The Results Are In!
April 8, 2010 § Leave a Comment
…and there’s hardly any lead in our garden soil!! Yes, our soil analysis report finally arrived yesterday. I’m sure you’ve been refreshing this page non-stop in anticipation of this post. Riiight. Well, I was relieved to see that our lead levels are low. That’s good news.
Some not so good news is that our raised-bed garden soil’s pH is “slightly higher than desired for most vegetables.” Poop. The report goes on to say that ”cole crops may prefer the current pH since they are more resistant [to] clubroot infection under slightly alkaline conditions. Take care, however, not to incorporate any amendment that would further raise soil pH.” Whaa?? I am a gardening novice, to say the least. I had to read the report more than once to understand it. I even had to look up the meaning of ”cole crops.” Here’s what I found: “‘Cole’ refers to any of various plants belonging to the Cruciferae or mustard family. Some plants in the mustard family are Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, broccoli, turnips and watercress.” I guess our kale is going to do well, but I’m not sure how everything else is going to fare Oh, yes, we planted seeds last weekend before we received the soil results. Bcuz we is smert lyke dat.
Of course the question in my mind was: How can we lower the pH? Amherst provided a lengthy soil test results and interpretation document and, according to the document, the remedy for high pH levels is elemental sulfur. Yay, let’s go get some sulfur! Oh, wait. It says here that “unfortunately, sulfur is rarely available in garden centers.” Oh. Hmmm. We can contact the soil lab for other options, but I thought I’d put these questions out to the internet first: Does anyone know where can we buy elemental sulfur? Or, is there another way to lower the pH? I’d appreciate any feedback. Of course, we can’t do anything until the end of the season since the seeds are already planted (Doh!)
For our new garden, the results were better. For the pH adjustment, we were given these instructions: “incorporate 8 lbs. of ground dolomitic (magnesium rich) limestone per 100 sq. feet as early as possible prior to planting. Avoid mixing in lime when the soil is very wet.” We haven’t planted anything in that garden yet, so I guess if we add some limestone, we’ll be good to go.
The report also provided us with nutrient and micronutrient levels, but I won’t get into those here. It suffices to say that I’m now fascinated with our dirt. It’s a whole new world to me. There’s really manganese in our little old garden? Wow. It’s amazing. Coincidentally (the universe is a funny, funny thing), I received an email today promoting DIRT! The Movie which will be airing April 20 on PBS (check your local listings). I’ll be watching it for sure.
It’s probably too late in the season now, as most people have already planted seeds (Doh!), but I strongly recommend that other home gardeners get their soil tested in October/November. As I mentioned in the earlier post, it’s not expensive and preparing the soil sample is easy. Even I could do it, and that is saying something.
So, to reiterate, I think if you have a garden, especially if you grow vegetables or fruit, you should know what is lurking in your dirt.