Did I add too much nitrogen? And other newb questions..

natalie1313May 2, 2012

Ok as a disclaimer, I'm new to this so don't yell at me, just trying to learn as much as I can. I'm considering this year as a trial and error kind of experiment anyway, so what ever happens this year, bad or good, I can use that experience to improve my soil/methods next year..

So a little over two weeks ago, I transplanted my tomatoes into my raised bed that I just built. I should have had a soil test done with my extension office, but I felt rushed to get my plants in the ground because I realized after some reading that I was a bit behind for my area. Our temps will really soar pretty soon, so I'm hoping to get SOMETHING before its 95+ every day. Anyway, I added peat moss to my soil and have since realized that wasn't very helpful, especially for the climate in Texas. The rest of the material that I mixed in with the very little amount of clay that I was able to turn over included mostly bagged compost and organic "garden soil". The peat moss is also really only on the top couple of inches of the soil, so maybe that's ok. I did one of those at home soil tests and found my soil to be deficient in nitrogen and phosphorus, even down deeper, past the peat. It doesn't seem like that should be the case since the bed is mostly compost, but I don't know. So I sprinkled blood meal and bone meal around each plant, and watered them in. Since then (a little over 1 week ago I think?), the plants have gone from having light green/yellow, thin leaves and no new growth to thick, dark green leaves and lots of top and outward growth. This is good right? Or is that rapid growth a bad sign in the future production of fruit for the plant?

Also, I dug up some shovelfuls of soil in the spaces that are empty right now and couldn't find one damn worm. Is that because I'm not watering those areas of the bed right now so it's too dry for them? after the top couple of inches, though, the soil is moist.. So shouldn't there be worms there or does it sound like my soil isn't the right combination of organic matter? I'm planning on mulching tomorrow after I transplant my pepper plants to fill in the rest of the bed. If I soak the whole bed tomorrow, then mulch, should that help my lack of worms?

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Also here are before and after pics.. Taken a couple weeks apart..

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:43AM
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Your plants look fine now based on your fertilizer addition, but one concern I have is that you mention "layers"... Peat moss and bagged "garden soil" can add a organic matter, increase water retention, and improve drainage - assuming that it is mixed in well (and deeply as missourigardener1 mentioned) with your native soil (or delivered top soil in some cases).

As far as not seeing any worms, I wouldn't worry too much about that. If it's been dry at all lately (and by your pics it looks dry), the worms will go deeper into the soil and you may not find them very easily. It's nice to see them, but a lack of them at certain times isn't great cause for concern. Adding more organic matter and a little mulch will encourage them to work closer to the surface and closer to your plants - And I would definitly look into adding mulch if your concerned about high temps and / or the soil drying out too quick.

My garden is usually covered in worms, but when we had a drought about a year or so ago, I went almost the whole summer without seeing one.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:39AM
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