Monday, November 2, 2009

Soil Testing (and More Mulch)

To start off with, we bought a soil testing kit at the local hardware store yesterday just so we could know what kind of battle we're up against. A little late with regards to the greenhouse soil, but for some reason I had assumed that soil was very good. It turns out that the plants in the greenhouse have never even heard of a little something called nitrogen. The level of nitrogen in that soil and all other soil we tested from around our yard did not even register on the test we used. We also were quite low on phosphate- in the depleted range. The pH of our soil was fairly good, around the slightly acidic to neutral range and it turns out that we're rolling in the potash around here.

To remedy those problems we got a couple 50 pound bags of blood meal and bone meal. Cost around $100 for both. The blood meal we spread at a rate of 1 cup per 20 square feet in the greenhouse and the bone meal 1 cup for 30 feet. We'll test our soil in the greenhouse again in a week or two to see what progress we made. As far as the soil outside goes, I think our plan is to wait till we get some topsoil in the spring and just work from there. We're still debating about whether we want to do all raised beds or a combination of raised beds and a regular row garden. At that point we'll probably use some ground hoof and horn in combination with the blood meal to bring nitrogen levels up. Longer-term, we'll be using a crop rotation plan and growing some green manures eventually to increase nitrogen in the soil.

I wanted to share some pictures of our free mulch source. This place is amazing! Considering the massive quantities of mulch that they have, t is no wonder that they are giving this stuff away for free. I think each truck load we get saves us around $75 to $100 as compared to purchasing the mulch. Definitely well worth our time and effort.

These pictures don't even really do the giant mulch pile justice. From where I am standing to take each picture, I am probably standing on 30 feet of mulch.

Lastly, a gratuitous picture of a basket of soap that I made. I'm donating this to an upcoming fundraiser for the hospital I work at. There are 12 bars of my soap in there, some candles, a lavender eye mask and a loofah scrubber. I hope someone likes it!


  1. Arnt there some plants that could help you with your soil quality? I think that peas roots are nitrogen-rich... When I grow peas, I leave roots in the soil, dont pull them out.

    And regarding you pics of mulch, I just haveto say: What I would give for a free mulch source...

  2. There are definitely some plants that would improve the soil quality. We moved into the house a month ago though, so we kind of ran out of time to plant a cover crop. This is something we want to do next year, possible in spring and in the fall. Throwing down some blood meal was just a solution (hopefully!) for the short term.

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