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First soil test results

 
Posts: 3
Location: Upstate New York - zone 4B, sandy loam, pH 5.8
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This is my first post here; I hope I'm not overlooking something!

I recently received an soil report and wanted some input. I'll give some background before jumping right into it.

We bought this property 2.5 years ago. I've gradually been putting this veggie garden in, breaking up sod and removing rocks. At this point it's a fenced in garden about 10' x 45'. All I've been adding are leaves, wood chips, and a horse bedding/manure mixture. Overall it did well. Carrots, brussel sprouts and cabbage sulked, but that could have been due to shading by other crops and water shortage. The soil drains incredibly fast. It is a  sandy loam, with frequent fist+ sized rocks. It gets full sun and we live in zone 4b. Long winter, with a decent snow cover. It's snowing this very minute, in fact. Upstate New York.

Two weeks ago I brought a couple soil samples to the local Cooperative Extension. I also brought a sample from the front yard where a cherry tree is growing very slowly. The front yard sample is another topic, I may start another post once I get those results.

The veggie garden results:
Soil ph is 5.8 (low)
Phosphorus 61 lbs/acre (very high)
Potassium 108 lbs/acres (medium)
Organic matter 6.6%
Recommend adding 3.5oz nitrogen for every 100 square feet

I was expecting the low nitrogen, but what would be the best way to raise it without further elevating the phophorus?

Should I just grow a ton of beans and then chop and drop them? I now know that horse manure is a source of phosphorus, so I'm going to discontinue that for sure this coming year. I'm not horribly concerned by the low ph, most of what I grow prefers a more acidic soil anyways. I certainly don't want it going any lower however.

Thanks all. Sorry if this is a rather basic question.
 
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Posts: 6686
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Emmaline, welcome and thanks for posting.

Where you live (up state NY) is a great place to use a windrow of composting materials for winter. (I lived in Newburg for two years way back in the 60's)
I'd try to simply use wood chips and urine at this point of the year, that will not only help hold any ground heat in place, the urine will add the N and it will also do other good things that you will discover once the last frost has past.

If you pre-compost the horse stall cleanout materials, they will add less P than if you place it directly on the garden soil, plus you could then add mushroom slurries directly to the manure/bedding mix and should you accidently spill some soured milk on that mix, bacteria will do great things too.

I like to build a windrow right on top of where I will plant with about a foot of extra width (if planting directly in the soil at soil level) and I shoot for a height of 3-4 feet at the center of the windrow heap.
It doesn't matter if you don't have all the needed material to do this from the start, simply make your additions in layers. You can make additions every time the snow melts away.
Once spring arrives, pull off what is left of that windrow and you should find really fluffy soil at the surface and down several inches. The more years you do this sort of composting during the winters, the better the soil below will become and the nutrients should also level out from all the microbiome activity.

Redhawk
 
Posts: 97
Location: South Mississippi
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Emmaline, welcome and thanks for posting.

Where you live (up state NY) is a great place to use a windrow of composting materials for winter. (I lived in Newburg for two years way back in the 60's)
I'd try to simply use wood chips and urine at this point of the year, that will not only help hold any ground heat in place, the urine will add the N and it will also do other good things that you will discover once the last frost has past.

If you pre-compost the horse stall cleanout materials, they will add less P than if you place it directly on the garden soil, plus you could then add mushroom slurries directly to the manure/bedding mix and should you accidently spill some soured milk on that mix, bacteria will do great things too.

I like to build a windrow right on top of where I will plant with about a foot of extra width (if planting directly in the soil at soil level) and I shoot for a height of 3-4 feet at the center of the windrow heap.
It doesn't matter if you don't have all the needed material to do this from the start, simply make your additions in layers. You can make additions every time the snow melts away.
Once spring arrives, pull off what is left of that windrow and you should find really fluffy soil at the surface and down several inches. The more years you do this sort of composting during the winters, the better the soil below will become and the nutrients should also level out from all the microbiome activity.

Redhawk



+1 on what Dr. RedHawk said, and some things to also consider, when you say beans- Yes it is a legume and "CAN" add nitrogen BUT IMHO clover would be better, but both of these would need to be killed/cut down when they start flowering. This is because all that nitrogen that legumes get from the air and is stored in nodules is USED to make seed so if you wait and they are producing beans, peas or in the case of clover "seed" then its too late and most of the nitrogen was used by the plant instead of being in the roots where once the roots rot they can then "give" the nitrogen to the veggies you want to grow. I'm in zone 8b so we don't really have much (if at all) of a winter so I grow a fall cover crop of clover that lives over the winter, I then cut it down when about 20% of them start to flower. This is when they are at maximum vegetative growth (biomass) and maximum nitrogen fixation. For you I would think that you could plant a winter kill type of clover and time it so it would just start or almost start flowering when the expected first frost will hit your area. Another option is an early cold weather type you could plant in the spring and kill it (mow it/ till it etc) and then plant your spring crops. Just be careful on what type of clover you use as some are more hardy and may not die in first frost OR as in my case, my clover actually can inhibit seed germination for a month so I have to wait 4 weeks after killing it before I can plant my crops. If you instead want to add an organic fert. instead of cover crops I would look into either blood meal, or feather meal. Blood is fast and can actually bur plants if too much is applied, feather meal on the other hand is SLOW to release so it can (if applied in correct amounts) be a slow release fert that feeds your crops through the whole season so you don't have to side dress them later.
 
Emmaline Jones
Posts: 3
Location: Upstate New York - zone 4B, sandy loam, pH 5.8
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Thanks for the input!

In all honesty, I had to look up windrow. I've kind of been doing something to a similar effect this summer. The garden is being expanded and I've been throwing big sheets of cardboard, kitchen waste, yard trimmings, the horse bedding/manure mixture along with ton of fall leaves. It was probably 2 feet at the highest point. This coming year I'm hoping to plant in this section. I'm thinking ahead for the coming years... do people windrow over their established garden areas in the falls and then rake aside and then just plant into the soil come spring? If so, the window of opportunity between taking the last harvest and the arrival of snow/freezing weather is short; I'd need the windrow material on hand and a large chunk of time in order to move it. I'll need to think about how to make that idea work.

I don't have anywhere to compost horse manure before adding it to the garden, that's something that I need to build this coming year. Debating between wood pallet or hoops of hardware cloth. The hoops are movable once empty, which is a big plus as I'm hoping to eventually purchase and conquer the vacant field next to my garden. Also far easier to make the hoops, the only tools required are zip ties :)

Typically I plant as early as possible, so I'm leaning towards "fast acting" blood meal as a nitrogen boost this spring. This coming fall I could apply some feather meal in late fall in order to have it ready for that next spring. Varying the nitrogen seems like a no-brainer good idea to me.

Does this seem like a good idea?

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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When you winter windrow over the garden rows/beds you want to make sure that there is enough moisture to start with, then the snow will act more like an insulating blanket than freezer.

When I was able to use windrows as I've described, I just raked back the composting material for planting, then you can use what you need for mulching by simply dragging it back into place, left overs are left where they are (usually in the walk way) to continue seeping the goodness into the soil below.
Doing this method, you are getting benefits all year long, as the windrow material decomposes, just add the new materials on top, knowing that come the start of winter you will just rake the windrow back over the soil of the garden row(s).

I like to use pallets that I attach two sets of hook and eye fasteners to so I can put them together or take them apart by simply unlatching the hooks from the eyes, when not in use, these can be simply stacked where there is space. (Mine last almost 3 years before they start falling apart)

Redhawk
 
C Rogers
Posts: 97
Location: South Mississippi
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Emmaline Jones wrote:Thanks for the input!

In all honesty, I had to look up windrow. I've kind of been doing something to a similar effect this summer. The garden is being expanded and I've been throwing big sheets of cardboard, kitchen waste, yard trimmings, the horse bedding/manure mixture along with ton of fall leaves. It was probably 2 feet at the highest point. This coming year I'm hoping to plant in this section. I'm thinking ahead for the coming years... do people windrow over their established garden areas in the falls and then rake aside and then just plant into the soil come spring? If so, the window of opportunity between taking the last harvest and the arrival of snow/freezing weather is short; I'd need the windrow material on hand and a large chunk of time in order to move it. I'll need to think about how to make that idea work.

I don't have anywhere to compost horse manure before adding it to the garden, that's something that I need to build this coming year. Debating between wood pallet or hoops of hardware cloth. The hoops are movable once empty, which is a big plus as I'm hoping to eventually purchase and conquer the vacant field next to my garden. Also far easier to make the hoops, the only tools required are zip ties :)

Typically I plant as early as possible, so I'm leaning towards "fast acting" blood meal as a nitrogen boost this spring. This coming fall I could apply some feather meal in late fall in order to have it ready for that next spring. Varying the nitrogen seems like a no-brainer good idea to me.

Does this seem like a good idea?



2 things about horse manure, it and hog manure can have more bad bacteria that humans can be infected with than ruminant animals, so make sure it goes through a heat to kill any pathogens, also be careful with what those horses have ate and the bedding, if either their food or bedding had herbicides (such as grazon) which kills most plants BUT grass, this could cause problems and kill any flowers or veggies your trying to grow. I had problems with this here where I'm at, but one of my neighbors didn't use herbicides so I could use his, unfortunately he only now puts the horses in the stables in cold weather so I don't get much manure from him like I used too... (I'm growing on over 5 acres so I need tons n tons)
 
Emmaline Jones
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Location: Upstate New York - zone 4B, sandy loam, pH 5.8
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Thank you for the explanation Bryant! I think the gist of it has finally sunk into my brain. We had enough of a thaw yesterday that I was able to rake and throw some leaves on top. I'll get more if I see any bagged along the side of the road in my travels. When I apply my blood meal, should I rake it all aside or just sprinkle on top and water in?

C Rogers, the horse manure holding more potentially harmful bacteria is new to me. My supply comes from an active pile, but still I'll be careful with it. I'd read about herbicide carryover in manure previously. I tested it this spring. Beans and tomatoes are susceptible, I sprouted and grew some of each in the manure to make sure they didn't show any symptoms. The whole possibility does make me nervous, I wish I had time or space for some livestock on our property now.

Emma J
 
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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While you don't have your own cattle poop/manure. You can make your own worm and bacteria poop, all you have to do is feed them. If you feed them they actually make manure/nitrogen even faster than horse/cattle.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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IF you sprinkle the blood meal on top and water, the blood meal will pass through as a leachate, that allows it to gather other nutrients on the way to the soil.
One of the premises of humus formation is that same action, the whole idea is to get all the nutrients down into the soil and that is how to do it with the least effort and most efficiency.

Redhawk
 
C Rogers
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Location: South Mississippi
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:IF you sprinkle the blood meal on top and water, the blood meal will pass through as a leachate, that allows it to gather other nutrients on the way to the soil.
One of the premises of humus formation is that same action, the whole idea is to get all the nutrients down into the soil and that is how to do it with the least effort and most efficiency.

Redhawk

I do something similar and Emmaline, you can do this with the manure you get as well. I add my chicken compost to my worm beds and also make compost tea with it too. Both the worms eating and then passing the leftovers and crop residues I add along with the manure, makes fine compost that plants luv. As this has many good bacteria and fungi in it. I also make the tea out of the manure I have by adding about a gallon of manure into an old pillowcase that I then put an air-stone connected to a fish air pump (can get at any pet store or wally world) for under $20 I tie a string around the top of the pillowcase to keep the manure in it. and put this into a 5 gallon bucket and fill with water. Let it run for a about 48 hrs and it will do the same as the blood meal Dr. Redhawk described. I also add some Suma-Grow (about 3-4 oz) to this mix. Suma-Grow is a natural product that contains humic acid and many GOOD bacteria to the tea, this assures that the good bacteria multiple instead of bad bacteria. (note: if tea smells earthy its good, if it smells like an old sewer tank then it had the "bad bacteria" and add more suma-grow and seep it another 48 hrs w/ air circulating in it). I then remove the pillow case (you can still add this manure back to beds or compost) and then add the aprox 4 gallons of tea to my 40 gallon spray rig that goes behind my tractor, BUT ya'll can just add a 9:1 ratio of water (9 gallons H2O) to each gallon of tea. You can even do smaller amounts to small spray bottles to foliar feed plants, 1/10 tea and rest in water.
 
C Rogers
Posts: 97
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I forgot to mention in my last post that as Dr RedHawk and I mentioned, you can worm compost waste and manure together and though it doesn't go through a heat like a hot compost, anything the worms "EAT" even if it has bad bacteria (ie E-coli) once it passes through the worm it kills/changes what bacteria is then present in the compost. Now note, this still may not get rid of 100% of any bad bacteria as you can't be sure if they ate 100% of everything in the pile, BUT it will reduce the chances greatly especially if the horse manure has gone through a heat in a hot compost. By doing both regular composting and worm composting the resulting compost is said to be free of any harmful fungi, viral, bacterial infections BUT full of the GOOD bacteria, fungi, humic materials. Some research has even shown that worm composting after regular hot composting increased the NPK and micronutrients available for plants, increased humic compounds and higher good flora counts.

Note, the best worms to use for composting manure and yard/kitchen waste is red worms, also known as red wiggler worms and manure worms. Most bait shops sell them or you can buy them online.
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