Soil tests, ammending soil, support web-sites

Harriet - 9 or 9aAugust 7, 1999

This is my first year as Garden Coordination for a garden that is also in it's first year. I work with health administrators and teachers and am twisting in the wind on some of these subjects everyone thinks I have at my fingertips. (losing my hair by the fistful!!)

I have recently begun testing our soil: PH level, phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium. The instruction booklet doesn't even begin to detail the whats and how-tos of amending. Which is fine, really. I'd rather find it in a dedicated plant arena than a chemical or non-gardening arena.

So, do you know any good sites which include specific plants' soil and/or nutrient requirements??

Beyond that, what sites do you love to supplement your community gardening work with??

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Dawn G - 5 Canada

Have you been to the Organic forum? Lots of great feedback there and some very informed gardeners. Many of them have a great sense of 'community' as well. I live in a co-operative housing complex and always get lots of great responses to related questions that I post on that forum.

Dawn G.

    Bookmark   August 8, 1999 at 2:16PM
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Jon - 8

The best thing you can do for your soil is to decompose organic matter into it. Set up a compost program. Encourage mulching.

    Bookmark   August 30, 1999 at 1:42AM
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Jon - 8

Getting organic matter decomposing into your soil is the best thing you can do. Compost and mulch. Does your garden make compost? If you have enough organic matter in your soil, N-P-K etc. takes care of care of itself.

    Bookmark   October 31, 1999 at 1:41AM
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Karin Kostyzak

It takes a while to organically ammend your soil. Patience, however, is not a strong point for teachers, who often look at a garden or environmental center for immediate produce. I know. I am the Environmental Center Coordinator at my school.

I have spent three years adding to my soil and gradually building up the nutrients. A colleague goes to places like Starbucks (coffee shop) and natural juice shops. He picks up their refuse -- especially coffee grounds and carrot mush. He works this into his soil about a month prior to planting. He has some of the best soil I've ever seen! We have deliveries of horse manure and chipped leaf and bark mulch to add. What resoources are available to you?

    Bookmark   November 23, 1999 at 7:35AM
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Harriet - 9a

Karin, what a good idea about the natural juice shop and coffee shop. Our educational garden is in it's infancy, and some of our satelite programs are, too, like our compost bins, our worm bins, our soil health, our insectary, etc.
I asked our local salad shop if I could have their vegetable waste for our worms, which is working out well. I pick up vegetable matter outside their back door at least once a week. (I hope they don't get sick of the same thing day after day!!) Our office staff, teachers and preschool age students also help by composting their appropriate materials. I know where a juice bar neighbors a coffee shop, so it WOULD be a good resource: fast and efficient. Thanks for the tip!!

    Bookmark   November 23, 1999 at 5:29PM
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Sean Phelan - 8(WA)

As Jon said, with enough organic matter the #s take care of themselves. What he didn't say is that he has developed a method of dramatically increasing soil fertility at no cost and minimal effort that has swept the Seattle community gardens. There is a long thread in the "organic" forum discussing the Interbay mulch. I urge you to read it.

    Bookmark   November 29, 1999 at 2:01AM
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Sean Phelan - 8(WA)

There's a long IBM thread in the"soil,compost& mulches" forum that explains it all!Any further info needed, please write.
Sean

    Bookmark   November 29, 1999 at 12:33PM
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Allison(5b OH)

How should soil testing be different in community gardens on abandoned lots in urban neighbirhoods? I'm wondering if there are certain chemical contaminants I should test for and how I'd know if the land is safe.
Thanks,
AJ

    Bookmark   December 8, 1999 at 10:17PM
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Monte - NJ

Heres a link to the soil test lab I use here in NJ. It should give you an idea of what kinds of testing should be available to you thru your local co-op extension service.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rutgers Soil Testing

    Bookmark   December 30, 1999 at 2:10PM
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