I have some updated information for you regarding soil test results and observations from our walkover last week.
1. The soil test results for the leaf compost (taken from Plot 80) indicate that the leaf compost is probably the source of our high levels of potassium and phosphorus in the garden. The pH of this sample was 7.4, higher than optimum for vegetables. The results for the compost/soil pile currently stored in the garden near the shed are virtually the same. There is no need to revise any of the recommendations/suggestions I made in my June 5 email. Gardeners in Group 3 (the new beds) should continue to get as much topsoil into their beds as possible and consider foliar fertilizing since the high pH and phosphorus are likely to cause their plants to struggle to take up nutrients via roots.
2. The Plot 26 gardeners will be releasing praying mantid egg cases and lady bugs in the garden to help with control of insects eating our plants. We wanted all of you to know so you don’t inadvertently harm them (crush or spray) in an effort to make the garden bug free (not our goal!). Releases of this type are not always successful since there is no guarantee that the critters will stay in the garden. Nonetheless, the gardeners wanted to give it a try.
3. During the walkover last Wednesday we observed the usual bug suspects, primarily cucumber beetles. Remember the principles of IPM (integrated pest management): identify the problem, determine how much damage can be endured, use the least intrusive controls first, use organic sprays and dusts as a last resort. Our goal is a stand-off, not eradication! Keep your eyes open for the next “invasion” (I predict squash borers). Look carefully at your plants.
4. We also saw evidence of nitrogen deficiency (yellowing leaves) and possibly zinc/iron deficiencies (yellowing between the leaf veins). If this is how your plants look, then you need to add nutrients. Blood meal is a good source of nitrogen (with very little potassium and phosphorus). Adding zinc/iron will probably need to be done foliarly (i.e., as a liquid sprayed on the plants). Follow the instructions on the product you buy and know that you’ll probably have to do an application every 10 days or so.
5. Most of you are winning the war on weeds. Good job! We did see some Canada thistle rearing its ugly heads on the west side of the garden. That bad boy needs to get out right away. It’s a bully of a weed and not easy to eradicate. Please put them in the trash not the compost pile.
6. Many of you, however, are not doing so well on thinning. Tough love is tough, but crowded plants will not do well! Enough said.
7. We did a thorough walk through of the paths on the west and south sides looking for any poison ivy inside the fence. Found none. There is still some on the south side outside the fence. Stay away from that area.
8. As part of the walkover, three handouts were distributed: tips on tomatoes, trap crops, and deterrent plants. Extra handouts are on the shelf in the shed if you’re interested. Radish is a trap crop for cucumber beetles and leftover seed from last year’s cover crop–oilseed radish–are also in the shed. Yours for the trying!
We have not scheduled another walkover yet. The next one will probably be in July and on a weekend.
As always, let me know if you have questions.
Jo Ann Bartsch, jabartsh [AT] att [DOT] net