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Old 02-23-2021, 04:36 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
14,787 posts, read 20,971,977 times
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coffee grounds , banana peels , egg shells , epsom salts . all of these can improve your soil .
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Old 02-23-2021, 07:37 PM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerania View Post
What Threerun said, but on a wing and prayer I've sometimes planted after having dug in peat moss and whatever compost that I could find or buy. I'd throw in some Epsoma All Purpose Plant Food until I can figure out what I'd missed or done wrong.

Good luck!





Great tools. Takes the guess work out of 'what to add', 'what will and won't grow.
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Old 02-23-2021, 09:36 PM
 
2,130 posts, read 773,404 times
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Get pH soil test.

Your local Master Gardeners may do it for free: the ideal soil pH is between 6.3- 6.8 - slightly acidic. pH 7 is neutral. If your soils are very acidic you may need to add lime until it is corrected.

If you are in dry country: check for salt content of the soil. You may need gypsum

Soil's pH is like a key which locks or unlocks soil's nutrients.
http://rodsgardening.com/pH.htm

Ideal soil has 25% water, 25% air, 5% -organic matter (remains of previously living microorganisms or anything which used to grow) and 45% total of sand, silt and clay.


The least expensive way to improve soil is to cover your soil with last years shredded leaves if you can find them -2-3 inches is enough.
Keep your soil covered at all times: straw, undyed bark mulch, grass clippings, even weeds, which has not gone to seed yet.
Every time you weed:cut the weed and leave it there ( you grow your own mulch)

If you have any kitchen peels, apples cores, banana peels, lettice leaves, thin pliable tree clippings,etc - methodically tuck it in under the mulch all over your garden.

If you dont plant anything and have some wood chips - they are excellent in improving soil, they might deplete some nitrogen in a narrow layer where they touch soil- but it actually helps to keep the weeds down.

Be careful with the store bought compost, other fertilizers: they could have a load of pesticides, toxic metals - as they are a by-product of industry and agriculture- their waste!. Just visit an agricultural store and see what they put on animals to treat/prevent all kind of things. Some of them very persistent in manure and later in the soil for years.

You soil could be productive without it: just keep it covered from the sun and frost- they are desinfectants: kill microbial life; from wind- blows away productive soil particles; rain splatter- it compacts the soil, etc.
The microorganisms and worms under the cover will aerate and bring productivity to your soil naturally.

Do not walk on your soil-to prevent compaction, especially when damp. Do not till - open just enough of soil to plant.

Tomatoes like mineral soils and even watering - your soil might be fine under the mulch for them.

Make sure to transplant your tomatoes into a warmed up soil:minimum 60 degrees at 4 " depth. It does not matter if it is 90 degrees outside- if your soil is cold - it is bad for warm season crops like beans, tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, peppers, etc

Fertilising unnaturally may create soil imbalances and invite diseases and pests.

Last edited by Nik4me; 02-23-2021 at 10:13 PM..
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Old 02-24-2021, 05:50 AM
 
1,978 posts, read 799,013 times
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I'm engaged in a long term process to improve my veggie garden. Each fall I plant a green manure crop. I couple that with straw for mulch which I turn over into the soil in the fall and organic fertilizer. It seems to be working. As noted above, good soil test is a must. Even if the PH is ok, if the calcium is low, all the fertilizer in the world won't help the soil.

This year, my neighbor gave me bales of straw, so I buried the sheets of them, about 6", under the soil, then added a cover crop. Over the winter, the level dropped as the straw rotted. Hopefully, this will really help.
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Old 02-24-2021, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Raleigh
10,731 posts, read 8,132,455 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fisherman99 View Post
Just weeded (overrun with tall grass) my 10 by 20 foot garden plot at the local community center...wow am I going to be sore!


Starting a bunch of tomatoes up from seed now (sprouting well) and will probably just plant those soon...unfortunately, the soil is dry, hard, sandy, and looks poor...needs some type of amendments.


What is a good cost effective way to improve the soil to get a better crop? I'm thinking, I'll just go to Home Depot and get some bags of something to mix in the rows where I plant the plants? Your input is much appreciated!
Define cost effective. At the very least you can buy topsoil from Lowes for $1.80/bag. If you put 20 bags down you will help the soil quite a bit. Black Kow manure is roughly $5 a bag. I might buy 10 bags of black kow and 20 of topsoil and ammend all of it in the soil. And, next year at the end of the planting season, cover with leaf mulch, clippings, woodchips, whatever.
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Old 02-24-2021, 07:29 AM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
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If you have the space you can ask tree trimmers working locally to dump a load of their leaves and woodchips on your property, providing you are not using that land. When they dump it is a large load of chips and leaves, several cubic yards. I like to just let it sit for several years until it starts to break down. You will see that when it is loaded with fishworms. You could add a little of it every year to your soil as you prepare the ground to plant or simply wait for the chips to compost. Most of the time I get loads of it for free because the trimmers just want the closest place to dump. It is free organic matter that can help improve your soil: https://www.motherearthnews.com/orga...h-zmaz10onzraw.

But as others have stated, it is best to get the soil test done first and that way you will know what you need to improve your crops. It is very cheap the last time I had it done by the Extension Service. I do not know how much it is in your state? Besides your garden you might as well get your lawn tested at the same time, it will save you in the long run because you will know what you are missing.
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Old 02-24-2021, 08:48 PM
 
1,865 posts, read 471,952 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fisherman99 View Post
Thanks for the input...is an old garden plot, but I haven't "composted" the soil in a very long time. Would just water in "miracle grow" right on plants occasionally. Still would get some crop over the years, but less and less now so it's time for amendments.



Will see if there are any extra compost piles at the community center where I can possibly borrow a wheel-barrow or 2? If not, then I will go to Home Depot and get some bags of it to spread along the rows when planting...still have more work to do as I get it all ready to go! Appreciate your info!



Update...was a massive compost pile on some of the new unused plots at community center...was able to get a few wheel-barrows full of it. Made 10 rows on the 10x20 foot plot...dug them pretty deep, flooded them out to soften soil, and mixed all of the compost in the rows...should be good to go soon now as the weather warms up a little more (here in So. Cal) for tomatoes!
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Old 02-24-2021, 09:21 PM
 
3,765 posts, read 1,652,538 times
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Weeds love acidic PH soil. Pull up the weeds, take some soil tests (retail). And then neutralize the soil PH by mixing in some lime and compost. Add more lime for a more alkaline PH.


Don't use manure unless its composted.


On line you can find out which veggies to grow with what PH.



If you get a lot of dandelions on your lawn, spread lime and they won't like it.
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Old 02-24-2021, 11:12 PM
 
Location: Sandy Eggo's North County
2,813 posts, read 958,648 times
Reputation: 3871
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fisherman99 View Post
Just weeded (overrun with tall grass) my 10 by 20 foot garden plot at the local community center...wow am I going to be sore!


Starting a bunch of tomatoes up from seed now (sprouting well) and will probably just plant those soon...unfortunately, the soil is dry, hard, sandy, and looks poor...needs some type of amendments.


What is a good cost effective way to improve the soil to get a better crop? I'm thinking, I'll just go to Home Depot and get some bags of something to mix in the rows where I plant the plants? Your input is much appreciated!
Good way to waste money, I guess.

First thing you need to do is take a few soil samples (different depths) to a lab. Find out what you need. NOT what "Home Depot" wants to sell you. Nurseries have this service.
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Old 02-25-2021, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Virginia
7,045 posts, read 3,467,940 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NORTY FLATZ View Post
Good way to waste money, I guess.

First thing you need to do is take a few soil samples (different depths) to a lab. Find out what you need. NOT what "Home Depot" wants to sell you. Nurseries have this service.
It's still generally cheaper to have your local extension service send off a soil sample for testing than to have a nursery do it. Our extension office uses the labs at Virginia Tech, which is about as good as you can get and only charges $9 for a full soil work-up. The local nursery chain, although they are a good nursery, charges $39.99. Interestingly though, they have links to VA Tech, the local Cooperative Extension offices, UMD and MD Cooperative Extension Offices as well, all of which offer the much cheaper soil tests. Why waste money at Home Depot and Lowes doing guess work when you can get the exact quantities of nutrients that you need for your soil at such a low price?
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