The Q&A Archives: Raised Bed Soil Problem - Vegetables

Question: garden was put into corn with great germination and production, very normal. I have done something terrible to the raised bed soil but I don't know what. Interestingly, the earth worms and night crawlers seemed to move right in to the beds. HELP. Do I need to start over, removing all the "improved" soil. Is it a one year problem that will fix itself. The only thing different than the rest of the garden was the addition of large quantities of peat moss, and the Soil Pep. As all will tell you I have a tendancy to overdo what I do (much to my very patient wife's dismay). The beds themselves are beautiful, but the vegetables were a heartbreaker. What have I done wrong.

Answer: Unfortunately there is no obvious answer to your question except to say that "something" happened, possibly to do with the "soil pep" or possibly a combination of factors including a rather high pH and possibly high soil temperatures beneath that plastic. (Many seeds are sensitive to soil temperature. Okra loves warm soil -- and black plastic tends to warm it up fast as does using raised beds.) Since I am not familiar with the soil pep product I can only guess that it may have possibly tied up the nitrogen in your soil for the season after it was added. I would suggest running additional soil tests to check not only pH but nutrients and then making any changes based on the results of the tests. This is the only way to really find out what the problem is. Your County Extension (781-5452) should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results. In the long run, it is a good thing to have added so much organic matter to the soil -- feeding the soil is a long term project and eventually results in a wonderful garden. This does, of course, take some patience and gardening so often consists of learning by trial and error -- so don't be discouraged!

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