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Which fertilizer?

Posted by cdlongjr Delaware (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 19, 14 at 5:08

Just finished testing the soil in all 5 garden beds. I have between a 6 & 7 ph, low nitrogen, no phosphorus or potassium. What fertilizer should I use and what extras in any? I'm concerned that I've waited too long to do any good for this growing season.
I added peat moss and cow manure last year. I intend to add more peat moss this year as I have one bed that the dirt packs in even after I till it up. I have 4 beds that I added peat moss to the past 2 years and they stay loose. I have clay soil down about 6-8 inched. In the past, the vegetables always thrived for 1-2 months, then started dying out. We've only been gardening a few years.
Thanks for any help !!!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Which fertilizer?

low nitrogen, no phosphorus or potassium. What fertilizer should I use and what extras in any?


You can use just about any fertilizer with 1-1-1 ratio, like 16-16-15. or 3-1-2 ratio, like 24 -8 - 16.(MG green water soluble all purpose )

Extras: The most important elements (in addition to NPK) are Calcium and Magnesium.

For calcium you can add lime, for magnesium Epsom Salt.

Osmocot Plus has all of those ingredients BUT it can be pricy.

RE: Which fertilizer?

Depends what you intend to grow. Legumes (peas, beans) won't need nitrogen.
The pH range you gave reveals very little; that's a huge range (a 10x difference between 6.0 and 7.0). as you add peat moss you'll lower pH so you'll need to add lime to keep it elevated. Otherwise I can't offer much help- generic test, probably just use generic fertilizer recommendation.

RE: Which fertilizer?

Thank you, at least this is a start. The home test kit I used didn't have a very good color chart for PH. I should have used litmus paper from work that we use to check chemical PH, very accurate. Now I know for the fall testing. We plant purple hull peas, string beans, sweet corn, summer squash, radishes, tomatoes and anything else that strikes my wife's fancy. Tomato bed is along side the air conditioner, gets good air movement and full morning sun. 2 beds on end of house get over 1/2 day of full sun. The large bed along the curve of the lot gets all day full sun.Squash lasts until the squash bugs come out. Haven't had much luck killing them and the praying mantis egg sacks we purchase & hang in the Rose of Sharon that's in the middle of our large garden bed never hatch. I'll take photos this afternoon and post. I'd like some advise on which bed to plant the above crops.

RE: Which fertilizer?

Pictures might help and a reliable soil test would be best. Your DE soil ( typically high sand topsoil) may be quite different than soils elsewhere and a local lab would know to run the proper tests and make more accurate reccomendations- eg. a Buffer-pH in additiion to regular pH would help in determining lime requirement.

I'm also growing a purple hulled peas variety for the first time this year and will be curious of your reflections of that crop.
Few folks use Praying Mantis as a predator insect b/c their impact is very marginal. There just aren't enough numbers to adequately control the huge numbers of most pests and the females eat the males- that is just counterproductive.

RE: Which fertilizer?

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 20, 14 at 10:25

Home test kits are notorious for being unreliable and very mis-leading. For example it is it giving you the pH of your water, not your soil. And finding soil in the US with no P in it is almost impossible to do.

For a few dollars more than the cost of the kit, get a real soil test done before you do anything to mess up your soil.


RE: Which fertilizer?

I did you demin water in the testing
& used this kit:Mosser Lee Soil Master Soil Testing Kit. I'll check w/ the county and see what I need to do to get the soil tested.

RE: Which fertilizer?

Most vegetables are pretty adaptable to a range of pH, certainly anything between 6 and 7 will be fine for most of what you grow but it is nice to have the confidence of knowledge and your cooperative extension will do a quick pH test for a modest fee. If your results are similar you can be more confidant of your own measurements in the future.

I use a Cornell kit that allows me to come within a decimal point or two of what the best lab will verify which is all that is needed for practical purposes.

Your cooperative extension will also provide at least a source for testing your soil at a lab that will write a "prescription" for home vegetable production which will clarify the balance of nutrients you should be adding.

I believe it is impossible that your soil does not have measurable amounts of N, P and K or no plants could survive in it. I've had literally hundreds of different soils tested and while any of these nutrients may be at low levels, they are always there.

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