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Do A Soil Test
Soil tests can be
done once the soil has thawed, provided it isn't too wet. For vegetables
and flowers, soil samples need to be taken to a depth of 6" to 8". The
annual soil test should analyze your soil for pH, nitrogen, phosphorous,
and potassium. For vegetables, the soil pH should be between 6.1 and
6.9. Most soil nutrients are available at a pH of 6.5, but when the pH
rises above this value, nutrient elements such as phosphorus, iron,
manganese, copper, and zinc will become less available. When soil pH is
below 6.5, manganese can reach a toxic level for some sensitive plants.
testing is an inexpensive way to determine what kinds and amounts of
soil amendments you need to apply. Not only will it save you money on
fertilizers, it also can prevent over-fertilization that results in
runoff and water contamination.
Soil tests can be done by your
Cooperative Extension service, or you can purchase a kit to do your own
testing. Johnny's has pH
test kits and N-P-K plus pH kits
. Separate tests should be done on
soils that look different or have been used differently. Areas where
plant growth has been poor also should be tested separately.
results of the soil test will tell you the major nutrients that need to
be added to your soil. Even when those amendments have been made, you
still need to provide a shot of fertilizer when transplanting seedlings.
Most growers rely on a solution
of seaweed/kelp or fish emulsion
to water in transplants. The
readily accessible nutrients in these products give plants a nutrient
boost until their roots get established, thus avoiding transplant shock.Be Prepared for Frost
Your meticulous planning and preparation can be
laid to waste with one night of unexpectedly low temperatures. Don't let
an untimely frost ruin your young crops. Have a supply of row cover
that you can pull over the plants when frost threatens. If the night is
still and the plants are small, you can probably lay the row cover flat
on top of them. If plants are taller or if the evening is breezy, row
cover can abrade the plants' growing tips if it is laid directly on top
of them. In that case, the row
needs to be held above the plants on wire hoops or wickets.
areas where temperature fluctuations are the norm in spring, you should
consider planting early crops under Quick Hoops covered with row cover.
These low tunnels provide a warm and stable environment where young
plants thrive. Learn more about making Quick Hoops.
Visit Johnny's Selected Seeds for more free
information about growing produce, herbs, cover crops and flowers.•
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from JSS Advantage March 2010