Ask a Question forum: Soil Test Results

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Name: Wendy
South Central Colorado (Zone 6a)
thefosterfarm
Apr 8, 2017 9:37 PM CST
Last gardening season, I had our soil tested by the lab at Colorado State University. Concerning points were Manganese Toxicity (92 ppm), Low Nitrate (50 ppm), Very High Lime (>5%), Sandy Clay Loam soil, and High pH (7.7). We already knew that our soil was very alkaline in the area we live, and also that the soil is clay. We have had this new gardening spot for 5 years now, and have added everything from Peat Moss to Persolite, to a load of Organic material from our local gardening center. The soil is very "water repellent", and consistent watering is always a problem. I have had wonderful success with spaghetti squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers, and anaheim peppers. I have consistently had terrible results with tomatoes, potatoes (the worst - die out completely mid season), extremely small onions, and green peppers. I had taken my report to the local garden center last year, and they sold me a product to increase the Nitrate level, but that's it. My concern is how to balance the soil to decrease the effect of the Manganese, as well as encourage consistent plant growth across the board? Have not submitted a new soil test this year, as we did not change anything except added more Peat Moss. All information is GREATLY appreciated!
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Apr 9, 2017 5:17 AM CST
Welcome!

It's unusual to have manganese toxicity when the pH and calcium are that high. Manganese toxicity is usually a problem in acidic soils, thus the remedy is typically applying lime, which would not seem to be a good idea in your case! Nor would applying anything that lowers the soil pH because that would make the Mn more available.

Do you know if that measurement was total manganese or extractable manganese?

I think because this is an unusual problem my advice would be to ask your local extension office for advice, or contact the lab for their recommendations.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Apr 9, 2017 8:05 AM CST
Welcome to NGA, Wendy ( @thefosterfarm ).

I agree with Sue about asking for advice from the extensive service and/or the lab that tested the soil. Also, you might consider using raised beds and/or containers for growing the things that haven't done well; it's a lot easier to create "ideal" soil in a container than to amend an entire garden.
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Name: Wendy
South Central Colorado (Zone 6a)
thefosterfarm
Apr 10, 2017 8:01 PM CST
Thank you SO much for the advice! It was all very confusing to me, and the 7.7 pH with the Toxic Manganese (92 ppm) was confusing. I do not know if it is total or extractable, as the report just state "92 ppm, Manganese is High; This level may be toxic, Plant growth may be reduced". My problem crops are onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and green peppers (somewhat). The potatoes are the WORST! Interestingly, sweet potatoes fared much better than Russet? I do not know why. I really want to increase the size of my onions! Thank you again, every little bit of advice moves me forward! Have a great day.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
Apr 10, 2017 8:09 PM CST
Wendy, with regard to onions... something I've learned only recently (after gardening for many years) is that planting onions earlier will result in larger bulbs. This year I hope to put my seed-started plants out no later than May 15th -- usually I don't get them planted until early June.

And, as far as your green peppers, if the Anaheim peppers did well for you I think the green peppers may have just had something else going on... that's one of the big problems with gardening, a lot of different factors can be affecting our plants, hard to sort it all out sometimes!
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 10, 2017 9:16 PM CST
I agree with what Sandy says, the problems you're having with certain crops may not necessarily be related to soil. The fact that you're able to grow some things well might indicate that you've 'fixed' your soil pretty well. Squash and cukes take pretty good soil to grow well. Don't forget to rotate your crops, too i.e. don't grow the same things in the same area two years running. See if the squash and cukes will grow fine where the potatoes failed?? If not then you can maybe blame the soil in that area. Try growing the potatoes where the squash were last year.

Try a different variety of potato, or several different ones if you can - buy organic potatoes and plant sections with eyes if you can't get seed potatoes of different types.

With the onions, there are short day, intermediate and long day types. You also might try a few different ones to see if you can get better results.

In the 'big picture' you can't go wrong with adding as much high quality compost to your garden as you can get your hands on. It not only helps balance pH, it's water retentive as well. All those clever cellulose fibers acting like little sponges between the soil particles hold the water and nutrients up where the plants can get them. Here in FL we have sand, sand, sand so compost is the best. I also garden in Salt Lake City at my daughter's house and there, they have a fantastic composting facility at the landfill. They'll sell you a pickup truck load for (well used to be) $25 and even load it for you with a bobcat. Check if your landfill does composting!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
Apr 10, 2017 9:40 PM CST
Here's another thought, for whatever it's worth...

Quite a few years ago i happened to ask the director of our Soil Conversation Service where i could get a soil test done. He asked why I wanted to do that, and I said my plants weren't growing as well as I thought they should. His reply was a suggestion that I add triple-19 fertilizer. I ended up using triple-10 at about 4 times the rate that he suggested, and since then everything (well, almost everything) has grown like crazy!

So, maybe you really just need more of a balanced fertilizer?
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities[/I] / Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
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