soil test

Well happy day.

I mentioned a few posts back that I had ignorantly been dumping wood stove ashes on my garden, thinking that they would provide concentrated nutrients for my soil.  They were natural, what harm could there be?  And then the Extension agent talked to me about the soil sample I had sent in, and it turned out that my assumption was wrong.  Too many ashes aren’t good for the soil, just like too much manure.  My soil tested pretty alkaline.

I spent a while actually researching what to do to organically lower soil pH and found that elemental sulfur would be my best bet.  So at the end of the season this year, I added the recommended amount of sulfur.

Yesterday I completed a home soil test.  It shouldn’t have made me so happy, but I’m simple.  The pH reading was in the neutral range.  I know most vegetables like a slightly acidic soil, but I’ll take neutral.

soil test

but first…

You’d think after 38 years worth of organic vegetable gardening, I’d be able to hang up my ‘Dr. Garden’ plaque and smile at the junior peach fuzz apprentice gardeners.

Almost the opposite.

When I semi-retired two years ago I realized that I had been doing a great job of recycling; recycling a lot of my own wrong-headed ideas and practices.

And then I decided that I would start learning. From others, from my own mistakes and successes, from nature.

The first thing that I learned, the thing that a wiser person would have caught on to decades earlier, was that soil comes first. You feed the soil, not the plant. Sounds so basic, but it was enlightenment.

The second thing, a thing I sensed but hadn’t quantified, was that nature won’t tolerate a void. Soil left bare will fill itself with weeds or grass. If you don’t plant it or mulch it, nature has its own party in the breach.

The challenge is to set one’s own party agenda.