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The saga begins…

Oct 16, 2008 -

Results of my soil test came in, much earlier than expected.  As it turns out, the results were MUCH better that I had anticipated.

Soil Test

The minute I got my results, I consulted the Understanding Your Soil Analysis Report book, to see what I was dealing with.  As you can see, most of my levels are either good or great.  After a thorough reading of the book, I wanted to be sure that I understood what I was reading, so I employed the services of Amber, our friendly, knowledgeable store manager / garden consultant.  To be able to properly convey this information to you, the reader, I corresponded with her entirely through email:

 “There are only a couple of things you need to do to improve your soil.  One is to increase your biological activity.  You can do that by using a soil inoculant and/or arctic humus, by cover cropping, and by using compost tea (start in the spring, not now, microbes aren’t very active in winter anyway).  Here’s a good website if you want to learn more about soil structure, biologically active soil and more.  As you increase bio activity and organic mater, your CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity) will go up, which is good.  The higher the better for CEC; it reveals your soil’s ability to hold onto nutrients to be used by plants.

Also in the spring, you should add a Nitrogen fertilizer. If you go by the Understanding your Soil Analysis Report booklet, you can choose Blood, Fish, Cottonseed, or Feather Meal at the “heavy” rate.  Your pH is nearly perfect, so it’s probably better not to use the cottonseed meal as it’s acidic.  Nitrogen is a nutrient that you’ll be adding each spring, because it gets used up quickly.

There are a few interesting things about your soil, like the Phosphorus is very high, which is unusual for our area.  I wonder if the previous caretakers fertilized the area in the past?  Potassium is also high, and Zinc is extremely high.  Watch out when plants are growing, the excess zinc might induce an iron deficiency.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you actually have an iron deficiency, just that if one nutrient is out of balance it can “bind” other nutrients.  Scientists have figured out which nutrients bind which, and zinc apparently binds iron.  If your plants show yellowing between the veins, especially on the young leaves, you might consider using a liquid iron chelate.

I’d suggest that you go ahead and work up the soil enough to plant the cover crop.  In Spring, look out over the area and when the crop is at 25-50% flower, chop it down and till it in.  At that time, add your nitrogen fertilizer (you could probably go with the Medium rate of application instead of the Heavy though) , and soil inoculant and/or arctic humus.  When you put in your garden or lawn, start using compost tea.  Voila! Before you know it, you’ll have a luscious garden!”

(By the way, anyone who gets a  soil test done can make an appointment for a phone consultation with Amber for a nominal charge)

So, my next step, since I apparently don’t need to amend anything (yay!), is to till up the ground and plant.  Hopefully, the time will be available this weekend to make this happen.  Stay tuned!

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