to the local Independent Living Home during the summer.

I think that some people may think that excess organic material may "tie up nitrogen" while it is decomposing and I used to think that this was an exaggeration until the year that I tilled in 80 bags of chopped leaves in the Fall. The following year my peppers all had yellow leaves and I had to add Nitrogen so now I am a believer.

I also think that the theory that plants "get addicted to synthetic fertilizer" is not a fallacy either. If you feed only synthetics you are feeding the plants and not the soil organisms. Therefore after a period of time you will no longer have a healthy soil with microorganisms that will break down organics and feed the plants. If you do not continue to feed the plants with synthetics, then there will be nothing in the soil for them to eat.

Last edited by brownrexx; July 14, 2017 at 09:02 AM.
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Old July 14, 2017   #40
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I also have my soil tested every year and this year my nutrient levels were all above optimum. I do not add fertilizers other than compost or occasionally some sulfur to bring down the pH. Organic material levels are usually around 8%.

Since I get more tomatoes and other vegetables than we can use and everything seems to be healthy I see no reason to add fertilizers. I give away lots of vegetables, especially tomatoes, to the local Independent Living Home during the summer.
Congratulations, it sounds like you've got the machinery of the Soil Food Web purring like a kitten. That's something everybody should strive for.

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I think that some people may think that excess organic material may "tie up nitrogen" while it is decomposing and I used to think that this was an exaggeration until the year that I tilled in 80 bags of chopped leaves in the Fall. The following year my peppers all had yellow leaves and I had to add Nitrogen so now I am a believer.
Yep, that's why mother nature doesn't till in raw organic matter like leaves.
It belongs on top of the soil or in a compost pile.

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I also think that the theory that plants "get addicted to synthetic fertilizer" is not a fallacy either. If you feed only synthetics you are feeding the plants and not the soil organisms. Therefore after a period of time you will no longer have a healthy soil with microorganisms that will break down organics and feed the plants. If you do not continue to feed the plants with synthetics, then there will be nothing in the soil for them to eat.
Can't argue with that. There may be a time and a place for synthetics but the overuse and over reliance on them is why their is so much agricultural land that is lifeless, prone to pests and pathogens and poor soil structure. I did that to my own garden years ago.
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Old July 14, 2017   #41
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Your plants look good right now Sue. I assume they are now blooming and maybe setting a few fruits. That is a good looking spot you have.

As to your soil being too alkaline I went from too acidic forty odd years ago to far too alkaline for a long time now. The results of adding tons of compost and manures which built up my organic matter in our very sandy soil but at the same time left me with some imbalances that I am slowly correcting. I use cottonseed meal which worms love every time I prepare a bed and it is quite acidic. I have also stopped adding cow and horse manures which over supply the soil with phosphorus that doesn't leach out like nitrogen and potassium. My beds have been gradually getting closer to an ideal ph with the addition of the cottonseed meal and lots of peat and pine bark fines and my plants have become more productive and healthy.

The Texas Tomato Food doesn't seem to bother the worms and if anything they keep getting more and more plentiful. At the end of a long summer of growing tomatoes when I remove the cypress mulch from my beds there is a thick layer of worm castings with tons of worms visible when the mulch is removed. I think TTF is pretty much a natural fertilizer and when diluted as much as it is it probably helps the worms instead of harming them. I have been using it regularly for years now and have only seen improvement in my soil health. I am not sure the same would be true if I were using a more traditional chemical fertilizers like I used when I first began gardening. With sandy soil and raised beds there is no way I could grow good tomatoes without fertilizing them because of the fast leaching of nutrients and the extremely long season we have.

The most important thing in gauging fertilizer requirements is being able to read your plants health. I always adjust my fertilizing according to what my plants are telling me. Sometimes they are saying to give them much more and other times they tell me to hold off. It took me years of experimenting to be able to tell when plant nutrients are not being met and what to do about it. I don't always do the right thing but now days I am far less likely to over fertilize or under fertilize than in years past. Texas Tomato Food has really made it easier since it is a well balanced fertilizer that can be applied quickly when needed and the results are rather quick to see. When I go down a row of tomatoes watering them with a hose end sprayer with TTF I will adjust the amount and dilution according to what I am seeing and it gives me a good excuse to study a plant as I stand there wetting the soil under it with the fertilizer. I learned a lot about adjusting the fertilizer to the plants with TTF when I grew some container plants since that was all they would get with nothing of nutrient value in the growing medium.

When I first started using soluble fertilizer I quickly learned that every plant did not need the same dose or amount of nutrients. Plant size and health, fruit load and weather conditions all have to be factored in when feeding tomatoes. When I switched to TTF from others I found a definite increase in fruit set which is the bane of growing heirlooms down here in our heat and humidity. The resulting larger production encouraged me to be a bit more liberal with its use when I thought it was necessary and with some trials and errors I learned more and more about when and how much to apply.

Good luck with your tomatoes. It looks like you are off to a really good start. I am on my fourth planting this season with my first bed still producing some but fading fast as my second and third planting are starting to come in with some nice fruit. If I can keep my last bed alive through the mid and late summer I might have some nice tomatoes to enjoy through the fall.

Bill
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Old July 14, 2017   #42
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The Texas Tomato Food doesn't seem to bother the worms and if anything they keep getting more and more plentiful. At the end of a long summer of growing tomatoes when I remove the cypress mulch from my beds there is a thick layer of worm castings with tons of worms visible when the mulch is removed. I think TTF is pretty much a natural fertilizer and when diluted as much as it is it probably helps the worms instead of harming them. I have been using it regularly for years now and have only seen improvement in my soil health.
I used TTF last year and was happy with the results. I have some beds that were new last year and had just horrible tilth. The soil there was some godawful clay-heavy fill dirt from when the neighborhood was built in the 1940s or something, and I'm pretty sure the only thing that had been growing in it since then was lawn. The TTF was a real lifesaver for the plants in those beds.

Even after a winter of cover crops, compost, letting organic matter compost in place, etc., the soil is still not terrific in those beds.

In my older beds, the soil is much better, but I find the plants still benefit from TTF, although I don't give those plants as much of it. The difference is pretty noticeable. When I wasn't using it, the plants were totally happy and looked perfectly healthy. But with the TTF, I just got so much more yield (on everything--I use it for all my fruiting veg). I have very limited growing space, so maximizing yield is very important.

This year, as I was planting out, worms were practically leaping into my lap. Don't know about the microfauna and flora, but the composters and worms were unusually thriving. So using TTF regularly last year certainly didn't hurt them.
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Old July 14, 2017   #43
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Well, after I added the plain soil to decrease the the % organic matter, I did add more the next year in the form of a soil/compost mix and was much happier again, but I have not used fertilizer at all I don't think since the soil test which was 3 years ago. I can't remember if it was in a cover letter or verbally told to me that I had too much organic matter, but I did go back and find the original results which don't seem that bad to me right now. Organic matter was "Medium High", I think there may have been a percentage at one time, but not on the remaining email I have. I think I was given more detailed information and recommendations in the letter that was mailed. That doesn't sound that bed. pH 6.4, which actually is almost neutral although for tomatoes slightly more acidic would be better, but its not horrible. Nitrate V Low, 1 ppm; Ammonium Nitrate Low, 12 ppm; Phosphorous Med High, 50 ppm; Potassium V High, >250 ppm; Calcium V High, > 1600 ppm (no problems with BER here, lol); and Magnesium, V High >125 ppm. If I get it retested, it will be interesting to see if anything has changed. I understand Nitrogen tests are not very reliable. Anyway, now I have the results here so I can hopefully find them easily later, lol.

So anyway, likely additional nitrogen wouldn't hurt, although the plants look OK. I suspect the anemic looking leaves when I first plant might be because there is not a lot of nitrogen in the upper most layer of soil which has the most recently applied compost in it, but when the roots reach down deeper they might find more nitrogen where the organic matter has broken down more. Just a crackpot theory from someone with very little knowledge of soil chemistry, lol.

Thanks for all your input, it has helped.
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Old July 15, 2017   #44
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Well, after I added the plain soil to decrease the the % organic matter, I did add more the next year in the form of a soil/compost mix and was much happier again, but I have not used fertilizer at all I don't think since the soil test which was 3 years ago. I can't remember if it was in a cover letter or verbally told to me that I had too much organic matter, but I did go back and find the original results which don't seem that bad to me right now. Organic matter was "Medium High", I think there may have been a percentage at one time, but not on the remaining email I have. I think I was given more detailed information and recommendations in the letter that was mailed. That doesn't sound that bed. pH 6.4, which actually is almost neutral although for tomatoes slightly more acidic would be better, but its not horrible. Nitrate V Low, 1 ppm; Ammonium Nitrate Low, 12 ppm; Phosphorous Med High, 50 ppm; Potassium V High, >250 ppm; Calcium V High, > 1600 ppm (no problems with BER here, lol); and Magnesium, V High >125 ppm. If I get it retested, it will be interesting to see if anything has changed. I understand Nitrogen tests are not very reliable. Anyway, now I have the results here so I can hopefully find them easily later, lol.

So anyway, likely additional nitrogen wouldn't hurt, although the plants look OK. I suspect the anemic looking leaves when I first plant might be because there is not a lot of nitrogen in the upper most layer of soil which has the most recently applied compost in it, but when the roots reach down deeper they might find more nitrogen where the organic matter has broken down more. Just a crackpot theory from someone with very little knowledge of soil chemistry, lol.

Thanks for all your input, it has helped.
The same outfit that makes TTF also makes a Vegetable formula that is higher in nitrogen and does wonders for heavy feeders like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and etc. It is also a great booster to use the week or two after plants are set out to get them growing and looking better. I use it on tomatoes until they start blooming heavily and use it all season on peppers which seem to love it. When using it on newly planted young seedlings I use the 1 1/2 tsp or 2 tsp to the gallon the first time. I also use it on my older tomato plants after that first month of big fruit production to get the plant going good again after it gets so depleted from heavy production. The new Vegetable formula that they have is fantastic on things like cucumbers, squash and melons along with almost any colder weather crop. I just got in two gallons for fall and all those fall and winter crops which I will be starting seed for in another month.

Bill
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Old July 15, 2017   #45
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This is a mostly raised bed, lol. Built into a hill, so two sides are raised with a retaining wall to make the bed level. Over the years I just kept adding a little more fresh compost until now it is basically full. I just checked my garden journal and I started it in 2006.



[IMG]IMG_1747 by Susan Albetski, on Flickr[/IMG]
Sue, that's a beautiful bed!
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