Ripping out your summer garden to make room for the fall vegetable and flower garden? Before you stick one broccoli plant or calendula flower in that space, you need to improve your soil. It’s tired! How do you perk it up? One way: let a portion of your garden lay fallow for the summer, as is that bottom raised bed in the picture. But the soil is being replenished, courtesy of all the mulch on top of the bed.
Soils expert Steve Zien has faster acting tips for increasing the amount of microbial activity that’s taking place in your soil. And that’s one of the secrets to a bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables and flowers.
We discuss the importance of testing your soil with a pH test kit and an N-P-K test kit, before making any amendments. To lower the pH, Zien suggests soybean meal, hydrolyzed fish fertilizer or earthworm castings. I like soil sulfur to lower the pH. To raise the pH, Zien suggests oyster shell lime or ground limestone.
Reasonably Priced Soil Testing:
University of Massachusetts/Amherst
Colorado State University
Use a soil probe or the Soil Sleuth to determine soil moisture before adding plants. Or, use my favorite moisture meter.
Zien says the best soil amendments include earthworm castings or good quality compost, which can be placed on top of the garden bed.
More information about Steve Zien's web presentation about soil health can be found here.
Don Shor of Redwood Barn Nursery in Davis, CA has a quick tip: don’t leave those plants you just purchased in 6-packs stay in that container for more than a day or two. Move them up to 4” pots and a good quality potting soil if you can’t get them in the ground right away.
It’s all on Episode 45 of Garden Basics with Farmer Fred: Feed Your Soil: the cool season garden edition, brought to you by Smart Pots. Visit smartpots.com/fred for more information and a discount on the original, lightweight, long-lasting fabric plant container, made in the USA. And we will do it all in under 30 minutes.
More info including live links, product information, transcripts, and chapters available at the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred.
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