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#92139 Jul 17th, 2007 at 03:11 PM
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Hi all! I'm brand new here and in desperate need of help! I planted my first ever garden with a neighbor earlier this summer (yes, we know we started late!). We had just finished completely enclosing the area with a retaining wall and had top soil dumped in there. We planted plants and seeds. We have the following:
cucumbers
tomatoes
cantalopes
watermelons
green beans
snake gourds (don't ask, we have kids!)
squash
zucchini
broccoli
chives
and some other herbs

They all took off in the first 2 weeks and shot up. Unfortunately, nothing except the cucumbers have really done anything since then. It's been 5-6 weeks now and there's been no real progress at all. The broccoli have barely sprouted out of the ground, as have the chives. Some of the plants have died completely.

We called the company that we got the dirt from and they said that it had a ph of 0. Everything I've looked at says that the ph has to be brought up gradually, over years! Is there a way to salvage these crops at all? We aren't talking about a huge area, even though it sounds like it with the ambitious planting we did!

Any suggestions at all would be greatly appreciated!!!
Thanks!
Shelby

apqueen #92150 Jul 17th, 2007 at 03:35 PM
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I've never heard of a ph of 0. Low ph means your soil is acidic, it's toxic to veggie plants. The best PH is around 7.. You need to add compost and well aged manure if possible, also work in lime as well.

They certainly can't call what they gave you 'top soil'.

Did you fertilize anything?


~~Tam~~Those who think country life is simple....have never lived on a farm.
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Sunflowers #92191 Jul 17th, 2007 at 05:10 PM
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Hi Tamara! Thanks for replying! Apparently according to my sweetie, I don't know what I'm talking about (imagine that)! I was informed that they didn't say it was 0, they said it was neutral. He told me that's 7. I learned something today!

What I have noticed though is that when it isn't saturated with water, the ground is so hard you would have to chip through it with a tool of some sort. You can't reach down and pick up dirt. It feels like the Walmart brand top soil that's been left outside! Hard as clay! Is it possible that the dirt is just too hard to allow the vegetable's roots to penetrate well enough? If so, any recommendations on how to fix that? I'm lost!

Thanks again...
Shelby

apqueen #92344 Jul 18th, 2007 at 02:44 AM
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7 is great, you'll need to add lots of compost to soften your soil. It will be hard to do now but in the fall work some in the again in the spring before planting. Never hurts to add some aged manure as well.

As for now you can slowly and carefully try to brake up the soil with a garden hoe or fork. Just be careful not to cut in too close to the plants or roots. If your garden is smaller, after doing this, get in with your hands and crumble up a little soil closer to the plants.


Gardening is alot of trial and error when you start, don't be discouraged though
you'll get plenty of advice and help from us here.

By the way, Welcome to our site.


~~Tam~~Those who think country life is simple....have never lived on a farm.
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Sunflowers #92493 Jul 18th, 2007 at 09:02 AM
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Wish me luck! I'm off to start my first trial (and maybe error too!!) now!

Thanks for the info...
Shelby

apqueen #92585 Jul 18th, 2007 at 10:02 AM
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I have very hard clay soil here. Add perlite or vermiculite, lots f it, till, dig, mix it in as best you can. Then compost everything you can and add that as it breaks down. If you get manure from a farm cow is best. If someone lets you have horse let it cook in a pile under black plastic, in the sun for a couple of weeks to kill the weed and grain seeds.


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Wrennie #94117 Jul 20th, 2007 at 03:25 PM
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A neutral Ph is OK. It'll fall to slightly acid over time with the addition of manures and organic fertilisers, so i wouldn't be too concerned about it. Most vegies like a Ph just slightly acid but neutral will work well for what i'm about to suggest.
As suggested, your soil is low in organic matter. This means it will pack down when wet and there are no spaces for air. Plant roots need air as well as moisture. One way of getting organic matter into your soil, as well as digging thru the composts and manures already suggested, is to grow a green manure crop. Your Ph is about perfect for this. The good thing about this is you can do it in the cooler months, when your main crops have finished. So that means you can start late and still be OK.
Basically, a green manure crop is a crop of quick growing plants which you let grow, intil they are about to flower and then dig them back into the soil. Sounds a bit nuts but it works.
Ideally, you use legumes. These are plants like chic peas, vetches, tick beans, etc. You can buy packets of these really cheap in the supermarket. They take nitrogen from the air and with the aid of some soil critters, deposit it on their roots. So free nitrogen fertiliser is an added bonus..
Other non-legumes though, grow quickly and thickly and when dug back into the soil, create large amounts of organic matter. These are plants like rye, barley, oats and other grains. The point is you don't let them seed or they'll start to remove nutrient from the soil, as well as the fact that the seeds will germinate again.
So plant an area with a mixture of say barley or oats and wooly pod vetch. Whatever you can get your hands on. When the crop is just starting to flower, smash it all down and dig it into the soil, then bury it under mulch. Next season, with the added composts and manures, your soil will be well on the way to becoming productive. I sometimes use birdseed which has become full of weevils, or other excesses of seed like beans and peas past their use-by date, just to avoid having barren soil. Exposed, lifeless soil is dying soil.
You sow them really thickly, so if germination rates aren't great it's not a problem.
It keeps the soil alive thru the cooler months too. Maybe give it a try in a section of your garden.

Last edited by Longy; Jul 20th, 2007 at 03:28 PM.

The secret is the soil.

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