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Trying to restore my garden soil (Cheap & Lazy!)... wanna critique my strategy?  RSS feed

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T Melville wrote:I found a link here on permies to find out what your weeds tell about your soil. Here's what it said about weeds I recognize from my garden:

dandelion:......................low calcium, high potassium
henbit:...........................high nitrogen
lamb's quarter:...............rich, high nitrogen
oxalis (wood sorrel):.......low calcium, high magnesium
plantain (a little):............compact, sour, low fertility, heavy clay

bindweedcompacted: HIT1/1
dandelionlow calcium: MISShigh potassium: HIT1/2
henbithigh nitrogen: (Not Tested?) NO SCORE0/0
lamb's quarterrich: NO SCOREhigh nitrogen: NO SCORE0/0
oxalis (wood sorrel)low calcium: MISShigh magnesium: MISS0/2
plantaincompact: HITsour (Acidic?): HIT (barely)low fertility: NO SCOREheavy clay: HIT3/3
Total Score5/8

I don't see that I have any test results for nitrogen level, richness, or fertility levels. Are any of those addressed by my percent organic matter? if anyone corrects me on this, I'll revise my table. As it stands right now, (and based on the narrow cross section of weeds that I recognize by sight) using weed growth to gauge soil nutrition was slightly more accurate than trying to choose values by coin toss. Not terribly useful, at least at the level of effort I put into it.

At any rate, I now have values based on lab testing. They seem to think I have plenty of the "big three" nutrients. Looks as though I need to work on decompaction more than anything else. Do you folks think I'd still be okay to amend with sheep and goat manure of mixed ages, and some OLD cow manure? I also have access to some horse manure, mixed ages. Is that balanced enough to just think of it as organic matter and loosening the soil? Or would I potentially give myself issues with too much nitrogen?

Do I need to remediate for the potassium and phosphorus levels? If so, how? Do I have enough organic matter, or should I try to increase?
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Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
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Manures are high in phosphorus, and you seem to have an excess of that already. Skip manuring that soil for a few years. Instead, grow nitrogen fixing legumes in the soil. They will add nitrogen and help use up some of that phosphorus. Beans and peas would be great crops.

Where there is excessive phosphorus, plants sometimes have trouble taking in enough zinc and iron. Getting a foliage spray of these minerals can help your plants cope in that excess phosphorus environment.
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