Friday, September 13, 2013

VegHeadz Garden Soil Test

The recent soil test (samples gathered 9-1-2013) for the VegHeadz Demonstration Vegetable Garden was close to perfect. See entire report.

The Ph is slightly high, but with recent additions of well-aged mushroom compost and organic mulches, it should gradually come down. Sulphur could be added as recommended in the report. Even with ample nutrients in the soil, Ph controls how much of the nutrients are absorbed by the plants, so it is important for the Ph to be regulated in the recommended range.

A little organic nitrogen added during the growing season will take care of the nitrogen (fish emulsion, animal manures, blood meal, cottonseed meal, etc.) The legume, rye, and clover cover crops we have planted will also add nitrogen to those rows.  New crops should be planted very soon after dropping the nitrogen-producing cover crops, as nitrogen is volatile and will dissipate over a short period of time.  Dropping the cover crops in place and covering with mulch helps to retain the nitrogen they produce in the soil a little longer. 

Green leafy fall and winter crops benefit from ample nitrogen.  Care must be taken not to add too much nitrogen to spring and summer crops as nitrogen encourages leafy growth but not fruiting (tomatoes, pepper, squash, etc.)

The garden has been managed with Organic rows and Conventional Gardening rows.  Very little fertilizer (none in the past year) has been used on the conventional side of the garden. The entire garden has been amended with varying amounts of mushroom compost, aged horse manure, and a variety of organic mulches - wood chips, hay, oat straw, pine straw.

In the future, the entire garden will be managed as an Organic garden with limited addition of conventional fertilizer to selected plants as a comparison to the organic methods.   Even with the use of conventional fertilizers it is very important to add organic matter to the garden.  Organic matter nourishes micro-organisms which help process nutrients and aid in transmitting the nutrients to plants.  Organic matter is also very important in regulating moisture in the soil and reducing watering requirements.

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