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Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

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Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Shoda on 8/13/2010, 3:32 pm

As I posted on another topic, I am having trouble with yellow leaves on a few plants - especially the Edamame. The leaf pattern is consistent with iron deficiency. So, a
few days ago I treated them with a liquid chelated iron because it is supposed to be absorbed faster. So far there has been no change.

Today I finally did one of those cheap soil tests from the
nursery. I tested the bed that had the highest percentage of compost (one bed has
about 2 parts compost to 1.5 of vermiculite and 1.5 of peat -- blame it
on the heat!). Anyway, I thought that bed would have the best soil and
it was also where my Edamame is struggling. I was shocked at the
results!


  • PH -- Slightly acid 6.5
  • Nitrogen - Very low
  • Phosphorous - Very low
  • Potash - High
I blame these bad results on the awful bagged compost. Several of the
compost mixes I found were mostly twigs (i.e. fir compost). How can they call that compost!

A week ago (before the test) I applied a time release fertilizer on this box. HUH? Why are the nitrogen and phosphorus levels so low? Also, Edamame doesn't like salt. I understand that Potash is a salt used in fertilizers. Now what?


Shoda

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Wyldflower on 8/13/2010, 3:40 pm

You might want to try bone meal... I just looked at the makeup of the MiracleGro organic bone meal... it's 6-9-0 which wouldn't add any more potassium, while supplying the nitrogen and phosphorus.

Let us know how things progress... sending 'green-leaf vibes'.

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Shoda on 8/13/2010, 3:45 pm

Thanks! I hadn't thought about bone meal. Sounds like it is just what I need though. Good thing I have a fence around the garden! I remember as a kid our Dachshund going crazy digging where ever my dad put the bone meal. He used a lot of that and the stinky fish stuff.

Any idea how long it will take to be absorbed and available to the plants?

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Wyldflower on 8/13/2010, 4:05 pm

Just did a little searching around to find answers... apparently the bone meal is not readily soluble, so it would take a while for it to have any effect.

Blood meal is water soluble, though, and would provide the nitrogen you need... and Espoma makes a quick-solution Super-Phosphate that they claim should have fast results.

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Odd Duck on 8/13/2010, 7:32 pm

I don't remember where I was reading it the other day, but it was a comparison test between several different home tests vs. professional testing. The results were not very comparable at all and the conclusion was that the home tests were pretty inadequate for multiple reasons from being too difficult to use, too difficult to accurately interpret, or having out-of-date, stale test solutions from sitting on the shelf too long. I'm not saying that I would recommend anything different than what's already been recommended, because it sounds like pretty solid advice. Just that your soil may not be quite as bad as what the test kit says or it may be something else entirely. If you're going to test your soil, you should consider having it professionally tested.

Also, edamame doesn't like salt as in excess sodium chloride (NaCl). Potassium (AKA potash) is an element that is usually delivered in the form of a salt of some sort. "Salt" from a chemists view point, includes many compounds - a negative ion bound to a positive ion. Potassium is a positive ion (as is sodium), in fertilizers it is often bound to chloride (a negative ion) as potassium chloride (KCl). But there are many different compounds that are considered "salts". For instance, calcium carbonate (common in antacids like Tums) is a "salt".

If your plants appear to have iron deficiency, your tests are not showing anything related to iron. A professional test should give you those results, but may or may not show you how available the iron is in your particular soil. In your slightly acidic soil, it should be fairly available. Iron is less available in basic (alkaline) soil, even when there's plenty present. There are many different factors in iron solubility and availability that are far beyond what I know, but I do know it's a pretty complex situation on the molecular level.

I know Mel talks about not needing fertilizer, but my garden has done so much better with periodic, balanced, organic fertilizer that includes blood and bone meal along with trace elements. I'd recommend a brand, but the granular stuff I use is the name brand for my local nursery only (North Haven Gardens) as far as I know. It's a general herb and veggie fertilizer. I don't think you can go wrong with a good quality organic fertilizer. The foliar fertilizer sprays I use are also helpful - Liquid Seaweed and Medina Plus - and they are both available nationally. I actually use them for both their fertilizer properties and their insect control properties.

Hope this helps a little.

Sharon

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Shoda on 8/13/2010, 7:38 pm

Sharon,

Wow, thank you for all the information! I do have a professional test kit sitting around that I will use to find out what the real story is. In the meantime, I need to do something to balance the Edamame as it is very unhappy and I am afraid I won't get anything from it.

Will let you know how it goes!

-- Lisa

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Odd Duck on 8/13/2010, 7:42 pm

I wish I could remember where I read that, but they included a "professional" kit also. I was talking about sending it to your local extension service or something (I think most counties offer testing for very reasonable prices, some are even free for the first test).

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Shoda on 8/13/2010, 11:01 pm

Well my soil can't be ALL bad. Look at what I harvested over the last two days! Still better then my dirt vegetable garden last year.

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Odd Duck on 8/16/2010, 9:45 am

Looking good! Soil can't be that bad!

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High potash

Post  ander217 on 8/16/2010, 6:08 pm

Your harvest looks great. Sorry your edamame isn't doing well.

An old way of adding potash to the gardens was to spread wood ashes on them from the woodstove. I wonder if some of your compost came from trees that had been burned over?

I found that my Mel's Mix was poor, too. Once we added bone meal, epsom salts, and plenty of fish emulsion our plants were much happier. It took about a month to notice a real difference with the bone meal and epsom salts. The fish emulsion is more of a "fast food". My next batch of MM will have blood meal mixed in.

Soybeans/edamame need a ph of about 6.5, and fairly high phosphorus and potash levels. It sounds as though phosphorus may be a problem for you. Good luck in making things right.

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Shoda on 8/16/2010, 6:48 pm

Ander --

How will you decide how much to amend your boxes with? Didn't Mel recommend something like that in his first book? I don't have a problem putting in amendments but I would love some recommendations.

I also got nervous looking at all the soil amendments at the nursery. Some say not to put near the stems of the plants, some are fast and some are slow. I did buy some "spray ironite" and gave everything a spray down. (It said it would not burn).

You seem knowledgeable about Edamame. Have you grown it before? Are the blooms supposed to be tiny?

Shoda

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Re: Poor soil test for sfg

Post  Ray'ssfg on 8/16/2010, 7:31 pm

Down here in Aus over the past 3 and half years I have found that the 5 types of compost is REALLY important for a balanced soil. My replacement compost is based on home made out my barrels, but I also add rooster booster, mushroom compost, cow manure and horse manure, mix all together and add to each square as I plant.
I have also found it makes a huge difference to apply either seaweed or fish fertilizer to the plants every 2 weeks.
Keeping them growing vigorously helps with pest contol and attack from disease.
I have not had to spray for any pests or disease for 2 years using this method, healthy plants is the key.
The picture of your harvest indicates a lot of things growing well. I still find some things don't do well for no apparent reason but then will be fine next time.
I am experimenting with what follows what in each square to see if I can identify anything. That is one of the advantages of sfg.
cheers Ray down under

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Edamame

Post  ander217 on 8/17/2010, 7:38 pm

@Shoda wrote:Ander --

How will you decide how much to amend your boxes with? Didn't Mel recommend something like that in his first book? I don't have a problem putting in amendments but I would love some recommendations.

I also got nervous looking at all the soil amendments at the nursery. Some say not to put near the stems of the plants, some are fast and some are slow. I did buy some "spray ironite" and gave everything a spray down. (It said it would not burn).

You seem knowledgeable about Edamame. Have you grown it before? Are the blooms supposed to be tiny?

Shoda, my dad was a soybean farmer. Edamame is the shelly bean stage of soybeans. The irony is, I have a soy intolerance and can't eat soy. So no, I don't grow edamame in my garden but I worked in the fields as a kid. Soybean blossoms are pretty small.

I plan to mix the soil amendments with my next batch of Mel's Mix before I plant anything in it. For amount I'll go by the recommendations on the bag. I matched my leaf problems to photos online which indicated deficiencies of phosphorus and magnesium. The plants responded well to a side dressing of bone meal and epsom salts, which further indicated that phosphorus and magnesium are definitely lacking in my current mix. Nitrogen was also lacking and I'd been using fish emulsion, but I'll mix in blood meal instead and hopefully I can cut down on the amount of fish emulsion while the plants are growing.

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

Post  Shoda on 8/22/2010, 2:22 pm

Way cool! A soybean farmer. My plants are looking a little better after Ironite Plus spray but they are still not quite right. They are full of blooms so I will continue to treat them every two weeks and see what happens. Thanks for your help! I bet you learned a lot about growing soybeans when you were growing up.

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soybean farming

Post  ander217 on 8/24/2010, 1:52 pm

My husband and I were soybean farmers, too, for about ten years. We also grew wheat, milo, and a little corn and sunflowers. Unfortunately that did not make us experts and eventually we went into other lines of work.

It probably made us experts on weeds, though. We seemed to be able to grow plenty of those. Smile

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Re: Poor Soil Test for SFG Box

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