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Old 02-22-2021, 09:20 PM
 
1,847 posts, read 463,064 times
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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!
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:12 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
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Without time to let something break down, like raw manure, it won't be super cheap.

Cheapest option I can think of, is to see if your local Home Depot type store has anything that calls itself "compost" that you can afford. Or see if any of the manure that's bagged up says it's composted.

You don't want to put any manure on the plot that hasn't fully broken down, because it can "burn" new plants. Stuff that hasn't broken down yet actually pulls nutrients from the soil during it's breaking-down phase, so it ends up being counter-productive.

You're probably learning that gardening can actually be a very expensive hobby rather than a cost-effective way to put food on the table - unless you are working on a very long-term garden plot.

Regardless, I wish you lots of happiness playing in the dirt. One of my favorite things to do.
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:24 PM
 
Location: Indianapolis, East Side
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See if your community has compost available. Here in Indianapolis, for instance, the city picks up and composts leaves and offers it for free to the public.

Or you could put in one or two raised beds. Up to four tomato plants should fit in a 4x4 bed. Four tomato plants per person should be plenty, even if you're canning or freezing most of them. Ideally, you should fill the raised bed with compost, vermiculite and peat moss, but if you're a budget, compost alone will do.

See the Square foot gardening sticky at the top of the forum.
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:28 PM
 
Location: Lost in Montana *recalculating*...
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Contact your local extension office, provide a soil sample by following their instructions and they will send you a comprehensive report of your soil, what not to plant, what to plant to help the soil, or what amendments you may need.

We just got one for our old and 'new' garden. They need separate treatment because of what's been grown in them in the past and the new soil I hauled in.

2 test were $30. Recommendations to our garden included no purchases of anything. Planting of specific crops in the new garden, and tilth compost for the old (composted grass, mainly).

Last edited by Threerun; 02-22-2021 at 10:37 PM..
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:37 PM
 
1,847 posts, read 463,064 times
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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!
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:00 PM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
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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!
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:31 PM
 
Location: Southern Oregon
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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!



Peat moss is great soil conditioner but wont really feed the soil too much. Manure in bags is about the cheapest thing at the stores to add for nutrients. I save all my egg shells and grind them up and toss them into the soil. Good for the tomatoes and roses too. Compost is cheap, but I don't really produce enough house waste and don't have a lawn so it's not much. I also just buy cheap ammonium nitrate to throw on the compost since I don't have manure to add to it. But it doesn't produce much.
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Old 02-23-2021, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Chicago area
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I don't do anything to the whole garden. I just add extra soil, compost and composted manure to the hole I dig for the plant. Why feed the weeds? They do extremely well on their own. My garden is about 20x30 and it produces enough tomatoes (4 plants) to fill my freezer for the winter. The kale does very well and two eggplant plants are more than enough for us and a few giveaways.

Some years the green peppers (4 plants) go gang busters, other years, not so much. I do fertilize every week as well. I do not use a rototiller. it seems to kill off the worms. I will be adding a couple dozen night crawlers to the soil this year. I never got to it last year, and I did not plant much last year. Just the tomatoes, a row of green beans, and one beautiful pumpkin.

I think I'm going to give up on planting zucchini and yellow squash from seed. Our springs are wetter and cooler and I can't plant seeds until June. I can get plants in the ground in mid May. My zucchini haven't been producing much the last few years.

Now Mr. Rabbit that's been living in our yard under the deck since last May and eating my rose bush might have to find a new home. It's more destructive then those annoying cut worm.

We have over 30 inches of snow on the ground right now that is slowly melting into the garden. I'm hoping that nitrogen will make for a great garden this year.
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Old 02-23-2021, 09:15 AM
 
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Used coffee grounds and grass clipping are good for ways to improve soil. Crop rotation is key too.

Quote:
Tomatoes will do fine in sandy soil as long as they are watered regularly. Another good idea is to amend the soil with organic material such as compost to improve the water-holding capacity of the soil. A slow release fertilizer like bone meal, seed meal, or blood meal will also help.
https://ask2.extension.org/kb/faq.ph...%20also%20help.

The key to tomatoes is to plant them sideways. Tomatoes plants have hairs on the stems which will become roots if you plant them sideways up to first set of leaves. Strong roots give the plants stronger stems and produce more tomatoes. There are articles/youtube videos on how to do this.
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Old 02-23-2021, 09:27 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
34,244 posts, read 62,287,700 times
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If you find it anywhere near you, there are potting/garden soil products like from MiracleGro that have added nutrients, which I will add, and also some worm castings, bone meal, and compost, mixing it in with my small rototiller. Then when planting I use a product from a local manufacturer, that is amazing stuff (below).

https://hendrikusorganics.com/produc...nobloom-5-2-4/
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