Thursday, May 28, 2009

Garden planting - Un-compost and Nitrogen

One thing we knew we would have a problem with that most people who chop down trees and chip the limbs often forget is that fresh wood chips have a tendency to suck the Nitrogen out of the soil. Actually it's the bacteria (and fungi) use the N to decompose all that fresh new yummy waste material. Actually, and uncomposted material tends to have this affect. It can also effect the Ph of your soil, so you may need to add lime, as we did early on.

We thought we had added enough manure and fertilizer and lime to adjust the soil properly, but I'll tell you, when you put in healthy basil, tomatoes and eggplants and they just sit there for 2 weeks, there's something wrong.

Well, there was.

My dad-in-law bought me a new soil tester while we were at Home Depot last weekend for deck supplies. I was skeptical at first, used to the "take a sample and send it to your local City Agricultural Department and they'll let you know in six weeks" or the chemical testers.

No, this baby is a three pronged, no batteries needed, no chenicals tester. Just make a mud puddle in the ground and stick it in.

Our Ph was fine due to the lime, but the wood chips had sucked out a lot of the Nitrogen our little plants needed to grow.

The "Fertility" was just plain awful.

So we bought a Miracle Grow sprayer attachment and a 10lb. bag (actually 8 smaller bags in a box marked 10#... much cheaper than buying separately) and we sprayed two full feedings on the garden ASAP.

All I can say is... 'Triffids."

The flowers had buds overnight. The eggplants grew 50% overnight. The seedlings that were disguised as weeds perked up. The lettuces turned GREEN. Limpy transplants I had no hope of flowering this year sudddenly stood up straight and saluted me as I walked by.

It was freaky how quick the plants absorbed the Miracle Grow.

I had to take in a batch of Arugula and leaf lettuce because it got too big and started to bolt overnight. The picture below is the harvest. The picture above is the day AFTER the harvest. It's still growing rapidly. And it tastes wonderful.

That's a lamb roast in the background, in case anyone is wondering.

The seeds I had started last week ALL popped up. Before, I was getting less than a 50% germination rate. Now I've got more seedlings than I know what do to with.

All I'm saying is... get a soil tester. Our cost $18 and is worth every penny.

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