Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Seaweed and Fish Emulsion at Community Garden and planted cucs

Today at the PQ Garden I used my first spraying of Neptune's Seaweed and Fish Emulsion.

I also planted some "slicing" cucumber starts that I purchased at the nursery.

Plus here are a few pictures of what's growing.  The squash we ate tonight for dinner.  The kale I used to make socca with many little onions from the garden.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fertilizer GroPower

Used the GroPower on the Roses, Citrus, and Front (continuing the error from last time.)

Amending Soil to Fix the Zero Nitrogen Issue

I am aware that some organic vegetable gardens may have very low water soluble nitrogen levels, but ZERO seems a bit low to me.  I'm hoping this is the issue with my North and West beds, because it is one that I can fix.  Just to be sure, I dug up a few of my pathetic tomato plants to take them back to the nursery for show and tell, along with my soil test results.

I came back with some new tricks.

The first is blood meal.  I've heard that it is easy to burn plants with this as it can be too nitrogen-hot, but really, with ZERO, is that going to be an issue?  (Were those famous last words?)  One of the nursery guys told me to use it in 2-5x quantities on the label and he wasn't concerned.  Another just said he's had trouble with it attracting animals, so he recommended I scratch it in.  I don't want to attract the raccoon pair that's recently been sited in the neighborhood.

I used the blood meal in the North Bed: 4 1/6  cups total.
Blood meal in the West Bed: 1 5/6 cups total

I clawed it in for both locations.

The second photo shows what I'm hoping will be my new best friends: Dial N Spray and Fish Fertilizer.  Today I used the Sprayer for the first time and it was super easy.  We had something like this about 12 years ago that wasn't nearly as intuitive.  I used the fish emulsion on the North Bed, West Bed, South Bed, Pots, and Front.  (Plus the camellias were in my way, so I foliar sprayed them, too.)

I hope to see some improvement in the sorry state of some plants.  I hope I'm on the right track.

Garden Journal

As an experiment, I'm going to try this blog as a means of keeping a garden journal to see if it is an improvement on my current method.  For those who are interested in gardening, you may get a kick out of this.  For those who read for other reasons may wish to ignore these posts.  So here goes...

Tonight I put in a bunch of info, going back into June of this year.  Mostly I wanted to record the soil testing and figure out if I can use this as  means to monitor my fertilizing, record which seeds I use, etc.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Massive Soil Testing: No nitrogen!

My northern, and to a lesser extent, my western garden beds have been suffering terribly.  I've put in dozens of tomatoes that died.  Plus many beet and green bean seeds have been total duds.  The shallots in the West bed are very sad as well.

Here are pictures from my north bed, where so many tomato seedlings have died.  The chard and parley are from last year.  There is one okay eggplant in that bed that is a start from a nursery this year.  Plus some of my cinnamon basil starts have survived.  Those things in yogurt containers are months old tomatoes that I started, like in February!  

I've been wondering if I've contaminated the bed with a persistent herbicide like Picloram because this fall I used horse manure that I composted in the bed before I knew about the issue.  I spoke about that some in this link.  But I was also hoping it was something like a pH issue.  In my compost pile use a ton of coffee grounds that I get in big bags from Starbucks, so I was wondering if perhaps the pH was just off.

On Friday I went to a good local nursery, Walter Anderson's, to gather advice.  I explored the send-away soil test options but the people there weren't selling it to hard, saying that the results were confusing, even for them to understand.  I'd heard that home test kits were iffy, but they seemed fairly confident in theirs.  So I came home with a new home test kit in addition to the pH probe I already had.

This weekend I did a lot of pH and NPK tests from these beds. I used both my pH probe and the pH that came in with the NPK test kits.  The probe gave readings about 0.5-0.75 lower than the test kit, but all were acceptable.  EVEREY SINGLE nitrogen test I did was ZERO!  The P and K were in the slightly low, to normal, to slightly high range.  So I'm averaging that out and calling the P and K good.  Here are my handwritten notes:

So how is it that my organic beds, amended with homemade compost and homemade worm castings has zero nitrogen??!!