Making amends

Okay, so I have a growth issue going on. It’s pretty obvious that there is a nutrient deficiency in my garden.


If you look at the above photo, you’ll see 8 Roma tomato plants green and luscious. Loaded with fruit. No problem here. Old, nutrient rich dirt several seasons old.



Here are a few open pollinated Porter cherry plants holding their own. Old dirt, plus homegrown compost.


Black Krim, Big Rainbow, Arkansas Traveler. Crap. Crap. Crap.


Mortgage Lifter sandwiched by a few cherry type.

The issue? New dirt. When I added the big mo box this winter I brought in new dirt. Not dirt bought in bags from the store, but a truck load of dirt (sand/compost/topsoil mix) from a rock/dirt yard. I’ve found that it’s cheaper to get dirt this way. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn my lesson from last year when I did the same thing, only it was pepper plants that were sucking.

The two small pots in the above photo contain compost I harvested myself from the pile I have behind the greenhouse. 70% grass clippings, 30% garden waste.

So, I’ve taken to amending the soil.


First off was a suggestion by fellow Sprout contributor, Misti. I took to making a liquid fish concoction. I picked up a bottle of the concentrated fish formula at Marshall Grain and made up several batches to apply to the sickly tomato plants.

I’ll give this a few weeks before adding another application.

Note to self: a few cover crops this fall and winter will do lots of good.




Comments 6

  1. Misti wrote:

    Excellent post! I have something in mind for Monday along these lines that I think will be good too. We would love to cover crop but I think our garden ‘manager’ might freak out.

    Posted 18 Apr 2012 at 8:14 am
  2. Chiot's Run wrote:

    Cover crops will do wonders, as will some real manure from a local farm. If you aren’t growing any corn, I’d highly recommend the Fall Green Manure from Johnny’s. It contains: winter rye, hairy vetch, field peas, and crimson clover. The rye will add some goodness to your soil that other plants don’t since it’s of the grass family. I use it over the winter and it makes a HUGE difference in just one season.

    When I need a quick cover crop between veggies I like to use mustard. It’s especially helpful before potatoes.

    Posted 18 Apr 2012 at 8:34 am
  3. chel wrote:

    This is interesting… we got a few bags of CRAP dirt last spring. It was mostly sand. We learned our lesson the hard way. Wasn’t even worth fixing, everything had to go. Someone told me tea leaves are good for making dirt happier, and since I drink tea several times a day, I need to look into that.

    Posted 18 Apr 2012 at 9:58 am
  4. misti wrote:

    Chel, be careful with tea leaves—I don’t know if it is anything like coffee but last spring when we did amendments to my mom’s plot up in FW she had added coffee and then we added coffee and I think it was too acidic because the plants sucked for a season—perked back up in the Fall when things leeched out, but read up on it first before tossing tons of it into your containers.

    Posted 18 Apr 2012 at 11:32 am
  5. Chris wrote:

    We have this problem at the community garden. We add compost and/or cottonseed meal every time we change a bed to a new crop.

    Posted 18 Apr 2012 at 2:47 pm
  6. Donna wrote:

    I think the dirt is part of my problem with my tomatoes too. 🙁

    Posted 22 Apr 2012 at 10:31 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Sprout - Building the Soil on 30 Apr 2012 at 7:01 am

    […] Curtis’ post a few weeks ago was interesting and I thought it would be nice to review what Chris and I do here in our neck of the woods at our community garden. We’ve only been here since mid-August, not even a year yet. When we arrived we found semi-raised beds with pine straw mulch. Initially we thought the pine straw mulch was going to be too acidic but we’ve come to realize our fear was pretty much unfounded. We’ve not had any problems thus far with the pine straw mulch and it works pretty well for weed control. It is much better than buying cypress or cedar bark, especially the cypress bark—very unsustainable. (Oh, and please don’t buy peat moss.) […]

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