More Fertile Soil - Knowledgebase Question

Nanuet, NY
Avatar for intcw
Question by intcw
March 28, 1999
For the last two years we can not grow vegetables in our garden. We live in a very rocky area. Last year we dig 7 to 16 inches down in the soil we took out all of the rocks. Our soil I think is not fertile. They grow in the begining but they just stop growing. We grew all the plants from seeds in pots. It mite be the seeds so this year we ordered from you. I think we may have to get a lot of top soil and make a higher bed. I don't know what to do.

Answer from NGA
March 28, 1999
Most vegetables do best in a sunny spot in evenly moist yet well drained (ie not soggy) soil. Deeply prepared beds really are best, so you are on the right track.

First of all, while they make digging difficult, rocks are not in and of themselves bad. The best way to find out what your soil might (or might not!) need in the way of amendments is to run some basic soil tests. Your County Extension should be able to help you with the tests and with interpreting the results. This will tell you how good or bad your soil really is.

In any case, nearly every soil will benefit tremendously by the addition of copious amounts of organic matter such as compost, rotted leaves, well aged manure and bedding, and so on. (A ten inch layer is not too much!) Using an organic mulch will also help to feed your soil is it breaks down as well as benefit your plants. Your plants also do best with regular watering, roughly an inch a week either from the hose or the sky.

If you decide that a raised bed is the way to go, be sure to add organic matter to the soil to achieve the added height and be very selective if you decide to add topsoil as it should be very similar to the existing topsoil for the best results. Sometimes a rise of only six inches or so makes a big difference. Good luck with your soil!

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