Yesterday I took a soil sample from our new garden area and sent it off to Logan Labs for a complete analysis. That will give us an complete understanding of the ground’s pH, mineral content and amount of organic matter. I’ve never done this before but Steve Solomon has been pushing me to do one so I finally gave in.
Who can argue with Solomon?
After taking the sample, my friend Greg came by with a lime buggy and limed the garden and back lawn (which is now the kids’ baseball diamond) and I tilled the area again, twice, and as deep as the tiller could manage. It’s not ideal, as I’d say it’s only hitting about 6″ deep, but it’s good enough for a first garden. I don’t know that we necessarily should have limed before the soil analysis came back, but hey – Greg wanted to do it, it cost me nothing, and I know our area of Alabama is acid.
Once my soil sample comes back I’ll know what I need to add in micro and macronutrients. The “Standard” soil test Logan Labs performs includes:
“…pH, organic matter, base saturation, total exchange capacity, Mehlich III extractable sulfur, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, boron, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, aluminum,”
and the “Standard with Extras” test also includes “Cobalt, Molybdenum, Selenium, Silicon, Conductivity, ENR (Estimated Nitrogen Release).”
You can read about all their tests here. I sprung for the “Standard with Extras” so I can really get fussy with the details and know if I’m missing any micro-micro nutrients. Actually, I’m just going to call Steve and let him deal with that, because I don’t like calculating numbers or fiddling. My idea of balancing a garden is to throw seaweed, ashes, compost and whatever else I have laying around on top of the ground, trusting that I’ve given it what it needs.
Today we’ll attack the garden early and make beds. Some of the area I plan to do in single rows, 3′ apart, whereas other parts will be in mounded beds. Yet other areas will have cover crops and perhaps crazy mixes of seeds. We have plenty of space to play with this year and it’ll be fun to see what happens.
Incidentally, yesterday I wrote about how much I enjoyed using a tractor. Out of curiosity, I looked up a John Deere tractor similar to the one I am borrowing and found out what it costs.
I have now decided that, like boat ownership, it’s better to have a friend who owns one, rather than buying one yourself.
Have a great day. I’ll be out in the garden.