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Thread: Garden Soil is acid, low ntrogen, low potash, low phos

  1. #1
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Default Garden Soil is acid, low ntrogen, low potash, low phos

    Our old garden plot was depleted and had lost a lot of soil over the years,
    So last year I ran up the hwy a few miles and bought 3 one ton truck loads of soil from a well known source.

    Now nothing grows except horse-tail. I limed it over the winter and still nothing grows except horse-tail.

    I tested it today and the acid PH was about 5.5 to 6.0 , The nitrogen, potash and phosphorus test were all rock bottom.

    What are some good suggestions to jump start this dirt???
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    Member mudbuddy's Avatar
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    8-32-16, a good garden fertilizer for root crops. 10-10-10 good basic garden fertilizer. (for fastest results)
    Then a few loads of Horse manure. Till it in.
    Compost (several microbes & trace elements) also is great to mix in the top few inches to feed the soil so the soil can feed the plants.
    PH around 6.5 is good, compost & manure should help that some & mix in some leaves this fall.(all rich in much needed soil microbes)
    Horse tail will grow no matter what you do, the base roots are 12"+ down. I'm no help there,mine grows up thru 5' deep compost bins.
    Sorry to here you got bad soil.
    Where you got the soil tested should be able to recommend some additives to get a good garden balance & to get it growing.
    Good luck.

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    ORGANIC MATTER!

    Add lots of organic matter. It does not have to be composted, if laid on thick enough it will block most weeds from coming up. Thick enough is usually 12 inches or more. Organic matter will neutralize the PH, add missing fertility, jump start soil life, rebuild hummus, make healthier plants, hold moisture neither too high or too low. attract earthworms which will till the soil and bring up minerals from deep in the soil. You can also plant nutrient miners, deep rooted plants that bring up nutrients from the sub soil. Examples include: Dandelion, chicory, daikon, comfrey, etc.

    A good non organic (plant matter) supplement that is "organic" is rock dust. It will add trace elements. You can get it cheep at most sand and gravel plants. Apply at 2-3 tons per acre (43,560 square feet).
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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    I will head into town and try to find some items. Last year I used a bunch of the white bag store bought manure, but it did nothing...
    Well it and the lime/wood stove ashes may have helped bring the PH up a little since this stuff was a 5.0 when I started. It actually killed anything transplanted into it last year.

    Here on the south coast of the Kenai Peninsula it has not been warm enough during the last couple summers for composting to work very well. (Plus I am up at 1,000 feet MSL.) I have some black painted steel trash cans that were full of grass cuttings and the very few broad leaves we have. It took two years for it to decompose. I also have two big wire mesh tubes that are about 6 feet in diameter and 5 feet tall. Ten years ago I filled them full of layers of chicken manure and old hay/grass. They still have not become anything other than old hay and chicken poop.
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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    To compost properly you need moisture and turn it over frequently in the summer. Otherwise it will take some time to break down if you ignore the pile.
    BK

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    For compost to break down quickly it needs air. If you keep it wet and give it air it will break down quickly as long as the temp is above freezing outside.

    Take a look at deep mulch gardening/sheet mulching.

    Gardening without work by ruth stout
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    Using this method you don't have to make compost. Just apply the mulch around your plants and let it break down naturally. The benefits are: no more tilling, better soil life, better fertility, better plant growth, and all the stuff I said in my other post. If it takes a while for the stuff to break down it just means that it blocks weeds from coming up for longer. If you know someone who has made good compost locally, try to get a 5 gallon bucket of it to kick start your compost pile. Also use some to make a compost tea. You can use it to kick start your garden's soil life and as a foliar feeding to your plants.

    You might also want to look at acid loving/tolerant plants. Blueberries like acidic soil, check and see what other fruits and veggies like those conditions and you will have something to grow till the soil improves.
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

    http://wouldieatitagainfoodblog.blogspot.com/

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    Compost and lots of it. Buy some Susitna Organics compost until your compost is useable. I've turned out useable compost in as little as three weeks. I second the 8-32-16 Alaska Gro. One container has lasted me two years. Adding a few inches of compost every year really makes a big difference.

    To make "quick" compost the pile needs to be turned every day and have the right proportion of green and brown. Check out the Alaska Gardening Guide Vol. 1 from the library. Or the Rodale Book of Composting.

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    No chemical fertilizers belong in a kitchen garden. Bone meal, blood meal, fish fertilizer, sterile steer manure, etc. Use those organic amendments and you can grow great veggies in sand. Send a soil sample to the Cooperative Extension Service and they'll tell you what you need to do.

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    You may also wish to think about a cover crop for the fall and winter. Planting a cover crop will suppress weeds, build productive soil, and help control pests and diseases. Hairy vetch is a good choice cover crop for your location....to my knowledge...which is limited as to Alaskan gardening thus far.

    My experience is in Washington state where I am a certified Master Gardener...however, I believe you should be able to get a cover crop in before the weather turns...then till it under in the Spring. It's a good way to incorporate organic material while you tend your compost pile.

    Here's a bit of info on various cover crops. http://www.garden.org/ediblelandscap...eptember_cover These are also known to some as 'green manure' and will beef up your soil quickly. Here's another link for you to study up on. http://www.garden.org/ediblelandscap...eptember_cover

    Hope that helps give you some other options to fertilizer which, IMO, only depletes the soil and eventually makes it useless for nutrient rich gardening of food sources.

    FF


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    Hey, FF, my wife's a master gardener in Anchorage. Her pet project this summer has been the refugee garden. Perhaps you've crossed paths?

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    I tilled in a bunch of compost from some folks down the road. Also some lime and fish meal. The bears showed up that night to see what smelled so interesting.
    Up until last year I always had ducks, chickens and a few turkeys. I would use duck pond water for the garden and it really gave it a lift.
    Last summer a couple bears made it their summer-long mission in life to get my remaining ducks. So this year I do not have duck pond water with that extra ingredient.

    If I could sell horse-tail and chick-weed I would be pretty well off.
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    "Hey, FF, my wife's a master gardener in Anchorage. Her pet project this summer has been the refugee garden. Perhaps you've crossed paths?"

    Have not had the pleasure....but would love to meet up some time. I am currently in WA state awaiting a surgery....or I'd put my digits out to you.

    Thanks for the hello!

    FF
    "The Nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.
    In memory of our troops...defenders of our freedom."

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    If I could sell horse-tail and chick-weed I would be pretty well off.
    It's so heartbreaking when our gardens get contaminated by noxious, or at least invasive weeds. I recall many years ago getting a 5 yard truck full of beauty bark in WA....got it all done covering the flower beds and such and the next year was COVERED with bind week that hadn't been introduced to the land in the past. It still plagues the land. :-(

    The one upside for the horse-tail is that it's a medicinal. Not a very good trade for a garden space however.... http://www.liveandfeel.com/medicinal...horsetail.html I truly do feel your pain!!! Compost tea is another good one for the garden...keeps the seeds at bay and you still get good nutrients. Just another idea.

    FF
    "The Nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.
    In memory of our troops...defenders of our freedom."

  14. #14

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    Garden is doing ok with the gravity feed from the organic tank.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #15

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    Add some fish bones for the phosphorus and potash. Add some manure for the nitrogen. Add some lime to neutralize the acidity. That's what I would do. I am no gardening expert though. Better go with Mudbuddy's suggestions. My wife does all our gardening. But I know those are the basic ingredients she uses. She uses fertilizer also, but I am not sure of the proper proportions.

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