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Deficient N/P levels

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Deficient N/P levels

Post  Boshwok840 on 3/30/2013, 2:30 pm

I started my first SFG last year and had a bit of success, but many of my plants had stunted growth with low yield. I want to do things right this year, and the first thing I purchased was a soil test kit.

I tested this morning, and found that my soil has depleted levels for N and P. I think the main issue was that the compost I used last year was the free compost from my local recycling center. I believe it's made almost 100% from leaves.

I bought a bit of manure/hummus compost this morning, but don't have the budget to buy enough for all my raised beds (about 48 square feet at a depth of 6 inches). Instead, I figure I will use inorganic fertilizer and work on amending the soil in the fall.

How much fertilizer should I add to the beds (or how do I figure that out)? The beds are bare right now, but I planned on transplanting my seedlings before the week is up. I was going to do it today, but figured it's pointless if there are insufficient nutrients.

Thanks for your help.
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Re: Deficient N/P levels

Post  camprn on 3/30/2013, 2:48 pm

@Boshwok840 wrote:I started my first SFG last year and had a bit of success, but many of my plants had stunted growth with low yield. I want to do things right this year, and the first thing I purchased was a soil test kit.

I tested this morning, and found that my soil has depleted levels for N and P. I think the main issue was that the compost I used last year was the free compost from my local recycling center. I believe it's made almost 100% from leaves.

I bought a bit of manure/hummus compost this morning, but don't have the budget to buy enough for all my raised beds (about 48 square feet at a depth of 6 inches). Instead, I figure I will use inorganic fertilizer and work on amending the soil in the fall.

How much fertilizer should I add to the beds (or how do I figure that out)? The beds are bare right now, but I planned on transplanting my seedlings before the week is up. I was going to do it today, but figured it's pointless if there are insufficient nutrients.

Thanks for your help.

I don't use chemical fertilizers so I cannot rightly say, but I would suggest that if you are going to use it, follow the label instructions. Always follow the label instructions is my motto...

If you can find the change for the fertilizer I would recommend hunting up some less expensive compost from your local folks like goat farms, horse stables, chicken farms. There are a few listings on Craigslist for Compost. Go on Freecycle and see if you can find folks raising bunnies or llamas. There are more alternatives out there than you may imagine.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Deficient N/P levels

Post  Unmutual on 3/31/2013, 12:37 am

@Boshwok840 wrote:I started my first SFG last year and had a bit of success, but many of my plants had stunted growth with low yield. I want to do things right this year, and the first thing I purchased was a soil test kit.

I tested this morning, and found that my soil has depleted levels for N and P. I think the main issue was that the compost I used last year was the free compost from my local recycling center. I believe it's made almost 100% from leaves.

I bought a bit of manure/hummus compost this morning, but don't have the budget to buy enough for all my raised beds (about 48 square feet at a depth of 6 inches). Instead, I figure I will use inorganic fertilizer and work on amending the soil in the fall.

How much fertilizer should I add to the beds (or how do I figure that out)? The beds are bare right now, but I planned on transplanting my seedlings before the week is up. I was going to do it today, but figured it's pointless if there are insufficient nutrients.

Thanks for your help.

First, those pH tests are notorious for inaccuracy. The best way to get your mix tested is to go through your AgCenter(could be free, might cost ~$10), though with your description the MM could be lacking anyway, so the professional soil test is more for future reference. Second, fertilizer is not a one time thing. You will have to keep reapplying the fertilizer throughout the growth and fruiting times(depends on the plant). Fertilizer also tends to leach easily, so any heavy rain can knock that fertilizer out of your MM(some will stay, but the MM won't keep everything). For these reasons, chemical fertilizers may end up costing you more. Also, chances are that you may have to buy several different varieties of fertilizer for different plants(a balanced fertilizer, ie: 10-10-10 or 7-7-7, isn't necessarily always right for the job).

If I were in the same predicament, I'd probably add a scoop of the new compost to each square(side dressing any squares with plants in them, mixing it in well in empty squares) and then save the money to get at least 3 more sources of compost(doesn't have to be all at once). If the plants still seemed stunted(might take a while for the side dressed compost to kick in), then I'd see about spraying fish emulsion for that extra kick. You can go overboard with fertilizer(including fish emulsion), and chemical fertilizers can burn your plants if applied incorrectly. Personally, I don't use fertilizer for a number of reasons.

A 40lb bag of compost should contain enough 'scoops' for your 48 squares.

@camprn wrote:

I don't use chemical fertilizers so I cannot rightly say, but I would suggest that if you are going to use it, follow the label instructions. Always follow the label instructions is my motto...

If you can find the change for the fertilizer I would recommend hunting up some less expensive compost from your local folks like goat farms, horse stables, chicken farms. There are a few listings on Craigslist for Compost. Go on Freecycle and see if you can find folks raising bunnies or llamas. There are more alternatives out there than you may imagine.

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Re: Deficient N/P levels

Post  camprn on 3/31/2013, 7:01 am

Unmutual you make a very important point about soil test accuracy. KNOWING what is going on in your mix is essential to correct any deficiencies ACCURATELY.

Here is a link to the most economical and most informative soil test lab I have hear of. Our old friend Boffer used this lab to have his Mel's mix tested and I think the turn around time was about a week.
http://soiltest.umass.edu/sites/soiltest.umass.edu/files/forms/soilless-greenhouse-media/Soilless%20Greenhouse%20Media%20Sample%20Submission%20Form-editable.pdf

____________________________

41 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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Re: Deficient N/P levels

Post  TN_GARDENER on 3/31/2013, 9:30 am

There are lots of inexpensive soil amendments out there. A good deal of them can be found at the ag feed stores.

horse feed
alfalfa pellets
rabbit feed
manure
corn meal

Sometimes the stores have spoiled bags that they can't sell, so you might ask the manager and/or the guys on the loading dock.

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Re: Deficient N/P levels

Post  gwennifer on 3/31/2013, 12:38 pm

@Boshwok840 wrote:...

How much fertilizer should I add to the beds (or how do I figure that out)? ...
I'm sorry you had a lack-luster season last year. That's no fun.

When top-dressing and digging in fresh compost and even Chickety-Doo-Doo didn't help me, I added Espoma Garden-tone. It's organic, long-lasting (only have to apply once a month), and the directions include instructions for how much to add per square foot of your garden, so it's easy to figure out how to apply it to your SFG.

Good luck! Smile
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