The Q&A Archives: Correcting Nutrient Deficiency

Question: I tested the soil in my raised vegetable beds with a home test kit. The results: pH okay; nitrogen very low; phosphorus medium to high; potash extremely low. The soil is a cross between clay and loam. I have had vegetable plants in these beds in the past, and on the whole they have not produced well. What should I do to the soil to balance nutrient levels? Thank you in advance for your help.

Answer: Since the soil is lacking nitrogen and potassium, I'd recommend adding these nutrients before you plant this spring. Start by adding a 3- to 4-inch layer of composted manure over the whole garden and work this material into the soil to a depth of 6 inches. To correct the potassium deficiency, add greensand to build a reservoir of the nutrient in the soil, and use muriate of potash to provide potassium to your plants quickly. Both should be available from garden centers in your area.

To supply extra nitrogen, water the plants with a fish emulsion solution and apply cottonseed meal or soybean meal at planting. Sidedress monthly with the cottonseed meal or soybean meal. Again, both should be available locally at feed store or even pet supply centers. Here's to a hearty harvest!

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