Soil Testing

Today after a bit of work outside we decided to test our soil again.  Last year our soil quality was really miserable.  Only thing that would even grow in the yard was moss and slugs.  We planted a mixture of tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and squash.  The squash never really produced much other than lots of flowers, which was neat anyways as I made fried squash blossoms with cheese inside.  Super yummy! Here's a link to a blog discussing how to make this yummy treat!
The tomatoes only produced AFTER we had put them in large containers, which left the eggplants and cucumbers which were our star performers.  We were swimming in cucumbers which we loved thoroughly!
So here are the results.
PH has most definitely gone up dramatically!  Our soil last year was very acidic.  Now it's turned more alkaline.  Nitrogen is pretty low as is Phosphorous.  Potash is getting better now.
To combat the Nitrogen and higher alkaline levels we plan to take our used coffee grounds and throw them in the raised beds.  As for the Phosphorous I'm thinking we're going to possibly try getting some superphosphate from Amazon.com.  
Previously I really had no clue what each thing did for the plant however after last year I really had to do some research!
Wiki has a pretty good write up on all the macronutrients and micronutrients needed by plants here.
The trick is to balance all these levels out so that your soil is not too acidic or not too alkaline; not too high in Nitrogen and not too low; same for all the others.  If your soil is too high in Nitrogen you'll find your plants will produce tons of foliage but smaller amounts of fruits or flowers.  Too low and your leaves will yellow and look sickly.
Phosphorous is important for healthy growth of plants.  Too low and your plants will never really fully grow.  They'll always stay sick and stunted.  Phosphorous is actually responsible for helping the plant convert the sun's energy and other chemicals, such as nitrogen, into usable food.
Last is potash.  Thankfully our potash levels are starting to increase.
Potash(which is also called Potassium) more or less helps plants make use of water and helps them resist drought.  If you have low Potash you might find that the leaves of your plant might curl along the edges, your fruit or vegetable is small or stunted, and your plant may even look scorched.
We may end up going with Muriate of Potash from Amazon but since our levels have started improving we may hold off just a bit.  One other idea I had to increase the Nitrogen by the way was also to possibly plant peas in all the beds that have nothing there yet.  Peas are really great at improving Nitrogen levels without modifying the PH level by much (unlike coffee grounds!  Coffee grounds are very acidic!).  All in all, we're seeing improvement.  Biggest test will be the plants once their in the ground.  

Popular posts from this blog

Somethings a'buzz in our backyard Honeybees in Alaska

Planning out our 2017 Alaskan garden

An argument for soil testing