cwms27
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Soil questions

Hello, I have a few questions regarding the quality of soil. I am starting a vegetable garden for the first time. I have already chopped and tilled the ground on about a 25'x25' section that I am planning to use to grow my vegetables and fruits.

My question is, is there another way of getting the proper amount of nutrients into the soil instead of buying a bunch of compost or garden soil bags and spreading them out over my soil? By no means am I scared of the work as I tilled the ground by hand and expect to have to work hard to reap the deserved benefits as with everything in life, but rather the expense to put 3 plus inches of compost/garden soil out over my 25'x25' area. I have read about the x-x-x fertilizers but am not sure if this is sufficient.

I have just sent my soil off to be tested but in the mean time bought a home test kit from HD. My Nitrogen is way low, and my potassium is low. Also, my Ph is a little high which I understand how to bring that down.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice.

tomc
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I think you want to start your own compost. I also think you need to narrow the space between the back of the horse and your garden. I would check craigs list, free cycle and put a request (for manure) at your local feed store.

This should make the price lower (if not free) it will require some sweat equity from you.
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applestar
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Definitely start making compost. Manure from different farm animals (except pigs) and poultry is almost always the first thing people think to use in a garden or compost pile, though I must admit I rarely do.

For other nitrogen source, consider seafood byproducts as a possible addition -- whether just from family consumption or commercial waste. I also use alfalfa pellets, used coffee grounds from coffee vendors, spoiled hay....

Kelp meal and greensand are my top picks for potassium.

I'm a firm believer in making and using Actively Aerated Compost Tea (AACT) for improving biological activity to foster self nutrient generating, self pH adjusting, and plant-microbe symbiotic soil foodweb.

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jal_ut
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I have read about the x-x-x fertilizers but am not sure if this is sufficient.
Nice start. That is a nice sized plot for starters. Pretty neat that you sent your soil in for testing. I have gardened for many years and have never done that yet.

The x-x-x ferts as you call them, contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) . Often called NPK fertilizers, will do a good job for you this first year. You can get a bag of lawn and garden fertilizer locally I am sure.

Many gardeners like to shy away from these bagged fertilizers in favor of more natural soil enrichment such as compost and manure. Mulch will break down over time and enrich the soil too. A good healthy soil needs a fairly high level of organic matter in it. This is what feeds the micro community that breaks down the organic matter and releases the plant nutrients. The organic matter also improves the tilth of the soil. So we are all going to recommend the addition of organic matter as you have it available.

For starters this season though, I would not hesitate to use some NPK.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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You didn't tell us much about the type of soil you have nor what was growing on it before you dug it. These things can give us some clues on what to best suggest for soil improvement.

In most cases I believe the native soil may be much better for growing in than any thing you might buy in a bag. If it will grow lawn or weeds, it will grow garden plants.

I don't blame you for not wanting to spend $$$ for a lot of amendments. I am in the same camp. Here is what I do. Waste no organic matter, compost it or it goes on the garden as mulch. All garden residue and the lawn clippings and leaves go on the garden. I buy a bag of Urea. It is a pelleted fertilizer that is very high in nitrogen. The garden area gets one application of this in the spring. Since it is high in nitrogen, it doesn't take much. A bag covers a large area. Nitrogen and water are the things most often lacking in soils. Take care of those needs and add some organic matter as you can and you will do fine.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

cwms27
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Thank you for all your replies. I am currently researching starting a compost pile but it is a little to late for this spring. But we will be implementing it here shortly.

I've done some thinking and re-figuring and decided to reduce the garden to about a 16'x16'. I'd rather have quality than quantity. I called a local garden center and found they have some organic compost/garden soil mix I am probably going to get. My question is, When I get it, can I use the compost mix to make my row mounds approx 1' wide, 6" tall, 16' long? Or would it be better to try and mix it in with my current soil rather than building it up on top of it?

There was nothing but grass and weeds growing where I currently have the garden set and its a pretty sandy silty type dirt.

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Gary350
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Check Florida Cooperative Exchange online. They will already know what your soil needs in your area and have several suggestions. I have been to Florida many times I know the soil becomes more sand the closer you get to the ocean. Sand usually needs organic material, all the minerals and lots of nitrogen. You might need to add something to correct the soil PH. Fertilizers in your area may all have something added to them to correct soil PH so you may not need to buy anything special just for PH correction.

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jal_ut
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You don't really need to build mounds. Plant on the flat if you wish. Easier.

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Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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