need your input please

sprkyMay 11, 2011

Long time lurker first time poster. This will be a fairly long post as I want you to have all the info past and present so please bear with me.

I have a plot of ground approx 12 x 30 im going to put into a garden. I planted in this last year. I added around 10 bags of back to nature acidified cotton burr compost, several broken bags of manure, top soil, and potting soil, I dont remember the exact amounts,20# gypsum, and the fertilizer the garden center gave me. This was all tilled in to a depth of around 6". The garden center said this should be all I needed to get a good garden going. In each hole before I planted I put 1 cup 1/2 strength Miracle-Gro for tomatoes, 1 tablespoon Epson salts, 1 tablespoon powdered milk. Filled hole around plant and watered in with nother cup of 1/2 strength Miracle-Gro. My tomatoes and peppers didn't do all that well. For awhile I had alot of BER and after that all I got was small peppers and tomatoes.

After the season was over i cleared the garden added all my grass clippings I had save and put in all the mowed up leaves from 3 yards, and 20# gypsum, watered it down good and left it be. Over the winter I added all the coffee grounds and tea bags as well as all the kitchen scraps on top of all this.

I have been buying amendments all winter and stock piling them for use this year. I currently have 16 bags of 2 CF cotton burr compost, 16 bags of 40# composted manure, 16 bags of 40# Mushroom compost, 8 bags of 2 CF Miracle-Gro garden soil, 8 bags of 2 CF Miracle-Gro enriched Sphagnum Peat Moss. Which I am planing on putting into the garden and tilling to a depth of around 6".

In each of the holes this year I am planing on putting 1 cup of 1/2 strength Miracle-Gro, 1 tablespoon Epson salts, 1 tablespoon blood meal, 1 tablespoon bone meal, and 1 tablespoon tomato tone, and use a root stimulator. And then water them in with nother cup of 1/2 strength Miracle-Gro.

My question I guess is 2 fold. Is this too much to add to the garden, and does my plan for the holes sound like a good one.

Please let me know what ya think. I am also open to other suggestions on what i should do.

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With all the addatives, where did you get room for soil. I am no expert but the prevailing word on this forum is that when it comes to fertilizer: "less is best". If you have a problem growing stuff in that garden, you would be hard pressed to know what the problem is with all that "stuff" you have added. Like I said, I am no expert so I won't try to tell you exactly what might or might not be wrong other than to say that I think you add too much stuff. I am sure some more knowledgeable folks on this list will drill down into your problem a bit further and give you some more specific guidance.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 11:30PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy! I, too, would hold off on the fertilizer at planting time.
It sounds as though your garden will be incredibly rich, so I'd plant and see what happens.
Once the plants are growing, then you could fertilize if there's a need.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 1:36AM
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WOW did I drop the ball here.
In spite of my best efforts to provide all necessary info I left out alot of stuff, which I felt was unimportant to keep the post shorter, but it may change things.

This 12 x 30 area was basically a sparse weed patch, to start off with, we had tried for several years to get grass to grow it simply would not. When I tilled this area for the first time I had to water it before I could till, and then I could only till several inches at a time. I repeated the water and till I had tilled as deep as the tiller would go. I took a Soil sample to the garden center before I started planting. There first suggestion was to make an 8-10" raised bed, over the existing soil with 100% new soil. Since that option was cost prohibitive, they recommended I put at least 3" of compost made up of different types for the next several years tilled into a depth of around 6", after I had already tilled the soil. I too questioned the 6" depth, what they told me was the you only need to go 6" as when you till next year the remaining will be tilled deeper, and in several years you will have a deep loom; Hope I explained it right.
To get a depth of 3" on a 12 x 30 area you need 90 cubic feet, which I am close to. The peat is being added for water retention and will only be around 1/2".

If this is still all wrong please tell me what I need to do so i can get my plants in.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:06AM
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My main question would be why nothing would grow there before? PH out of whack, some contamination, what???

No expert here, but, it sounds like you're trying too hard.

If you buy compost / topsoil in bulk, it is a heck of a lot cheaper. I basically started a bed for the GF from scratch (over an old gravel bed that was a dog pen years ago) by bringing in a pickup load of compost and a pickup load of topsoil (technically, 2 loads of half of each for easier mixing) and tilled it in. No other special amendments or fertilizers. Her tomatoes and peppers totally rocked last year!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:37AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

when you dig in the soil, do you find a lot of worm activity?
If you have plenty of worms, your garden is on the right track.

I think the mulching/compositing is great, but not all the fertilizer
added directly to the planting hole. Wait to fertilize is my advice.

A technique that I use is sometimes called "lasagna" or layer mulching.
During the winter, I add layers of newspaper over my entire planting
area, then I add leaves, compost, straw, alfalfa pellets, bark mulch, and
composted manure on top of the newspaper until it's completely covered.
This provides a wonderful environment for worms, which improves the soil.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:07AM
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Best thing to do is plant without any other fertilizer like Josh said and the plants will tell you what they need. Maybe plant a few in the ground and some in 5 gallon buckets. If they do well in the ground you can put the potted ones in the ground. You should know pretty fast how the soil is.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:13PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Sprky, I think, with the kind on native soil you described, a 6" depth is not sufficient. I have made my garden in similar , if not worse, situation, ie. red Georgia clay. Your amendments sound pretty good, but you have to till deeper. Do a shovel test: When you press on it it should go all the way down without much effort.
I would also get a soil test, for pH, nutrients and other elements.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:54PM
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If you need a lot of soil, the best thing to do is call a landscaping outfit and have it delivered by the cubic yard. I had several yards delivered a couple years ago and it was pretty reasonable but I cannot remember the price. It is way, way cheaper than buying it by the bag, plus it is easier than lugging dozens of bags from the store to home. A cubic yard it 27 cubic feet and that is a lot of bags of soil. A cubic yard of dirt would fill a 4x8 raised bed with about 8 or 9 inches deep of dirt. The stuff I got was nice black dirt that I used for some landscaping and it grows grass better than the rest of my yard. I also have a Rhododendron, Peonies, Roses, Tulips and Russian Sage growing in it and they do great with little additional nutrients. Oh, the weeds seem to like it too. Once you get it and lay it, you can add whatever amendments you feel fit.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 2:35AM
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